Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A thundering clash of perspectives

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  • Rob Stowell,

    "Metiria’s AGM speech prompted me to do something I hadn’t done before: to say, yeah, me too." Me too. That's us out of politics forever :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2065 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    It’s a sad set of circumstances. If she had paid it back beforehand, as you say, or even if she had stepped down as leader but remained on the list as late as Monday, the issue would not have been so destructive for the Green Party.

    As it stands, she has set an example by resigning that Bill English should consider. He made a false declaration in order to claim housing benefits as an MP & a Minister, and relied on obfuscation and friendly oversight to avoid Metiria’s fate. He should not be shielded from the accountability that Metiria has so admirably, if belatedly embraced.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Russell, in reply to Euan Mason,

    Yeah, I still don't get why Metiria has been hung out to dry over this but Bill English gets a free pass.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Well wrote Russell.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2882 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Nick Russell,

    I don't get it either, how the dominance of the 'stale pale male' continues in this enlightened age. How much of a role does mainstream media play in this?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • kiwiwolf,

    I look forward to your forthcoming articles on the wrongdoing of English and his cabinet members.

    Whangaparaoa • Since Sep 2014 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    I may have occasionally driven over the speed limit. I've may have parked my car illegally for a few moments to get an errand done.......

    If I confess to any of this . What next?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Yeah, I still don't get why Metiria has been hung out to dry over this but Bill English gets a free pass.

    Blessed are the homeowners.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Yes, a dramatic divergence. I think it’s symptomatic of various undercurrents within broader left wing politics that have been causing tensions for awhile.

    Others have done wrong but the wrong didn’t cut into deep underlying divisions on difficult issues.

    Indeed, she got caught telling the truth, if not in all its untidy detail.

    She misrepresented the central element of her story. And within a matter of hours of her assuring her colleagues and the public that there was nothing more to come out, this bombshell comes out.

    Since Nov 2016 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers, in reply to Nick Russell,

    The best the Herald could do was that English had legal advice it was OK.....

    So if you want to commit fraud, just pay a lawyer to tell you it's OK. Then the judge will know you made an effort to comply and it just didn't work out. Your butt is covered.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Talking this over (with a journalist :)) we were pondering how media narratives get spun; and how maintaining control of the narrative is so hard.
    But it certainly can happen. Key was extremely talented at this; even when (Dirty Politics, but more esp the ponytail) the narrative got out of his control, he stuck to a line, stayed smiling, minimised what he could, 'moved on'. English has learnt from this; most of the party use the same tactics, though seldom as effectively.
    Andrew Little lost control of the narrative very quickly when he said he'd considered resigning. In a funny way, he got back some control by actually resigning, and nominating Jacinda.
    Metiria was unprepared - and (it's easy to say now :)) she should have been prepared - for the hard glare of the spotlight. I guess being ready for that means getting all the possible elements of the story lined up and waiting, even if they never come out. Some contingency plans, if things take a nasty turn. I have every sympathy for her, but still felt a sneaking suspicion the 'moral choice' was laid on a little thick (forced to lie 'to feed my baby' vs 'to pay the rent').
    For all that, the harsh judgement and ready condemnation of so many Kiwis has been sobering. We've swallowed the BIG LIE: "hard work makes you wealthy; laziness and 'bad choices' make you poor." Now that's some "magical thinking".

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2065 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Yeah, I still don’t get why Metiria has been hung out to dry over this but Bill English gets a free pass.

    It’s not like nothing happened. Reporting on the story forced Key to close the loophole, revealed that other ministers were doing the same and moved the office of Auditor-General to investigate.

    The AG concluded that English had not been entitled to the payments, but a full investigation wasn’t warranted because English had legal and Parliamentary Services advice that he was entitled, and because the system was being changed as a result.

    Simon Wilson wrote a good piece yesterday (addressing the somewhat deficient Herald piece on the same topic) about how much difference being able to afford a lawyer makes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22293 posts Report Reply

  • Robert McLachlan,

    The Bill English housing allowance thing has been raised (constantly) at https://thestandard.org.nz/no-way-back/; the surprise is that this time co-accused Wayne Mapp (MP 1996-2011) actually wrote a detailed explanation and rebuttal. It included the following lines: "Since he was the MP for Clutha Southland he has a house there (and presumably still does) and as a young MP he and his wife and young children lived there. But it became more convenient for them to shift to Wellington. He was advised that he could still claim the AS available to all MP who did not represent Wellington electorates."

    But Mapp's version of events is denied by another commentator, who wrote: "Before he was selected as the national candidate Bill lived in Wellington with his large family as he was a treasury bureaucrat and the chair of the Hataitai branch of the national party to boot. I understand he left Dipton to go to boarding school in Wellington at around 13 yrs old. Followed by University at Otago and Victoria. Lets not play the game it was ‘more convienent’ to move from Dipton to Wellington- they never left Wellington in the first place. His kids had the schools in the capital and his wife had her GP practice there... The house in Dipton was his parents family home, while his brother Hamish took over the running of the family farm and had his own house. Once the parents died the the family homestead was cut out from the farm and passed to Bill English. But he essentially never made it his family residence".

    Since Aug 2017 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Neil,

    She misrepresented the central element of her story.

    Too harsh really. Factor in the Rashomon effect: https://pundit.co.nz/content/in-the-end-you-cannot-understand-the-things-people-do

    I've caught myself out in precisely this manner several times in recent years. Memory becomes selective. Seems to be a natural process. Quite embarrassing to discover one has remembered only one key facet of a situation when that situation was defined by several such facets - even when the discovery is private, no need to confess to anyone - when you've had a reliable long-term memory all your life. Much of her media critique has been driven by empathy deficit.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    Patrick Gower actually apologised to James Shaw this morning for claiming yesterday's Newshub-Reid poll had preciptated his co-leader's resignation

    Materia decided to quit on Wednesday morning. She was told about Paddy's poll later in the afternoon. So the poll did not cause her exit. Paddy is wrong of course.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    I don't get it either, how the dominance of the 'stale pale male' continues in this enlightened age. How much of a role does mainstream media play in this?

    I dunno, I haven't noticed the mainstream media describing Pakiha as pigs standing on there hind legs, or any other insults, so bugged if I know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3870 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    She could believe it although that poses other problems.

    It appears she involved her family in this without discussing it with them first. Now she claims to be quiting to protect them but it looks more like she's going to protect herself from her family.

    Since Nov 2016 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Possibly because of this, they were basically all at it back then

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2930184/Greens-pay-back-double-dip-rent-error

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 491 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Neil,

    Probably both. Plenty of families like that around, eh?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Steve Withers,

    The best the Herald could do was that English had legal advice it was OK…..

    So if you want to commit fraud, just pay a lawyer to tell you it’s OK. Then the judge will know you made an effort to comply and it just didn’t work out. Your butt is covered.

    Yeah, but he made a false declaration to Parliamentary Services. He’d need a very low IQ to think that, just because a lawyer tells him so, it’s OK to lie in order to pillage the public purse.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    A respectful and comprehensive piece Russell. Tangentially: a textbook example of how readily English as a language lends itself to relitigation of the past.

    There are also some Green Party staff furious at how this has gone down. How, they ask, was this not thought through? How could this not have been signed off by the whole Green caucus? They feel let down

    I had a conversation with a right-winger on the day or day after the AGM and discussion naturally turned to “what about the flatmates?”. As many who’ve been on benefits know; the system is designed to hold one accountable to every little detail – in spite of the complexity of life. So I’ve had difficulty wrapping my head around this aspect of things given that ideally one expects the advisors to be prepared for every contingency, and failing that being at least be a couple of moves ahead of the game. What happened?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2143 posts Report Reply

  • Robert McLachlan,

    Simon Wilson's version of Turei/English/Key: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/09-08-2017/the-sins-of-metiria-bill-and-john-sense-checking-the-fact-checkers/:

    1. Bill English must have known that he and his family did not live in Southland. But the system allowed him to pretend that they did, and he took advantage of that.
    2. He got away with it by arguing that his lawyers had told him it was OK.
    3. When he was found out, the system continued to protect him.

    Since Aug 2017 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Neil,

    It appears she involved her family in this without discussing it with them first. Now she claims to be quiting to protect them but it looks more like she's going to protect herself from her family.

    I have no idea about Metiria's family, and I'm personally fortunate to have a great extended family.

    But re the anonymous source, I also know good people with extensive extended family, some of whom are screwed up and whom you'd hide from in the supermarket if you met them, rather than risk encountering them. Granted this could have been a legitimate gripe, or just a misunderstanding about the times so long ago, but without further information on the source I'd take it with a grain of salt. The mere fact that someone's related to Metiria doesn't automatically mean they're trustworthy when talking about her, but I totally get it if she didn't want this to step up to a whole new level where she was having a messy family argument in front of the public.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1107 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to izogi,

    I totally get it if she didn't want this to step up to a whole new level where she was having a messy family argument in front of the public.

    That was my thought. She was going to end up being forced to either accept whatever rumours media chose to publish and hope that the source eventually made themselves so untrustworthy the stories stopped (how long would that take?), or attack the source. She'd only have to do the latter once to look like a complete arsehole, and the story after that would be anonymous for very obvious reasons.

    One other possibility is that the father didn't want to admit to his whanau that he wasn't paying/couldn't pay, so he told those people that he was helping her. Whether he was or not, it's vanishingly unlikely that either of them would be able to prove it 20 years later. I've also talked to men who think "$50 or $100 every now and then" is a generous level of child support. Sure it helps, just like men help by washing the dishes sometimes. You don't want to litigate that one either :)

    There's not a win position for her, pretty much from last week.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to mark taslov,

    As many who’ve been on benefits know; the system is designed to hold one accountable to every little detail

    In theory it's just as bad for those not on benefits, the complexity of what counts as income, which bond has to be deposited where, who exactly is living in the house (and who has to be told that), what happens when people don't pay but promise to pay in the future, all that stuff is a nightmare if you try to "do the right thing".

    If you want to go down a bureaucratic rabbit hole never to be seen again, just sit down and work out where the bond goes in a rented share house. Bob and Sam sign the lease an pay bond, which goes to the official bond people. Chris moves in to one room, paying bond to Bob and Sam. It's likely that has to be reported to the property manager and the tax office, but what about Chris's bond - does that go to the bond officials? Or does it "replace" some of the bond Sam and Bob paid? But over summer Chris takes off and sub-lets their room to Michel, who pays a couple of weeks rent as a deposit/bond, rather than the full four week bond because they're only living there for a month. What, exactly, is supposed to be done with that money?

    You can keep playing this game with everything from rent to utility bills to food kitty. It gets much more exciting when someone pays rent late and the delays crosses the end of financial year. But it is easy to spend hundreds of hours researching and dealing with bureaucrats, then even more time trying to untangle things when they disagree with you or each other.

    To make things even more fun, own the house and rent out rooms. Now you're the landlord *and* a housemate, so you're legally liable for more things and the finances get significantly more complex if you want to do the right thing.

    Or you can just do what everyone else does, pocket the money and STFU.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

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