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Privileges Committee points finger at PM’s abuse of power

3 December 2013

Privileges Committee points finger at PM’s abuse of power

The Prime Minister launched an inquiry which directly attacked New Zealand’s democracy and our constitutional arrangements; that is the inescapable conclusion of the Privileges Committee report released today, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said.

Parliament's Privileges Committee reported back today on its investigation into how the emails, swipe-card and phone records for MP Peter Dunne and Dominion Post journalist Andrea Vance came to be handed over to the Henry Inquiry set up by Prime Minister John Key. The privileges committee inquiry came about as a result of the privileges complaint laid with Parliament’s Speaker by Dr Russel Norman against the Prime Minister.

“John Key must take full responsibility for setting up an inquiry that ran roughshod over the freedoms that MPs and the media expect in a democracy,” said Dr Norman.

“John Key’s inquiry aggressively went after email records of MPs and journalists that it had absolutely no right to access.

“Not only did Mr Key establish this inquiry and provide it with its authority, his Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, pressured Parliamentary Services to hand over confidential information when Parliamentary Services rightly questioned the authority of Key’s inquiry.

“Mr Key’s office seemed to have no compunction in forcing Parliament to hand over privileged emails and phone records.

“The Muldoonist tendencies of this Prime Minister came to the fore with his inquiry. The idea that Parliament is not under the control of the Prime Minister’s office appears to be a foreign idea to John Key, as it was to Muldoon.

“The difference with Muldoon is that at least Muldoon would have had the courage to appear before the committee. Mr Key’s appearance in person was blocked by Government MPs so the committee was hamstrung in getting any answers from Mr Key himself during the conduct of this inquiry.

“It was also disappointing that the Speaker of the House did not appear before the committee,” Dr Norman said.

“It is now time for John Key to finally accept responsibility for his role in this entire fiasco.”


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