Maurice Williamson past his use-by date

Maurice Williamson has again embarrassed himself and National. NZ Herald reports:

Backlash builds as MP offers apologies

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, who was once lauded for his “big gay rainbow” speech in support of same-sex marriage, has now come under fire from gay and women’s advocates for a speech considered homophobic and sexist.

Guests of the Esri Users Conference gala dinner at SkyCity last Tuesday have revealed that Mr Williamson’s comments during his MC spot had people “removing themselves from the room”. Guests complained that Mr Williamson made “sexist” jokes and comments about scantily clad women, and played an audio clip that disparaged women and gay men.

Mr Williamson yesterday apologised for the offence he had caused.

“I was asked to be as entertaining and as funny as I possibly could. It was never my intention to upset any delegates. I overstepped the line on the night and did cause offence. For that I unreservedly apologise.”

At least he has offered a proper sort of apology.

His time as an MP must be just about up. He is past being any use to Natiomal and has become a liability.

It has been suggested for some time that Williamson may try for the Auckland mayoralty. NZ Herald also reports Maurice Williamson had been set to announce Auckland mayoralty plans.

Maurice Williamson, whose controversial speech to an IT conference has sparked complaints about “sexist jokes, was set to announce his plans for the Auckland mayoralty shortly, says a National Party source.

The source did not know if the Pakuranga MP intended to stand.

“He has been entertaining delegations from different people over the past few months and said the first week of September was when he would announce he was in or out,” the source said.

Next Monday – September 7 – Mr Williamson is due to speak on local transport issues at a public meeting in Pakuranga.

Howick councillor Dick Quax said he could use the event to announce he is going to run for mayor.

Mr Quax said Mr Williamson did not usually speak on local matters.

“I have spoken to Maurice in conversational tone about whether he may be interested in the Auckland mayoralty and I don’t think it is any secret he has said he was interested.

“He has made that pretty clear in the past,” Mr Quax said.

In 2013, Mr Williamson toyed with standing but abandoned any bid for the mayoralty.

After this latest stuff-up it might be prudent of Williamson to abandon any bid for the mayoralty for 2016.

And it would be sensible for him to stand aside in Pakuranga and make way for a modern MP. Williamson is past his political use-by date.

Visualising MPs on Twitter

Don’t worry, this isn’t about visualising what MPs look like while they are tweeting, I’ll leave that to you.

Jayne Ihaka posted a graph on Twitter to show how MPs are connected – not surprisingly most of them communcate within their own political circles.

Jayne Ihaka @Jayniehaka

Made a graph to see how NZ MPs are connected on Twitter…No surprises really!


Chris McDowall has done something similar at NZ Herald, breaking it down to individual MPs in Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks.

A common critique of discourse that occurs on social media is that we tend to interact with people who already hold similar opinions to ourselves, reinforcing one another’s opinions and biases.

A few months ago I started wondering about the social networks of New Zealand members of Parliament and whether this holds true for our politicians. To find out I collected some Twitter relationship data and experimented with a small visualisation project.

I remembered this work yesterday when Jayne Ihaka tweeted an image of a network graph that she had made and I figured it was about time I wrote it up. I share it now for anyone who might be interested.

There’s a lot of graphics so it takes quite a while to load.

Some of the lower volume Tweeters are very party-centric, for example Stuart Smith (National):

TwitterSmithStuartRino Tirikatene (Labour:

TwitterTirikateneThere’s varying degrees of wider engagement with the more prolific MPs.

TwitterOConnorSimonTwitterClarkDavidAnd a centrist party MP (Maori Party) is evenly (and extensively) engaged:

TwitterFoxMaramaA new age National MP (Chris Bishopl) shows widespread engagement.

TwitterBishopChrisA comprehensive line up of charts here. Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks

Yeah, it’s Twitter. But some MPs engage quite effectively and it’s one of the easiest ways of accessing MP attention.

The Speaker’s unknown case

In Parliament today the Speaker interupted a Andrew Little’s opening speech .during the Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement.

Draft transcript – Tuesday, 10 February 2015

ANDREW LITTLE: Those are the economic issues. What about the standards of Government? What about the promise of 2008: “The Government I lead will be a Government of good standards.”, and its chance to do something; its chance to demonstrate that they actually are a party of standards in Government. They were confronted with it at the end of last year. One of their MPs is under a police investigation. One of their MPs is under a police investigation.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite members throughout this debate to be very careful. We know there was a court case, and we know that all details were suppressed. [Interruption] Order! There is Standing Order 115. Should any members think I should consider this matter differently, I invite them to use that Standing Order and write to me. At this stage no member has done so. I invite Mr Little to continue.

Mr Little continued. And we are left to puzzle about an unknown case.


Are politicians and police covering up a very dirty not-very–secet?

I’ve just read a post at a blog with a record of breaking supression orders, so I won’t link to it.

It details a number of known facts, plus information that matches rumours I’ve heard, and additional detail.

It’s particulrly disturbing.

First I’ll say that if they are inaccurate then it’s awful for those named to be associated unfairly. That’s can be a risk of suppression of information of something that many people have an interest in and a determination to make public.

But it talks of erring MPs and political and police cover-ups that could be protecting their own.

And it talks of sexual assault against children.

If true this is extremely serious. And it needs to be dealt with. If those who should won’t deal with it then it’s up to others to make it impossible for them not to.

Mike Sabin resigns

National MP for Northland has resigned from parliament, effective immediately. This was expected, the only real uncertainty was over the timing.

It has been reported since before Christmas that the police were investigating an incident that is believed to involve family violence.

It would have untenable for Sabin to remain as chair of the Law and order committee as next week it is due to question police officers in committee.

This means a by-election for Northland in a couple of months or so.

It also means that National+Act is no longer a Parliamentary majority. The Maori Party or Peter Dunne will be needed to make up the numbers until an expected easy win for the new National candidate.

Action needed on Sabin

The Sunday Star Times keeps revealing bits about the assault investigation into Northland MP Mike Sabin – Call for Nat MP to stand down.

They say a number of journalists have been investigating the investigation.

Media inquiries about Sabin have been ongoing for at least four months.

The National Business Review has been asking questions about assault allegations since before the election. Other media, including Radio Live and One News, have also been inquiring into the assault allegations.

Four months ago it was August, well before the election. It may have been too vague and too late to withdraw Sabin’s electorate candidacy. Or not.

Parliament’s committees were announced in October, two months ago, with Sabin appointed chairperson of the Law and Order committee – see Judith Collins on two parliamentary select committees (October 23).

John Key must have known about it by then. Or at least he should have.

He may be on holiday now but the longer nothing is done the worse it looks.

Judith Collins stood down as Minister pending the outcome of a non-criminal investigation.

If Sabin won’t step down Key needs to step up and do something.

National’s Sabin in assault inquiry

Mike has been National MP for Northland since 2011. He got 18,188 votes to the Labour candidate’s 6,826 in the recent election.

Stuff reports that police have been investigating an assault charge against him – Nat MP in police assault inquiry.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

The investigation was moved south from Whangarei because Sabin was a police officer based there until 2006.

The officer in charge, Detective Inspector Kevin Hooper, refused to confirm Sabin was the subject of an investigation.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott, the crime service manager for Waitemata police, referred inquiries related to Sabin to the police media section.

“We have no comment on any investigation that could or could not be happening,” he said.

Sabin also won’t say anything about it.

When approached Sabin at home at Coopers Beach, in the Far North, he immediately demanded the reporter leave his property.

“I have got nothing to say,” Sabin said.

Asked if he would comment on the police investigation, he replied: “No, no I have nothing to say – I want you to leave my property.”

Not commenting suggests he doesn’t want to talk about it rather than there being nothing to talk about.

But there would appear to be something known to journalists about the investigation:

A relative of a complainant also would not comment. “I can’t say much mate, sorry,” he said. “I just don’t need the grief at the moment.”

This is the only media article I can find on the issue.

An investigation is just an investigation. Assault can range from minor to serious.

Sabin is an ex police officer and has been a prominent spokesperson on methampthetamine.

He is Chairperson of Parliament’s Law and Order committee and is a member of the Justice and Electoral committee.

If he has been involved in an incident that has resulted in a police inquiry into assault then it’s newsworthy, but with a lack of detail it’s not possible to make any judgement on it.

Tau Henare breached sex offender name suppression

It has been reported over the last couple of days that ex-National MP Tau Henare named a sex offender whose identity is supposedly protected by name suppression.

Media didn’t name Henare but in reporting the breach they provided enough information to make it very simple to find out who the ex-MP was, and what he said – as of now this can still easily be found.

Stuff reported:

A retired National Party politician has named a prominent New Zealander who escaped conviction over a sexual charge in Central Otago.

I won’t link to that report so if you are one of the few people who don’t know about this it might take a few seconds longer to find out.

A complaint has been lodged with the police over the breach. In a follow up Stuff report:

A complaint has been lodged with police against a former MP who published the name of a prominent Central Otago man with permanent name suppression.

The man’s lawyer, Jonathan Eaton QC, confirmed a formal complaint was made last night in relation to the comments on social media.

“The breach certainly appears to be quite deliberate and I would expect the police to treat the matter seriously,” he said.

After naming the man, the former National MP wrote online: “I’ll cop whatever comes. Lol may even apply for name suppression haha.”

Henare’s identity has been widely circulated in social media so there are many ways to have been exposed to a dirty secret that hasn’t been so secret for months.

But one of a number of ridiculous things about this is the identity of the offender has been widely circulated in social media already.

A New Zealand blog has openly disclosed details for about a month.

It was originally exposed on an Australian blog in July and has been highlighted (without revealing the actual name) by ex-Act leader Rodney Hide a number of times in Herald columns.

A candidate had a blog post openly revealing the identity during the recent election campaign. That was easily findable via Google – as it seems to have been removed now I can name the candidate, Steve Taylor. He stood for the Conservative Party against David Cunliffe in New Lynn.

So why has a complaint been lodged against Henare? He was open and blatant about it but he’s far from the first, and he’s saying in public what many people already know.

Instead of making a complaint against Henare the offender would do far more good for himself by fronting up and admitting what he did was sleazy and wrong – he as already admitted it in court but that is suppressed with his name.

Since this became public knowledge in July the offender has tried to downplay and make excuses for his actions, and claim he has been victim.

It might be a bit unfair that his case has been highlighted when other sex offenders successfully hide behind name suppression – but it’s far more unfair on women and children (and men) who are abused and the abusers escape having to publicly account for their actions.

The best way to limit the damage would be for this offender to front up, but this sort of offender is often gutless when the power is not in their hands.

Henare broke the law – along with others – but it seems ludicrous that his offence be singled out for police action.

In this case the victim doesn’t want to be protected by name suppression – she had to go to court to be able to reveal her own identity – Louise Hemsley. She has appeared on TV talking about the case.

If is charged, I reckon I’d have fun defending him :-)

Graeme didn’t say why, but the identity having already been breached and the ease with which anyone can find out come to mind as possible defences.

Henare has taken a calculated risk. In this case the law is an ass.

And the offender is also an ass if he tries to pursue this via the police. All he is doing is attracting more negative publicity.

He is defending the indefensible – his sleazy behaviour. The sleaziness doesn’t diminish by trying to hide – it just keeps looking worse.

Grahame Thorne

There’s been a lot of googling on Grahame Thorne lately. He is regarded as a prominent New Zealander although younger people and those more recently arrived in New Zealand may not be familiar with him.

He was born in 1946 so he is currently 68.

Thorne was prominent as an All Black, playing 10 tests and a total of 39 games for them from 1968 to 1970. Wynne Gray included him in his list of 100 greatest All Blacks.

He was still promoting his All Black past with this Facebok profile pic:

Thorne Al Black pic

Thorne was less prominent as a National Party Member of Parliament for a single term representing Onehunga from 1990-1993.

He was also a sports commentator, and he received some attention for his hairstyle.

Thorne perm

After retiring and becoming a sports commentator, he permed his hair. His curls attracted a great deal of attention. In this television news clip from 1993, a post-perm Thorne talks about the mostly negative reactions he received. See video at Teara.

Thorne hosted two cooking shows on television, Thorney’s Cooking Canterbury in 2009 and Thorney’s Cooking Central in 2010 (see also his own page on this). He currently lives in Central Otago.

He stood for the Lakes Council in 2010, having been a councillor previously in Nelson and Auckland. He described himself then as a Television Producer.

Ex-All Black, MP standing for Lakes council

Former All Black Grahame Thorne has been nominated to stand for the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Mr Thorne (64) moved to the Lakes district in 2008 and lives at Gibbston.

Mr Thorne, a former Auckland and Nelson councillor, said originally he had no intention of standing, as he was cynical about local body politics, but he had been urged to stand by others in the community who believed he had something to offer.

He was unsuccessful, being the tenth highest polling candidate. Six were required.

Earlier this year he received some attention when he promoted a photograph on his Facebook page of him giving a bottle of wine from his vineyard to Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Cunliffe ThorneSee Cunliffe and a gift of wine

Code of Ethical Conduct for MPs

A repost from two years ago on an attempt by outgoing Labour MP Ross Robertson to improve MP conduct that was not supported by either National nor Labour.

After the poor behaviour in parliament last week, hightlighted by the speaker Lockwood Smith and blogged here – Addressing disgraceful parliamentary behaviour – I emailed MPs asking for their opinions on it.

Ross Robertson (Labour MP for Manukau East) replied saying he has a Member’s Bill in the ballot that addresses MP ethics and behaviour. Whether this makes it into parliament is subject to the chance of the ballot. Roberston tried to promote his bill a few months ago:

Tuesday 24 April 2012 Media Statement

Local MP Calls For Support For Parliamentary Code

New Zealand should be a world leader in democratic accountability and transparency, according to Ross Robertson, Labour MP for Manukau East, who spoke to an audience of Rotary members this morning on good governance and democracy.

“Unfortunately New Zealand is not leading as it should be,” Ross Robertson said.

“My Members Bill, title the Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill would see a Code of Ethics adopted by MPs and followed according to its spirit and purpose. Unfortunately this bill is yet to be drawn from the members’ ballot.

Ross Robertson told Rotary members that he was frustrated that Kiwis were being put off politics due to often inaccurate perceptions about standards of behaviour.

 “New Zealanders expect parliamentarians to serve out of conviction and a commitment to the public good,” Ross Robertson said. “This bill aims to clarify that purpose and engage young people who are being turned off politics in droves.”

“We need to demonstrate the relevance of Parliament in order to earn the respect for democracy that is so vital to our future as a free and thriving nation.

“With regard to my goal of raising respect for both Parliament and our New Zealand democracy by improving the performance of Parliament, I believe that to do nothing is not an option, for the biggest advantage of a code lies in its ability to regain the trust of citizens in the institution of Parliament and its Members.

“While progress on my bill is at the mercy of the ballot, I will continue to advocate for these important principles.

“This code is about good governance. It is about such things as integrity, transparency, legitimacy, accountability, an acceptable standard of behaviour, and acting in good faith.

“Good governance and transparency are non-negotiable for a healthy democracy,” Ross Robertson said.

I think there will be a lot of public agreement with this. How to get parties and MPs to take some notice?

Part 2, 7 (2):

It is the duty of every member of Parliament to conduct themselves in a
manner that will maintain and support the public’s trust and confidence in the
integrity of Parliament.

Many of the public would argue that some MPs are not conducting themselves in an appropriate manner in parliament. As this bill is “declaratory rather than mandatory” there should be no reason why parties can’t adopt it’s principles anyway.

Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill

Member’s Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide a Code of Ethical Conduct for members of

The legislature plays a key role in promoting good governance and curbing corruption and poor administration in all sectors of society. Citizens expect parliamentarians to maintain a high moral standard in their professional and private lives. They expect parliamentarians to serve out of conviction and a commitment to the public good, rather than for aspirations of personal power and the pursuit of private profit. In turn, they have conferred on them the legitimate authority to take decisions that determine the fortunes of both the state and its citizens.

Failure by parliamentarians to live up to these expectations can seriously undermine the trust citizens have in the ability of their elected leaders to act in the public interest, and also in the legitimacy of the state and its institutions. At best, this leads to cynicism and apathy on the part of citizens. At worst, it leads to a questioning of the entire political system.

It is crucial therefore, that elected members of government act, and are seen to act, in an ethical manner.

The Code of Ethical Conduct is deliberately modest and declaratory rather than mandatory. There is no evidence in New Zealand of the sort of corruption that has plagued other Parliaments from time to time or is endemic in some other countries. 

The role of a member of Parliament comes with both legal and moral responsibilities. The Code deals more with the moral and ethical responsibilities than those imposed by law. This is reflected in the Code’s guiding principles of selflessness, integrity, confidentiality, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

The Code promotes principles of common courtesy and decency whilst sustaining the sense of cut and thrust that is vital in any legislature at the cutting edge of ideas, creation and consideration. The overall purposes are;

  • to promote high standards of service by politicians;
  • to inspire the quality of behaviour which reflects the honour and dignity of the profession;
  • to encourage and emphasize those positive attributes of professional conduct that characterise effective political leadership;
  • to enable politicians to declare themselves publicly accountable.

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