Vance on Mark

November 8th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance writes:

Later, Mark – and some of his colleagues – were befuddled by the outrage.  “It’s not racist – grow up,” he blustered.

Yes, Ron Mark, it is. It’s deplorable that as a Member of Parliament you need this explained to you.  Every other party in Parliament – bar your own – understands this and have condemned your behaviour.

It is racist, because Lee was offended. It is racist because it implies that you are more “Kiwi” than Lee, who has made New Zealand her home for 30 years. …

It’s racist enough to get you arrested. In April, an Upper Hutt man was arrested for ordering tourists on a bus to “go back to your own country”. The ugly scene was filmed and uploaded to You Tube. 

Dozens of similar racist rants – usually on public transport – have been shared across the world. Usually they end in a court appearance.

Mark’s words are even more shocking than those viral videos because they came not from an ignorant lout on a bus, but from the mouth of an MP – to another MP – during a parliamentary debate.

Ron Mark would do well to apologise, rather than insist he said nothing wrong.

The most charitable we can be about Mark is to liken him to the embarrassing docile old uncle who knows no better.  But that excuses him.  And it’s more likely Mark’s behaviour was calculated.

He was working from the Winston Peters’ playbook, and is now revelling in the attention he’s receiving from the redneck constituency.

Peters was duly out, belligerently defending his MP this morning.  But the politics are indefensible precisely because they aren’t politics. 

Politics is raising general concerns about immigration. NZ First has gone well beyond that to targeting and stigmatising individuals and national (usually Asian) groups.

It’s time to be honest about that strategy and call out NZ First for exactly what it is: a racist party.

Sadly true – but not all of them. Tracey Martin had the guts to say it was wrong.

Is Ron campaigning for Winston’s job?

November 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Ron Mark has been accused of racism after telling a National MP to “go back to Korea” during a parliamentary debate.

Mark’s comments have attracted criticism from MPs across the political spectrum.

His remarks came during debate on Tuesday about the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which would allow local councils to determine whether shops can trade on Easter Sunday.

Mark took offence to a speech by Korean-born Lee in support of the bill, in which she said she had been surprised by New Zealand’s restricted shop hours having grown up overseas.

In response, he said: “Melissa Lee told the House in her rather condescending manner, which she is becoming renowned for, that we need to grow up in New Zealand.

“Well I have got a short message – if you do not like New Zealand, go back to Korea.”

Let’s have a look at the Hansard in which we see Ron Mark not just telling Melissa Lee to go back to Korea, but also getting it totally wrong on India when he has a go at MPs of Indian descent.

First what did Melissa Lee say:

MELISSA LEE: Exactly. Sometimes, as a migrant—well, not a new migrant; I have been here for nearly 30 years—it used to really surprise me, having grown up overseas and come to New Zealand, to see New Zealand shut down at a particular hour. That was really, really surprising. You know, we were closing shops at 5 o’clock when in other countries shops were open to 10 or midnight, or all night and 24/7. It is about choice. It is about people wanting to have that choice to either go and spend their money—go shopping and do touristy things—or to go and spend time with their family and have meals at a restaurant. Whatever it is, it is their choice.

Melissa is not alone in that observation. I recall the 1980s when shops closed at 5.30 pm four days a week and nothing was open on Saturday or Sunday. People visiting or new to NZ were always staggered by this.

RON MARK: Because, actually, Mr Hudson, you are like that old Hudson car—slow, smoky, rather rounded at the edges, and going nowhere fast—and no one buys the crap we just heard this evening, thank you. I want to go on to the other comments of Melissa Lee, one of these other wonderful National Party member, from Korea as Wikipedia says. Melissa Lee told the House in her rather condescending manner, which she is becoming renowned for, that we need to grow up in New Zealand. Well I have got a short message, if you do not like New Zealand go back to Korea.

A rather nasty contribution to the very reasonable observation Melissa Lee made. But he did not stop there:

RON MARK: Without any overtures of racism, let us look at the holidays in Korea that are public holidays that people do not work on. Coming to New Zealand and telling us we should grow up in our House, where we allow freedom of speech, is a little different to what we see. Buddha’s birthday, holy heck, so now we say that New Zealanders should have to work on a religious day but in Korea, where Miss Lee comes from, Buddha’s birthday on the eighth of the fourth lunar month is a public holiday where no one works. So let us look at another National Party member. Oh geebers, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi. This gentleman also understands and respects the value of religious days and the need for public holidays but he sits in this House ready to take a call, I guess, to support this legislation. But let us have a look at India. There are so many, I just could not read them out in this time that I have available, but one of the religious holidays in India is Easter. where people do not have to work. And there is Good Friday, Easter Sunday, St Thomas the Apostle, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Christmas Day. And let us have a look at a few others: Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Eid ul-Ghadeer, and let us not forget Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.

So Ron claimed there is no work in India on all those religious holidays. But he made it up.

KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National): Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill. First of all, I would like to clarify a few things that the previous speaker has raised. On any religious day in India, if there is a public holiday, every business is open and they pray. They do not—

Ron Mark: No.

KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI: Your knowledge is totally zero. The only two holidays—yes, I am from India, I lived over there for 35 years, and I can tell you that on every religious day, every shop is open, every shop is allowed to trade. The only 2 days when the whole of India is closed are not religious days; they are the Republic Day of India and Independence Day.

So, for your knowledge, clarify yourself before you speak, and do not try to be racist.

Nice slap down from Bakshi.

It’s Ron

July 3rd, 2015 at 12:15 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Ron Mark is New Zealand First’s deputy leader after caucus members voted to dump Tracey Martin from the position.

Leader Winston Peters issued a statement confirming the change this morning, ending speculation that had swirled around Parliament all week.

The fight for the deputy position is seen as important in terms of an eventual successor to Mr Peters.

A vote on caucus positions was planned for March, but was delayed after the Northland byelection and Ria Bond joining as the party’s 12th MP.

Caucus voted on Tuesday and elected Mr Mark as deputy leader, with effect from today.

Very tough on Tracey who has been a loyal and hard working MP for NZ First.

Mr Peters, who is currently travelling to Tonga, was believed to have supported Ms Martin.

Like Colin Craig, Winston is discovering he doesn’t have sole ownership of his party.

Note I reported this outcome yesterday. My sources were correct.

Prosser 3rd, Williams dumped

August 20th, 2014 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Andrew Williams is set to be dumped to a seemingly unelectable position on the party list, and former MP Ron Mark is set to rejoin the party ahead of the general election. 

Stuff understands a draft copy of the NZ First list, determined by the party’s selection committee last weekend, has Williams ranked at 13 and Mark at 9.

The draft list is understood to have MP Richard Prosser ranked at No 3.

Prosser became infamous in 2013 for writing in his regular column in Investigate magazine, that all young Muslim men – or those who “look” Muslim – should be barred from flying on Western airlines. The rights of New Zealanders were being “denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan”, Prosser wrote. He later apologised for the comments.

The guy who said the most racist thing in the last three years is rewarded with the No 3 spot? Only in NZ First.

I also can’t understand why Williams would be ranked so low, at 13.

While Williams did some silly stuff as Mayor of North Shore, my observation of him as an MP is that he has generally been quite sound and hard working. He hasn’t generated anywhere near the negative headlines of MPs such as Prosser and Lole-Taylor yet he is the one dumped. This is very weird.

Williams said his ranking on the list came as “a bolt out of the blue”.

“I think most people would agree around Parliament I’ve been a pretty able MP,” he said.

“I’ve performed for the party, I’ve done a lot of hard work for the party and I’ve represented the party as well as I could.”

The ranking was no reflection of his ability or contribution, but attributable to internal party politics, Williams said.

“I’ve had the most portfolios of any MP. I’ve had 11, plus I’ve been an associate to Winston on foreign affairs, trade, SOEs and finance,” he said.

“So I’ve had a very heavy workload, and the portfolios I’ve had have been pretty solid ones, like local government, veterans’ affairs, conservation, environment, energy; all of which I’ve been solidly batting on.”

Williams said he would like to know what the selection committee’s criteria were for selecting the top 10 candidates for the party.

He had sought an explanation for the drop but had not received a response.

I think he has been hard done by.

The return of Ron Mark at No 9 is interesting. They’ll need to lift their vote slightly to get him in, but if they do, then they may have a potential sucessor to Peters.

UPDATE: Have spoken to someone close to NZ First and they say that the sole criteria for list ranking is total devotion and loyalty to Winston, so in that context the list makes sense!

They also made the point that while Ron Mark has some relationships with people in National, he is also very close to someone in Mana, and his inclusion should not signal they’ll go with National, but equally be used to form a Labour-Greens-NZ First-Mana-Internet Government.

Will Mark succeed Peters?

July 31st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Carterton mayor Ron Mark is not ruling out a return to Parliament.

The former New Zealand First MP said he had been approached by several parties including National.

“I have been asked by a number of parties. NZ First asked me last time and I said no and they have asked me this time and I am thinking about it,” Mark said.

Mark, 60, was a NZ First MP for 12 years before exiting Parliament, along with the Party, at the end of the 2008 election.

He said National have made it very clear that he would be “welcome in their tent”, with the Maori Party and Act also eager to talk.

“It’s all very flattering but you’ve got to think about what it is you really want to achieve and how best to achieve that, more importantly what the Wairarapa needs,” Mark says.

The horse may have bolted when it comes to National, however, with the Party announcing its list at the weekend.

Mark said he believed NZ First was well placed to return to Parliament at the September 20 Election.

“People have said to me you have to come back because we are going to be in Parliament and I said to Winston [Peters] that if that is the only reason for joining then that is the wrong reason.

“I am sure they will be back there, the question is will I be with them . . . I know that they are anxious to have me.”

If Ron Mark does return to Parliament as a NZ First MP, it will be to be Winston’s successor. That is not a bad thing.

Brown and Mark on NZ First

July 16th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Both Peter Brown and Ron Mark have spoken out on New Zealand First. The Dom Post quotes Peter Brown:

One of Winston Peters’ most loyal lieutenants has lifted the lid on the final days in the NZ First bunker before the election, revealing that abusive phone calls from the public forced some branch offices to leave their phones off the hook and admitting that Mr Peters’ judgment became clouded.

Clouded. A nice way of putting it.

Mr Peters appears to be on the comeback trail, writing in an email to party faithful that saying “sorry” for events leading up to the last election will clear the way for a “new beginning”. The email comes as the party prepares for its annual gathering on August 29 demoralised by an election loss and a bruising year in which Mr Peters faced controversy over donations to the secretive Spencer Trust and was embarrassed by revelations of a $100,000 donation from billionaire businessman Owen Glenn.

The email states: “Before we make a new beginning, we want to use the hardest word in the English language SORRY. We acknowledge that we made mistakes … we allowed our opponents to create a perception of wrongdoing when, in fact, no offences were committed.”

A perception of wrongdoing?

NZ First filed false donation returns in 2005, 2006 and 2007. They got off prosecution because the then law had a time limit for prosecution. And Peters was exposed by the Privileges Committee as having known about the Glenn donation, despite denying any knowledge dozens of times.

Mr Peters could not be contacted yesterday. But former NZ First deputy Peter Brown, who remains a party loyalist, suggested the sorry was overdue.

“They’re all very fine words. But some of us knew we were on the wrong track. Some of us knew we’d lost sight of the big picture. But much as we tried to steer the horse back on track, he went out like the Lone Ranger.”

I have heard from a few people that none of his MPs could get through to Peters.

But during the 2008 campaign “something clouded his judgment. I think he could have handled things differently and we could have got there. I genuinely believe that.”

If Peters had admitted he knew about the Glenn donation when asked, NZ First may well still be in Parliament. And for all his apologies about “perception” of wrong-doing, Peters still will not apologise for lying over the Glenn donation.

Of course all the Labour MPs voted to believe him also, so I suppose he thinks he was telling the truth. It is interesting Labour never cites their defence of Winston as a factor in their loss. I think it was quite a significant factor.

There had been tensions over legislation that Mr Peters demanded his caucus support, including the Electoral Finance Act, but the bolt from the blue was the Spencer Trust.

There were revelations that money had been secretly paid into the trust, including donations from wealthy business donors.

“Nobody knew anything about that. Deputy leader, the president, we knew nothing. What the dickens?” Mr Brown said.

Ironic that those who supported the EFA were practising exactly what they were denouncing. And as Peter Brown says, this was a trust so secretive not even the Deputy Leader or President knew of it. Winston wan the party as a personal fiefdom.

Things went from bad to worse when NZ First launched a web campaign attacking the media and John Key in an open letter, and 150,000 personalised letters were sent out to voters.

Only Mr Peters knew about it, Mr Brown said. “The place went mad. We got abusive phone calls left, right and centre. This was two days before the election. I couldn’t believe it.

“I rang Wellington and said somebody is up there playing dirty tricks on us … I thought it was our political opponents.’.

Yes, the letter with the personalised domain name was a disaster.

And the Herald talks to Ron Mark:

Ron Mark was NZ First’s highest-profile MP after Mr Peters himself – and yesterday said that after 12 years with the party, he was no longer active and would not rule out returning to politics with another party.

Ron was widely regarded as the successor to Peters.

The Newsroom website revealed yesterday that Mr Peters has written to party members and apologising for “mistakes” made in the election campaign.

When asked if Mr Peters’ apology was warranted, Mr Mark paused for a lengthy period before answering:

“I think it’s always important to acknowledge mistakes you have made.

“To me it’s irrelevant right now. I’m out.”

Peters will be 66 (and have his gold card) at the next election. Who is going to become the new Deputy Leader (Brown has or is stepping down)?

Ron Mark for Carterton

April 27th, 2009 at 1:45 pm by David Farrar

Roar Prawn reports that Ron Mark is planning to stand for Mayor of Carterton.

I think Ron will win easily.

Lockie on Q&A

March 29th, 2009 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

I missed watching it live, but have now viewed the second segment of Q&A online. The guest was Lockwood Smith (and his fiancee).

The panel discussion afterwards was very interesting. It was Therese Arseneau, Paul Holmes, Ron Mark and Laila Harre. They were all very approving of Lockwood’s decision to try and get Ministers to answer the question, if it is a straight forward primary question.

Laila made an interesting point, about why this may have happened. She said that Lockwood is not personally or politically very close to the National Party Leadership. She contrasted that to Margaret Wilson and Jonathan Hunt who were both extremely close to Clark. In fact we got told how every time she had been in the Speaker’s office, Clark had phoned Hunt while she was there. There is a certain incompatability with being a senior advisor to the PM, and being the Speaker. And we saw that when we had the disgraceful collusion over Harry Duynhoven’s status as an MP.

Lockie I am sure values his own public reputation more than making life too easy for his colleagues. Hence why he has tried to change some things. And ironically I think it actually benefits National also, even though some weaker Ministers may find it hard going. The public see a Government as very arrogant when it refuses to answer even the most simple questions. It loses votes eventually.

What I have found interesting is that Lockie has actually introduced a number of changes, not just redefining the line between addressing and answering the questions. They are:

  1. Playing “advantage”. This was referred to as a light handed regulatory approach with clear boundaries, but I see it as a rugby analogy where he concentrates more on kepping the game flowing, rather than penalising every technical infringement. Several times I have heard him say something along the lines of giving the Opposition more supplementaries because a Minister went on too long. So rather than pul everyone up, he is just striving for a reasonably fair process.
  2. The previously referred to moving the boundary between addressing and answering the question
  3. Is cracking down on points or order that are not points or order. Winston used to be the biggest offender at that – I would say only around 2% of his points or order were legitimate, but Wilson would never pull him up.
  4. Discouraging tabling of documents just to be able to read out what it is. He can not stop anyone seeking leave to do so, but has tried to shame MPs by pointing out whenever they seek leave that they are abusing the process and leave should only be sought for documents not already available to MPs. And this seems to have had some effect on reducing such tabling requests
  5. Time – it has been many years since question time took only an hour. Hell Helen called a snap election in 2002 because of a few extra minutes a day of question time. In the last two years it was routinely taking around 100 minutes. It is now a lot closer to 60 again.

TVNZ also has online the transcript of the interview with Judith Collins.

NZ First looks to Mt Albert

February 11th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NZ First is looking at standing in the Mt Albert by-election if it occurs:

I heard a few weeks ago that they saw this as a possible route back into Parliament for them. And it can’t be totally dismissed – third parties often do very well in by-elections.

Complicating this by-election is the situation I have previously blogged on. If Phil Twyford is the Labour candidate, then a vote for hm in Mt Albert may bring Judith Tizard back in on the list.  You could expect to see a huge amount of focus on this.

It sounds like Winston may not be the candidate:

Mr Groombridge would not comment when asked if Mr Peters would be the candidate. He said it would be up to the party’s electorate organisation to choose. He was “pretty certain” NZ First had a branch in Mt Albert.

I find it amusing the Party President can not be sure if they have an electorate organisation or not!

Mr Groombridge said he also believed that Mr Peters should share the leadership of NZ First.

He said a co-leader would bring in “new blood”, while still retaining Mr Peters who “really is the patriarch of the party, there’s no question about that”.

Patriarch isn’t a bad term for Winston. Wikipedia describes as:

Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family.

I’m wondering though if “capo” may not be a better term 🙂

Mr Groombridge said that depending on whether Helen Clark got the job and when she left, NZ First’s candidate could be either a contender for the co-leadership or the newly appointed co-leader.

If Ron Mark is co-leader, Ron could do quite wellespecially that voting for him won’t automatically bring Winston in with him – unlike in the general election.

Will Mark challenge Peters?

February 8th, 2009 at 5:41 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports that Winston Peters may be forced to share the leadership of NZ First with Ron Mark. Fascinating.

Winston Peters could be forced to share his coveted role as New Zealand First leader, amid internal concerns over the party’s failed election campaign.

The outspoken rumblings are the strongest in the party’s 16-year history, with deputy leader Peter Brown describing Peters as a “liability”.

Boy, having Peter Brown describe you as a liability must hurt. It’s like having David Lange calling someone overweight.

While most are talking of finding a better relationship with the media, Peters renewed the aggressive stance displayed during the campaign.

Asked for comment on the party’s future, he told the Herald on Sunday: “Go have a w**k somewhere else”.

The HoS should put the audio online, as the Dom Post does 🙂

Former MP Edwin Perry raised the possibility of high-profile former MP Ron Mark leading the party. Perry is Mark’s electorate chairman.

Their conference next weekend could be most interesting.

The Lower North Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 4:32 am by David Farrar

Whanganui had a 3% lead in the party vote in 2005, and this expanded out to 22% in 2008. And the 3,500 majority for Borrows goes to 6,000.

Rangitikei sees a 25% lead in the party vote and Simon Power moves his majority from 9,000 to 11,000.

Tukituki has an 18% lead in the party vote, and a 2,600 majority for Craig Foss gets a boost thanks to Labour’s sacking of the local District Health Board to over 7,000.

Palmerston North has been held by Labour since 1978. The party vote was narrowly won by National but Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway held off Malcolm Plimmer by 1,000 votes.

Wairarapa has National 17% ahead on the party vote. And John Hayes turns the seat safe with a 2,900 majority converting to 6,300 in 2008.

Otaki was a huge battle. I’ve door knocked Otaki in the past and it is not natural National territory in the Horowhenua parts. So winning the party vote by 8% is good for National after trailling by 3% last time. Darren Hughes put up a huge fight to protect his sub 400 majority but Nathan Guy grabbed the seat by almost 1,500.

In Wellington, Labour does a lot better starting with Mana. Labour remains 6% ahead on the party vote but reduced from 18% in 2005. Winnie Laban’s 6,800 majority shrinks only slightly to 5.300.

Rimutaka was the last hope for NZ First. Labour won the party vote there in 2005 by 11% and in 2008 by 0.3%. On the electorate vote just as narrow with Labour’s Chris Hipkins pipping Richard Whiteside by 600 votes. Ron Mark got a credible 5,000 votes but stll trailed by 7,000.

Hutt South is home to Wainuiomata and Trevor Mallard. Trevor delivered a party vote margin for Labour of 4% and a 3,600 majority for himself. In 2005 the party vote margin was 14% and the personal majority 6,600 so some movement there.

Rongotai is now the home of the Labour Deputy Leader. But even before her ascension, Rongotai gave Labour a massive 11% margin on the party vote – 43% to 32% for National. And her personal 13,000 majority in 2005 was only slightly dented to just under 8,000. If that is her low tide mark, she’ll be happy.

Wellington Central saw in 2005 a party vote for National of just 33%, Labour 43% and Greens around 16%. In 2008 it was National 36%, Labour 34% and Greens around 20%. Marian Hobbs had a 5,800 majority and Stephen Franks cut that to 1,500 against new MP Grant Robertson with some Green party votes giving Robertson their electorate vote to keep Franks out.

Ohariu was assumed by almost everyone to be safe as houses for Peter Dunne. But it got close this time. First on the party vote, National beat Labour 43% to 40% in 2005. This time it was 47% to 33%. On the candidate vote Peter Dunne dropped from 45% to 33% making him vulnerable. National’s Katrina Shanks lifted her vote from 21% to 26% and Labour’s Charles Chauvel from 26% to 30%. The Greens candidate got 7% of the vote and may have ironically saved the seat for Dunne.

Mutiny in the ranks?

November 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The latest revelations about Winston and Ross Meurant, have led to some of his own MPs talking about their concerns.

If NZ First did not have Winston as Leader, there would be some MPs there that I would like to see return to Parliament. But as the price of having say Ron Mark or Peter Paraone back is to have Winston back, it is far too high a price to pay.

There is actually room on the political spectrum for a socially conservative but economically centre-left party. But again not with Winston. Anyway what has been reported:

On the campaign trail yesterday, only Prime Minister Helen Clark was still openly standing by the NZ First leader. She refused to retract previous expressions of confidence in Peters, saying the allegations were a matter for NZ First.

But they are not. He is her Minister of Racing. He forced her Government to splash out money on the racing industry, against official advice. There is considerable documented evidence that this advocacy was motivated by private donations to both NZ First and Peters personally as part of a strategy to attract money.

How the Prime Minister can say this is no issue for her, and she still has confidence is a classic case of see no evil, hear no evil.

National and Act have already ruled out sharing the Government benches with NZ First. And yesterday, Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she would have great difficulty sitting around the Cabinet table with Peters, unless he was cleared of the new and serious accusations.

That’s a step in the right direction Jeanette but she has left herself wriggle room. Peters is not around the Cabinet table at the moment – he is Minister outside Cabinet. I remain unconvinced that if Helen can only form a Government with the Greens and NZ First, and that NZ First demand Winston remains Foreign Minister (outside Cabinet) that Jeanette and the Greens would turn down an opportunity to be in Government.

Yesterday, Ron Mark said he had warned Peters about his involvement with Meurant: “I have no relationship with Ross, other than advising Winston he should have nothing to do with him.”

This was very good advice that Winston should have taken. But he didn’t. And I hope Ron looks at what Meurant advocated to Peters, looks at the sceret money they have received (that I am sure he knew nothing about previously) and realise that Winston not just ignored Ron’s advice but he implemented Meurant’s strategy.

The fact that Ron is willing to publicly say he advised WInston off Meurant is significant. Now someone should ask Winston why he ignored his MPs, what did Meurant actually do for him.

Parliamentary response from Rex Widerstrom

September 8th, 2008 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

Rex Widerstrom has had the Speaker approve this response from Rex Widerstrom to comments from NZ First MP Ron Mark.




In the general debate on Wednesday, 30 July 2008, Ron Mark made an interjection during part of a speech in which Rt Hon Winston Peters referred to me in such a way as to be readily identifiable. In the context of Mr Peters’ remarks, Mr Mark interjected with the word “paedophile”.

No reasonable person listening to proceedings at that time could fail to have understood that Mr Mark’s reference was to me. This was presumably a reference to my arrest in 2002 on several charges in Australia that were later subject to a nolle pro sequi with prejudice when the complainant-much to her credit-admitted that the entire thing was a fabrication.

Such is the opprobrium in which child sex offenders are held within the community, there can be no worse slur to offer against someone’s character. To do so against someone who has suffered the horror of being falsely accused of such an offence, only makes Mr Mark’s behaviour more offensive. A false accusation of the nature of that made by Mr Mark has a major effect on the life of an individual and his or her family.

I have always had a good relationship with Ron Mark and a lot of time for him. But there is no excusing his use of parliamentary privilege to label a critic a paedophile. It would be a good look for him to apologise for the remark, otherwise I suspect he will face questions at Rimutaka meet the candidate meetings about why he behaved in such a way.

HoS on Peters

August 31st, 2008 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

Every columnist is talking Peters, so I’ll take them all together. First of all Bill Ralston:

Meanwhile, that same morning, Winston was somewhere in Auckland in his ministerial limousine going stratospheric. For a man who has spent weeks dodging questions from the “meerkat” media he did something extraordinary. He rang Radio New Zealand and thundered he would convince Clark to keep him and “she will know these allegations are vile, malevolent, evil and wrong”.

This is again hypocrisy of the highest degree. When National was investigated by the SFO in 2002, for a cheque which passed through a trust account, Peters got up in Parliament and alleged a former Party President had stolen money from the party, and took a “cut” to bail out his company. Now that is a vile, malevolent, evil allegation if I have heard one.So naturally Trevor Mallard also jumped on the bandwagon and repeated it. There was no one at all in the media or public suggesting such a thing – the possibility was invented by Peters and Mallard.

While all Peters has to do at this stage is explain why donations intended for his party are not recorded as having reached it. The $25,000 donation from Bob Jones should have been declared either under his own name, or under the name of the Spencer Trust.

So far the participants he has identified in this “vile conspiracy” against him include me, the NZ Herald, the Dominion Post, TVNZ, TV3, Radio NZ, the Radio Network, the SFO, Act, National, and big business (except for those big businessmen who have funded him).

Hey don’t forget us bloggers. I want to be part of the conspiracy! Is there a joining fee?

Deborah Coddington has a novel definition of the moral high ground:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs could easily have sashayed offshore to some vitally important meeting, and left the Prime Minister to stave off the attacks.

Which she does admirably, I must say, shrugging away the poke, poke, poke from John Key, claiming the moral high ground by conceding a conflict of evidence given to the Privileges Committee by Owen Glenn and Peters.

So admitting that she knew for six months Peters was lying, and admitting it just before Owen Glenn is about to reveal you knew, is claiming the moral high ground? Well I choose the moral low ground then.

Coddington also suggests a deal with Labout to give Rimutaka to NZ First:

But they’ve overlooked a new development. Ron Mark is standing in Rimutaka, Paul Swain’s old electorate.

After Winston, Mark is NZ First’s best-known MP, and has a large following. He’s NZ First through and through – tough on crime, anti-foreign investment, against sale of state assets, working-class hero, bad boy made good. He’s also a bloody nice guy and with a careful campaign, and has a good chance of taking that seat.

Was this pre-arranged all along? It’s just too cute for Labour to stand a young unknown with no prospect of winning in such a safe Labour seat.

I am not sure Labour regard a member of Clark’s personal staff as a no hoper with no chance of winning. And I am also unsure how calling someone a paedophile under parliamentary privilege sits with being a bloody nice guy.

Kerre Woodham opines:

In all cases, Peters has held up his hands and protested, like Sergeant Schultz, that he knows nothing. Bob Jones said Winston asked for some dosh at a party; Winston says that’s not what he remembers.

Owen Glenn says Winston rang him and asked him for a donation towards his fighting fund; Winston says that is not his recollection. At all times, Winston plays the victim card.

Actually Peters is now more like Colonel Klink with Helen Clark better suited for the role of “I know nothing” Schulz, as it turns out she knew all along.

I used to think the world of Winston, but it’s been a long time since I found him principled or amusing. His posturing that New Zealand First is the only party not to sully its hands with trust funds and big money donations can be seen for what it is – bullshit.

And yet it was all so unnecessary. If Peters had been honest and upfront from day one, who would have cared?

Since 1996, NZ First has declared almost no major donors. Doing so would harm their PR crafted image of being anti big business, when the truth is they were majorly funded by big business.

Finally we have the Herald on Sunday editorial:

Regardless of the outcome of the SFO investigation, Peters will remain a man in a political mire of his own creation. The allegations in Parliament by Act leader Rodney Hide that NZ First was paid by Simunovich Fisheries in return for Peters’ backing off claims that the allocation of scampi quota was corrupt have been around for so long that a high-level independent inquiry is called for. But on the matter of the donation by expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn, which is still being investigated by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, Peters continues to be evasive and pedantic. Glenn may have shown himself to be unreliable as to the details of times and places but he did give $100,000 and described it in an email as given “to NZ First”. If Peters did not know that on the day that the email first surfaced, he should have taken steps to discover and divulge all the facts immediately. Instead, he said everyone else was mistaken or a liar.

The HoS overlooks the fact that at a minimum Peters knew Glenn thought he had donated back in February 2008, when Clark told him so.

National leader John Key, plainly sensing that public patience is exhausted, made a bold move this week in saying that Peters would not be a cabinet minister in a National-led Government – by extension ruling out NZ First as a coalition partner.

This is less a challenge to Peters than it is to Prime Minister Helen Clark who, whatever she might say about the need to be fair, has known about the Glenn allegation for six months. In giving Peters enough rope to hang himself, she may have put herself in the noose as well.


This week, the suggestion emerged that Ron Mark may stand as NZ First’s candidate in Rimutaka. A victory there could get the party two, or even three MPs – one of them the leader. Were Labour to connive at that, urging tactical voting to allow a NZ First victory in the hope of getting the numbers to form a coalition, Clark would confirm the suspicion she is now quite properly under: that she will turn a blind eye to Peters’ shenanigans to hold on to power.

The Rimutaka candidate, Chris Hipkins, works for Clark. Is it possible Clark will instruct him to endorse Ron Mark if they get desperate to ensure Winston’s survival?

She must match Key’s boldness by cutting Peters adrift and naming the election day. A campaign that consigns NZ First and its leader to the pages of history will allow the country to focus on important issues.

More importantly, it will treat Peters’ childish attention-seeking with the derision it deserves.

That would be nice. More likely is Clark will put Peters back into his portfolios as soon as she can.

A new low

August 5th, 2008 at 12:49 pm by David Farrar

I meant to get to this earlier, but it is appropriate to deal with it now, with the House about to resume. The Herald on Sunday covers what happened:

A former New Zealand First staff member branded a “paedophile” in Parliament last week is demanding an apology from the MP responsible, after more mud-slinging over the secretive Spencer Trust.

Rex Widerstrom, who last week alleged the trust was a slush fund for Winston Peters’ legal battles, has written to NZ First MP Ron Mark challenging him to repeat the underage sex claim outside Parliament – or at least have “the guts” to apologise.

Widerstrom has also claimed it was “a bit rich” of Mark to make such an allegation when the MP had a conviction for unlawful sex with a 15-year-old. In 2001, it emerged that Mark had been convicted 30 years ago of unlawful sex with a minor. He was fined $150.

During heated debate at question time in the House last week over donations to NZ First, Mark accused Widerstrom of being a “paedophile”. Mark yesterday declined to comment.

I’ve always had a lot of time for Ron Mark. Even though I think it is misplaced, I respect his loyalty to his leader. So it saddens me to make this post but nothing justifies using parliamentary privilege to label a critic a “paedophile”.

The fact that Ron actually has a conviction for under-age sex, should mean he should be especially prudent about his language. Now Ron was 17 when he was convicted of sleeping with a 15 year old and personally I don’t think that is anything particularly unusual or immoral, even though technically illegal. But Ron would not appreciate having his opponents label him nasty things on the basis of that conviction.

It would be the honourable thing to do for Ron to withdraw his remark and apologise when the House resumes, by way of point of order.

Well done Ron

May 27th, 2008 at 4:45 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports on how NZ First MP Ron Mark helped save a man’s life after his motorcycle was hit by a trailer in the Terrace tunnel.

Ron hasn’t said anything about it, but the crash victim wrote to the PM and others informing them of what Ron, and his partner, did.

Ron is my favourite NZ First MP. And no that is not like being my favourite form of cancer – I have always had a lot of respect and regard for Ron, despite my well documented views on his leader.

Back Benches

April 11th, 2008 at 2:50 am by David Farrar

I am in danger of getting addicted to Back Benches, even though Tim Selwyn still isn’t a fan. I actually like the lighter side such as poking through an MP’s office.

I like being able to watch the show live while drinking and eating at the Backbencher. And this week the MPs didn’t interject so much, which made it better I though. The MPs on Wednesday were Moana Mackey, Chester Borrows, Ron Mark and Sue Bradford.

They encourage three audience questions to the MPs during the show, and when there seemed to be a lack of volunteers, I agreed to ask a question to Ron Mark.

Now I actually get on very well with Ron, having worked with him in Government in the 1990s,  and I admire his loyalty to his Leader even though I think it is misplaced. But that didn’t stop Ron immediately loudly exclaiming that I was a National plant as I got up to ask my question, and so it made good theatre.

I though I asked a very fair, not at all loaded question, just inquiring whether the MPs thought it was a good thing or a bad thing that NZ had a Foreign Minister who was against foreign trade deals, against foreign investment and against foreigners being able to come and live in NZ 🙂

Ron said they were not against any of those things, they just wanted smarter investment, smarter trade etc, Wallace (the host) then asked me the three questions from the NZ First ad.  I happily said yes I support the China FTA.  Then he asked if I supported selling the NZ dairy industry overseas.  I was a bit puzzled by that one because as I said, I wasn’t aware it was for sale, and if so who was selling it.  And how would a sale work – are we actually talking of moving all the cows to Japan or something? Finally I concluded that I think the cows are happier in NZ.

I thought Moana Mackey did very well- relaxed and on message.  I did hope though that when they asked her does she think the Diana inquest got it right, she would proclaim no, no Prince Philip really did murder her. Chester Borrows also good – supporting the FTA, and carefully tip-toeing through the issue of Winston. Ron Mark was on the receiving end of most of it, but as usual was the happy battler. Sue Bradford was fairly subdued, but got good cheers from the large contingent of Green supporters.

So was lots of fun, and was nice the MPs stayed around for a while to chat with the people in the BB.