Please tell me it isn’t so – updated & updated again

07/04/2009

Trans Tasman is reporting that Michael Cullen will be appointed to chair NZ Post and KiwiBank when Jim Bolger retires.

A loyal National Party member has just phoned to tell me he and others who spent nine years working to get Cullen’s hands off the reins are furious about this and I share their views.

There must be someone better equipped for these roles than the man who overtaxed and over spent for nine long years, leaving our economy far less able to weather the recession than it would have been had his policies been directed at growth rather than redistribution.

SOEs have been underperforming and need highly skilled leadership and that requires someone with a far greater regard for other people’s money than Cullen.

When the idea of Cullen chairing an SOE was  first mooted, blue tinted bloggers were united in their opposition. If the first to react are any indication they haven’t changed their minds: 

Fairfacts Media asks what is John Key playing at?

Kiwiblog says it’s a crappy move

UPDATE: SOE Minister Simon Power has announced:

“Hon Dr Michael Cullen has been appointed to the board of New Zealand Post, and is expected to become deputy chair in the medium term. 

UPDATE 2:

Fairfacts Media thinks Cullen deputising Bolger is too good to be true

At No Minsiter Psycho Milt  is amused but Lou Taylor isn’t.

Keeping Stock thinks John Key is up to something

UPDATE 3:

Roarprawn reckons it’s a poisoned chalice.

Cactus Kate was forced to seek solace in oysters and Moet

Barnsley Bill’s vote has been lost  and Not PC wonders why  he gave it to National anyway.

Whaleoil is disgusted then has second thoughts  and thinks John Key has snookered Labour.

UPDATE 4:

The red rag was thrown and the blue blogs roared, but what if we’re wrong and it’s really a cunning plot?

Fairfacts Media doesn’t think the job’s as good as it looks.

Anti Dismal  has a better idea – sell the SOEs.

UPDATE 5:

at NZ Conservative Zen Tiger spots a pirate plot  and muses on the relevance of history

Macdcotor advises Cullen not to trip on the way out.

At Tumeke!  Tim Selwyn thinks it’s unbelievable.


At last a government that listens

23/03/2009

The guilt by association clause in the Copyright Ammendment Act was likened to the Electoral Finance Act.

But there is one important difference. The previous government which enacted the EFA didn’t listen to its critics.

The new government has listened and a press release from Commerce Minister Simon Power says that it will ammend the controversial section 92A.


Prevention part of package

14/10/2008

Discussions on law and order often talk about punishment but when Naitonal’s justice spokesman Simon Power spoke in Oamaru this afternoon he also addressed the importance of crime prevention.

He said this included addressing problems with health and education not only among those who get into the prison system but with children to keep them away from crime in the first place.

 

Otago MP & Waitaki candidate Jacqui Dean with  Simon after the meeting in Oamaru.


Katherine Rich’s valedictory speech

25/09/2008

The ODT has an edited copy of Katherine RIch’s valedictory speech. Some highlights include:

When I announced my retirement, one of the first emails received said “good riddance, you’ve said nothing, done nothing and stood for nothing.”

Harsh I thought, but typical of many political letters to MPs.

Funny thing was a week later I received another email from the same man.

It said: “Mrs Rich, my heartfelt apologies. Comments from your colleagues, the media and even your opponents seem to have been uniformly positive. I can only conclude that I’d got you mixed up with someone else. Sorry about that. Mistaken of Petone.”

It was a strange exchange, but in a way it sums up politics.

Leaving here is hard at such an exciting time and after the hard graft of opposition, but it’s the right decision for me.

Being an MP isn’t a job. It is a life.

Political service is all consuming and the New Zealand public deserves nothing less.

I leave at a time of my own choosing, positive about Parliament, my party and our democracy.

More follows the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


2nd Glenn letter increases heat

04/09/2008

A second letter from Owen Glenn to the privileges committee contradicts WInston Peters again.

The letter said: “There is absolutely no doubt that the request came to me from Mr Peters. I would not have made the donation on any other basis through any intermediary. I did not do so.”

It was also revealed today that Mr Glenn will appear in person at the committee on Tuesday.

Implicit in Mr Glenn’s letter is a claim that Mr Peters telephoned Mr Glenn on December 14, 2005 and that Mr Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry followed up the call later that day with an email.

Mr Glenn said in the letter that he gave the authority for the payment instructions to be made on December 20, 2005 to be made to the account of Mr Henry.

“Mr Henry supplied the ASB Bank account details in an email from him addressed to me on Wednesday 14 December 2005,” Mr Glenn’s letter says.

That email from Mr Henry refers to an earlier telephone conversation between me and person Mr Henry refers to as ‘my client’ that same day.”

Mr Henry has given testimony to the privileges committee that he approached Mr Glenn to ask for a donation after being an advised to do so by a client of his, but he has emphatically stated that that client was not Mr Peters.

The committee prevented Mr Peters’ lawyer making a full statement at a hearing today.

Following tense exchanges, lawyer Peter Williams made a truncated presentation to the committee in which he said the decision it makes on New First’s donations should not be made on party lines.

He did not address the specifics of the donation from Mr Glenn to NZ First.

The committee had ruled that the broad statement Mr Williams was intending to make went outside its standing orders.

Mr Peters was present at the hearing but did not make any presentations of his own.

The committee is investigating whether Mr Peters broke Parliament’s rules by failing to declare a $100,000 donation from Mr Glenn towards his legal costs.

In a letter to the committee, made public last week, Mr Glenn said Mr Peters sought the $100,000 donation from him in 2005 and then thanked him for it at the Karaka yearling sales in early 2006.

Mr Peters has said it was his lawyer Brian Henry who approached Mr Glenn.

Parliament’s rules only allow legal counsel to talk about issues of process, but Mr Williams repeatedly argued that contributions to MPs’ legal petitions have never been considered a pecuniary matter.

He was repeatedly warned by committee chair Simon Power, but ignored those warnings and continued to outline Mr Peters’ argument.

After 25 minutes Mr Williams concluded his argument and the committee went into closed session.

Mr Peters has said he had no knowledge of the donation until Mr Henry advised him of it on July 18 this year.

Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards is discussing the issue with Kathryn Ryan now. It is on line here.


Will committee call Clark?

02/09/2008

Helen Clark’s startling admission Owen Glenn told her he’d made a donation to New Zealand First has prompted calls for her to give evidence to the privileges committee, but not all its members are sure that’s a good idea.

MPs crucial in deciding whether Prime Minister Helen Clark will be called to appear before Parliament’s privileges committee this week are not interested in a political side show, the Otago Daily Times was told yesterday.

Miss Clark did not go as far last night as ruling herself out of appearing before the powerful committee, but she raised doubts about her ability to add anything material to the investigation about a $100,000 donation to suspended Foreign Minister Winston Peters by expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn.

The donation “clearly occurred”, but whether it went into a lawyer’s fund for fees or whether it was a gift was not something she could shed light on.

Miss Clark also called into question the impartiality of the privileges committee, saying it was the first time in her 27 years in Parliament where an Opposition MP (Simon Power) chaired the committee and his leader, National Party leader John Key, was publicly drawing conclusions about what the outcome of the hearing should be and then acting on those conclusions.

National has five MPs on the committee and all of them would be expected to vote to call Miss Clark. Labour has four MPs and New Zealand First has one. They would be expected to vote against calling the Prime Minister.

That would leave National chasing two of the other three votes from Green co-leader Dr Russel Norman, United Future leader Peter Dunne and Maori Party MP Hone Harawira.

Political sources indicated that two of those MPs were unlikely to vote to call Miss Clark if it only meant National could conduct a political sideshow before Parliament rose for the year.

If the two MPs believed there was something of significance Miss Clark could add, they would vote for her to appear, but they would seek assurances from the chairman that the “narrow field of inquiry” would be adhered to.

“We want no chance for National to take pot shots,” a source said.

The committee is due to meet at 8am on Thursday.

Parliament is due to go into urgency today, raising questions about whether the committee will have time to meet. Without another meeting, the inquiry would die before the election.

Committee members could be granted leave to attend the committee while the house was in urgency, or there was some time available on Thursday night. However, that was also a “very political” decision.

National Party leader John Key said the committee should call Miss Clark and that the Prime Minister had a duty to appear.

She also had a duty to do a whole lot more about her knowledge of the Glenn donation a whole lot earlier but she didn’t.


Glenn says Peters solicited money

27/08/2008

Owen Glenn  has told the privileges committee that Winston Peters asked him for money.

Peters disputes that.

Kathryn Ryan is discussing this with Radio NZ political editor Brent Edwards as I type. It will be on line here later.

There is no doubt there are enough allegations swirling round Peters now for him to have been relieved of his ministerial responsibilities had he been a Labour MP. The need for New Zealand First’s votes has stayed Helen Clark’s hand until now. but the mud which is being thrown at Peters will bog her down too if she allows this to go on much longer.

The allegations are still allegations and Peters maintains they’re wrong but the mud which is being thrown at Peters will bog Clark and Labour down too if she allows this to go on much longer.

Update: The Roarprawn has pointed me at the text of Glenn’s letter which says:

“The payment was made by me to assist funding the legal costs incurred personally by Rt Hon Winston Peters MP concerning his election petition dispute, at his request.

” Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney.

“I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.”

Mr Glenn said the conversation had occurred “some time after I had first met him in Sydney” and he had authorised the payment on or about December 20, 2005.

He said Mr Peters had then thanked him at the Karaka yearling sales in early 2006. He did not believe he had ever met or spoken to Mr Henry.

In response Peters says:

… Mr Glenn’s assertion he had personally requested money “does not coincide with my recollections” and he said he believed the “personal conversation” referred to by Mr Glenn was one he had held with Mr Henry.

He also said he believed he had seen Mr Glenn while the two lunched at the same table at the 2007 Karaka sales, rather than in 2006.

Mr Peters said he had not thanked him until after Mr Henry advised him of the payment on July 18.

In response to that we have a contender for the award for stating the obvious:

Committee chairman Simon Power today said the two statements were inconsistent.


Owen Glenn will be called for evidence

19/08/2008

MPs want to call Owen Glenn to give evidence to the privileges committee.

But:

Committee chairman Simon Power would make no further comment last night. He could not say whether the committee had the power to compel Mr Glenn to give evidence, if he chose not to appear.

And John Armstrong isn’t confident that Peters will be censured.

If you were a betting person, you would have to put the odds on Winston Peters escaping censure by Parliament’s privileges committee after watching last night’s hearing.

Put that down to the unorthodox relationship between Peters and his lawyer Brian Henry. Much depends on what Owen Glenn says if he accepts the committee’s invitation to give evidence. But with his testimony – given by video-link – Henry knocked the stuffing out of the charge Peters had failed to declare a $100,000 donation from the wealthy expatriate in the register of MPs’ pecuniary interests.

Boiled down, it ran like this. Henry rang Glenn and asked for the donation to meet the costs of Peters’ legal bid to overturn the result in Tauranga in the 2005 election. Peters was not told. It was Henry’s practice not to bill Peters for his work. In fact, since becoming Peters’ lawyer in 1991, Henry had never billed Peters for his work. Because he did not bill Peters, there was no debt that Peters ought to have declared.

Perhaps you have to be a lawyer to understand this especially when:

The committee heard from Peters that he had reimbursed Henry to the tune of hundreds and thousands of dollars over that period, but without knowing how much he owed. So it seems Henry did not charge Peters – but he still got paid.

Does that make sense? There was no bill and so no debt but Peters and other people paid Henry anyway.

In forthrightly arguing his case, Henry nearly managed to upstage his client – something rarely done. When Henry refused on the grounds of legal privilege to name the person who had suggested he ring Glenn for a donation, he got into a lengthy argument with National’s Gerry Brownlee, who accused him of being obstructive.

There had been doubts beforehand about how tough National’s questioning would be, given the party might have to negotiate with Peters after the coming election. But Brownlee and his colleague Wayne Mapp did not hold back. Sparks also flew during their exchanges with Peters.

I am relieved to learn this. If the MPs had trod gently it would have been a travesty.

Regardless of the fear they may be forced into coalition with New Zealand First after the election, those on the committee have to ask the tough questions and do everything in their power to not only get answers but also get the truth.


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