There is a degree of rough and tumble in journalism and, if you’re going to give it out, you have to take it.
But this week vague claims were made which were quite troubling.
On Monday, in an interview with Morning Report, Shane Jones, possibly the most forceful personality currently in New Zealand’s Parliament, described me as a “bunny boiler”.
Whatever he means by that, I would have happily let that pass. Much of the reaction has been fun. I never imagined I would have to explain those sort of cultural references to my parents, themselves avid RNZ listeners.
Friends, colleagues, and others I barely know, have taken delight in sending weird and wonderful messages.
But Jones also described me as “unethical”, a more serious claim which he has not clarified, despite implying that he might use parliamentary privilege to say more – an ancient right MPs have to say literally whatever they want without legal repercussions, so long as they say it in the House.
It is an ancient and important right. But I understood, at its core, was the need to promote free speech, not to stifle it.
This is what many have missed. He didn’t just call a journalist a name, but he threatened to dish dirt on him under parliamentary privilege.
The fact that no-one from the Government has properly shot down Jones’ threat to malign me in Parliament will not deter me.
But it should be a chilling warning of the potential consequences for anyone planning to question this Government’s integrity.
You highlight a Minister has misled Parliament, and he threatens to smear you in the House, and the PM does nothing.