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Gerry in the House 8 April 2005

8 April 2005

Tamihere comes clean

Anyone watching events unfold in Parliament this week would have been struck by the mess Labour got itself into just because Helen Clark doesn’t want to acknowledge that what John Tamihere said in the Investigate article is true. She wants to pretend that somehow Mr Tamihere is the one who is different, not her close cabal of advisers.

For years National MPs have been saying things about the inside workings of the Labour and the advice stream on the ninth floor, along the lines of what Mr Tamihere said in the interview. Our comments are not picked up because we are in Opposition and that’s what we are expected to say.

But John Tamihere is on the inside. He says though it looks rosy from the outside, it is not rosy. Because he is saying what is actually happening, because he has exposed the truth of how Labour reaches its decisions - how Helen Clark decides what she will and will not support - it has a greater resonance.

There is not one member of the Labour Party who should be comforted by the way in which the editorials, the talkback stations, the smoko rooms, and the households of this country have embraced, with some relief, the fact that at last someone has come out and said what is really going on inside the Labour Party.

As for the great support Helen Clark claims for her party - the editorials are right there, too. It is a thin veneer of support.

Labour likes to tell people what they should think. New Zealanders are good people. They are prepared to give people the benefit of the doubt, but they will not be happy to learn finally what drives this Labour Government, what motivates Helen Clark, and what sort of a discipline structure is operating inside the caucus and Cabinet.

Peter Dunne has to be one of the duped people that Mr Tamihere talked about when he spoke of the deception Michael Cullen puts across minor parties in the House. Mr Dunne stood in the House on Wednesday and said the Government does not fund appropriately 97,000 diabetics, but at the same time he and his party choose to support the Government when it wants to fund sex-change operations in our public hospitals. The United Party might want to say the Tamihere issue is of no great moment, but weren’t they the sensible party that wanted New Zealanders to hear things the way they really were?

I wonder just how safe Helen Clark is. Labour members will be up one after the other now to endorse her. But Mr Tamihere has said he has support from 10 solid MPs and 15 others on any given day. What he is saying is that half the Labour caucus has the jury out on Helen Clark.

She has seized on this opportunity to try to put the wedge in and to cement her position. No matter what sort of an apology Mr Tamihere might like to put out we know he will not deny the truth of what he told Investigate.

He will not deny that Helen Clark has a problem with the supports in her office. He will not deny that Michael Cullen regularly puts it across supporting parties, and he will not deny that Labour is overly dominated by union influences and the gay lobby, and is pandering to Mâori interests.

Those are not where mainstream New Zealanders are. Rodney Hide was right when he said Helen Clark has no idea what it is like to work out whether the mortgage can be paid at the end of the month, whether school uniforms can be afforded, whether new shoes can be bought for the kids when they go into winter sport, or what it is like to stand on a cold Saturday morning on the sideline at sport.

But mark my words. There will be photographs of her doing exactly that. It will be put out there from the ninth floor spin machine within a week. That is the way Labour operates — duplicitously.


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