Technical defence

26/08/2008

Paul Gallagher writes about defence by parliamentary technicality and says Margaret Wilson’s hands were tied by standing orders today.

She didn’t have much in the way of options when presented with a claim of sub judicae from Winston Peters.

But:

With patience, Rodney Hide’s tenacity will hopefully see to it that these matters are properly and extensively investigated. He shouldn’t misdirect his frustration into challenging the Speaker. He should instead renew his pressure on Peters with even more vigour. Biding his time may offer Hide more time to consolidate his position.

And if the reliance on sub judicae is found to be unreasonable, Peters may have just managed this afternoon to dig himself a deeper, more hazardous hole.

And what was Hide trying to discolse today? Grant Flemming  writes:

ACT leader Rodney Hide has made explosive allegations that New Zealand First was paid off by Simunovich Fisheries to stop leader Winston Peters making corruption claims against it.

 

The allegations, made under parliamentary privilege, revolve around Simunovich Fisheries, which was at the centre of a 2003 parliamentary committee inquiry into the allocation of quota for a crustacean called scampi.

. . . Mr Hide’s allegations, included in questions to Prime Minister Helen Clark on the Government’s stance on corruption, included:

– that a businessmen had told The Dominion Post newspaper he was one of several people Simunovich boss Peter Simunovich had given cheques of $9999 in 2002 to pass on to NZ First in return for Mr Peters stopping allegations of wrongdoing by Simunovich Fisheries and he had said that “sure enough within a couple of weeks Winston Peters did shut up”;

– that a statement from the businessman, who was now afraid for his safety, had been passed on to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO);

– that the businessman claimed Mr Peters had gone to meet Mr Simunovich to discuss the evidence of corruption and had stated that for a payment of $50,000 “we would just slowly get rid of it”;

– that the businessman had kept the bank records.

Peters said the claims were baseless and formed the basis of a defamation case.

Mr Peters later attempted to ask his own question, which appeared to suggest there may have been cheques NZ First had received from some individuals or groups but never cashed.

“If there was a subsequent series of cheques, paid some substantial time later, despite the fact that there was an inquiry in this house that concerned a business and, here’s the relevant point, those cheques were never cashed.”

Mr Peters was then cut off by Ms Wilson on the basis that Mr Peters himself had claimed the matter was sub judice.

These are very serious allegations which must be investigated because it’s not only Winston Peters’ career at stake, it’s New Zealand’s reputation for the absence of corruption.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock


Speaker assists Act election campaign

26/08/2008

The Labour Party is in disarray tonight after Speaker Margaret Wilson admitted she has been assisting Rodney Hide with Act’s election campaign.

“It started on August the first when Rodney provoked me into cracking a joke. Everyone laughed and I liked it and people liked me. It was all such fun and I wanted more of it,” she said.

“I realised then it wasn’t going to happen with Labour in power, you see we’re not allowed to laugh. Helen says so and Heather makes sure we do what we’re told. But I liked laughing, I’m sick of being the bossy one, no-one likes, it’s lonely.

“That’s when I made the decision to help Rodney’s election campaign and that’s why I did what I did today.

“I kept saying I was sorry but I wasn’t really, because I knew that if I didn’t let Rodney ask his question and then sent him out he’d get all that wonderful publicity and Act would get more votes and join National in government and then we’ll all have so much more fun in the next parliament. Not that I’ll be there but I’ll still watch it on TV and be able to see Rodney. He’ll be a Minister and all because I helped him.

“It was going to be our little secret, but I had to come out about it because everyone’s picking on me. They think I was wrong  and they’re saying nasty things  because they don’t understand  what I was doing.

“Of course I wasn’t letting Winston Peters get away with anything fishy or hide behind standing orders or parliamentary privilege; and it had nothing at all to do with needing his votes to pass legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme; and I definitely wasn’t being unfair to Rodney.

“That would be showing bias, it would bring the house into disrepute, goodness me, it might even prompt people to suggest I was incompetent and cast aspersions on my impartiality, then they’d start going on about freedom of speech and democracy. And we couldn’t have that just because they didn’t realise I was joking.”

Labour leader Helen Clark could not be reached for comment but her spokesperson Heather Simpson said she thought is was a hoot.

Hat Tips: Keeping Stock, The Hive, Roarprawn, Half Done,


Rich: feminism not an F word

21/08/2008

I started the previous post by saying the headline was guaranteed to get media attention, so too was this one.

The slogan “Girls can do anything” needed to be reprised for a younger generation because the battle for equal rights was not over, National List MP Katherine Rich said yesterday.

Invited to speak by the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women Otago branch, Mrs Rich chose the topic “Feminism is not an F Word” before addressing the more than 70 people at the Hutton Theatre, at Otago Museum.

… The provocative title was chosen because young women often told her the battle for equal rights had been won, and the word feminism, to them, conjured up images of “hairy armpits” and “burning bras”.

Feminism should be seen neither as a dirty word, nor as a relic of some forgotten past, Mrs Rich said. She was proud to be called a feminist and “people say they are really surprised by that”.

Bringing back the “Girls can do anything” campaign was one way to encourage girls to realise their ambitions, as the world was a different place once they left school. There was “still huge progress to be made”, particularly around pay disparity, she said.

A survey carried out by Mrs Rich on policy analysts in various ministries revealed men were paid between $2000 and $28,000 more than women even when working in more senior roles.

Policy analysis is policy analysis, if people have similar qualifications and experience, are working the same hours in the same sort of job gender shouldn’t come in to it. Are women not as good at negotiating as men? What role does the Public Services Association play here? Was she comparing apples with apples, or did women have broken work histories because of taking away from the work force to have children? If not we have a problem.

 While great progress had been made in recent years, representation of women in the workforce and pay equality were still issues worth fighting for, she said.

“There is no silver-bullet solution.”

In February, Mrs Rich announced she was stepping down from Parliament to concentrate on her family and a new career direction.

“I have had a good nine years,” she said. “I leave pretty positive about the whole democratic process.

“Politics isn’t a job. It is a life, all day and every day . . . and the public don’t deserve anything less.”

Mrs Rich said she was inspired to enter politics after hearing former National Party MP Marilyn Waring speak at St Hilda’s Collegiate School.

“I was just 13 years old and I have never forgotten her speech”.

Ms Waring was one of the first people she contacted after being demoted by former National Party leader, Don Brash.

“I rang her up and said we may have some things in common.”

One highlight during her three terms in Parliament was watching the first female speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson, be received by former Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Not since she attended the Outram Brownies in 1975 had she witnessed three females in charge, she said.

“When my daughter grows up I hope she gets to see something like this again.”

In February Poneke asked, as New Zealand’s golden decade of female leadership  comes to an end, what will be the role models for our daughters? HIs 15 year-old daughter posted a response which resulted in a new post, daughter finds the “girls can do anything” refrain demeaning.

Role models are personal, and when I looked at the women in the three positions Katherine mentioned, and added Chief Justice Dame Sian Ellias and Teresa Gattung, who was then CEO of Telecom our biggest company, I noticed none had children.

I respect what they have achieved, their right to not have children and that their accomplishments may motivate others to follow them but they weren’t role models for me. I like, respect and admire Katherine far more not just for what she has been doing as an MP and how she did it, but also for making the very, very tough call to resign for the sake of her family.

[Correction – Poneke and Colin Lucas have pointed out I was wrong – Sian Ellias does have children].


Style and humour

01/08/2008

The role of Speaker does not present many opportunities for exercising a sense of humour but Margaret WIlson got, and used, one yesterday:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Because the member decided to descend to that level, I will tell the House what is not being honest and transparent-anywhere in the world, in fact. At a recent parliamentary function, an MP pretended that a woman friend was his new girlfriend, introduced her to the press gallery as such, and also introduced that same person in a Koru lounge as such, when he knew, demonstrably and palpably, that that information was not correct.
Hon Members: Who’s your girlfriend, Rodney!
Rodney Hide: Madam Speaker-[Interruption] Point of order, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER: Point of order, Rodney Hide.
Rodney Hide: It was not you, Madam Speaker!
Madam SPEAKER: That comment was uncalled for; everyone knows I have taste and style.

Hat tip: Whale Oil


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