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

 


Dunne Speaks

Dunne Speaks


16 May 2014

There is a political dictum not to get involved with animals or children because they invariably upstage you.

Richard III may have found that at Bosworth, when he lost his kingdom, but for a horse. William Huskisson, the British Cabinet Minister, might have wished for a horse when he stepped inadvertently in front of Stephenson’s Rocket in 1830 at the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester line and became history’s first rail fatality. And Winston Peters is probably feeling the same after his links to the racehorse Bellazeel were questioned this week.

There is a more serious point to this. Events in the New Zealand Parliament have shown a most appalling decline in accepted standards of conduct in recent weeks, with accusations and counter-accusations being flung around with willing abandon. And we have seen social media like Twitter being employed to make accusations that are simply extreme, and unacceptable in any other medium. Some MPs have revelled apparently in their slime-wrestling ability, rather than hide in shame at their cretinous behaviour.

It is argued that the immediacy of a general election explains the egregious behaviour we are now witness to, but that is no credible excuse. Oafish, boorish behaviour, misuse or ignoring altogether of established procedures, is never acceptable or justifiable, whatever the circumstances. Yet that is what we are being reduced to.

I am not excusing lapses of judgement by Ministers, or failure to make proper disclosures, but I am saying that the mere suggestion of such does not justify due process being tossed aside in favour of the lynch mob. The political parties themselves have a responsibility here – if not to themselves, but to the nation – to insist on the highest standards of conduct and behaviour of their MPs, at all times, and to stop falling into the trap we have seen too frequently in recent weeks, that perceived failings by one side justify all-out attack by the other, without any regard for accepted standards.

The advent of social media and the immediacy of communication it has led to raise particular issues which Parliament has not yet adapted to dealing with. Spur of the moment inflammatory Tweets ought to be considered in the same way as traditional public or media comments when it comes to considering whether they breach established rules of Parliamentary Privilege.

As an aside, I was reminded of the same issue during the presentation of this year’s Budget, when I was able to read most of it on Twitter, admittedly just after the 2:00 pm embargo was lifted, but long before the Minister of Finance got to those bits in his speech. Where does that sit alongside traditional concepts of Budget secrecy?

So maybe the answer is just to forget about horses and children, where I began, and simply run the whole process on social media and let reputations come and go at a whim to fulfil Alexander Pope’s famous line in “The Rape of Lock” – “At every word a reputation dies.” A 302 year old preview of Election 2014 perhaps?

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On War Crimes And The Afghan Insurgency

Truly, with friends like former defence Minster Wayne Mapp, the SAS does not need enemies. At the very least, the Hit and Run book has raised the possibility that the New Zealand SAS committed war crimes in the attack they led in Afghnistan upon the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad...

Mapp’s attempted defence of the SAS on RNZ this morning unintentionally indicated that collective punishment was baked into the planning exercise for the raid, and also into how the raid proceeded on the ground. More>>

 

Biscuit Tin Of Democracy: World Heritage Site Protection, Ombudsman and Equal Pay Bills Drawn

On Thursday, 23 March 2017 three places are available on the Order Paper for the first reading of a Member’s bill. The ballot was held, and resulted in the following bills being drawn... More>>

ALSO:

Emissions Plan: NZ Needs More Science, More Trees, Fewer Beasts

A combination of technology breakthroughs, much more plantation forestry, and a big switch away from pastoral, particularly dairy farming, are identified as the key elements of any approach New Zealand takes to reducing its carbon emissions to a net zero level, according to a new report sponsored by the New Zealand chapter of GLOBE, a multi-party, global parliamentary grouping. More>>

ALSO:

"Backed To Win Seats": Labour Māori Seat MPs Won't Stand On List

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. More>>

Productivity Commission: New Models Of Tertiary Education Are Coming

The report is a broad-ranging inquiry into how well New Zealand’s tertiary education system is set up to respond to emerging trends in technology and the internationalisation of education, and changes in the structure of the population, and the skills needed in the economy and society... More>>

ALSO:

PM's Press Conference: Water Everywhere

Monday's Post-Cabinet press conference focused on water, with the Prime Minister fielding questions about the possibility pricing water taken for export. Mr English said the government was directing their water allocation technical advisory group to include export water in considerations. More>>

ALSO:

Kim Workman: Reality Check Needed For Public Service Reoffending Target

Reducing the prison population results in a reduction in re-offending. Shortening sentences reduces reoffending... More>>

ALSO:

PSA: Minister Should Stop Dodging On Salisbury School

"The decision around the future of Salisbury School has been overdue for months, and the ambiguity is leaving parents, staff and students in limbo. It’s time the Minister stopped hiding, muddying the waters and being dishonest about her Ministry’s intentions," says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news