Attack On Dunne Leads To Privileges Committee
The former Privileges Committee Chairperson Matt Robson turned up this morning to sample some of the medicine he would once have dished out. Mr Robson - the current deputy leader of the Progressive Party - was hauled before the Privileges Committee after writing some robust political commentary in his regular Robson-on-Politics political newsletter (published on Scoop). Mr Robson's regularly robust newsletter was fortified with an added dose of passionate polemic at the time of the vote on raising the drinking age to 20 in early November.
Suffering on the other side of Mr Robson's pen was United Future Leader Peter Dunne. Mr Dunne's decision to vote to keep the drinking age at 18 was "a completely indefensible position for the leader of a party that claims to be in Parliament as the champion of families," according to Mr Robson.
Mr Robson was also surprised that Mr Dunne was lining himself up with the ACT Party in support of keeping the drinking at 20.
"It says it is in Parliament to be on the side of the family but its leader, Peter Dunne, is lined up with ACT to vote against the Progressive Party Bill.The liquor industry’s support for Peter Dunne, as with that of tobacco, has always meant that he has faithfully delivered his vote for their interests," wrote an fired up Mr Robson.
It was this sentence which led to Mr Robson's impromptu trip down to Wellington to explain just what he meant to the members of the Privileges Committee.
Mr Robson read out a carefully prepared statement pointing out that he was in no way accusing Mr Dunne of receiving money or being corrupt but rather exposing what he considered the incompatibility of leading a family friendly party and voting to keep the liquor age at 20.
ACT Party Leader Rodney Hide was not easily fobbed off by Mr Robson's explanation and quizzed Mr Robson for some time as to what sort of support Mr Dunne could possibly have got from the liquor and tobacco industry.
Avoiding the wily traps laid before him by Mr Hide the one-time Minister of Corrections got himself out of jail by suggesting the support was similar to that given to him by Unions (in a moral rather than financial sense). Besides Mr Hide the questions thrown at Mr Robson were easily deflected.
Labour's legal eagle Russell Fairbrother attempted a question so cunning and obscure that everyone including Mr Robson were left perplexed as to what on earth Mr Fairbrother was getting at. National's new number three and former Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee did however take Mr Robson to task for turning up and not offering any sort of apology to Mr Dunne who sat intently watching proceedings from the sidelines.
After Mr Robson's statement and grilling members of the public and media (including the now ex MP Mr Robson) were asked to leave as the Privileges Committee decided what sort of action (if any) should be taken against their onetime Chairperson.
Listen to former MP and Privileges Committee Chairperson Matt Robson discussing robust political commentary and Peter Dunne
Listen to Matt Robson being verbally grilled by members of the Privileges Committee