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A Week Of It: Agenda, National Policy & Privilege

A Week Of It with Kevin List

Agenda, National Policy & Privilege

In This Edition:
Agenda Programme Packs Powerful Punch
Plenty of National Party Policy Still To Come
A Question of Privilege
Labour MP Actually Makes It To Privileges Committee – In Mid 80s
Mr Rodney Hide May Get Assistance From Human Rights Tribunal
Only Truly Centre Party Shows Pro Market Hand
Democracy Defended By Accused Iraqi’s


Agenda Programme Packs Powerful Punch

Last Saturday there was no need for a stiff coffee to assist waking up – one only had to tune in to Television One at 8:30am and watch the new ruthless Simon Dallow going at it hammer and tongs with National Party candidate Tau Henare. In this illuminating interview Mr Henare pointed out that previous statements he had made in the 90s such as ' The National Party only seem interested in looking after white middle class New Zealanders’ were well and truly history.

Mr Henare considered the latest National Party billboards, which disgusted Maori Party Co-Leader Pita Sharples, were 'cool' and 'funny'. Mr Henare also played down any ambition to be the Minister of Maori Affairs should National be in Government post election. Mr Henare considered the National Party’s pakeha Maori Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee was doing a good job at present. At number 29 on National’s list Mr Henare is virtually certain to be in Parliament following the election.

Dodgy Graphic Goes Astray

A scene from a Muriel Newman dream plays out on the state broadcaster

Every week on Agenda energetic BFM host Mr Simon Pound presents a media watch type political story. Last week Mr Pound had a crack at looking at the dividing line between public service advertising and party political propaganda, looking in particular at the 'Working for Families' advertising package.

Mr Pounds’ piece is a pre-recorded segment which is rolled in midway through the show – tragically for this week's item it seems someone let Muriel Newman (or a sympathiser) into the graphics department. Each time a 'Working for Families' ad appeared in the item a graphic – which A Week of It understands was generated from the studio control room - reading "Labour TV Advert" appeared.

Simon pound sans graphic

Finally Mr Pound stood next to an actual 100% bona fide Labour Party at the end of the item – and lo and behold no graphic! For our eagle eyed spotting A Week of It understands we may be in line for a special prize. Why it is neccessary to claim the prize from a darkened alley near the railway yards remains a mystery.

A Week Of It urges readers to get up early for Agenda tomorrow due to a very special errrrr guest being on.


Plenty of National Party Policy Still To Come

Dr Paul Hutchison - not likely to become a memorable face any time soon

A Week Of It also noticed this week that the National Party has yet to release its Health Immigration and Tax policy packages. Given the fact that the National Party’s health spokesperson is ranked number 23 (out of 27 MPs) we pick this policy announcement to be pretty muted.


A Question of Privilege

Bayfield High School with Benson-Pope was about much more than just the odd good thrashing. Emails from pupils reveal David Benson-Pope was also fond of vampires and kittens.

This week there was much gnashing and wailing of teeth over the decision made by the Speaker not to send embattled Minister David Benson Pope to the Privileges committee for allegedly misleading Parliament.

A few weeks ago Mr Benson-Pope had been accused under parliamentary privilege by Ms Judith Collins and Mr Rodney Hide of taking a lateral approach to discipline in his Bayfield High class during the 1980s. Mr Benson-Pope then mangled the English language when he stated he ‘refuted’ the claims.

Not-withstanding the grammatically challenged nature of Mr Pope’s language, most members took Mr Benson Pope to mean he denied them. A few days later up popped a few accusers and Mr Hide lodged a complaint of privilege alleging Mr Benson Pope had misled the House by denying the actions occurred.

After studying some of the documents released by Mr Benson Pope supporting his statements A Week of It reckons the speaker could be bang on the money with her decision.

One supportive email explains what life was like as a pupil of Mr Benson-Pope.

“One day he brought his new kitten along to show us. Sometimes we were given feijoas from his garden. While the class completed written work, I remember him sitting cramped into a cupboard while he learned his lines for the next Goethe Society play he was acting in! [Mr Benson-Pope] jumping off desks fully gowned pretending to be a vampire was particularly memorable.”

And so it sounds like life leaned a little more towards Dead Poets Society at Bayfield High than Tom Brown's Schooldays.

This week prolific media commentator, Russell Brown pointed out a possibly clearer case of privilege involving former ACT party member Owen Jennings had also failed to make it to the privileges committee, in 1998.

For our part A Week Of It couldn’t find any cases of privilege involving misleading the House after the introduction of MMP.


Labour MP Actually Makes It To Privileges Committee – In Mid 80s

Richard Prebble appeared before the Privileges Committee to deny driving whilst reading the newspaper.

One MP who was referred to the privileges committee for misleading the House was former ACT party leader Richard Prebble in the mid-80s. Mr Prebble was referred to the Privileges committee following a ruckus over whether or not Mr Prebble was reading a Sunday newspaper whilst driving.

Mr Prebble pointed out to the media that he had glanced at a newspaper whilst stopped at a set of lights. Mr Prebble also pointed out that his then wife Nancy was with him and implied she would not let a Cabinet Minister tootle around Wellington reading the paper. The Privileges committee chaired by Geoffrey Palmer cleared Mr Prebble of any wrongdoing but sternly chastised a journalist who had reported Mr Prebble had actually been reading.

No penalty was imposed on the journalist though because the only punishment possible at the time would have been imprisonment.

A Week Of It understands that although a number of Labour MPs would like to imprison certain TV3 journalists the committee no longer has this power. A newspaper report at the time stated that Mr Prebble had taken especially deep exception to having been described in the almost imprisoned journalist’s story as being, “alongside police ministers in third world countries who run brothels.”


Mr Rodney Hide May Get Assistance From Human Rights Tribunal

After a year or so of trying to make Brian Edwards life unpleasant dogged ACT party Leader Rodney Hide is one step nearer to success. Mr Hide has been told by the Privacy Commissioner that six documents held by TVNZ relating to Mr Hide should be released to the (at present) ACT Party leader.

The documents came about following a rather testy interview between Mr Hide and Mr Edwards on TVNZ chat show ‘Edwards at Large’.

Should TVNZ decide not to fess up with the paperwork Mr Hide may have to rely on the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Recently ACT Justice Spokesperson criticised Human Rights Review Tribunal member Jaquie Grant regarding comments she had made.

Mr Franks, told the New Zealand Herald Ms Grant should be removed from the tribunal. "I don't think she has the faintest idea about what human rights is about when she says, `I don't like your ideas, so I'm going to criminalise you',” he said.


Only Truly Centre Party Shows Pro Market Hand

Which one of these is not like the other ones?

A Week of It understands the Advertising Standards Authority may be flooded with letters should United Future claim to be a centrist party this election. The United Future party, which consists of a mish-mash of ultra conservative evangelical Christians, a Dirty Harryesque former chef and a Leader proud of wearing bow ties, has begun to flex its pro market muscles.

This week finance spokesperson Gordon Copeland outlined United Future’s plans to flog off up to 40% of some strategic state assets. Mr Copeland believes this is a great opportunity for mum and dad investors. Ma Brierley and Poppa Richwhite think Gordon is an astute fellow.

Deborah Coddington knew all along. In Ms Coddington’s ‘fair and balanced’ review of Radio New Zealand in late 2003, Ms Coddington lumped United Future in with the ACT and the Business Roundtable as an example of a pro-market group.


Democracy Defended By Accused Iraqi’s

Perhaps as an act of spite following Mr Robson’s objection to Mr Peter’s tabling documents regarding embattled Auckland bookseller Mr Jim Peron – Mr Robson was himself this week unable to table letters from Iraqis grumbling about Mr Winston Peters.

A Week Of It brings you an excerpt from one of these untabled documents:

“ I have many friends in NZ who knew me back in Iraq and we share the same view against [the] Saddam regime. Unfortunately I have been the victim of a false allegation by one member of Parliament.

MPs should be the role model of the society. They get elected to look after the rest of the nation. So no one should abuse the parliamentary privilege to ruin other people’s life by false accusation.

Back in Iraq people are dying for the sake of democracy. Here we take it for granted. We should respect it… We are challenging Mr Peters to provide even a single proof of his allegations.”

- Amer Salman - 2005


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