Labour Leader Andrew Little this week got the political blunderbuss out and blew off both feet and then his arms. He never grazed his target.
In my view, his was a disgraceful display of nastiness and political incompetence not expected of a rookie opposition MP and gobsmackingly awful for a would-be Prime Minister.
I refer, of course, to what Little would have you believe was Niue-gate.
It was a spectacular own goal.
The trustees of the resort are New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue Ross Ardern (Labour MP Jacinda Ardern’s father); MFat Deputy Secretary Jonathan Kings and former NZ High Commissioner to Niue (and Wellington Mayor and National MP) Mark Blumsky. The trustees appoint the board of directors of Matavai Niue Limited (MNL), responsible for the resort’s operation. They are Ian Fitzgerald (chair), Bill Wilkinson, Toke Talagi (Premier of Niue) and John Ingram.
That’s a distinguished list.
Yet according to Little all part of a deal that stinks to high heaven. I didn’t realise the Premier of Niue is one of those Little has effectively accused of corruption.
In 2013 Auckland firm Horwath HTL did an independent review for the board and, among other things, recommended the appointment of a hotel management company.
The following year, on behalf of the board, Horwath ran an Expressions of Interest and Request for Proposals process that culminated in the consideration of two proposals with the recommendation of Scenic Hotels. The board agreed.
The transaction was not just arm’s length, several oceans of separation lay between the political donation and the management contract. There is no evidence of impropriety. The process would appear a model of probity.
Meanwhile, Little has besmirched a successful and highly regarded business couple, a New Zealand business success story, senior government officials, his own MP’s dad, and the Premier of Niue.
National sails on untouched. Little is on camera weaving and dodging the obvious questions and backpedalling on his original concerns.
Politics can be nasty. It’s often incompetent. Somehow Little has managed to plumb new depths.
If Little or his staff had done their homework, he could have handled it very differently – still calling for the AG to investigate, but avoiding smearing those involved by declaring it stinks to high heaven.