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The Right Talk, The Leader's View - 16 September

The Right Talk, The Leader's View 16 September 2003

The pot calls the kettle black

By the time you read this National Party MP Shane Ardern will have been served with papers for his protest aboard Myrtle the Massey Fergusson tractor on Parliament's steps.

It need never have come to this.

But unlike Labour MPs in a similar bind, the National Party MP is working with the police to help reach a fair conclusion.

Just like National's Nick Smith, who is facing charges so serious he could lose his seat.

He has also made himself available to police.

But that's in stark contrast to the actions of Helen Clark when she found herself at the centre of a forgery inquiry after signing artwork she did not paint.

At one stage Helen Clark used the Express newspaper to vent her anger at the police inquiry. She said of the investigation 'I shall have a good deal more to say about that when they've finished their sort of elephant act in the strawberry patch.'

She also threatened through a spokesman that she was considering legal action against the police over the Paintergate affair.

It's hard to marry that sort of attack on the integrity of the police with the attack on National over 'Tractorgate'.

It follows on from her description of Shane Ardern's behaviour as 'disorderly' - virtually an invitation to the police to prosecute.

Then just a few days later, the hard working Taranaki MP is charged with disorderly behaviour for simply representing his constituency.

In fact the National Party has uncovered a number of examples where Helen Clark has used her position to attack police.

People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Speaking of Glass Houses

George Hawkins is learning from Helen Clark.

Just last week the Police Minister accused National of applying political pressure on the police before saying Mr Ardern 'should not expect to be treated differently from anyone else'.

Less than a week after writing that statement it turns out that Mr Hawkins refused to supply his address so he could be served with a summons to appear as a witness in an Employment Court case.

The police had no such obstacle when serving Shane Ardern with papers. His address is on the electoral roll and in the Taranaki phone book.

Speaker apologises

National has consistently demanded that the Speaker explain the difference between the time it took to sort out Harry Duynhoven's law-breaking and the speedy action he took against Shane Ardern.

We got vindication when the Speaker of the House had to apologise to the House last Thursday.

Jonathan Hunt has also agreed to remind the police of the rules about interviewing MPs, when it was revealed they broke with Parliamentary procedure over the Ardern case.

Integrity of the public service

The National Party has been targeted for its recent criticism of the public service by a Labour Government that blames officials. I have written to the State Services Commissioner asking for an explanation about the recent actions of Mark Prebble, head of the DPMC and James Buwalda, head of the Labour Department.

National believes these are civil servants with integrity, but they have been used by Helen Clark as political proxies, under enormous pressure. We want to help the civil service stand against Labour's climate of fear.

Our letter to the State Services Commissioner can be seen at

Seabed & Foreshore

Labour's backtrack on the foreshore and seabed continues. It now refuses to rule out Maori customary title, opening the door to customary rights, including rights of exclusivity.

At the same time media are still being banned from key speeches at the consultation hui.

As predicted in Right Talk the uncertainty is beginning to mount and so is the suspicion.

Labour is now talking about co-management and partnership.

With a Labour back down now looking more like a reality, the silent majority still has a fight on its hands.

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