NZ First claims ‘misunderstanding’, Peters instructs apology to Mitchell

An unusually contrite NZ First has apologised for what they describe as a misunderstanding over a conversation between one of their first term MPs, Jenny Marcroft, and Northcote electorate MP, Mark Mitchell.

Yesterday Mitchell put out a claim in a press release:

Labour’s coalition partner NZ First has threatened to withhold regional development funding for an important economic development project in Rodney unless local National MP Mark Mitchell ends his advocacy for it and stops criticising NZ First ministers.

In an extraordinary request over the weekend, NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – who said she was under instruction from a Minister – also requested that National pledge to not ask Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones questions about the project, should it go ahead.

“Ms Marcroft said she had been sent to tell me that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, but for that to happen I would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

“She also said if I ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.

“Finally, she implied my work as an Opposition MP would be a factor in funding any projects in my electorate I was involved in.

“I immediately told Ms Marcroft this behaviour was unacceptable, and that she had been put in a very compromised position by her colleague. She refused to name them so I said she had two hours to have the Minister call me before I took the matter further.

“She sent a text message an hour later asking me to forget the conversation.

NZH – National MP Mark Mitchell: ‘Rotten politics’ from NZ First MP over regions fund

Mitchell included screengrabs of texts in which he and Marcroft agreed to meet at the Orewa Surf Club on Saturday.

A text from Marcroft at 6.10pm that night read “Hi Mark, on reflection I have considered the substance of our conversation to be incorrect and would therefore ask that you kindly disregard it. Thank you for your generosity in this matter.”

That sounds like an attempted backtrack from Marcroft.

NZ First have since responded.

Jones said he had not known about Marcroft’s alleged actions and was not the minister referred to.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it. If you’re asking me am I monstering anyone over the Growth Fund, absolutely not.”

A straight denial of knowledge or involvement.

Winston Peters put out a statement:

“After the conversation had got out of hand she consulted with me late on Saturday afternoon and was advised by me to issue an apology. Ms Marcroft was not under instructions by any NZ First ministers regarding funding, and while Mr Mitchell may have misunderstood her underlying point, she was apologetic over the matter, and conveyed that to him.”

Misunderstandings can easily happen in conversations. Misunderstandings are also possible when junior MPs are instructed by senior MPs.

There is no dispute that the conversation took place, just a claim of a misunderstanding, a backtrack and an apology.

That Peters advised Marcroft to apologise seems an unusual NZ First action. It looks like an attempt to dampen down the claims. Peters far more commonly uses attack as a form of defence.

Jones:

He said such political arguments did not compromise their ability to put up proposals.

“If there are National MPs promoting proposals just get ready and stand in line like everyone else and go through the bureaucratic system.”

Mitchell has asked the Prime Minister to take action. Jacinda Ardern has also responded. RNZ – NZ First MP instructed to apologise to National Party

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to be blindsided by the news when questioned by reporters at her weekly press conference this afternoon.

She said she wanted to get more details before responding, but stressed the Provincial Growth Fund was not a political process.

“The process … is not contingent on support for this government at all and there is plenty of proof of that.

It will be interesting to see how the Mahurangi River Restoration Project fares now in the Regional Economic Development fund handouts.

 

34 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  March 27, 2018

    another Ngaro on the…loose.

    • artcroft

       /  March 27, 2018

      I think you mean Taito Phillip Field.

      • Blackmail Crimes Act 1961 237 (section 1B looks relevant here)

        (1)

        Every one commits blackmail who threatens, expressly or by implication, to make any accusation against any person (whether living or dead), to disclose something about any person (whether living or dead), or to cause serious damage to property or endanger the safety of any person with intent—
        (a)

        to cause the person to whom the threat is made to act in accordance with the will of the person making the threat; and
        (b)

        to obtain any benefit or to cause loss to any other person.

        (2)

        Every one who acts in the manner described in subsection (1) is guilty of blackmail, even though that person believes that he or she is entitled to the benefit or to cause the loss, unless the making of the threat is, in the circumstances, a reasonable and proper means for effecting his or her purpose.

        (3)

        In this section and in section 239, ,blockquote>benefit means any benefit, pecuniary advantage, privilege, property, service, or valuable consideration.

        http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM330263.html

        • Blazer

           /  March 27, 2018

          quite the drama queen…blackmail,defamation…what else you..got?

        • NOEL

           /  March 27, 2018

          Some are saying
          The matter is best dealt with as a Breech of Parliamentary Privilege in terms of Section 409 (1)(b) and/or (c) of Standing Orders … Contempt of the House.

          409 (1) The House may treat as contempt any act or omission which – (b) obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the House in the discharge of the member’s or officer’s duty or (c) has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such a result.

          The powers of the Privileges Committees are absolute. The can censure or suspend a member.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 27, 2018

      Ardern says “nothing to see here”…

      “But when former National Minister Alfred Ngaro made similar comments about Government funding to his own party’s rank and file, former Prime Minister Bill English called on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to launch an official investigation into his own minister’s funding decisions

      Ngaro said it was an appropriate action then, and Ardern’s actions had been insufficient.

      “I think the fact is that they should go through the same process. They held us to account, I had to issue an apology, which I did. And I think that whoever the minister was that gave the directions, actually should do that as well.”

      Ngaro said it was an example of “underhanded” behaviour.

      “I mean, this was intentional.

      “There was meeting that was held outside of Parliament, there were words that were spoken specifically about the issue up in Mahurangi, so I think they should go through the same process, they should be transparent, they should be accountable and someone needs to get up and actually the whole affair that had happened.” ”

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/102621775/junior-nz-first-mp-trying-to-use-govt-fund-to-heavy-opposition-acting-alone–pm

  2. So, it was a rookie MP, or a misunderstanding, or a botched deal. And Mitchell and Peters both go public and throw Marcroft under the bus. I guess it’s good to know who your friends are.

  3. David

     /  March 27, 2018

    Its pretty shocking behaviour, my taxes being used to buy avoidance of scrutiny of the government is corrupt but its NZ First so everyone will just roll their eyes and move on. Its gone from the Herald website already.

  4. Ray

     /  March 27, 2018

    It must be serious, has Winston ever apologised before, certainly not in my memory.
    So if he feels obliged to do so this is a serious mistake by Ron Marks instructing a new MP to monster a National MP.
    I also note Ron has as yet has not been able to come up with other Ministers using Air Force planes in the way he has.
    Ron may find he is going to be hung out to dry by Winston as this is his third strike, incorrect wearing of medals, use of Airforce planes and this, losing the Deputy Leader job might be the least of his problems.

    • Is there any evidence that it was Mark?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 27, 2018

        If it wasn’t Jones or Peters it could only be Mark or Martin. Unlikely to be Martin?

        • David

           /  March 27, 2018

          Wouldnt put it past Martin she has that streak about her. Cant see it being Mark he wont be bothered about attacks from National, too arrogant.

  5. PDB

     /  March 27, 2018

    Winston: “and while Mr Mitchell may have misunderstood her underlying point, she was apologetic over the matter, and conveyed that to him.”

    …and this “underlying point” was?

  6. alloytoo

     /  March 27, 2018

    So….either Marcroft did this off her own bat (yeah right) and is toast, or she now has a government Minister by the short and curlies.

    Over the next few question sessions National should ask each and every NZ 1st Minister whether they instructed her to approach Mitchell, get their answers on Hansard.

    Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze..

    • David

       /  March 27, 2018

      Mallard wont allow questions on it to Peters.

  7. David

     /  March 27, 2018

    Ironically given she was a journalist for many years she must have known how incredibly dodgy this was and I guess another reason why the coverage has been scant.

  8. David

     /  March 27, 2018

    Typical shocker from the hopeless speaker today, upshot was Peters doesnt have to answer any questions on this because, according to Mallard, perhaps his press release on deputy PM letterhead should have been on NZ First letter head so perhaps a staffer got it wrong.
    Mallard as speaker is probably the best thing Ardern has ever done he is so partisan, National though need to get their shit together at question time despite Mallard turning it into a farce.

    • Gezza

       /  March 27, 2018

      Shit that sounds pretty poor. I missed QT today. What question number is it?

    • Almost unbelievably corrupt carry on

      • Gezza

         /  March 27, 2018

        I might have a listen to them all at 10 (groan) seeing blue David hasn’t said what number question it was. Just in case he’s making shit up.

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