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 The Wage Hike For MPs (and Paul Robeson)

Hard to tell what is more infuriating. Is it the 5.3% increase on the already bloated salaries of MPs, or their pantomime of outrage at being gifted with such a wonderful back-dated bonanza?

As usual, Prime Minister John Key has busily tried to distance himself from the political fallout, even though he happens to be the main beneficiary of the Remuneration Authority’s generosity. Finance Minister Bill English says with a straight face that it would actually be very hard to give the money back...

Even if it were true, it would actually be very easy for English and any other guilty colleagues, to give the extra money away. There are any number of food banks or homeless shelters who would be able to put the money to good use. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

No Designers Or Visual Artists: Flag Panel Members Announced

The Government has appointed 12 New Zealanders as members of the Flag Consideration Panel which will engage with the public about a possible new New Zealand flag, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says. More>>

ALSO:

Labour MP Stands Down From Portfolio: Comment From Carmel Sepuloni

The first I knew of my mother’s charges was when I was called by a reporter yesterday. I spoke to Andrew and we agreed there is a conflict of interest at the present time which means I will temporarily stand aside from the Social Development portfolio. It’s the right thing to do… . More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Whether NZ Troops Are The Least Of Islamic State’s Problems

Given that it has been politically packaged and sold as a training mission, the Iraq deployment announced yesterday by Prime Minister John Key seemed to be mysteriously short of actual trainers... The other wing of the argument is whether a troop deployment is (a) the only effective way and (b) the appropriate time to combat Islamic State. More>>

ALSO:

143 Troops, Possible SAS Deployment, Legalities Unsorted: PM’s Statement On ISIL

Mr Speaker, today I am announcing to the House the Government’s decisions about our contribution to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL... More>>

ALSO:

Liu Saga: PM's Dinner With Controversial Donor

John Key must front up to New Zealand and say what he discussed with Donghua Liu when the disgraced businessman paid $25,000 for the Prime Minister to come to dinner at his Remuera home, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Roads: National MP 'Concerned' At Overseas Driver Crashes

Waitaki MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism Jacqui Dean said she was concerned at the number of fatal crashes involving overseas licence holders and she really felt that the time had come for more to be done. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: Parole Bill Passes

A bill reducing parole hearings deemed to be unnecessary has passed. The third reading of the Parole Amendment Bill was completed by 104 to 16 with the Greens and Maori Party opposed. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news