I’m reluctant to politicise the alcohol theft issue, because while it is Labour this time which has the stupid staff members, there have been plenty of stupidities done over the years by staff from all parties – including myself! Of course theft is at the more serious end of the scale.
Labour leader Phil Goff said the staffers’ actions were “totally unacceptable”.
“I deeply regret that that action was taken. It is perhaps a message for young people at Christmas functions – watch how much you drink and remember you will be accountable for your actions afterwards.”
Umm, I hope Phil is not suggesting all young people steal things when they have had a few drinks.
And I am not even sure blaming what happened on alcohol is a good idea. They were loading the wine into a car. So either one of them were sober enough to drive, or they were also going to be drink driving.
Phil also said:
Mr Goff said he did not know the individuals personally.
But the Herald reports:
Aidan Smith was arrested after allegedly being caught taking the wine to a car outside Wednesday night’s party, which was attended by Prime Minister John Key and a collection of other ministers and senior MPs.
Smith was still working as Labour MP Pete Hodgson’s assistant yesterday. He is due to leave that role soon to work for the party’s finance spokesman, David Cunliffe. He has previously worked in the party’s research unit.
He is listed as working in the Research Unit, which is part of Phil Goff’s leader’s office. Now one must take Mr Goff at his word that he has never met Smith, but all I can say is that in my experience it would be very very rare for an Opposition Leader not to know all of his office staff. In fact often they will know most of the MPs secretaries also. Its unclear whether he was Hodgson’s secretary, or a researcher working for Hodgson (which makes him part of the Leader’s Office).
As to the four involved, I had a degree of sympathy initally based on an assumption it was an opportunistic fit if stupidity. You’re the last people at a party and there is a box of wine, and you think hey it is paid for anyway, we could have drink it anyway, and hate it to go to waste. Now don’t get me wrong – that is still wrong, but I can understand with some empathy how that may happen. But according to the Herald it was very calculated:
A group of up to four people, also believed to be Labour staffers, were seen acting suspiciously as they came in and out of the party, which was held in Parliament’s Doidge room and spilled into the area outside.
Press Gallery chair Vernon Small of the Dominion-Post and deputy chair Jane Patterson say they tracked Smith to the carpark.
It is believed that the group of four were taking full bottles of wine from the bar then smuggling them individually out the gate and up to the car.
A partygoer claims to have seen one making fake phone calls as an excuse to go in and out of the party.
If this is correct, that is pretty inexcusable. Now it is possible the accussed denies the events, so I won’t comment further than this for reasons of natural justice. But if the above account is accurate, that makes it very serious.