Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A thundering clash of perspectives

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  • rjal,

    Journalists may be obliged to see her as a Member of Parliament, but that does not mean that it’s open season on her private life or her family. That a story may be coming out anyway does not let anyone off the hook.

    It wasn't Metiria the Member of Parliament who was put on trial here, but Metiria the 90s beneficiary. It was Metiria the Maori women who was judged, judged not poor enough to commit benefit fraud, and not sorry enough about her crime.

    I have given some thought as to how this could have played out differently. And the story always ends up with Metiria being out of politics. Her story was never going be straight enough because people in her circumstances never have straight stories. People who have straight stories are ones who have never had to make a choice between obeying the law and protecting their child on a daily basis. People with straight stories have families without disfunction.

    This isn't just about Metiria, although on a personal level I'm gutted for her. This is about who gets to talk about poverty. And what's been brutally rammed home is that it's only people who have no experience of it that get to talk, that get to participate.

    I grew up as a child on the benefit in the 80s and 90s and my first gut level reaction to the news of Metiria resigning was "I don't to want vote anymore". It felt like a kick to the guts and that politics isn't for people like me.

    I'm incredibly disappointed by the response journalists to many of the criticisms made. The has been no engagement with any of it. Just "you're not a journalist, what would you know", "just doing my job", "I've done lots of other good reporting that you like" blah fucking blah responses.

    I would like to have some of them tell me what journalism is for. Are we better off now that Metiria is gone? What have we learned? What have we lost? Is this holding power to account? It doesn't look like it from where I'm sitting.

    Since Dec 2011 • 7 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Sacha,

    "Yesterday the Green Party's Executive met to consider Dr Graham's request, but found he had breached the Party's Candidate Code of Conduct in a serious manner."

    It would be helpful if they told us precisely how he did so. The public info from those involved so far informs us only that he'd been objecting & the caucus had been discussing his objections ever since she made her stand at the AGM. The caucus is supposed to reach consensus, same as the membership. I led the process that got the decision-making rules adopted when I was Convenor of the Standing Orders Committee, but that was pre-MMP when we had no caucus, so I can't comment on the latter. Consensus was defined in the rules as either total or one or two dissenters registering their objection alongside the verdict while deferring to the majority will. Anything else had to go to a vote (as per democratic tradition).

    If, as I suspect, the caucus is merely operating as some kind of insiders' club, with no formal rules, then a breach of the code of conduct can be decided on the basis of the subjective impressions of participants. In a leftist caucus, closet-stalinism and the lynch mob mentality will then produce the outcome we've been watching, which has been entertaining nostalgia freaks right across the political spectrum.

    Not saying this is what happened. Just pointing out it's as viable an interpretation as the one the caucus wants us to believe.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Sorry, typo, replace `latter' with `former' in my second paragraph..

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    An MP going to the media without caucus approval is unlikely to be forgiven in any political party.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Sacha,

    True. That does indeed put the procedural question aside somewhat. The question of the extent to which any politician has a right of free speech is a murky one in our governance system.

    Given that Ken & Dave explained themselves in their RNZ interview in terms of conscience, one wonders to what extent caucus rules prevent a parliamentarian acting in accord with his/her conscience. I've disagreed with their rationale in prior online comments - I'm just exploring the nuances of the situation.

    From an ethical perspective, the validity of the caucus decision hinges on any recording of consensus being reached, and when, and if the rebels then acted in breach of that agreement. If they did breach it, they owe party members an explanation above and beyond the one they gave RNZ.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • izogi, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I don't have the specific ref, but I recall James Shaw in one of his RNZ interviews soon after they left (Morning Report?), he said there was meant to be some notice period of anyone leaving --- I think something like 48 hours --- so that the exec could discuss issues and, if necessary, prepare. I think he alleged they'd given almost no notice, thus seriously harming the campaign, and this was the fundamental problem which perhaps some are unlikely to forgive.

    Whether this is the actual state of things is another question entirely. I presume Kennedy Graham and David Clendon would have their own version of events. Probably neither really matters, by now, to a public which has largely already made up its mind.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • simon g,

    Everybody relax, she's gone, we're safe. Meanwhile ...

    These people are not Maori mothers on a benefit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    NBR resurrects the spectre of the Greens' successful previous comms advisor Andrew Campbell in its analysis. This part is what irks me most too:

    One Green Party insider tells NBR the key problem was that the current comms team did not “war game” what would happen after their co-leader confessed to beneficiary fraud at her party's July 16 AGM.

    There was an effort to anticipate reaction from the media, and other parties, but it was not carried out by election-hardened staffers, or in enough depth (Mr Campbell’s lieutenants left around the same time he did).

    The insider thinks that while maintaining a relative silence publicly, National did its own research, which it passed on to various media.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Its an opinion piece so throw in a few cliches, slag off an easy target, show irreverent support for the status quo, like you're a right wing rebel with a cause. And Stuff will put it up on its website to fill in a few hours of clickbait
    Fucking tossers, media at its laziest. Damien Grant can fuck right off too another useless white male sucking off the teet of those he sucks up too. And he has the gall to call others bludgers.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to izogi,

    Yes, I saw James say that. My point hinges on whether that is an actual rule, written as part of a procedural document (code of conduct) which binds behaviour like an employment contract, or whether it is merely parliamentary convention - and to what extent can parliamentarians act in accord with their conscience and exercise the right of free speech that most folk who believe in democracy feel entitled to?

    You're right that the public jumped to their usual conclusions & moved on. Thoughtful folk will still be digesting the implications. Green party members and supporters will have been polarised into their two original camps: neither left nor right vs the leftists. There's a danger of the re-run of the Values Party schism that created that political fault-line. I doubt it will fracture sufficiently to destroy this party like it destroyed that one, but there will need to be a prolonged pounding of the sledgehammer on the coal chisel to get the learning of their mistake through the concrete in the heads of the leftists.

    The Ohariu poll announced on Q+A this morning has the Greens at 12%. This is likely to reassure the leftists sufficiently to prevent them learning the lesson. The political compass website located me halfway across the left side of the political spectrum a couple of years ago, which is probably why my heart tends to make me side with the left on policy issues. Factoring in the necessity of the long-term success of the green cause gets my head back to the center every time. Both green tribes must work together. Leftist polarising is a handicap.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    The Ohariu poll announced on Q+A this morning has the Greens at 12%

    Only within that electorate and with a larger than usual margin of error.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Lynn Yum, in reply to ,

    It was the intentionally polarising a population for political gain. She took a gamble, to advance her political objectives, that people other than her will pay for.

    Wait, what? I can agree that she should have handled her confession better, i.e. cleared her account with MSD completely before confessing. But pointing out that the benefit system made her lie, and therefore the system is cruel, should NOT be polarising. In a rational discussion, we just evaluate her argument, and whether or not you believe the argument depends on whether or not you believe her story is substantially true. Other people have corroborated her story, and only after she made the confession, so no one should discount the argument out of hand. At the very least, her argument deserves a closer look. This is raising a red flag (again), not polarising.

    To discount her argument is to simply ignore the problem, or as someone else suggested, speaks to the underlying prejudice against beneficiaries. Or simply view politics as a game for power, that every move is a calculated bid to win power and nothing more.

    For some people, politics isn't a game of thrones, it is about improving lives. Shocking, I know right?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2016 • 38 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    Oh for goodness sake;


    New 'wrap around' services policy - fine the parents and send the kids away.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • william blake, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Oh god they are foul. I can't see the logic in taking the 'most violent and recidivist ' youth and teaching them how to shoot accurately.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Only four days ago, Turei would stubbornly tell media for the last time there was no poll number that would see her step down—dogged by further revelations she had been highly selective with her story of living on the DPB. Hours later, she'd quit. (But not before costing the jobs of Little and two of her own MPs).


    How does Stacey Kirk get to make that claim - the fall of Andrew Little can be laid at the feet of rapacious media mistaking honesty for weakness. IMHO.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    And an ex IRD/tax collector's point that #WearealMetiria;


    And a related campaign from ActionStation;


    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to ,

    confront themselves.

    I can think of quite a few people who should go somewhere and do some honest reflection on their beliefs and how they have come to them, and while they're about it a critical reappraisal of their actions might be handy for those whose lives their policies are going to influence.
    I would probably disagree with you on where the more urgent need for that is, currently.

    When all the finger pointing and blaming white supremacy and journalism

    You are wide of the mark there. It is govt policies for the past 30yrs and the beliefs behind those that are being called into question here. Labour doesnt get a free pass there as well as the incumbents. It is clear that those ideas were adopted by those who walked the halls of government during that time. They had/are having a disastrous effect.
    Nothing that wasn't warned about, at the time. Neoliberalism, Free markets, user pays, competitive business models blah blah blah. And those who were at the bottom of societies increasingly pyramiding shape for historic cultural reasons or being a mother or any increasing number of reasons, suffered and struggled. Go figure!
    As for some of the commentary provided on this by journalism, it was paper thin at best and riddled with weird personal bias. Did the journalist's ancestry/ upbringing/sex have something to do with it? Well it was often opinion so you work it out. Sometimes ones opinions arent all that flash.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ,

    If Metiria really was motivated by altruism, that was fairly unencumbered by her own desire to score politically, she could always go out there as the lawyer she is, and do some human rights work. Possibly in the defence of people on benefits, who get pushed around by bullies.

    Here you go.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • dave stewart,

    I think The Spin Off's policy comparison tool is pretty cool:
    Easy way of comparing policy apples & oranges (or lack of).

    Since Aug 2014 • 37 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,


    Which parties care about your health - Chchch public meeting

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman sits down for a live chat with Stuff at midday regarding mental health. today Aug 15.

    He was in fine fickle form in his rare appearance on Morning Report today - trying to push the blame back on PSA and Etu for agreeing to the government's insistence that mental health workers not be included in Aged Care workers pay rise.

    The unions have to pick their fights and win where they can for their members - he needs to explain why they specifically wanted to exclude mental health workers (especially as they have just tried to say they really do care in yesterday's policy release on mental health. )
    Does he also think there are no aged people with mental health issues?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Mental health? How fit is your mind. In Mr Coleman's case he is unspokenly saying
    'Hey look at me I am a functioning member of parliament I cant have any mental health problems because of who I am'.
    How wrong that thinking is....

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

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