Whale Oil has blogged a summary of a 24 page story in Investigate, with a large number of allegations by a Jevan Goulter against various Labour MPs and others.
These are not anonymous allegations – Goulter is making them himself under his name. However that does not mean they are overly reliable, and are the gospel. In fact Ian Wishart himself concludes the article by saying:
As for the abuse of trust, did Labour abuse its trust in looking after a troubled 14 year old badly, or did Jevan Goulter abuse the trust of a political party who'd taken him under their wing?
At several points through the article, Wishart reveals that Goulter's story is incorrect or exaggerated, and my personal take is that there is a lot of bragging there. It does not mean everything he has said is false, but i would caution people not to assume everything he has said is true.
Also in one section he says:
As for Phil Goff I probably had more to do with his daughter, who worked for a Government agency when Labour was in. Her name is Samantha. She was just stunning, she was beautiful when I met her, she was really hot. And I was like, ‘Piss off, you're not his daughter?' And she was, so we used to go out and have dinner and lunch quite a bit. Phil was a, I think he was a bit of a nobody then.
Now Phil Goff does have a daughter whom, umm could be seen to fit that description. However her name is not Samantha. If Jevan really was going out for meals with someone “quite a bit”, you think he would correctly remember their name. So again, does not help the credibility.
He makes allegations of sexual harassment against Tim Barnett. And some time later his partner (Mika) asked Barnett to pay $25,000 as compensation for Javen's mental health. To my mind that is close to blackmail
Barnett makes the reasonable point that as a prominent gay MP pushing the boundaries of social legislation he was careful, like Caesar's wife, to be above reproach, and not to be alone with people in situations that could be misconstrued.
There are no witnesses to the allegations so it is a case of he said vs she said. As someone who worked in Parliament for eight years, I got to hear a lot of gossip about a lot of MPs. You get to know which ones screw around and are sleazy. I don't recall at the time any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour from Tim Barnett, and to the contrary he seemed very committed to his partner, Ramon. Without witnesses, I do not regard the allegations as credible. There are other MPs I would be more sceptical of.
Another allegation I find lacking in credibility is this:
INVESTIGATE: Michael Cullen?
JEVAN: I know he smoked it at the annual – I think it was the Christchurch Labour conference with Annette, but I don't think Annette had it. I couldn't be honest and say I saw her smoke it.
INVESTIGATE: But you did see him?
JEVAN: He had it in his hand, yes. I just remember him having it, it was passed to him by one of the young Labours.
This is in reference to cannabis use. It is quite possible Dr Cullen, like many NZers, has used cannabis at some stage. However to think the Deputy Prime Minister would openly smoke cannabis at a labour party conference – and in front of dozens of Young Labour activists is frankly incredible. I just don't think it happened, and if that did not happen, I doubt some of the other allegations about cannabis use.
Not everything can be dismissed though. It seems very clear that some Labour Party MPs did lie about whether or not they knew Javen. The most blatant fib came from Lianne Dalziel, who confessed it online:
And yet…within five minutes of making the call to Dalziel's office, Investigate received a phone call from Jevan, “You've just rung Lianne? She's just sending me a facebook chat apologising for denying that she knew me”.
This is what Dalziel said to Goulter:
“I owe you an apology. Ian Wishart has just contacted me and I'm afraid I said I didn't remember you. I feel so guilty. All I've said, I told him you were a Facebook friend, so I knew ‘about' you.
I hope this doesn't affect what he is writing about you.”
Considering Lianne lost her ministerial job for not telling the truth, this doesn't help her credibility.
The person who comes out of this looking very wise and sensible is Jacinda Ardern:
Young Labour were always very angry towards me, they didn't like how I got to do what I wanted. Jacinda Ardern, who's now an MP, she was my biggest hater….
But then I'm getting drunk and Jacinda comes over and rips the glass of wine out of my hand, ‘You can't drink in here, you're only 15!'
‘Yeah I can drink in here, it's a private function, you're not my mum, piss off', and I got really verbal with her, I really didn't like her.
So I walked over to Helen and I said,‘Jacinda's just said I'm not allowed to drink. Am I allowed to drink or not?' And Helen's exact words were, ‘Of course you are, this is my house.' I said, ‘I'm only 15'. And she said, ‘It's my house'.
So I got my glass of wine and I started boozing up again. Jacinda just went off her nut. Now, Helen was drunk that night, in my view. Helen was drunk and she gets to the point when she's drunk where people just take her away.
I think a number of Jacinda's colleagues may rue that they were not as cautious around Jevan as she was. Jacinda's actions look very prudent to me.
Incidentally I am also unconvinced of Helen Clark being drunk, and having to have people take her away. It's not exactly an image that fits the former Prime Minister.
So overall I find the allegations lacking in credibility in significant areas. Having said that though, I think there are some lessons for Labour in the perils of letting a 14 year old run riot through Parliament and the party. He should have been in school in Christchurch.
As I have said before, I am a big fan of encouraging young people to get involved in politics. But I never encourage school age people to get significantly involved. Your school years should be a time of fun and learning, plus one often lacks the maturity to cope with “adult politics”.
That is not a universal rule. One friend of mine got involved at age 15 or 16 and went on to become a highly valued parliamentary and ministerial staffer. [UPDATE: Said staffer has e-mailed to say they are not highly valued but in fact under paid and over worked :-)]
But I also recall the 1993 election night when I allowed a 14 year old Young National to attend the election night HQ function, as a “results chalkie”. There was of course an open and free bar and I failed to supervise properly with the end result being the poor girl vomiting up in the boardroom, and then collapsing unconscious on the floor as she had never drunk alcohol before. I had to decide whether or not to take her to A&E or home, and had to deliver her still unconscious to her parents, who quite rightly were less than impressed. I visited the next day to check she was fine, and the parents were blaming her more than they were holding me responsible, but in the end I was the one responsible as the adult and still feel some remorse about it to this day. Similarly, I suspect some Labour MPs are regretting allowing Jevan to spend so much time at Parliament, at functions at Premier House and the like.