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

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Flyover Over: NZTA Not Appealing Flyover Decision

The NZ Transport Agency has decided not to appeal the High Court’s Basin Bridge decision, and says the High Court’s findings provide valuable clarity to help guide the development of future infrastructure projects throughout the country. More>>

ALSO:

Developing Crown Land: Government, Auckland Iwi Reach Agreement

The government has reached agreement with Ngati Whatua and other Auckland iwi over developing 500 hectares of excess land in Auckland for private housing which had been under High Court challenge. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Maurice Williamson

Maurice Williamson seems to have been granted an annual licence to embarrass the National Party, and its that time of year again. Also as per usual, Williamson’s recent exercise in sexism and homophobia has passed by with barely a murmur from his leader. More>>

ALSO:

Green Climate Plan: Shaw Launches 40% Emission Cut Target

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has announced an emissions target initiative for 40% reduction by 2030. He said agriculture has to long been used as a reason for inaction, a roadblock to action... He proposed a tax of 8 cents per kilo of milk. More>>

ALSO:


Images & Video: Four Alternative Flags For Referendum

Flag Consideration Panel chair, Professor John Burrows, said the Panel’s decision had been guided first and foremost by the results of its engagement programme across a range of communities where thousands of Kiwis shared what was special about New Zealand, as well as the Panel’s own selection criteria. More>>

ALSO:

Transport Report: LGNZ Calls For Proactive Approach To Mobilise Regions

LGNZ has today released Mobilising the Regions, its major transport study, which highlights the economic and social impact of strategic transport decisions nationally and in the regions, and the direct link between regional development, national prosperity, social well-being and cohesiveness. More>>

ALSO:

Transport: New Rules Bring Double-Deckers To Our Cities

New rules that allow buses, including double-deckers, to carry more people will ramp up the public transport offering in our cities, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss say. More>>

ALSO:

Cycling:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news