Letter from Wellington: A long time in politics
RICHARD PREBBLE'S Letter from Wellington: A week is a long time in politics - Some Real Questions - Did he mislead Parliament? - Peoples Bank Progress Report - Hospital Waiting Lists - PM gone walkabout - Employment Relations Update - PM gone walkabout - Making a Charlie of New Zealand
Letter from Wellington
Tuesday, 11 July 2000
A week is a long time in politics.
A week ago Helen Clark said in Parliament that innocent members of an MP's family are a legitimate target. Labour MP David Cunliffe boasted "Richard has it coming big time and he is going to get it", and John Tamihere was quoted saying it was time for "utu".
ACT's response to Labour's postur-ing were salient oral questions about the Varroa mite.
Yet on Saturday, Helen Clark pulled up the white flag and asked for a truce in the mud slinging war. War implies two participating sides.
Helen Clark conveniently called the truce with herself after having her spin doctors blame ACT for the anonymous fax to Radio New Zea-land making allegations about John Tamihere.
Actually the spin doctors went fur-ther and named a person. He turned out to be in Wellington on the day in question and is a Labour Party mem-ber. Desperate, the spin doctors named a second suspect, yet he too has never been a member of ACT.
Some Real Questions
T he Hauraki Maori selection com-mittee voted against nominating John Tamihere. Understandably, ordinary Labour Party members feel a person pleading guilty to four dishonesty charges and three drink-driving convictions is not a suitable role model for young Maori.
John Tamihere was Helen Clark's personal choice. Thus, this is a ques-tion of her judgement. In The Do-minion, Helen Clark said she was "fully aware of all details relating to the case". In The Evening Post, when answering questions over the Waipa-reira Trust, "a spokesman for Miss Clark said Mr Tamihere had given the Prime Minister a written assur-ance that he had not been involved in any activity that would bring either 'himself, his family or the govern-ment' into disrepute".
Apparently fraud and drink driving convictions have taken huge steps up the social acceptance ladder.
Did he mislead Parliament?
I n his explanation to Parliament, Mr Tamihere said "the accusations that have been made by way of anony-mous facsimiles have all been consid-ered by the formal authorities and have been judged to be without sub-stance". To The Dominion he "cate-gorically" denied the fraud allega-tions which related to documents he signed off in 1990 on behalf of a ma-rae committee.
Helen Clark is currently endorsing her MP. Does this mean she has seen Mr Tamihere's Wanganui police rec-ord, and if so, are the details Mr Tamihere releasing correct? And complete?
The media reports Mr Tamihere has exactly the same votes for the posi-tion of Minister of Maori Affairs as Parekura Horomia. So the question of Mr Tamihere's character are very relevant.
As Mr Tamihere has "fessed up to everything", he should have no hesi-tation in consenting to a media appli-cation to read the court file, and will also give access to his Wanganui computer record. ( The Herald, hav-ing gone to great lengths in Court for the details of an American billionaire tourist, will no doubt, as an equal opportunity newspaper, be back in Court this week asking to view the court record of the man who seeks to be our next Minster of Maori Affairs.)
ACT hopes Mr Tamihere comes clean soon. The landslide of accusations being made against him by disgrun-tled Labour party members are cost-ing the Party a small fortune in fax paper.
Peoples Bank Progress Report
D on't withdraw all your cash from your own bank just yet. In reply to official information requests from Rodney Hide, New Zealand Post re-veals that despite having six meetings with Jim Anderton, they are still months away from a decision that could be called progress.
Hospital Waiting Lists
R educing hospital waiting lists is Promise No. 2 on the credit card. Figures have shown waiting lists steadily rising over the last six months, yet after a recent audit the numbers have magically fallen. It turns out that some people were on the same list up to five times.
Why could officials in the public hos-pital system not find this error last November before the election, yet when it appears a Labour promise is being broken new figures can be conjured?
Interestingly, if the statistical error holds constant, banning the use of private hospitals for elective surgery has resulted in a rapid escalation of long term waiting lists.
Employment Relations Update
T he coalition's tactics are clear. Changes to the Bill are to be kept secret at Select Committee. New Na-tional MP Katherine Rich was threat-ened with the Privileges Committee for telling her local paper that changes would be few.
At the same time the Government are outlining changes to the media to create a spin that the Government has listened and responded.
It is all smoke and mirrors. The Letter believes some clauses are being com-pletely rewritten with the cynical in-struction that the legal effect is to stay the same but the clause is to sound different. An example of their con-tortions is the clause that prevents a firm afflicted with a strike from finding alternative help.
PM gone walkabout
T his week the Government is on holiday. Parliament is not meeting, there is no Cabinet or caucus, select committees are not held, backward looking legislation is not being passed and the Prime Minister is on 'walkabout' somewhere in the South Island. The country is safe for a week.
Making a Charlie of New Zealand
W as it a lack of judgement for Helen Clark to ring the President of South Africa pledging New Zealand's support for their World Cup bid when:
(a)It's not a
(b)It's not New Zealand's decision;
(c)No one checked with Mr Dempsey.
Having pledged his vote without asking him, Helen Clark is now launching a personal attack on a 79 year-old.