Strange things happening in Clutha-Southland

There are calls for MP Todd Barclay to show up in his Clutha-Southland electorate and to front up in Parliament. Fair call, he is being paid to be an MP so he should do the job of an MP.

But as he keeps avoiding public contact investigations reveal some strange things going on in his electorate.

Stuff:  What’s behind the strange goings on in Southland?

Shooting the messenger has become a means to an end in itself – when trust in the media is at an all-time low, anything goes.

And anything goes is certainly how you would describe the extraordinary goings on in Southland this week after a local reporter, Rachael Kelly, tried to find out what local MP Todd Barclay had been up to since disappearing from public life last month.

Kelly and a local cameraman have been accused of intimidating and threatening behaviour, even of being physically aggressive.

And the allegations were made at the highest levels, from the Prime Minister’s office and Parliamentary Service.

Problem is, it’s not true.  A video shows what actually happened.

Kelly, accompanied by a cameraman, knocked on a door to Barclay’s Gore electorate office where a receptionist came to speak to them. Kelly is well known to the staff at the Gore office – Gore is her beat.

The pair were on the trail of a story that matters in their local community.

Kelly and her cameraman were in Barclay’s office barely more than a minute. After being told Barclay was not at work, and checking he hadn’t been there that week, the reporter said thank you and she and the cameraman left.

Watch it for yourself, at the top of this story, if you like.

Yet in conversations with South Island editor-in-chief, Joanna Norris, it was alleged Kelly and her cameraman “barged” into Barclay’s office and harassed and intimidated staff – even pursuing them to the back of the office, leaving the staff feeling threatened and under seige.

There was also a complaint about a [different] journalist shouting and abusing Barclay’s PR person over the phone.

Apparently he has one, even though it’s highly unusual for a backbencher to have their own media minder.

The allegations were made in two phone conversations between Norris and a senior member of the PM’s staff, as well as phone conversations with the head of Parliamentary Service, David Stevenson.

Stevenson also dropped the bombshell that police were now involved.

Both acknowledged after seeing the video it was not as they thought. They also defended their intervention as being out of concern for the welfare of staff, who have had to front for Barclay in his absence. But if it had not been for Stuff’s ability to produce video evidence, the allegations would probably have stuck.

It’s an increasingly common way for politicians to deflect questions. Attacking the behaviour and credibility of the journalist and their media organisation never fails to find a sympathetic ear, but especially so now.

Winston Peters has attacked the media/messenger for a long time. Donald Trump has raised the art to new heights in the US. It is an abuse of democratic power.

It’s not within the power of the prime minister or anyone else to force Barclay out of Parliament.

But it is within the prime minister’s power to compel Barclay to show up for work.

There is clearly no appetite in National, however, for Barclay to show his face in Wellington again.

National would rather avoid the media circus, even if that means dealing with the low level irritation of questions from journalists about his excuse for not being there.

This makes National look very dodgy.

RNZ:  Call for Barclay to return to Parliament

Mr Barclay has not been seen in Parliament and has scrapped public appearances since he announced last month that he will stand down at the election after one term as MP for Clutha Southland.

Mr Barclay – the deputy chair of the Education and Science and Primary Production select committees – has not returned RNZ’s calls or messages this week.

There are four sitting weeks before the House rises for the election, and Mr Barclay is still collecting his $165,000 a year MPs salary.

National Party senior whip Jami-Lee Ross, who visited Mr Barclay this week, said no decision has been made yet about whether he’ll return.

That shouldn’t be the decision.

the decision should be whether Barclay does his full job as an MP that he is being paid to do, or he should resign.

“Todd Barclay has said he is keen to be the MP for Clutha-Southland until the election and he’s doing that work.

“Any leave requirements he’ll be discussing with me as the party whip between now and the next sitting week of Parliament.”

If this drags on through the election campaign and nibbles away at National’s credibility they have themselves to blame for allowing this mess to continue into election year, and for dealing with it so poorly when it became a public issue.

Leave a comment


  1. It looks like media are not going to let this go.

  2. Line him up a job and get him to resign. Its just a distraction.

    • It could be a damaging distraction. It could potentially be an election-losing distraction.

      • Maybe – only if the Media makes it so – which of course they are trying really hard to do.

        J-L Ross needs to read Barclay the riot act and get Barclay to do the right thing and quickly before the media build the hit up to something to large to stop

  3. David

     /  15th July 2017

    This is the Teapot Tapes/Dotcom of the 2017 election, a total irrelevant yawn of little interest which will once again drown out any debate which will be a relief as we enter the most boring election of all time. Thank god Trump is making life interesting.
    The only looser will be the media,s credibility once again.

  4. Ray

     /  15th July 2017

    Heard John Campbell list ten questions for Todd on Friday night so certain media types see it still having legs.
    Mind you this is the John Campbell who despite being paid by govt has a secret wage and taks a lot of short weeks but hey this is the media, different rules for them.

  5. Duperez

     /  15th July 2017

    The whole episode will.have virtually nil electoral affect. If any at all.

    The characterising of the attempt to ask questions at the electorate office as some sort of attack reminds one of similar crap in Mt Albert. National rule. They will rule after September.Why are they so scornful, sneering, nasty and defensive about ordinary stuff that they should expect to happen in a democracy? And the PMs office involved in the crap?

    It would be fair to say that some worker getting out of bed in cold scungey winter weather to go to work, needs to do it so the tax they pay can go into Barclays pocket. Rubbish beneficiaries all we like for getting handouts for nothing but at the moment Barclay is probably the biggest beneficiary we have.

  6. Pete Kane

     /  15th July 2017

    Watched the video.Trust the spurious/false complaints will be followed up. Seems mendacity is a team event in Barclay-Nationalland/

  7. John Schmidt

     /  15th July 2017

    WO has been reporting strange going ons in this electorate for months and months so none of what has happened is a surprise as its all old WO news.

  8. Duperez

     /  15th July 2017

    Ray, everything you said in your last sentence, everything, could apply to Mike Hosking couldn’t it?

  1. Strange things happening in Clutha-Southland — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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