The Herald reports:
This is a huge blunder by Hipkins, who used his special position in the NZ Parliament to try and help Australian Labor topple the Australian Government.
It is no big issue that sometimes there will be different parties in power in NZ and Australia. Governments go out of their way to forge a good relationship regardless of the side of the political fence you are in. Two good examples are Helen Clark & John Howard and John Key & Julia Gillard. They worked together for the good of both countries, putting aside the fact that they know NZ National Party would of course prefer their sister Liberal Party to be in Government, and the same for NZ Labour and Australian Labour.
So it is not a big thing that each party may have a few activists who go over and help at an election time, or even share campaign advisers etc.
But what is a big thing is for an MP of one country’s Parliament to use their role to help the parliamentary party of another country’s Parliament. And that is what Chris Hipkins did by asking these two written questions (1, 2)on behalf of Bill Shorten.
It would have been obvious to Hipkins that Australian Labor wanted this information to bring down a Government MP. He may not have known it was the Deputy Prime Minister but he would have known why Australian Labor was asking, and also be aware the Australian Government has a one seat majority in the House of Representatives and so the loss of even one seat could bring down the Government.
That was just days after an Australian journalist asked about Australia’s Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s citizenship.
Here’s why Hipkins involvement was important, even though there had been media inquiries also. There is no deadline for DIA to respond to inquiries by foreign journalists. Even if it was a NZ journalist asking, they could take up to four weeks to answer under the OIA.
But by having Hipkins ask a parliamentary question, the Minister is obliged to answer within five working days or one week. So Hipkins was able to get Australian Labor the information as much as three weeks earlier.
What false claims? It is established that Hipkins was asking on behalf of Australian Labor. If she doesn’t know what her front benchers are doing, that doesn’t make the claim false.
So she is calling Julie Bishop a liar and saying the onus is on the Australian Foreign Minister to call her, not her to call Bishop and apologise for what Hipkins has done.
Have to agree with Winston on this one.
Make no mistake this has caused huge anger within the Australian Government. Helping the Opposition to try and bring down the Deputy Prime Minister will mean very frosty relations if Labour forms a Government in New Zealand.