Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Plain English

Clark's Coalition

Where was Helen Clark when her Coalition was falling apart? Usually so accessible to the media, she was away making a travel programme and letting Michael Cullen face the hard questions. Next week, she will be overseas again leaving her very, very, very close friend Jim Anderton in charge.

Deputy Prime Minister Jim says he still leads the Alliance Party, but will set up a Non-Alliance Party next month to fight the Alliance before the next election. Helen Clark in a brief comment made at a jet-boating location says she is now happy to be in Coalition with three parties - Labour, Anderton's and Harre's. But Anderton says she's in Coalition with just his party.

Helen's Hypocrisy

Both The Alliance and The Non-Alliance parties know they couldn't hang on to power without Helen's agreement. This is her deal and some time before the election she has to turn off the life-support system for one of these parties and say which one she is for and which against.

In the meantime, she will continue to wear two faces - one for each of her coalition partners. This should not present too much of a challenge for someone who in Opposition said "defectors" should " take a long walk out of here if they resign from their parties while they are members of this Parliament."

When she became Prime Minister she said the Party Hopping Bill was "draconian" because it had to deal "with people whose behaviour is despicable." She also said she wanted "new standards of behaviour" and her message to MPs was simple - "You will stay with the party whose voters put you in Parliament - or you will get out."

And she underscored this by saying every Labour MP had campaigned on the Party Hopping Bill.

Integrity and Public Ethics

The core issue is the integrity of Government and the public ethics of its leadership. This is not about minor parties in Opposition, but about the deal the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have done to evade the law they put in place and to manipulate the democratic process in Parliament. Clark is accountable as the Leader of the Government for the actions of her deputy and his party. She seems reluctant to be open about her involvement in the deal with Anderton and she is treating the public as if they are stupid by heading off on yet another photo opportunity while the core of the Government is in melt-down. It is not enough to say there is no change because the Coalition still has the votes. That is not what she said when the National-New Zealand First Coalition was formerly brought to an end because of tensions within the Government. That was an honest process by comparison with the blatant hypocrisy Clark and Anderton have shown in the past few days.

A Bob Both Ways

Clark and Anderton want a bob both ways. They say Jim's break with the Alliance is like the Greens split from the Alliance before the last election. Not true. Jim is the Deputy Prime Minister and a party to the Coalition Agreement which says its objective is to "restore public confidence in the political integrity of Parliament" and "to provide stable and effective long-term government." Tau Henare says no amount of sophistry can hide the fact that what has occurred within the Alliance is the same that occurred with NZ First four years ago. Back then Clark said the creation of Mauri Pacific confirmed the divided, contradictory and fragile nature of the Government.

Social Credit?

One of the Alliance parties, The Democratic Party whose origins go back to the Social Credit funny-money party, quit the Alliance yesterday. Does this mean their MPs have breached the Party Hopping Bill, or will Clark and Anderton say this doesn't count either? Does this mean there are now three parties in the Alliance? Who will be Leader of the Alliance Party when the Alliance elect Harre the new leader of the Alliance, but Jim Anderton stays on as leader of the Alliance?

Where's the money going?

Taxpayers fund MPs for their work as MPs. It is illegal to use that money to set up a new party and Anderton is in charge of over $1 million of taxpayers' money. National will make sure the Alliance does not break the rules because it suits them. Eventually, there will have to be a formal split, so the parties can get access to taxpayer-funded broadcasting time during the election campaign. Clark has no answer to whether this means MPs will have to be expelled from Parliament weeks from an election.

The Real Issues

I have said for some time that Helen Clark should show leadership on bread and butter issues like Health, Education and Law and Order. It was no accident she was on holiday while Anderton was making his announcement. There is more to Government than photo opportunities. We intend to hold Clark to account on the issues that really matter to people which she seems to show no interest in.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election