Hon Robson Becomes Contemptuous
Former Privileges Committee Chairperson Matt Robson, has been found guilty by the people he once drank tea and ate biscuits with of heaping contempt on the head of the leader of United Future Party Peter Dunne.
The Privileges Committee, now headed by National MP Simon Power considered that Mr Robson had by dint of his regular political column Robson-on-politics impugned Peter Dunne's reputation. Last year in a column published on Scoop Mr Robson traversed the voting record of Mr Dunne on various issue, including alcohol and tobacco. Mr Robson wrote that "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."
When called before the Privileges Committee following umbrage being taken with his robust political commentary Mr Robson argued that the statement should be viewed in the context of criticism of what he saw as Mr Dunne's inconsistent position on Mr Robson's 'Sale of Liquor Bill'.
Mr Robson submitted to the Committee that any reasonable observer would conclude from his newsletter that Mr Dunne "Listens to the views of the liquor and tobacco industries rather than New Zealand families whose interests he has proclaimed are upheld by him and his party." He argued that it should not be inferred from his statement that Mr Dunne was corrupt.
Sadly for Mr Robson who had told the Committee he regretted writing the comment (due to the fact it had caused confusion) the Committee was of the view that a hypothetical 'reasonable person' would infer from Mr Robson's rambunctious words that Mr Dunne 'is financially influenced by the liquor and tobacco industries and voted accordingly'.
For the sins and transgressions of his political commentary Mr Robson has been ordered by the Committee to:
a) Make an unqualified apology to the House, and that this be read by the Speaker when received, and
b) Make an unqualified apology to Hon Peter Dunne and that this apology be published in his next Robson-on-politics email newsletter or similar vehicle.
Scoop contacted the now contemptuous former MP Matt Robson who was somewhat surprised about being found guilty by the Privileges Committee as he had not actually been sent a copy of their findings. Mr Robson was only able to ascertain what punishment the Committee had decided to inflict upon him thanks to Scoop having obtained a copy of the Privileges Committee report.
Mr Robson had no problem with unreservedly apologising to Mr Dunne however. Mr Robson noted that now that the Committee had decided its punishment he looked forward to Helen Clark referring Don Brash to the Privileges Committee for Dr Brash's comments about the 'corrupt Labour government'.
Mr Robson was however concerned that members of the Committee had inferred that he had lowered Parliaments' standing in the eyes of the public.
"I can't claim the credit for that," he informed Scoop.
For his part the impugned and about to be apologised to leader of United Future Peter Dunne was pleased with the Committee's findings and told Scoop he was "looking forward to receiving Mr Robson's apology closing the matter."