Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: There's a lot of it about

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  • Paul Williams,

    I'm sure Key's position on Peters is a contrivance, but then it's possibly the only substantive and unequivocal statement National have made in the lead-up to the election!

    I'm equally sure his failure to disclose his true shareholding was deliberate - you don't need to be a student of body language to see it in his response to Mould's questioning. His instinct was to mislead, obsfucate and then to pretend it was an innocent mistake. Yeah right.

    He is denuded of his moral high-ground, but Labour's still compromised by their position on the Privileges Committee - I don't doubt there was prejudice on the part of the National members, but it wasn't just them that had a predetermined view.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    If someone wanted Peters to take a fall, as much as Peters might have deserved it, that is a story in itself. But who does that investigation?

    Whoever it was did the country a favor - in addition to lying to the country non-stop for almost a year, Peters convinced the government to go against Treasury advice and award the horse racing industry millions of dollars in taxpayer money while at the same time receiving secret donations from wealthy businessmen in that industry.

    I'm also tired of hearing about it, don't like Rodney Hide, think Key looks shifty on camera, accept that the people attacking him did so for political reasons yadda yadda yadda, but its important to look past all that and concede that this was a pretty clear cut case of corruption by one of the most senior politicians in the country.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    A committee of politicians is always going to take a partisan rather than judicial view when asked to judge an issue, much like the US Congress and Senate in impeachment/trial proceedings.

    Once could argue for the privileges committee to be replaced by a judge and jury with the power to fine/expel/execute members (ok, maybe not the last one).

    On the other hand, there's merit in the concept that the voters have the final decision. Banning an MP surely interferes with the right of the voters to elect whosoever they want as their representative.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Just on one of the technical points - rather than read the report I thought I'd ask here - if they decided the debt wasn't a debt, how can paying it off be a gift?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Whoever it was did the country a favor - in addition to lying to the country non-stop for almost a year, Peters convinced the government to go against Treasury advice and award the horse racing industry millions of dollars in taxpayer money while at the same time receiving secret donations from wealthy businessmen in that industry.

    That sets a dangerous precedent Danyl. I don't like Winston and will be happy to see him finally fall but I'd be equally concerned if he's been bought down by begrudging corporates still looking for payback from the Winebox...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    In relation to the financial crisis offshore, I want SOMEONE to start asking some serious questions about the affordability of National's tax cuts. It is clear that if they win office they plan to fund them by a mixture of a sinking lid on government spending and borrowing.

    National have created the expectation of a fifty dollar plus tax cut per week to a meaningful percentage of the population, not just the 15% who earn over $60,000PA but also to the $45,000-$60,000 income earners out there in "struggle street". The trouble is that the cost of borrowing is spiralling internationally, so can they still afford to borrow the sort of dosh they'll need to deliver a fifty a week tax cut to the lower middle class? The $45-60,000 income bracket has swung massively to National in the clear expectation of an "fifty a week to struggle street". If they numbers no longer add up, we need to be told.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Jesus Christ Danyl... Are you REALLY thanking shadowy people with an agenda paying private investigators to go through someones's dirty linen until they finally find a blue dress with a stain on it?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Lyndon, this was Russell Norman's explanation of the debt/gift piece to Gordon Campbell after the report was released:

    Norman : It was in relation to a gift, actually. One of the points that had to be resolved was whether a gift had in fact occurred. Because one of the [Brian Henry and Winston Peters’] arguments was that there was no gift - because Brian Henry never enforced the debt. So the committee agreed that there was no debt, but that nonetheless the gift to Mr Henry was of benefit to Mr Peters. Because it was a benefit in terms of ongoing access to legal services that he was able to gain – and in particular, the benefit he would gain if he won the Tauranga electoral petition. Which was a largely political [benefit], but still real.

    Campbell : And besides, even if one accepted in this case that an agent [Henry] had solicited the gift and discharged the debt, wouldn’t their capacity to do so come down, at the end of the day, to a belief by the donor that they were acting on behalf of Peters ?

    Norman : That’s one element. There’s also the element that there has to be benefit to the politician.

    Campbell : You mean, as aside from the benefit to the party ? Because as you know, Peters’ argument was that he was only the nominal head of the Tauranga petition. He was merely the guy whose name was on the paper and therefore -

    Norman : Yes. [laughs] The ‘titular head’ was the term used.

    Campbell : Therefore, the argument goes, New Zealand First was the true beneficiary, as reflected in Owen Glenn’s own confusion on this point.

    Norman : And Henry [had] added that even more than New Zealand First, actually there were National Party people involved [ in instigating the petition] But even so, there was clear benefit to Mr Peters in the view of the committee

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Ellis,

    I'm not a labour voter, but I do get the feeling from a lot of labour voters, anecdotally, that they're pretty unhappy with the whole affair. Labour's behaviour in the privileges committee, their treatment of Owen Glenn, and smearing the SFO just stinks. The PM and Michael Cullen all ran interference, and continue to run interference on this. As interesting as the stories on John Key and the US FTA were, they were dumped by Labour at the precise moment that the Privileges Committee were due to report.

    It really does beg the question. <i>WHY?!?</i> What extra value does Winston bring to the table? Are Labour so opposed to having to deal with the greens in the much-vaunted LPG frame, that they're this desperate to have Winston on board to counter the Greens? Does Labour really need the two or three percent he's polling in the polls? Are they really that convinced that his talents as a Minister without portfolio would be wasted if they didn't cut him loose in the next few weeks?

    I imagine Labour Party supporters must be screaming in frustration over this. The political fallout will continue as long as Winston is attached to Labour's hip.

    Is there any credibility to the theory on right-wing blogs, that Winston must have some dirt on the Labour Party that he will expose if he gets his marching orders? Because right now, that seems to be far more likely than Helen Clark feeling some urgent, overwhelming loyalty to the most illiberal politician New Zealand's ever had. If there's one person in New Zealand politics who truly deserves the labels "cancerous" and "corrosive", this year, Winston Peters has proven yet again it is him.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Jesus Christ Danyl... Are you REALLY thanking shadowy people with an agenda paying private investigators to go through someones's dirty linen until they finally find a blue dress with a stain on it?

    I think there was a story (or stories) there before anyone started looking. And to be, honest, I thought about that angle for a week before venturing it here. Apart from anything else, I'm in no position to know if it's true.

    But ... that is what people in a position to know are saying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    He is denuded of his moral high-ground

    While his moral "high" ground is absolutely rather low, it still strikes me as being relatively higher than Labour's after the last couple of weeks.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    While his moral "high" ground is absolutely rather low, it still strikes me as being relatively higher than Labour's after the last couple of weeks.

    Perhaps, but that's what annoys me about this; Labour's tainted by association, not by deed. If Peters and Key have both lied the public, it's only electoral calculations that preclude Labour from condemning both...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    That sets a dangerous precedent Danyl. I don't like Winston and will be happy to see him finally fall but I'd be equally concerned if he's been bought down by begrudging corporates still looking for payback from the Winebox...

    I guess the moral of the story is that if you make rich, powerful enemies you shouldn't engage in illegal and corrupt practices and then pointlessly provoke a war with the national media.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    It's all a sad and sorry mess, and Winnie could have cleared it all up ages ago, but his ego wouldn't let him.

    Labour's behaviour has been despicable, or strategic, depending on how you view it. I still think Helen's main worry is if they cut NZ1 loose at least half of NZ1's vote will go tory and she doesn't want that to happen.

    Key, shifty - his first response always seems to be to lie.

    Could our politicians be sinking to the level of (gasp) Australian ones?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Yes Danyl... But it is kinda like the America's Cup - if you buy into it then its a big deal, but if you don't, then it's a sickening display of the abuse of wealth, complete with a sycophantic media pack.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Perhaps, but that's what annoys me about this; Labour's tainted by association, not by deed. If Peters and Key have both lied the public, it's only electoral calculations that preclude Labour from condemning both...

    Nicely put.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    A great piece Russell. It would easier to damn Labour if it wasn't for the shocking state of our politics generally. I'd love John "new guy on the political block" Key to be a breath of fresh air but I don't think he's doing the breathing for that grand old party , we know all about the air from his shadow front bench, it's stale , even more than even a third term Labour government.

    Change you can believe in?

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    The speculation surrounding the Labour support for Winston is diverse. Expediency would have called for Labour to be shed of Peters. I do not think that the reason would be that Peters would throw dirt as many right wingers suggest. As Peters said the remaining enquiries are about the NZF rather than Peters. What are the positive reasons for Labour hanging on to Peters?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Could our politicians be sinking to the level of (gasp) Australian ones?

    Heh, get back to me when we sack someone for stripping to his gruts and straddling a colleague's breasts at a party. Yes, that was the NSW Police minister.

    We've a ways to go yet.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Labour's tainted by association, not by deed

    Not to me - they're associated by deed now in terms of their actions in the Priviledges Committee and the House. I thought it was all well played by Labour up until those points....

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    The Herald gets it wrong:

    There is no way to downplay the fact that when Mr Key was asked the question, his first instinct appeared to be to deny the truth.

    The moral highground is easily obtainable when your opponents are seen as actively endorsing lies and excuse making. Admit the mistake, accept the responsibility for making the error, show how you attempted to remedy the situation and commit to not making it again. Mea culpa and a plea for forgiveness.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I guess the moral of the story is that if you make rich, powerful enemies you shouldn't engage in illegal and corrupt practices and then pointlessly provoke a war with the national media.

    I'm still don't agree Danyl. If he's made rich and powerful enemies by exposing their corruption, shouldn't he be congratulated for doing what really only politicians can do (and sometimes the media but not often)? I don't think we should turn a blind eye when they seek to exact some revenge - I don't know that that's what happening, but your earlier comment seemed to suggest that you'd be ok if it was.

    I think we'll eventually find that Peters is guilty of something, but I'd far rather the Privileges Committee and the SFO do the investigation themselves than have the media fed evidence of questionable merit by disgruntled former opponents.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    It really does beg the question. <i>WHY?!?</i>

    The desire to go full term, without a messy last-minute breakup, coupled with the need to retain what may be a crucial ally in post-election coalition negotiations. But even then. I don't see any need to be so vocal about it. They may be forced by expediance to snuggle up to a scumbag (and forced again if we voters are sadists), but they could at least be honest about that fact rather than pretend to enjoy it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Thank god, or whoever, this smokescreen is dissipating and we can start looking at what really matters, the election (Our Election, not that other one in that country that's about to go down the gurgler)
    National has been very clever, and slippery. How abut this?
    Nat guy "Hey, John. What are we going to do when they find out about the Tranz Rail shares?'
    JK "Ermmm, ah well I er didn't make on them, errrmmm I er actually lost money"
    Nat Guy "Yeah but your trust made a packet"
    Crosby Textor Guy "May I interject?"
    Nat Guy "Please do, I think we're fucked"
    CT "Well winstons a defensive kinda guy, what have we got?"
    Nat Guy "well there's that thing about his election petition, nothing ilegal but we could make it look that way and he'll deny it"
    CT "exactly, We pile the poo on Winnie and back him into a corner. Labour will stand by him and look bad by association. When the dust starts to settle we out John on the Tranz rail thingy"
    Nat Guy "How does that get john off the hook"
    CT "It's all about perception. Winnie asn't really done anything but we cloud the issiue, say he's a low life stinkin Badger and he denies it. John, on the other hand, has been a bad bad boy but if he fesses up and says it was just an oversight he looks almost human"
    Nat Guy "Yessssss, we likes it my precioussss"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    "What are the positive reasons for Labour hanging on to Peters?"

    I think this election maybe all about the unknown , uncontactable and unpolled voter and about how big that group has grown since the last
    election, ie literally the people who don't have landlines.

    Labour seem to be courting an invisible voter because on official polling its hard to see Winston getting seats. They may have also felt
    that the likes of Rodney Hide talking about smashing privelidge is just a little too hard to stomach even given Winnies self made mess.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

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