The case of Wally Haumaha is one that defies all political understanding.
It’s got so out of hand, but could have been solved so easily.
At the very start, all the Coalition Government needed to do was force Haumaha to resign his job as Police Deputy Commissioner. Problem solved. But for some reason, the Government instead formed a rolling maul and began protecting the man.
Six weeks later, the Government has a weeping sore of a saga to deal with. No one’s coming out of this one looking good. Not Haumaha, the woman originally appointed to investigate him, the Police Minister, the Prime Minister, Winston Peters nor New Zealand First.
All they had to do was tell him to quit. They can’t technically fire a Deputy Police Commissioner. But they could’ve strongly suggested he resign – which happens all the time in politics.
Here’s what Helen Clark would have done.
- Helen tells Heather he has to go
- Heather talks to DPMC and they create a job for him as a senior advisor on Maori offending to work across the justice sector on the same pay as Deputy Police Commissioner
- Heather talks to the Police secondee in the Police Minister’s office and says The Deputy Commissioner no longer has the confidence of the PM
- The secondee talks to the Commissioner
- The Commissioner talks to the Deputy Commissioner and says look position no longer tenable, but there’s a role for you in DPMC on same pay
- Deputy Commissioner resigns, and no need for an inquiry – all sorted nicely within a few days
This is pretty much what Helen Clark did with Peter Doone. It is how good political management works. Note that nothing is in writing and the PM is removed from implication by having her work others.
So, why didn’t they?
All guesses point to New Zealand First.
Wally Haumaha’s name has been linked to that party so many times, it’s created the impression that NZ First and Peters are protecting him.
Only because they are.
It’s an unfortunate perception for Labour because it reinforces the belief that the real power in this Coalition Government lies, not on the ninth floor of the Beehive, but on the seventh.
Again, only because it is.