Ralston on Parliamentary Rugby Team

Ralston in the HoS quotes members of the Parliamentary Rugby Team from Labour and National, who seem to be upset by the PM’s unilateral decision to investigate the team.

Shane Jones says:

“I haven’t heard any allegations currently of impropriety. I reject it utterly,” he says, suddenly very serious and wary. “Once you get on this slippery slope it can get dangerous,”

Ralston comments:

It is the kind of loony political row that could only occur in New Zealand. In the UK they have glorious sex scandals and “cash for questions” corruption, in the US they have senators ensnared by Washington madams and big corporates kicking millions into congressional campaign funds. In New Zealand we squabble over who paid for whom to go to a footy match.

So why is the PM ordering an investigation.  Ralston has a theory:

The Prime Minister also distrusts the fraternisation that occurs because of the nature of the team. As Murray McCully says plaintively, “It’s the only non-partisan activity around Parliament where MPs treat each other like human beings”.

Most of all, the Prime Minister is a control freak. She hates things that she cannot exercise power over and the anarchic nature of the Parliamentary Rugby squad, with no formal structure or lines of accountability deeply offend her. It is also about the intensely male sport of rugby, something she has little feeling for. If it was a sponsored parliamentary theatre group or opera chorus she might have taken a different stance.

And finally Ralston asks:

Come to think of it, how ethical is it for the cultural sector to bombard the Minister of Culture with freebie tickets to plays and concerts?

Possible double standards indeed.

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