Stepped, jumped or pushed?


Helen Clark said Winston Peters has stepped down from his ministerial positions.

The wording allows him to retain what vestige of dignity he was still clinging to, but it doesn’t really matter if he stepped, jumped or was pushed. He could not have retained his roles while under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

However, as is typical of Peters, his stepping down raises more questions including: why did he ask Helen Clark to take over his portfolios and why did she accept?

Running the country ought to keep her busy enough without trying to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Racing and Associate Senior Citizens.

Hubris Sydrome


Inquiring Mind  examines hubris syndrome:

You look upon the world as an arena in which to exercise power and find glory. Your confidence in yourself is unshakeable. You are restless, impulsive – reckless even. Detail bores you. Oh yes, and God, or history, or both is firmly on your side. No need then to listen to the little people. You are suffering from Hubris Syndrome.


The longer you stay in office, the longer you are cocooned by deference, the more your sense of omnipotence grows, the greater the chance you will contract HS. That’s bad because HS leads almost inevitably to flawed reasoning and a blindness to alternatives – or ”hubristic incompetence” as Lord Owen describes it. But it isn’t just about position; there must be some kind of predisposition in sufferers.

The OED defines hubris as insolent or overweening pride leading to nemisis. It sounds very like Ozymandias Syndrome.

NZ First still for ETS


New Zealadn First will still support legislation to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Government is reliant on NZ First’s backing to pass legislation that will put an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in place. The bill passed its second reading last night, but must go through its committee stage and third reading next week.

But Mr Peters today said his party’s support for the bill was rock solid, irrespective of his own fate.

“Of course we would never undermine a piece of legislation so important as this because of something that is happening in politics because of untoward circumstances and people in New Zealand,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“That’s not the way we behave.”

Unfortunately I think this is one time when he said what he meant and meant what he said. The only hope lies in that what he said he meant today may not be the same as what he means next week when the vote is taken.



I had something else in mind for this Friday’s poem but the events of the last couple of days meant I couldn’t go past Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

It is one of the poems in Dear To Me, 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems and published by Random House as an Anmesty International fundraiser.

By serendipitous conincidence it was the choice of Sir Robert Jones who said:

The reason why I like it is that it sums up so well the misplaced grandiose egotism of rulers, be they elected prime minsiters or tyrants, and their craving for permanent legacy after their inevitable demise.

It is an illogical aspiration: once dead, however, they’re viewed is utterly irrelevant to them as they’ll never know. That reality doesn’t stop retired prime minsiters wasting their remaining years writing memoirs which they hope will preserve their place and perceived importance in history.

Ozymandias demonstrates the futility of such aspirations and the inevitable denouement for us all of reduction to dust.


 I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two cast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shater’d visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,

The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.


        Percy Bysshe Shelley –

Cannon to the left


Keeping Stock  notes that criticism of Helen Clark’s handling of WInston Peters spans the political divide:

When even left-wing commentators like Jafapete are critical of the PM after yesterday’s revelations, questions must be asked of her, and the issue must be kept in the public consciousness.

It’s not just Jafapete.  Bomber over at Tumeke! says:

I think John Key might have just won the election. . . If she doesn’t pull something really good out, I think Winston’s demise could well infect Helen.

The cannons are now aimed from left, right and centre with both Clark and Peters in thier sights and if they remember the Charge of the Light Brigade they’ll get no comfort from this:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,

EU ETS to be watered down


I wonder if anyone in the parties supporting the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation currently in parliament has noticed this:

Interestingly, there are reports from Europe today that the European Union’s proposed response to global warming looks set to be watered-down.

EU chiefs want to protect European industry from overseas competitors.

It’s still not too late for them to do the right thing and send the legislation back to a select committee where it can have the measured consideration it needs.

On the verge of a trifecta


Dene Mackenzie says that Winston Peters is on the verge of an unhappy trifecta:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters last night proved the old adage of be careful what you wish for, when the Serious Fraud Office took him at his word.

After Mr Peters dared the SFO to either lay charges against him or shut up and go away, SFO director Grant Liddell announced he would conduct an investigation into donations made to NZ First.

He would particularly investigate allegations that funds donated to the party by Sir Robert Jones and Vela family interests did not reach their intended destination.

Mr Peters had accused the SFO of “creeping around back doors”, dropping hints and providing media speculation but not finding any evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on his part.

“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and, if they don’t turn up, they can go away for ever,” he said.

Well, the SFO did turn up and Mr Peters now faces another major challenge to his political career.

There have already been plenty.

He has been sacked by two previous prime ministers and now, as Minister of Racing, he must know he is facing the trifecta.

Mr Peters will this morning meet Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is under increasing pressure to sack her minister or at least stand him down while the investigation is under way.

Other ministers have been “gone by lunchtime” for lesser offences.

Had any other MPs faced the allegations Peters does he’d have been the first to call for their resignations. He could have stepped down with dignity intact until the privileges committee and SFO investigations are completed. But because he refused to jump he’ll have to be pushed.

He will then be on familiar territory as the martyred outsider. He will still have some supporters who think he’s hard done by, but it’s the SFO not the court of public opinion which will decide his fate.

No-one asked her


It’s the fault of the media and the opposition, it might even be our fault that Helen Clark  didn’t tell us Owen Glenn had told her he’d donated $100,000 to New Zealand First.

Asked why she had not mentioned knowing about the donation six months earlier, Miss Clark said no-one had asked her.

So it’s definitely our fault because if any of us had only thought to ask her, we’d have got an answer.

We’d better all be thinking about all the other questions she’s bursting to give us answers to, if only we were to ask.

Will Clark cut the thread?


Dene Mackenzie says Winston Peters’ political career hangs by a thread:

A visibly annoyed Miss Clark would not be drawn last night on what the future looked like for Mr Peters, even though she conceded to having previously stood down ministers under investigation.

“I don’t wish to make any further comment until I talk to Mr Peters.

“I haven’t had a discussion with Mr Peters.”

Ideally, she would like to have a face-to-face meeting with Mr Peters this morning and, ideally, she would like the issue completed before the election, Miss Clark said.

Mr Peters is unlikely to stand down voluntarily while the SFO investigation is under way, giving Miss Clark no alternative but to sack him.

Serious Fraud Office director Grant Liddell said there may be innocent and honest explanations for the matters to be investigated. But it’s not a matter of innocence or guilt, it’s simply that it is untenable to have a Minister of Foreign Affairs cling to his post while under investigation.

Miss Clark said a Bill to wind up the SFO would be put on hold until the investigation was completed.

We can be thankful for that because had it not been we’d have been in real banana republic territory.

Silver lining in corruption cloud


Jim Hopkins sees a sliver lining in the cloud of corruption:

Yet for some inexplicable reason we expect a mere Minister of the Crown – a baublemeister, no more – to meet a more exacting standard. And when he doesn’t we howl “Corruption!!!” and demand his dismissal.

Okay, we’re a puritanical lot and righteous indignation is invariably our first port of call. But quite apart from the particulars of this case – which only involves a politician and a lawyer who may have approached the truth creatively – it’s time we reconsidered this aversion we have to corruption.

There has, after all, been quite a lot of it lately. Or, more prudently, quite a lot that looks quite a bit like it, including the jolly adventures of those poor Thai tilers and that bossy person at Immigration who was soooo nice to her own family, not to mention the lady who lost her ministerial job because her boyfriend worked for the Leader of the Opposition.

Heck, we’ve even had a Police Force that wouldn’t prosecute a particular political party for some major campaign misdemeanours, even though there was a prima facie case, because to do so might affect the result of the election.

Which, youd’ve thought, was the very reason they should have pursued the matter.

However, be that as it may, we have seen quite a lot of malodorous stuff lately and we’re going to see more. Particularly since we are, like it or not, sliding slowly but inexorably down prosperity’s greasy pole. We’ve already joined the second world and the third’s not far away. Which suggests a semi-endemic cloud of corruption will soon hang over us.

So we’d better start looking for its silver lining or endure a state of constant perturbation. Happily, that lining is easy to find. To begin with, you know where you stand in a reliably corrupt society. You can be certain, if you slip someone a few notes, that you’ll get what you want – a favour, a contract, an honour, even a photo with the PM at the opening of some flash new building with your name on it. (Hey, nobody’s perfect!)

Equally, if you know the Immigraton sheila is inclined to assist her own, then just change your name or leave an envelope on the table “To help with your cousin’s trip” when you apply for a visa.

And if the rozzers show a preference for a particular party, then join it for Pete’s sake. Get with the programme. Be certain.

Yes!! We like certainty. Certainty is good!! And corruption equals certainty. Look!! You’re feeling better already.

Another good thing about corruption is, it’s sexy. Dark. Mysterious. Enigmatic. Menacing, yes, but exciting as well.

Corruption’s a big league, metropolitan sort of thing. It’s the public equivalent of a liaison dangereuse, redolent of power – and its abuse. Corruption is illicit, hot. It quickens the heart. It stirs the loins.

That’s why it sets the blogs and talkback humming. And why we should embrace it. With much more enthusiasm, be it said, than the dreary matter that will preoccupy us next week, namely this tiresome business of carbon emissions…

The whole column is here.

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