Should Peter Dunne tell the GCSB Bill to get stuffed? Many would understand if he did, he’s been dealt with appallingly by the Henry inquiry and some of the coverage of the fallout with unfounded implications of his guilt.
And the questioning of his integrity continues. On The Nation yesterday (repeated this morning at 8.00 am) Steven Joyce said he believed David Henry over Dunne, despite many doubts being raised about the changing stories from the Henry inquiry and the Parliamentary Service.
So it wouldn’t be surprising for a politician in Dunne’s position to retaliate by saying “the GCSB Bill can get stuffed!”
Except it would be surprising for Dunne, who views the Henry inquiry data debacle as a separate issue to the GCSB bill, so it should be dealt with separately, each case on it’s merits.
Some don’t understand this approach to politics, where horse trading and tit for tat spats are seen as the norm. But Dunne isn’t a typical politician, he has a long established reputation as reliable, trustworthy and sticking to his word.
Sure, pragmatic compromises are often necessary in politics. But it’s easier – and better – to deal with these on a case by case basis.
Journalists are used to dealing with all types of politicians, and some seem sceptical of the Dunne approach. Dunne has been asked what sort of deal he’s getting from National for giving their bill his support. I’ve seen this a number of times on Twitter. Yesterday:
What do you get from National for supporting GCSB Bill?
A good policy outcome.
Nothing else – any political concessions?
The deal was about improving the Bill.
It may be unusual for a politician to be able to separate issues like this, to stick resolutely to negotiated commitments on a bill while at the same time being poorly treated on another issue.
But Dunne is an unusual politician.
At times he is seen by some as unusually boring, until recently plodding along in Parliament with unsexy responsibilities like Minister of Revenue, overseeing the taxing of us, and Associate Minister of Health, where he dealt with unglamorous things like suicide and drug abuse.
Parliament isn’t show business, despite what some politicians seem to think. Winston Peters seems more suited to vaudeville – for the theatrics and the age.
John Key puts on a bit of an act at times, but the media demand more than the mundane from our leaders. That’s one reason why David Shearer is struggling to get favourable coverage.
But the main task for Parliament and politicians is to run the country, to administer the country’s affairs. Most of that is routine stuff. Boring stuff.
Probably one of the most successful current politicians is the dour and boring Bill English, resolutely doing what he can to sort the economy out through a very difficult period of international turbulence.
Key might be good for sound bites, Peters may be good for fiction and theatrics, but next year’s election is most likely to be won or lost on something boring but essential – our economic performance.
While Key is often credited with being single-handedly responsible for maintaining National’s popularity, it is at least as much to do with the deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, who mostly plods away in the background. And the economy seems to be slowly improving.
Shearer is often blamed for Labour’s poor support – and there’s no denying that he is a part of the problem. But Labour’s lack of credibility on being able to manage the country’s finances is at least as damaging, if not more so. And that is the responsibility of another boring politician, David Parker.
Dunne’s reliability and support of the National led financial recovery deserves credit too, although he probably won’t get much for his efforts there. Good politics is more often than not ignored by a media moving more towards entertainment.
If Dunne said “the GCSB Bill can get stuffed!” he would get a lot of media coverage. If he said “you’ve crapped on me, you can stick your bill where….” then he would probably be top billing for a news cycle or two.
But we and the country would be left with an ambiguous law that would (as currently deemed) not allow the GCSB to assist the Police and SIS in trying to protect the country from terrorism and other security vulnerabilities.
So Dunne, while separately seeking redress for the political travesties surrounding the Henry inquiry, is sticking to doing what he thinks is best on the GCSB bill.
Some disagree with his stance. Fair enough, there is always disagreement with politicians and political decisions. It’s difficult enough pleasing some of the people some of then time.
But Dunne is sticking to what he thinks is the best way to deal with a contentious issue.
And – despite drastic consequences that many people are claiming – in a few months the GCSB will have probably slipped back into it’s boring role as a silent agent of security, doing much the same as it has done for decades, albeit with new technology.
The Dotcom debacle was a balls-up – that’s been admitted. But it was an isolated case. The vast majority of New Zealanders will never be affected by what the GCSB does. Unless they secretly prevent a potential major security threat. Which we may never find out about.
And next year’s election will mostly be won or lost by Bill English and David Parker, while the media frenzy focusses on Key and Shearer (if he survives).
And in the meantime Dunne will be attacked and cajoled over whatever bills come before Parliament that require his (effective) casting vote. He will have moved on to being called a traitor for something else. Asset sales. GCSB.
Psychoactive Substances Bill. Game Animal Council. Flexi-super. Boring politics. Effective politics. That’s the Dunne deal.
The drama merchants can get stuffed.