Double Standards?

July 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Danya Levy at the Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister John Key says the Government was powerless to stop disgraced former minister Richard Worth being re-appointed as Monaco’s honorary consul to New Zealand.

Worth was reappointed to the position last October.

In 2009, he resigned from Parliament after sexual allegations against him by two women. He was never charged over the alleged incidents.

Key said Worth held the position before becoming a minister in his Government but resigned because of conventions protecting potential conflicts of interests.

The government of Monaco had approached New Zealand to have him reappointed when he was no longer a minister.

”The important point here is that it is nothing to do with me, it’s who do the people of Monaco want to represent them here in New Zealand and the answer is Richard Worth,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had sought a legal opinion over whether the Government could prevent his re-appointment, Key said. However, the Government was advised it had no grounds to stop it.

Richard Worth was the Consul for Monaco for many years before he became a Minister. It is no surprise they asked him to resume the role after he left Parliament.

What I find interesting is the massive difference in reporting around Darren Hughes and Richard Worth. Both men were accused of sexual crimes, and in both cases no charges were laid. In the case of Darren Hughes, the media report that he could stand again for Parliament in a few years

Yet when it comes to Richard Worth, the reporting suggests there is something wrong that he has got on with his life after Parliament and assumed one of his former roles – a role far far less publicly significant than standing for Parliament again.

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Goff on Hughes

June 15th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

“If he had have been stood down at the outset that would have been against the presumption of innocence I think every New Zealander – whether you’re a sports star, politician or radio journalist – are entitled to,” he told Radio New Zealand.

He said the presumption of innocence is “fundamental” to the justice system.

What nonsense. Thousands of people get stood down while allegations are investigated. Helen Clark did it on many occassions. A stand down does not in any way go against a criminal presumption of innocence.

“He was entitled to have his case investigated properly, as it was by the police, without the sort of allegations, wild allegations, that were made concerning him and the situation that in the end he felt made it impossible for him to continue in his role.”

You mean unlike Richard Worth, who had Phil Goff jumping up and down making all sorts of wild allegations against him?

The hypocrisy is just so immense.

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ODT on Hughes affair

June 12th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

People who hold positions of high office can expect scrutiny over behaviour that might be said in some respect to impact or reflect upon the performance of public duty. And a police investigation certainly exceeds any objective minimum threshold for justifiable public interest, which is why the original handling of the Darren Hughes matter by the Labour Party leadership was, and is, inexplicable. …

It will be recalled Mr Hughes, some days after the news of the investigation broke, stepped down from his position as senior whip; then, as the furore grew and details leaked into the public domain, he resigned from Parliament. Had his leader, Phil Goff, played a more decisive and firmer hand earlier, it is quite possible Mr Hughes would now be able to resume his place in the House; had Mr Goff, for instance, announced to Parliament and to the people of New Zealand, as soon as he became aware of it, that Mr Hughes was facing a police investigation over an allegation and was immediately standing aside until the investigation was complete, the way for his rapid rehabilitation might still be open.

There is a near universal consensus that Darren would probably still be an MP today, if Phil Goff had handled the issue better. That’s bitter medicine for Labour MPs to reflect upon over the next few months. Their own leader effectively robbed them of one their most popular and effective MPs.

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The Darren Hughes saga

June 10th, 2011 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

My weekly column at the NZ Herald is on the the Darren Hughes saga. I compare the Darren Hughes and Richard Worth affairs in some details. My final sentence was:

There has been much speculation about Darren’s future. At the risk of being accused of trying to polish a turd, maybe Darren should look on what happened as an opportunity. Darren is a smart personable guy who could probably excel in any number of roles. My advice is to get out of New Zealand for at least a couple of years – travel the world, find some interesting jobs to do, visit your mates and then decide down the track whether you still have that burning desire to serve in Parliament.

I wasn’t sure if “polish a turd” would get through the sub-editors :-)

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Questions over Hughes case

June 9th, 2011 at 12:10 pm by David Farrar
  1. If as Darren says, he did nothing wrong, why doesn’t Labour add him to the party list for the 2011 election?
  2. Will media now apply to lift the injunction prohibiting the publication of the complainant’s name?
  3. If they do, will this mean that the complainant will then go public with his version of events?
  4. How many Labour MPs agree with Tracy Watkins that it was “Goff’s shambolic handling of the affair” not the police investigation that killed Darren’s political career?
  5. Which Sunday newspaper will have the more interesting story this weekend – the Sunday Star-Times or the Herald on Sunday?
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Hughes not charged

June 8th, 2011 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

News just out that the Police have said there is not enough evidence to lay charges against Darren Hughes.

As someone who likes Darren, I am pleased he is not going to face a trial and possible prison over the complaint, just as I was pleased Richard Worth did not have to either.

I am aware though that there was a complainant who it seems had a nasty enough experience that he felt a complaint was warranted. He will not be having such a good day today.

It is a sad that this encounter resulted in Darren being forced out of Parliament. I regarded him as a good MP. If Phil Goff had suspended Darren straight away, then it is quite possible that Darren would have been able to now continue on as an MP, even if not necessarily in the same roles of chief whip and education spokesperson.

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The Darren Hughes investigation

June 7th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bevan Hurley in the Herald on Sunday reports:

Friends and former colleagues of Darren Hughes have put pressure on police to decide whether to charge him over sex allegations.

Labour Party figures risked accusations of political interference by calling on police to “give the guy a break”.

And close friend Paul Henry said it was “extraordinary” the case was dragging on, more than three months after an 18-year-old student alleged Hughes sexually assaulted him.

Wellington police defended the length of the investigation, saying it had to be “thorough”.

Labour figures expressed support for Hughes as pictures emerged of the 33-year-old former Otaki representative on a Hawke’s Bay beach at Easter. He was pictured with Henry, his girlfriend Linzi Dryburgh and Auckland list MP Jacinda Ardern.

In his new memoir, Henry described Hughes as his second closest friend.

 I think it is a good thing that Darren’s friends are sticking hy him, and supporting him. That is what friends should do.

Labour list MP Stuart Nash said the lengthy investigation was unfair on Hughes and the 18-year-old complainant. He called on police to “give the guy a break”.

“If there is something there then charge him, but if there’s not then let him get on with his life. You can’t leave him hanging.” …

Former Labour Party president Andrew Little joined calls for a swift resolution.

“It wasn’t as if there were people to hunt down, anyone who had anything to say about it would have been interviewed.”

Having MPs and senior political figures call on the Police to do something, however well intentioned, is a bad judgement call.

It goes without saying that it would be better for both the complainant and Darren for a decision to be made earlier, rather than later. The Police will know this. They will not be delaying a decision just because they can. They will be working with Crown Law to make sure that their decision will hold up to scrutiny – no matter what it is.

Having MPs call for the Police to take a particular action, because it involves one of their friends, is not a good look. But worse, it makes the job of the Police even harder. If the Police decide not to charge, then some people may feel it was because of the pressure put on them.

Let me hasten to say I do not think the Police will be influenced in their decision, by the comments by Nash and Little. But it would have been better if they had not spoken publicly at all.

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Labour in Otaki

May 8th, 2011 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Raumati lawyer Peter Foster will contest the Otaki seat for the Labour Party in November’s election.

Mr Foster also sought the Mana by-election nomination.

Labour Party President Moira Coatsworth today described Mr Foster as a family man who had lived and worked in Otaki for 11 years.

“I have every confidence that Peter will hit the ground running and bring the Otaki seat back to Labour,” Moira Coatsworth said.

Mr Hughes held the Otaki seat for two terms before losing to National’s Nathan Guy in 2008 by 1354 votes.

Both Darren and Nathan were highly respected local MPs. That s why the seat was so close in 2005 and 2008. Mr Foster has some large shoes to fill, and the potential is there for Nathan to turn the seat from marginal to safe.

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Small on Labour

March 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small also provides advice for Labour:

Phil Goff’s leadership may not be on the line today at the shadow cabinet meeting in Dunedin, but no change is no longer an option.

That’s also a big call.

Looking again at the wider leadership team including Annette King and David Cunliffe and making a change there may be the answer.

Helen Clark did it in 1996 to shore up her leadership.

At the time her rivals did not have the numbers to roll her, but she recognised the concern in the party at its poor poll rating and knew she needed to act.

The result was her deputy and finance spokesman David Caygill hit the cutting room floor in favour of Michael Cullen, creating the leadership team that was so effective for Labour during nine years in office.

Politically that might work, even though it would be quite unfair. Goff is the one who has ballsed up so badly, and I don’t think King has done anything much wrong – we don’t know what she advised Goff. And the fact the incident happened at her house is not a reflection on her. There’s nothing wrong with having a colleague stay with you – in fact probably saves the taxpayer money.

But Annette is very loyal to Labour, and it is possible she could walk, to save Goff.

There is clearly a split between Goff and the party or at least president Andrew Little over the handling of the issue and the lack of communication. It goes deeper than the papering over of the cracks that occurred late on Sunday when the two finally talked about the issue.

Labour is in full fund-raising mode, made difficult by the current controversy. Its activists on websites and blogs are openly questioning the party’s direction and Mr Goff’s judgment. Its union backers and foot soldiers need to be motivated but are in danger of being demoralised.

Business as usual is simply not an option.

Meanwhile in a seperate galaxy, located well beyond the Andromeda Galaxy, Stuff reports that “Phil Goff has said the Darren Hughes affair has ‘strengthened’ his leadership”

You can’t make shit this good up.

Image courtesy of Iidiot/Savant.

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Garner on Labour

March 29th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Well no one say they’ll die wondering what Duncan Garner thinks. He blogs:

Labour’s decision to hang on to Leader Phil Goff after his woeful management of the Darren Hughes affair shows the caucus is clueless, gutless and talentless. And most of all, they have no collective balls.

You do have to wonder how much worse things would have to be, to have something happen.

The Labour caucus has opted to go down in 2011 without a fight. If this was the Australian Labour Party Goff would have lasted just 6 weeks two years ago. They’d be on their third opposition leader by now.

And someone like Mallard could do to Labour, what Tony Abbott did to the Australian Libs – get them competitive. Might not win, but will provide a positive point of difference.

I have spoken to most of the senior MPs, they say – while disappointed with the management of the Hughes scandal – no one is of a mind to roll Goff. Why not? Not one MP is defending him. Goff is now Labour’s biggest liability.

The only MP insisting that Goff handled it well, is umm Goff.

Goff has so many questions he can’t answer. He looks like he’s stumbling around in a pitch black bedroom trying to put on his pyjamas. He’s got more positions than a King’s Cross hooker.

I like the colourful metaphors. Also wasn’t half this problem the lack of pyjamas :-)

The Hughes scandal was always going to be a train wreck – 18 year old teenager, senior whip, alleged sexual encounter, Annette King’s house, police investigation, naked man etc.

Come on – what leader in their right and sane mind could think for one second that in Wellington that would stay secret?

I just can’t believe someone didn’t say “You’re mad if you think this will stay secret”. But the problem of course is Goff did not seek advice from anyone.

I know this is written in hindsight, but the obvious thing to do was to front foot it, stand Hughes down, send him away, strip him of his duties and wait for the cops to rule.

That way Hughes may have been able to keep his job in the short term and do some kind of mea culpa around what happened if the police were not to lay charges.

This is the sad thing. If Goff had handled this competently, it is possible Darren Hughes would be able to remain an MP, if no charges were laid. Sure there may be a period of penance, but resignation might have been avoided.

And who let Darren Hughes appear in the Press Gallery debate, ‘politics is a grubby business’? Surely Hughes, Goff and King who appeared in the debate would have thought, ‘hey we better lie low over the next few weeks eh?’

As much as I enjoyed the debate, it was in hindsight a very insensitive decision to allow an MP facing a sexual assault complaint, take part.

So Labour needs to choose a runner to take Goff out. They need to get organised and stop pretending they’re in Government. They’re not. They’re in a parlous and paralysed state in opposition and Phil Goff is now to blame for that. For the sake of all their grassroots members and other Labour voters – they need to go into the election with a new leader.

I’ve come across people who want to vote Labour because they don’t like National – but they say they won’t because of Goff.

Surely they are not isolated comments. If that attitude is widespread, and I believe it is, it is now the moral duty of Labour’s MPs to change the leadership and draw a line under this hopelessly managed scandal.

Duncan is right, but the problem for Labour supporters is it really seems that no one wants the job.

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Enjoined

March 29th, 2011 at 9:32 am by David Farrar

A v Fairfax NZ Ltd Judgment 280311

The complainant in the Hughes case has gained an injunction prohibiting publication of his name. I have to confess I thought his name was suppressed anyway as the complainant is alleging a sexual crime, but it seems this only applies once the Police lay charges.

Regardless I wouldn’t name him anyway (I have been aware of his identity since before this matter went public) as it would be a scummy thing to do.

The injunction names six defendents, being Fairfax, APN, TVNZ, Mediaworks, Danyl McLauchlan and myself. This isn’t because any of us have named him, but that they were specifically worried we may do so – or that a commenter on our site will.

The suppression applies to everyone who becomes aware of the order though – not just those named. So anyone who names him, or supplies information which can identify him, will be in breach of the order.

One interesting thing in the injunction is that it confirms the complaint is “sexual assault” rather than “indecent assault”. That is a more serious matter. of course it doesn’t mean that charge will be laid, if any are laid at all.

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Rewriting history

March 29th, 2011 at 8:02 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the Herald reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff told Darren Hughes he would be stripped of his portfolios regardless of the outcome of a police investigation as soon as he became aware of the complaint against Mr Hughes. …

Mr Goff denied there was any attempt to protect Mr Hughes by keeping it secret, saying as soon as he was told of the nature of the complaint “I made it clear to Darren that I thought given the circumstances there had been a lapse of judgment and that would result in his losing his positions.”

I’m sorry, but I simply do not believe this – and it is very rare for me to actually claim an MP is deliberately not being truthful. Here’s why:

  1. On Wed 22 Hughes put out a PR saying “I have done nothing wrong”. His PR would have been approved by the Leader’s Office. So Goff is saying he had already told Darren he would lose his portfolios over his lapse injudgement, let allows him to put out a statement claiming “I have done nothing wrong” rather than “I have broken no laws”
  2. The previous week, Darren took part in a celebrity debate affirming “That politics is a grubby business”. Would he have been allowed to do this, if Goff really had formed an opinion that he should have been stripped of his portfolios?
  3. Goff’s initial statement on Wed 22 says he holds Hughes in high regard – not any suggestion that he thought there had been a lapse of judgement
  4. Goff also said that day “he accepts the MP’s word that he did nothing wrong” – yet now claims he had already told Hughes he would sakc him from his portfolios
  5. Goff also said that day “he had felt the complaint was ‘not relevant’ to his ability to do his job” as a specific reason why he did not strip Hughes of his portfolios
  6. Goff on Wed 22 of course did not announce he was being stripped of his portfolios, despite the matter now being public. In fact he said that only if the Police investigation lasted a couple more weeks, would he consider appointing acting spokespersons
  7. Then on Thu 23 Goff announces Hughes will temporarily stand down from his portfolios, and appoints Acting Spokepersons. So again we are meant to believe that Goff had already decided to permamently sack Hughes from his portfolios, yet rather than announce this, he announces a stand down only
  8. In fact it was reported that “Any decision on whether Mr Hughes would get his positions back would made after the police inquiry was finished”, yet Goff claims he had already decided and told Hughes three weeks earlier.
  9. On Fri 25 Hughes resigns from Parliament and again states “I have done nothing wrong”

So I simply do not believe that Goff told Hughes he would lose his portfolios. It is inconsistent with every previous statement and action made by Hughes and Goff.

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The nonsense about prejudicing a police investigation

March 27th, 2011 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff keeps repeating that he didn’t take any action against Hughes, as it would prejudice the Police investigation. This is frankly a bullshit argument (and also against what he has argued himself in the past). I’m amazed the media do not challenge him more on this point.

John Key sacked Richard Worth, while he was under investigation by the Police over a sexual offence complaint. This did not interfere with the Police investigation. And in fact Richard Worth was not charged by the Police.

Likewise it is entirely common for an employer to take disciplinary action against an employee in regard to alleged criminal offending, without waiting for charges to be laid.

Helen Clark took action against several of her MPs, who were under Police investigation. And again this did not interfere with the Police investigation (her staff buring forged paintings did, but that is another matter).

The panel on Q+A is flailing Goff for his inaction. It’s almost brutal.

For the sake of any future party leaders, here’s the general guide to how a party leader should handle allegations against an MP of this nature.

  1. When the MP first tells you, immediately bring in a witness to your conversation – probably your chief of staff
  2. Do not make any commitments to the MP. Tell them that you need to gather pertinent information before you make a decision.
  3. Tell the MP that you want them to tell the Chief of Staff everything that happened. Warn them that they must be 100% truthful, no matter how embarrassing, and that if they omit any pertinent details, then they will have lost your confidence and will be sacked.
  4. The CoS interviews the MP. The MP should firstly be asked to detail what happened from their perspective, and also what the complainant is alleging. If they have been interviewed by the Police (as Hughes was), then they will be fully aware of what the allegations are.
  5. The MP should also be asked what witnesses, if any, there are to some or all of the incident.
  6. If possible the CoS should talk to some of the witnessees if they are friendly to your party – ie other MPs, staff, activists.
  7. The CoS then reports back to the Leader with two scenarios – the “best case” scenario of everything the MP has told you is true, and the “worst case” scenario being that everything alleged is true.
  8. The CoS should also report on how many people probably know of the incident, which will give you an idea of how likely it is the incident will become public – or more realisticaly simply how long it will take.
  9. The Leader then looks at the best case scenario. Assume the MP’s version of events is 100% correct. Ask yourself whether even their version of events is survivable. In the Hughes case, it would be “Regardless of consent, can you politically endure an incident where a naked 18 year old, less than three months out of school, ran naked out of the house of your deputy leader at 5 am after going home with your chief whip after ten hours of drinking”
  10. If it is clear it is not survivable, then you discuss exit strategies wiht the MP.
  11. If the MPs version of events is survivable, then you look at the worst case scenario – are the allegations against your MP so bad, that they couldn’t do their job until the Police decide whether to charge or not. If the MP is accussed of murder, rape or other extremely serious crimes, then you have them step down until the Police make a decision.
  12. If the allegations against the MP are not the worst type of criminal offending, but more “minor” offences such as assault, then it may not be necessary to have them step down. However you would probably urge the MP to front-foot the issue, rather than keep it quiet until the media find out.
  13. Once the Leader has the report from their Chief of Staff, they should also brief appropriate people on what has happened and the leader’s proposed course of action. This would normally be the Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and Party President.

As far as I can tell Goff did none of this. They just sat on it for three weeks and hoped it would go away.

Note that nothing in the above involves the Leader having to make a judgement on who is correct – the MP or the complainant. It is all about just considering the best and worst case outcomes.

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Stories on Hughes and Goff

March 27th, 2011 at 9:56 am by David Farrar

So many stories, I’ll try and cover them in the one post.

In one story, David Fisher in the HoS writes of how Andrew Little and Phil Goff have still not discussed the Hughes affair. Amazing.

David Fisher in Herald on Sunday writes in a second story on previous allegations (one of which was blogged on Whale Oil around a year ago), and on the fact that Goff knew for longer than he initially said (again a point Whale has made). Fisher also reports that Tizard says it would be nice to be an MP again so she can say “stick it up you” to those who didn’t want her back (which is most of the Labour Caucus and none of the National Caucus).

Matt McCarten writes in the HoS:

Why is the Labour opposition so hopeless? I had assumed that leader Phil Goff was competent enough, albeit lacking in charisma, to survive until the November election.

Now I don’t. His performance this week has been appalling.

Ouch. And more:

The handling of the Darren Hughes incident exposes Goff’s hypocrisy, his lack of judgment and, more importantly, his political smarts. You couldn’t get a more inept management of a crisis.

It was always a long shot for Labour to win November’s election, given the dismal polling of the party and their leader.

Goff’s mismanagement this week has taken any chance now.

McCarten concludes by saying Goff has to go. Ironically this will probably make Goff safer as Labour MPs won’t like being seen to do what McCarten says!

Jonathan Marshall in the SST has an interview with the 18 year old’s mother in this story. And in another story, Georgina Beyer and Chris Carter both say Goff should go. Again, this may help Goff :-)

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Hughes resigns

March 25th, 2011 at 5:19 pm by David Farrar

Phil Goff has just announces that Darren Hughes has or will resign as a Member of Parliament.

No details yet, such as whether Judith Tizard is going to replace him, or if she has said she will decline the spot.

Like most people, I have always regarded Darren as a really nice and genuine guy, and it is very sad to see him leave Parliament like this. I say that recognising that there is a criminal complaint to resolve.  I also regarded him as one of the better MPs in Parliament and think given the opportunity he would have been a very competent senior Minister.

At best his judgement was seriously lacking on the night in question, and at worst he will face charges. Either way, it is a very sad way for someone who had a life-long dream of being an MP, to end their parliamentaary career.

I hope the Police reach a conclusion as quickly as possible, to their investigation.

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Did the Goffice lie to the media?

March 25th, 2011 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

I meant to cover this story on Wednesday, but there has been so much on. NewstalkZB reported:

Meanwhile the Labour leader is also maintaining there has been no misleading of media over the allegations.

Mr Goff confirms he’s known about the matter for two weeks. However when Newstalk ZB approached the Labour Party about allegations on Monday, Mr Goff’s staff denied a Labour MP was involved and claimed Mr Goff knew nothing about it.

Phil Goff says his staff hadn’t checked with him.

“I think the person that told you that told you it in good faith, she was not aware of it,” he told Newstalk ZB today

Okay so you have a situation where the media were told something false by one of Phil Goff’s press secretaries. There are broadly three possible scenarios to explain this.

  1. The press secretary knew the information was false and deliberately lied to the media
  2. The press secretary didn’t bother to check if the allegation was correct, and gave a response withotu checking
  3. The press secretary did check and the press secretary was lied to, so they would give out false information unwittingly to the media

All three scenarios are bad, but to different degrees.

I personally think scenario 1 is highly unlkely. Press secretaries know it is fatal to lie to the media, especially if they have been media themselves. You can be obtuse, even a bit deceptive. You can omit relevant stuff. You can give a non helpful response. You can refuse to comment. But it is a cardinal rule that you can not and do not say something that you know to be untrue – it means the media will never trust you again. And personally I don’t think the press secretary in question would – I think they are an honest person.

Scenario 2 is also pretty unlikely, because it means you’re totally incompetent. I just can not imagine a scenario where a press secretary is asked about whether an MP is under a criminal investigation, and you do not check with someone before responding. When the truth comes out you look like an idiot. Note Goff only said that the staff did not check with him – it does not mean they did not check with someone else.

That leaves scenario 3, where the press secretary did check, and someone lied to them and told them there was no Labour MP under investigation and that Goff knew nothing about any such allegation. It may not be an MP who lied to the press secretary – it may be a more senior staffer who did know and lied to them.

If scenario 3 is what happened, this is very very unfair to the press secretary, because they end up having misled the media, and it still undermines them in their effectiveness. Sure they may not have knowingly lied (which is worse), but the media will then wonder next time they ask a question, can they rely on the press secretary to know the truth? How do they know her boss and/or colleagues won’t lie to him or her again in order to get a denial out to the media?

I don’t know which scenario is correct, but scenario 3 is most likely, and if so then the press secretary in question is owed a huge apology by whomever lied to them, so they gave out false information.

The way the issue was dealt with by the Goffice, reminds me of a quote from a book by Harvey McQueen who worked for both David Lange and Phil Goff as Education Ministers:

“With Phil it was always the department’s or its officers’ or another Minister’s or the PM’s or someone else’s fault when things went wrong…” (p.212)

Finally in terms, of who did know, NewstalkZB also said:

Phil Goff says he had been keeping the information to himself and hadn’t shared it with his caucus.

Not telling Caucus is one thing, but what staggers me is that Goff did not tell Party President Andrew Little. I’d be very pissed off if I was Andrew, at being kept in the dark for two weeks.

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Worth v Hughes

March 25th, 2011 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Mydeology has done a comparison of how four blogs covered the Worth scandal in 2009 and the Highes scandal of 2011, by counting up the number of posts they made over the first two days on the scandal. Their findings:

  • The Standard – 11 posts on Worth, 1 on Hughes
  • Tumeke – 6 posts on Worth, 1 on Hughes
  • Kiwiblog – 5 posts on Worth, 5 on Hughes
  • Whale Oil – 6 posts on Worth, 11 on Hughes

Their conclusions:

  • Pro-Labour blogs will comment heavily (5 or more articles) when a scandal is anti-National, but very lightly (less than two articles) in comparison when it is an anti-Labour scandal.
  • Right-wing blogs will comment heavily when a scandal is anti-National, and heavily when it is anti-Labour.
  • Pro-Labour blogs produce around 10 anti-National scandal articles to every one anti-Labour scandal article.
  • Right-wing blogs produce between 1-2 anti-Labour scandal articles to every one anti-National scandal article.

 Their post made me wonder what was my first reaction to the Worth scandal. It was:

Now this is just ridicolous. You can’t have a secret resignation – or a resignation for undisclosed reasons. The Government is bonkers if they think the reasons won’t come out, let alone that they do not have a duty to disclose them. And refusing to state the reasons will keep it as a story for days and weeks, instead of a three day wonder.

If you resign as a Minister, you need to say why you are resigning. Not the full details, but at least some reason.

So I was actually pretty harsh on the Government’s initial response.  I followed up saying:

The more I think about this, the more stupid it is not to state why he has resigned. As in majorly stupid. The public will wonder what the Government is hiding, the Opposition will assume the worst, the media will dig up dirt until they find the reason, and the Governments looks shifty. Before it is too late, the Government should arrange for either Key or Worth to explain why Worth resigned – the public have a right to know.

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Goff says Goff was wrong

March 25th, 2011 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on the huge inconsistencies between the statements of Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition (PGLOTO) on Richard Worth and Phil Goff, Labour Party Leader (PGLPL) on Darren Hughes.

Reconciling the two stances seems to have proved impossible, so yesterday afternoon PGLPL came out and said that PGLOTO was wrong. In fact PGLPL said that PGLOTO didn’t understand how complicated these things are!

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Yesterday, as criticism of his management of the latest scandal grew, he admitted he had mishandled the Worth affair: “I think I’ve learnt one or two things about the complexity of these situations. I am going to be the first to admit that I was wrong in the judgment that I made at that time.”

That’s quite the mea culpa.

I’m somewhat staggered that neither Goff, nor anyone else in Labour, thought to check back about what Goff said in 2009 on Worth. Instead he went on radio saying:

Earlier, talking to Newstalk ZB’s Sean Plunkett, Mr Goff said: “When a complaint was laid with the police against Richard Worth, I made no comment. No comment at all.”

Either Goff is not getting advice, or he is not taking it.

The Herald editorial is very critical:

Darren Hughes, one of Labour’s most promising MPs, has been ill-served by his party’s leadership. When he stood down yesterday as Labour’s education spokesman and chief whip, it served only to underline the folly of Phil Goff’s mishandling of the incident.

Indeed.

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Hughes relieved of portfolios

March 24th, 2011 at 2:40 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff has announced that his MP Darren Hughes has been stood down from his portfolios while a police investigation into him is completed.

Mr Goff said Mr Hughes would remain in Parliament but he now expected the police inquiry to take longer than initially expected.

Mr Hughes’ jobs as education spokesman and senior whip will go to David Shearer and Steve Chadwick respectively.

This doesn’t mean Darren is finished as an MP. I don’t think enough information is available to jump to conclusions.

However losing these two roles was pretty inevitable. The senior whip is the maintainer of discipline in the caucus, and enough infomation has come out that would have made it very difficult to remain whip credibly.

The same goes for Education. This might be seen as unfair, but there is just no way you can go into an election with your proposed education minister being someone who picks up 18 year old first year students in bars (regardless of the issue of consent).

As I said, I don’t think one can conclude at this point about the wider career.  I actually still have money in iPredict against Judith Tizard returning as an MP.

Of course it is possible that Hughes will resign, yet Tizard will not return as an MP. How? Two main possibilities.

  1. The House can resolve by 75% majority not to fill the vacancy, if it occurs within six months of the election – so after 26 May. You have to wonder though why National would decide to vote to keep Tizard from returning, and also is Labour really prepared to have one less MP in the House, than have Judith return?
  2. Judith could refuse to take up her seat.

The problem with no (2) is the next in lines. Tizard is ranked No 38. Next at 39 is Mark Burton, 40 is Mahara Okeroa, 41 is Martin Gallagher and 42 Dave Heroera. At 43 you have Louisa Wall who has been selected as candidate for Manurea so is going to become an MP anyway. But to get Louisa in, you’d need to convince five seperate former Labour MPs to turn down six months salary and perks.

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Goff v Goff

March 24th, 2011 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

Sigh. Goff just digs deeper. Here is Phil Goff, Labour Party Leader (PGLPL) on NewstalkZB this morning:

SEAN PLUNKET: When Richard Worth was under investigation, you were constantly calling for the Prime Minister and other politicians to come clean and tell us what they knew and when they knew it.

 PHIL GOFF:  Let me remind you of this. That when a police… when a complaint was laid with the police against Richard Worth, I made no comment. No comment at all. And you go back and you check your records, and you’ll find out that that was true. I was asked for comment – this is when a woman I think in Bolton Street had made an allegation – I said, I don’t know. I’ve got no information, I won’t speculate. It’s up to the police, and I’m making the same comment now.

So PGLPL says he made no comment at all around Richard Worth. Luckily we can check this out.

Let’s see what Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition (PGLOTO) said in 2009. First on Radio NZ on 3 June:

This was obviously much more than a personal matter, if it involved a, a complaint to the police, and a police investigation, I, I think, ah, Mr Key should have come clean first thing this morning, and ah, that’s what I told him on.

And om TVNZ on 4 June:

Well I, I think that when you’re talking about the resignation of a minister of the Crown, that’s a public position, therefore you’ve got to be open and transparent about it, the reasons, ah, the allegations, not the details, that’s the subject of a police ah, inquiry and, and no politician should interfere in a police inquiry, but he should’ve been upfront, I’ve received an allegation, it’s related to a police contay [sic] complaint, it is about sexual behaviour, until such time as that takes place ah, Dr Worth is henceforth suspended.

This is especially damning. He is explictly saying that one should have been upfront, announce there has been a police complaint about sexual behaviour and that the MP is suspended. It is a total contradiction of his stance today which was to say or do nothing and hope it doesn’t become public.

And also on RadioLive in 4 June:

I think in normal circumstances if an allegation is made regarding a police complaint, you would suspend the Minister, ah, pending the, ah, the police investigation on the basis that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but if a serious allegation is made, ah, then it’s appropriate for the Minister to step aside.

So does PGLPL agree with PGLOTO? If so, then can we only conclude that PGLPL thinks the allegation is not serious? Or does PGLPL says that only Ministers should step aside when a serious police compaint is made against them, but not senior frontbench opposition MPs?

If anyone can reconcile the stances and words of PGLPL and PGLOTO, please send your CV to jobs@labour.org.nz

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Armstrong on Goff

March 24th, 2011 at 8:03 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in the NZ Herald:

The Labour Party will not be judged by what Darren Hughes has or has not done in his private life.

It will be judged according to how Phil Goff handles the crisis which has enveloped one of Labour’s bright young rising stars and consequently the party as well.

Goff’s management of the crisis has already begged a major question. Why did the Labour leader not immediately stand Hughes down from his roles as Labour’s chief whip and education spokesman two weeks ago when the MP told him he was the subject of a police investigation?

It is a surprise that Phil Goff, Labour Party Leader, did not take the advice of Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition. Here’s a quote from PGLOTO in 2009:

Opposition leader Phil Goff said today Mr Key should have sacked Dr Worth last week.

“The matter could have been dealt with rather more promptly,” Mr Goff said.

So let us compare the cases of Dr Worth and Mr Hughes.

  1. Dr Worth’s leader is informed of a Police complaint. He briefly investigates, and then sacks Dr Worth. All of this occurs before the Police complaint is even made public. PGLOTO claims the matter should have been dealt with more promptly.
  2. Mr Hughes’ leader is informed of a Police complaint. PGLPL does nothing at all until the matter becomes public.

John Armstrong notes:

Had he gone on the front foot then – rather than being forced to fess up yesterday in the face of rapidly snowballing media inquiries – Goff would have got some plaudits for being upfront.

He would also have got marks for consistency. Back in 2009, Goff launched into John Key for not immediately stripping Richard Worth of his ministerial warrant after the Prime Minister had been apprised of allegations of a sexual nature made against the then National MP.

Goff now risks being marked down for double standards.

Rather large double standards.

Goff’s political management accordingly starts to look misguided at best and downright stupid at worst.

I’ll be generous and say they are thinking with their hearts, not their heads.

UPDATE: Phil Goff just interviewed by Sean Plunket on NewstalkZB. Goff said it is up to the Police to decide if Hughes’ behaviour was appropriate. Plunket pointed out that no their job is to decide if his behaviour was criminal. Goff does not seem to understand the difference.

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Was it deliberate or a mistake?

November 12th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The ballot for the private members bills had only 24 bills in it this week. Previous ones had 38, 47, and 40.

Why? Because only one Labour MP’s bill was in the ballot. Normally they have 17 – 20.

Trevor blogs on Red Alert:

As may be obvious we are having a crack at getting Darren’s bill up here

I am sceptical about this explanation, and wonder if the truth might be that someone fucked up and forgot to resubmit the bills.

If Trevor is telling the truth, then they should sack whomever came up with the idea of only putting Darren’s in there. Here’s why.

In all the other ballots, the chance of Darren’s bill being selected for a spot is around 2.5% and the chance of a Labour bill being selected around 40% to 50%.

Under this cunning plan, Darren’s chances do increase – from 2.5% to 4%, but Labour’s overall chances plummet from near 50% to also 4%.

Is that not the stupidest cunning plan since Baldrick?

So I don’t know what the reality is. Is Trevor telling the truth and Labour implemented a moronic strategy of not entering the ballot just to lift Darren’s chances from 2.5% to 4.0%, or is Trevor covering up for a fuck up?

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A bad display

October 14th, 2010 at 6:21 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Cabinet Minister Jonathan Coleman was breathing fire in Parliament this afternoon after a dig about his ability to help win by-elections for National struck home.

Labour’s Darren Hughes got under Mr Coleman’s skin in during question time today calling out “maestro” when Dr Coleman rose to answer a health question.

He then made a quip about Dr Coleman being the maestro of Mana — where National’s Hekia Parata is battling Labour’s Kris Fa’afoi to win November’s by-election.

Dr Coleman had a bad run with Melissa Lee during the Mt Albert by-election last year and it clearly still rankled.

Pointing his finger at Mr Hughes, he said: “I tell you what, if you want to go on like that we’re waiting for Chris Carter to start telling the truth about you Dazza. Alright so I would get back into your box if I were you buddy, because you are on his list.”

Dr Coleman was referring to a list of 17 MPs who Mr Carter says talked about rolling Labour leader Phil Goff.

I’m disappointed the Minister responded in the fashion in which he did. Frankly he should be able to handle what was a pretty gentle hassle.

UPDATE: I’ve deleted one paragraph, having been satisfied that I was being overly sensitive in my interpretation, and having now viewed the video, the exchange doesn’t seem particularly unusual. My regrets if the original post upset anyone.

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Conscience vote on drink drive limit?

August 10th, 2010 at 5:22 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National Party MPs might be allowed a conscience vote on a Labour Party bill that proposes lowering the drink-driving blood alcohol limit, Prime Minister John Key said today.

The Government decided last month not to lower the limit from 0.08 milligrams to 0.05 milligrams per millilitre of blood, saying it needed to collect data for the next two years to find out what the effect would be and to demonstrate to the public that a change would be effective. …

Labour MP Darren Hughes has drafted a member’s bill that proposing lowering the limit to 0.06mg, saying the Government is “dithering” and there is already clear public support for the change.  …

However, Mr Key said at his post-cabinet press conference today drink-driving issues were usually dealt with by conscience votes.

“I imagine it would be a conscience vote,” he said.

“I know there’s a wide range of views within our caucus.

“So that’s something I would have to take to caucus, but off the top of my head I’m not proposing to stand in its way.”

While I am against lowering the BAC limit, at least until we have some specific NZ research on the prevalence and accident rate of those driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, I think National should allow a conscience vote on the issue of Darren gets lucky with the ballot. I’d rather hear National MPs genuinely give their views for or against any change, rather than be whipped on it.

Hopefully Labour would also do the same, and allow their MPs to vote against should they wish to do so.

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Darren do good

June 17th, 2010 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Take a bow, Labour’s Darren Hughes – at least one former minister has proven capable of separating personal from work spending.

Credit card receipts from Mr Hughes’ ministerial days show that on a trip to a conference in Australia in August 2008 with a staffer, any alcohol they drank at restaurants was paid for in cash separately. Only meals went on the ministerial card.

Mr Hughes was also quick to question his bill – a $7 hotel minibar charge for pistachios in Auckland was reimbursed by the hotel when he said he had not eaten them.

Mr Hughes said it was his custom to separate the cost of alcohol and pay for it personally.

Darren is a very smart lad. You can’t get into trouble doing that. He wasn’t obliged to, but he did. It is called a risk averse approach.

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