Robertson versus English

Following a succession of attacks on Bill English in Question Time yesterday Grant Robertson had a go in the General Debate.

This may sum up Labour’s reaction to the Todd Barclay saga.

GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central): For the last 18 months, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand has been at the centre of a cover-up. He has known that one of his MPs covertly taped one of his staff members, and that that MP went on to mislead, dissemble, and not tell the truth about what had happened.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand knew this. He knew it from the beginning of last year, and he has done nothing to bring that member of Parliament to account. What is more, when the Prime Minister of New Zealand has been asked directly about what he knew about what Todd Barclay had done, he has not told the truth.

On 1 March last year Bill English was asked on the radio what he knew of the reasons for staff resignations in Todd Barclay’s office, and whether he had personally spoken to any of those staff. Mr English answered: “No.” That was on 1 March.

On 21 February, we now know that the Prime Minister of New Zealand texted the then electorate chair of the National Party in Clutha-Southland to tell that man, Stuart Davie, that Todd Barclay had indeed recorded his staff member in a covert manner.

The Prime Minister has not told New Zealanders the truth about what happened in Todd Barclay’s office. He has dissembled, he has avoided answering questions, and he has failed the basic test of a Prime Minister in this country.

Honesty is the very least that New Zealanders can expect from their politicians, and all the more so from their Prime Minister, and Mr English has completely failed on that account.

When he was given the opportunity to talk to police in April last year, he told them that Mr Barclay had indeed told him that he had recorded Glenys Dickson. When he then had the opportunity to see that document, that police statement, released as part of an overall police Official Information Act release, Mr English made sure his statement was withheld.

This is not a Prime Minister who wants to be open or transparent. This is not a Prime Minister who was being honest with New Zealanders about what has happened.

It makes no difference that Todd Barclay has left today. This is about Bill English and Bill English’s credibility to be Prime Minister, because for politicians it is not about what happens when something is exposed by the media and what you then do. It is about whether you do the right thing at the time that you know about it.

It is not a sign of credibility to come forward only when you are being exposed by the media.

It is not a sign of credibility or leadership to change your mind within 3 or 4 hours yesterday because you worked out you had been caught out and found out. Those are not the actions of a real leader or a Prime Minister, and they are not the actions of someone whom New Zealanders can trust.

The Prime Minister has broken the basic bond with New Zealand people of the trust that they should have in him. He did not tell the truth about what he knew. He stood by an MP who has told lies.

He has allowed a staff member of 16 years to be bullied and covertly recorded out of her job, and even yesterday he wanted the issue to go away instead of actually fronting up to New Zealanders about what he and his protégé have done.

This is not a leader. This is a person who has become Prime Minister, and now that he is in that role he is cruelly exposed to New Zealanders as someone who does not have the fundamental capabilities and attributes that they need in their Prime Minister—that is, that he would be straight-up with New Zealanders, that he would show leadership and deal with people who break the law, rather than try to cover it up.

The last 24 hours have taught New Zealanders a lesson. This is a squalid shambles, as the Fairfax editorial said today, and, as other commentators have said, this has now cast great doubt on Bill English’s credibility.

At this election it will be about a contest between a leader in Andrew Little who is straight-up and tells New Zealanders how it is, and Bill English, who has lied on behalf of his MP.

36 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  June 22, 2017

    Andrew Little, the man who defamed a man, then dragged out the proceedings, apologised at the very last moment knowing he was on deaths bed.
    Compared with Bill English who disembled on behalf of his MP and his ex staff, people he knew very well.
    No contest in my mind.

    • Blazer

       /  June 22, 2017

      Andrew Little had a court case over defamation.You need to get up to date as to the outcome.

  2. David

     /  June 22, 2017

    I dont think it resonates as a story beyond the dedicated political tragics, if English was someone newish it might but the country pretty much knows him already and while there probably isnt much enthusiasm for him I dont think this will change many minds at the ballot box.
    Frankly I find the whole thing kind of old and stale and Barclay unimpressive and an odd selection in the first place in that electorate.

  3. Gezza

     /  June 22, 2017

    Nice job by Grant Robertson. Very good. Not the first time I have found myself wondering whether, if he was heterosexual, he would actually be the Leader of the Labour Party.

    • He has the prerequisite – arch hypocrisy – in cartloads to qualify

      • Gezza

         /  June 22, 2017

        We’re living in a hypocracy aren’t we ?

        Ya a hard woman trav. Ya needed to sort stuff out down Clutha way mate.

    • Blazer

       /  June 22, 2017

      so if he was hetero sexual ..he would get your vote..is that what you mean?

      • Gezza

         /  June 22, 2017

        Oh. No. That’s not what I mean. Please allow me to apologise most profusely to everybody for your poor comprehension. Read it again. What I said is what I mean.

        • Blazer

           /  June 22, 2017

          you seem to be always..wondering….keep waiting for the ..wonder.

          • Gezza

             /  June 22, 2017

            I wonder if you can even do up your own shoelaces sometimes, tbh. You just seem to walk right into doors while swinging at me.

            • Blazer

               /  June 22, 2017

              I do not need to expend energy swinging at you…you invariably ,miss and fall over or hit yourself.

            • Gezza

               /  June 22, 2017

              You are already expending energy swinging at me, silly boy.
              And I’m not even here. You’re spewing at a hologram.
              This is you:

        • Blazer

           /  June 22, 2017

          default post for..Gezza…’That’s not what I mean.’…humour him..I do.

          • Gezza

             /  June 22, 2017

            There are sound messages in most of them for those those with the wit to see them.

            I have no more time for ya tantrums.

            • Blazer

               /  June 22, 2017

              so you say…mind you, your contempt for the ..wit of posters is ..half..baked.

            • Gezza

               /  June 22, 2017

              If you don’t mind, I really would prefer not to indulge your gluttony for punishment any further, Blazer ? 😳

  4. NOEL

     /  June 22, 2017

    I’m surprised there isn’t media debate on the previos PM using discretionary funding to bail out another politician in a employment dispute.
    Must be a first surely.
    Usually used to assist taxpayers who a don’t fit within Departmental guidelines.
    An example was gym membership for an ailing Veteran, on docters advice, paid from the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    I can live with that but one pollie bailing out another. Hmmmmm.

  5. Course, the pensioner for Herne Bay, he of the whisky soaked dulcet tones is getting mileage out if this.

    Yes, Mr No chiming in – Mr Racing Industry, Mr $158,000 – that bloke? He’s broken every rule in the book and yet there he stands, blatantly suggesting this is the biggest scandal unhung.

    Truth is Southland would vote for a bottle of Speights if it stood for the Nats and Winnie RP is simply preaching to his 10% choir and loving the sound of his own voice.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 22, 2017

    So you read through Robertson’s rant and discover he has absolutely nothing on English at all. Yes, English chose not to disclose the settlement details of the dispute that were anyway subject to a non-disclosure clause. So what? He did not lie.

    • alloytoo

       /  June 22, 2017

      Meanwhile in other news Labour’s Auckland Slave camps are revealed…..

      • Blazer

         /  June 22, 2017

        ‘slave camps’…hyperbole explosion.

    • Blazer

       /  June 22, 2017

      as Winston said..Bill English lied like a ..flatfish.English knows it ,NZ knows it…you do..not.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 22, 2017

        Exactly where did English lie? Nothing in Robertson’s speech identifies anything.

        • Blazer

           /  June 22, 2017

          forget about Robertsons speech..widen your net..open your eyes.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  June 22, 2017

            Why forget about Robertson’s speech? The whole thing was supposed to be a take down of English and he couldn’t raise a shred of evidence in support? Can you?

            • Blazer

               /  June 22, 2017

              far be it ..for me…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 23, 2017

              A cartoon is not evidence, merely an unsupported allegation.

            • Blazer

               /  June 23, 2017

              a cartoon is often…good for a..laugh Al.Try it ,you’ll feel alot better.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 23, 2017

              A laugh is all Labour’s allegations are worth, B.

  7. Blazer

     /  June 22, 2017

    this man wrote the book on lying ..with a straight face..watch and learn..

    • Gezza

       /  June 22, 2017

      Does no harm to be reminded – overcooking it somewhat repeating the same scenes in a few places.
      Not knighthood material, in my view.

  1. Robertson versus English — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition