Labour’s Flavell smears still lacking the vital element – proof

The Herald reports:

Labour leader has called for Maori Development Minister to be stripped of responsibility for after questioning whether Mr Flavell put pressure on the broadcaster to scrap a debate.

Stuff reports:

Calls are coming for the Maori Development Minister to resign, as it emerges he met with the Maori Television chief executive less than two hours before a contentious debate was canned.

This is just getting pathetic. Now Labour thinks Ministers should be sacked on the basis of a conspiracy theory with no proof.

I blogged on Monday on the issue of the e-mails from his staffer. They are quite mundane and if Labour think it is now illegal for a press secretary to negotiate details of a press appearance with media, well there won’t be any left in the building. That is their job. And Flavell’s staffer was quite explicit that Flavell would appear regardless of whether their views on other participants were taken on board.

The latest element is that Flavell met the Maori TV Chief Executive a couple of hours before the decision was taken to scrap the debate. Now certainly if Flavell and the CEO came to an agreement to cancel the debate, that would be outrageous. But the Herald reports:

However, the show was cancelled on May 20 and those involved were told two hours after Mr Flavell had a meeting with Maori TV chief executive Paora Maxwell.

Mr Flavell said that was coincidental and told Radio NZ he had not discussed the programme with Mr Maxwell at that meeting.

A file note from the meeting between Mr Flavell and Mr Maxwell provided to the NZ Herald contains no specific mention of Native Affairs or the proposed Whanau Ora debate.

However it does mention Maori TV plans to increase advertising revenue through the Ministries of Health and Education and “partnership with Whanau Ora Commissioning Agencies re: future growth of services.”

Mr Flavell said it was a regular quarterly meeting which was set up back in February.

So Labour are basically claiming both Flavell and the CEO are lying, and the file note deliberately incomplete. And their proof for this …. well, nothing at all.

A spokeswoman for Maori TV said the planned debate was cancelled because of low ratings on public holidays. “It was a format change because of ratings. Previous ratings for panel shows on public holidays were low.”

Seems pretty logical. And I’m sure Maori TV will have many debates about Whanau Ora over the next year.

Mr Little acknowledged he did not have firm evidence of any interference by Mr Flavell but the press secretary’s concerns and timing of the cancellation did raise questions Mr Flavell had to answer.

“In the absence of explanations about what happened in the meeting and in the absence of an explanation about why the debate on Whanau Ora was cancelled we are entitled to draw inferences. I have and I smell a rat.”

Translation: I made it up with no proof at all.

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