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Prebble asks Anderton for an explanation

Prebble asks Anderton for an explanation

Sunday 26th Dec 1999
Richard Prebble
Media Release -- Justice

Hon Richard Prebble today released his Please explain letter to Alliance Leader Jim Anderton.

Mr Prebble is seeking an explanation from Mr Anderton regarding allegations that Mr Anderton's staff member smoked cannabis in Parliament's debating chamber.

Mr Prebble says Mr Anderton deserves a chance to explain the matter before he takes it further.

Letter attached

Hon Richard Prebble CBE
Leader ACT New Zealand
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

24 December 1999

Hon Jim Anderton MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader Alliance
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Dear Mr Anderton

Please explain

I am writing with regard to stories in the news media and allegations made in Parliament that a senior member of your staff, a Mr Steven Collett, has breached the rules of Parliament, compromised security and, it's alleged, committed a criminal act.

This letter is to enquire whether you as Mr Collett's employer accept any responsibility and secondly, what action you are taking.

As has no doubt been reported to you, Members of Parliament most certainly did not accept as satisfactory your Deputy's weak statement to Parliament that she was waiting for a report from Parliamentary security. As Mr Gerry Brownlee MP told the House, he was outraged at the claim by the Alliance Whip Mr Gillon that the incident didn't happen.

Mr Brownlee has now told the house and it is recorded in Parliament that he saw two people going into Parliament's debating chamber. One individual is not on the staff of Parliament. The other, who it is alleged is the Alliance staff member Mr Collett, was seen by Mr Brownlee to be using his security card to open the doors to enter the Chamber.

Mr Brownlee also reports that he saw at least one of them smoking and he smelt the unmistakable smell of marijuana. It is also reported that the two individuals have been caught on Parliament's security cameras. Of course there are no security cameras in the Chamber, partly because of the security card system which means no unauthorised person would be able to enter the Chamber.

I don't have to tell you that MPs regard an incident of this sort as very serious. MPs themselves can't even smoke cigarettes in the Chamber. In the address from the Throne just this week, the new Government pledged to lift the image of Parliament. Yet within days a member of your staff was openly showing his contempt.

Parliament is the highest Court of the land. This action, I suggest to you, is what one would expect when the new Government states it is prepared to break legal contracts, and one of the MPs on whom the minority Government is dependent tells television he has the right to pick and choose what laws he will follow.

Clearly your staff appear to regard themselves as being above the law. This letter is to ask if this is also your view.

I hope I don't have to remind you that as an MP you have a duty to uphold Parliament. If these allegations are correct, then on the face of it there has been a breach of privilege and I would expect you as Mr Collett's employer to be referring the matter to Parliament's privileges committee. As a member of this Government it is your duty to uphold the rule of law.

Before I take the matter any further I would like to know what your response is. It could be that there is some explanation. I appreciate that the Christmas break is upon us, so I wish to allow you ten days in which to make some sort of explanation and to inform us what action you are taking. I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely

Hon Richard Prebble CBE

LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND MP, WELLINGTON CENTRAL

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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