JLR: “…didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.”

Closely following being given a platform on Newshub Jami-Lee Ross has posted a lengthy statement, including an apology of sorts, on Facebook.

In  particular he seems to be working on getting some support from the Botany electorate of which he is now an independent MP who is unlikely to be re-elected.


Leaving bitterness and hatred behind

The last time I actively took part in public debate, over three months ago, I found myself at the apex of a mental health crisis that became a life and death situation. My absence from Parliament and the media since then has understandably raised questions. I hope to now answer some of them.

I’ve been to hell and back. I almost lost everything, including my own life. I just can’t be driven by hatred anymore, or the pursuit of getting even with Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett or anyone else in the National Party. Life is too short for that. My time and energy needs to be focussed on doing everything I can for my family, my constituents and my country.

If I could go back in time, my biggest wish is that I could have spared Lucy from this painful experience. She never deserved any of this, and politics is always harder on those loved ones in the background, than on the MPs themselves.

I can’t spare Lucy that pain or take back any hurt I have caused. But what I can do is dedicate myself for however long I have left in public life to making those around me proud of the good work that I can, and will, do.

My plea to the 70,000 people living in my electorate is that I hope they are willing to judge me on the decade and a half I have spent serving Botany and the wider Howick area, and not that one challenging and confusing month where things fell apart for a while.

I am still the same person that has always worked hard for them, that has never been afraid to speak up for them, or knock on their door and front up to them face to face. The only difference is that my life has been laid bare for all to see now, and I happen to be a flawed human being.

Last year showed me that I need to be a better husband, I need to be a better boss, and I needed to be honest with myself about my own mental health struggles a lot earlier. I have been working really hard on these things in the past few months.

Had I known at the start of last year what I know now, all this could have been different. I was recognising in myself early in the year that things weren’t right. I wasn’t feeling myself. I was privately becoming emotional over things I wouldn’t normally have. And I was hiding how I was really feeling from everyone around me.

I should have been honest with myself and asked for help earlier. It wasn’t until another National MP sent me that now infamous text message telling me to kill myself that I finally cracked and I sought help from an old friend and counsellor that worked with me when I was a teenager. He quickly realised that I was in need of actual medical assistance, and so I was being treated by a psychiatrist for the later part of last year.

The normal rules of politics say I should do everything I can to hide my own health. But it’s no secret I eventually end up being sectioned to Middlemore Hospital’s acute mental health facility in October. We don’t always see positive stories of the country’s mental health services, but I can’t speak more highly of the people working there.

I am so thankful for the amazing individuals that save lives through our mental health system. I am also grateful for the dedicated men and women that work in our emergency services. They displayed to me the kindness of human nature at a very difficult time when I was so emotionally distressed that I had tried to harm myself.

I hope to add my voice to those trying to educate New Zealanders, particularly young people, that it isn’t weak to speak up about how you are feeling. I’ve learnt the hard way that it is okay to not feel well, it’s okay to ask for help, and that there is usually a huge amount of kindness and compassion out there in the community.

I don’t have hatred or animosity towards Simon or Paula anymore for the way they treated me. At the time they were doing all they knew how to do with the skill set they have.

But I still take responsibility, because it wasn’t fair on them. It wasn’t fair on Simon and Paula for them to be put in a position where they had to choose between helping someone with a health issue, or to put that person under more pressure because it was the better political move to make.

I do want to say thank you to the people that tried to help. I have subsequently learnt that at least two of the four women in the October 18 Newsroom story first spoke to the National Party leadership because they were concerned about my health and wellbeing. They identified that I was struggling and they were doing what they thought was the right thing. I want to thank them for caring.

Should the National Party’s response have been to send them out to talk to the media? Probably not, but people don’t always do very rational things in the heat of a political crisis when they are under pressure.

I have received a personal apology from one of the women that was sent to the media by Paula. I am grateful for her apology, but I more feel sorry for her that she was put through that traumatic experience. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to have her boss request she hand over all her personal text messages. Then to also be asked to talk about her personal life so National could “combat” me during that week – it can’t have been easy.

I also know the National MP that sent me that text message has been suffering a lot of personal pain and family heartache in the last year. She was once my best friend in the caucus – there must have been a lot of personal stress in her life for her to end up sending me a late night text message inciting me to commit suicide.

We shouldn’t have hurt and betrayed innocent parties in the way we did. I obviously wish she hadn’t given an anonymous interview to the media, but I know how hard it can be when the leadership is pressuring you in to doing something.

One of the things that I have been coming to terms with is the comments in the second Newsroom story from some of my ex staff members and how they were so unhappy working for me. That was so terrible to hear. Clearly I was not a good boss, but worse than that I didn’t even realise. I never knew they felt that way. I didn’t realise that my actions were creating such an unpleasant workplace. How terrible is that?

I thought I was a good boss and that I had mostly good relationships with my staff. That clearly wasn’t the case and reading about how I made some of them feel was gutting. I am so ashamed about this and I have been working with my psychiatrist to make sure that never happens again.

I wondered why Parliamentary Services never brought this to my attention at the time, so I asked – turns out it’s because they had never received any formal complaints about me and never had need to investigate me like they have other MPs. But even so, people that worked for me have obviously felt hurt by the working environment I created, and for that I am sorry.

I do want to say though – while I have been a bad boss and I must do a lot better in that area – I was led to believe by the leadership that there were allegations of sexual harassment. I have never sexually harassed anyone, and never had any complaints made about me of that nature.

I know people are naturally wondering how Simon and I went from close friends to political adversaries. It’s true, less than a year ago I was doing everything I could to help him achieve all his own personal goals. And I was proud to be doing so. Somewhere along the way our friendship sadly deteriorated.

Simon has had nearly a year as leader and he’s tried his best. You can’t blame him for trying. But I was in his leadership team and I was one of about half a dozen that saw the full polling we were doing each week – the detailed polling report that the rest of the Caucus isn’t allowed to see. It didn’t matter how much we tried to do, each week Simon’s personal favourability kept going backwards further and further.

This was frustrating. And I was feeling frustrated because when I was questioning Simon’s personal polling and what we could do about it, more and more I felt squeezed out of the inner circle. Some leaders welcome those that challenge them, others close up and listen to the voices they like the sound of. I wasn’t one of those voices.

My mistake was I took my feelings and started sharing them with other MPs. And this was viewed, probably rightly, as me being disloyal. And Simon treated my dissenting voice as something he felt he needed to jump on. And he jumped pretty hard.

So when you saw me go on medical leave in early October that was actually me being pushed out for the rest of the year for disloyalty. And this is where my mental health struggles and my disagreements with Simon started to converge pretty heavily.

A colleague that’s still in the caucus and leadership team rightly observed that if you back a wounded animal into a corner they’ll either curl up and wet themselves, or they will bite back as hard as they can.

I clearly wasn’t thinking straight at the time. I clearly wasn’t coping. And I was in a sort of hate fuelled daze. And so when I was put under immense pressure, with my whole personal and professional life threatened, I decided to bite back as hard as I could. These weren’t the actions of someone in a good state of mind. But it’s where we got to, and the whole country was watching.

I’m happy to put my hand up and say I should have reached out for help a lot earlier. Maybe we could have avoided that whole saga had I done that. We probably could have avoided the collateral damage too.

I feel so sorry for people like Maureen Pugh, who is nothing but a lovely person, who had to hear what Simon thought of her in a taped conversation. That wasn’t nice. And those incredible public servants like Chris Finlayson and David Carter – they shouldn’t have had to hear me and Simon discussing their careers so flagrantly. They all deserved better.

I’m also sorry for the hurt I caused the good, hard working, National MPs, most of whom were my friends. What normal person goes and hurts the people they are closest to? These people weren’t just colleagues – they were my political family. My friends. There are some great people in that caucus and they deserve to have the chance to be back in government one day.

I’m deeply sorry for my actions that have hurt people. And I have a lot of repairing to do. But I also know I was put under enormous pressure too. When that PWC report was released to the media, I had only been told of it about an hour earlier. I hadn’t had a chance to read it, to understand it, or to seek advice on it. To this day the full report with the QC’s opinion hasn’t been released to me.

I didn’t know at the time that Simon and Paula talked to the media (because I hadn’t read the report) that it never actually identified wrong doing on my part. It never identified me as having done anything. What it did was draw together communications, which were unrelated, and formed a view that should never have been able to be formed, as well as saying that the evidence was not conclusive.

After everything that’s happened I struggle to feel any animosity towards him anymore, but I do wish Simon would have given me the opportunity, like I pleaded for, to at least read the report and talk to the Caucus before it was released publicly. I reckon we could have avoided this whole situation had he not refused my request for natural justice. But that’s all history.

My focus now is on the future, and being positive. My health is considerably better and I am working on greater resilience. I am still the MP for Botany and I owe it to many people to do good for them. I also think it is important not to run away from this difficult time. As the highest profile New Zealander in recent years to have attempted suicide and survive I want to use the platform I have as an MP to do what I can to help other New Zealanders like me who have had a temporary breakdown but remain good people.

I also want to go back to being the type of representative I was earlier in my career, free from political party posturing, to just speak up for the people that voted for me.

I wish as a National MP we had done more to cut red tape and regulation to fix the housing crisis that means young people can’t afford to buy a home. We should have put more in to the country’s underfunded health services and public transport systems. And we should have realised that we let the Auckland Council get out of control and that’s costing Aucklanders more and more each year.

These are the type of issues I want to get back to speaking up for on behalf of my constituents. We spend too much time in Wellington fighting with each other over petty things when we should be focussed on what will improves lives and what helps a family’s back pocket.

But as well as returning to being the best MP I can be for my community, I also need to be a better husband and father. In those dark moments when I felt there was no hope and no way forward – when my world had crashed down around me so much that I found myself standing on train tracks thinking I had no option but to end everyone’s pain – it was the vivid picture in my head of three year old Charlotte’s little happy face that stopped me from actually going through with doing something dumb.

No amount of political point scoring is worth hurting other people, or crushing the happy face of my little girl. We all got in to politics to try to make the world a better place for the boys and girls of the future. In October we forgot that. And we let many people down.

I am reminded at this time of a famous Mandela quote from his time leaving prison on Robben Island: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

I am still the same person that has been proud to work hard for Howick and Botany for a decade and a half. But I can admit, last year, I didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.


“that now infamous text message telling me to kill myself” – that’s his interpretation, but I think open to debate. The text said the MP wished he was dead. That, arguably, is not telling him what to do, it’s expressing a feeling.

There are a number of things he says that suggest mixed motives or intent, with some backhanded swipes.

Leave a comment

54 Comments

  1. Reply
    • Duker

       /  22nd January 2019

      Revenge?
      Didn’t Judith Collins write the book on revenge… Give back double wasn’t it?

      Exceltium is political revenge on a pay by the hour basis that would make a QC would blush

      Reply
  2. Karen

     /  22nd January 2019

    If I didn’t think this guy was a total jerk before he’s just removed all doubt for me!!!

    What.a.tosser!

    Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  22nd January 2019

    TL:DR – resign and put yourself up for re-election if your contrition is genuine.

    Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  22nd January 2019

    cry me a ..river…unemployable sock tucker.

    Reply
  5. FarmerPete

     /  22nd January 2019

    Who the hell cares. Please find a corner and stay there quietly for a very long time.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd January 2019

      Did you get the txt sent out to National party activisists to go online and pile in on JLR?

      You say you dont care …then prove the opposite by coming all the way here ( name not familiar to regular users) to tell us ‘I dont care’….pleeeese

      Reply
      • FarmerPete

         /  23rd January 2019

        Slater is a bully, blowhard and a braggart. I don’t wish him ill, but his toxicity is infectious. I have been a reader of this blog since day 1 and a commenter when it suits me. How about you just stick to what I said rather than whether I am a national party activist (I am not and not a member of any party) or whether I have earned the right to comment here.
        I don’t know Ross either and don’t particularly care. In my view he is also toxic, and you appear from your comment to be a tosser!

        Reply
  6. duperez

     /  22nd January 2019

    I can’t be bothered reading the Ross stuff but did read the Ben Thomas comments. I didn’t who Ross is or where he comes from. “Ben Thomas is a public relations consultant with Exceltium. He is a former National government press secretary and political editor of the National Business…” was as far as I went on google.
    He’d be exactly the right person to have a dispassionate objective view I suppose. 🙃

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  22nd January 2019

      If you had bothered to read Ross’s nonsense you’d know that Ben Thomas’s assessment is pretty bang on regardless of any perceived bias you may claim.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  22nd January 2019

        Bang on? Thomas is a partisan hack….. This is how it works as explained in the dirty politics book
        Outsiders are encouraged by the party to do their work for them….. To keep the party hands clean.
        Bridges will say ‘ no comment’ as he hides behind the PR attack dogs

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  22nd January 2019

          Nice attack on the messenger Duker, what about the message which you fail to mention?

          Only the most anti-National party stooge could read what Ross wrote above and come away believing anything he says. Him and Cameron Slater are playing the game using the very same rulebook.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  23rd January 2019

            Well he does have recorded phone calls and TXT messages. he may over egg some things like politicians do , but the gist of it is mostly right.
            Bridges and the $100k donation was correct, but Bridges has told the main media he will put the defamation lawyers on them if they continue to discuss it

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  23rd January 2019

              can they discuss the merits of an Indian vs a Chinaman or Filipino as a Nat M.P without legal…risk?

      • Mother

         /  22nd January 2019

        You people are so mean.

        It’s true that there are only two kinds of people in the world. A wise elder once told me that.

        I think Mr Ross is a fine man.

        I think you could try to be kind.

        Reply
        • Mother

           /  22nd January 2019

          What game?

          Life is not a game.

          If you can’t see when someone is baring themselves because they are choosing to be brave in life, then maybe you will never learn to be kind.

          Reply
          • Mother

             /  22nd January 2019

            He’s apologised for his childish behaviour. Now let him learn and grow. I don’t see any backhand swipes in his statement. National leadership were appalling. Let him speak his truth. He was there, you weren’t.

            He is speaking as a family man and I’m hoping the best for them.

            Reply
            • PDB

               /  22nd January 2019

              The guy is an obvious narcissist – the fact you can’t see that says more about you than him.

            • Gerrit

               /  23rd January 2019

              Family man!!!

              Bulldust

              –“Rogue National MP Jami-Lee Ross has admitted having affairs with two women – one of them an MP – and says there will be “challenging times ahead” in his marriage.”

              A family man simply does not carry out two affairs (hopefully not simultaneously) whilst away from the family hearth.

              –“Ross also responded to allegations from four women of intimidating and bullying behaviour, disputing the way the allegations were presented but apologising for the “hurt” he has caused the women.”

              A family man does not intimidate and bully women.

              https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12145518

              Ross a family man? No not never not ever.

          • Blazer

             /  23rd January 2019

            life most certainly is a game,and no one gets out alive.

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  23rd January 2019

            you have to be cruel to be kind…

            Reply
    • david in aus

       /  23rd January 2019

      Also former Craccum editor at Uni, that’s how he got a start. Job to job since then. It has been a while since I talked to Ben but he never came across an overtly political guy.

      Reply
  7. Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd January 2019

      Spoken like a True PR person whos brief is ‘ make it all move on’…… Give Trump his number

      Reply
  8. Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd January 2019

      If you are female this job comes with huge warning signs and red flashing lights.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd January 2019

        Hang on, I’ll have a look 😐

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd January 2019

        That last sentence probably really should have a bit “and all your phone calls especially with me will be recorded in case I ever need to get rid of you for any reason. Also you must not be friends with Tova O’Brien, who is MY friend.”

        Reply
  9. Tipene

     /  23rd January 2019

    Sarah Dowie – come on down!

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  23rd January 2019

      The best thing for Sarah to do is just keep a low profile and let Jami-Lee continue to make himself poisonous to the public. While a few people may get all sniffy about her & think she was pretty damn silly to hook up with him, most probably sympathise.

      Reply
      • Tipene

         /  23rd January 2019

        I’m pretty sure the Police are not going to be summoning “sympathy” for a woman who could double for Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction”. Hope JLR doesn’t own any rabbits.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  23rd January 2019

          I’m pretty sure the police are going to be finding some horrible or awkward texts from the pair of them to each other if the ISP grants access to their text traffic records, and that they’ll exercise their discretion to do nothing and dismiss it as a sad, mad affair gone bad. Possibly becos one of them is a serial cheater? But who knows? Hopefully the police. But they shouldn’t tell Tova. hopefully after all the mischief that little toe rag has caused.

          JLR will slip up again.

          How’s the police investigation going in to the donations? Any inside news on that?

          Reply
  10. Mother

     /  23rd January 2019

    Perhaps it’s natural for men to be tough on men.

    I think it was dreadful for any women to be engaging in behaviour which was hurtful to another family unit, and also that National leadership was appalling. If I had the opportunity to express my opinion openly with all the people involved in this saga, my thoughts would be most compassionate toward Mr Ross. Why? Because he has apologised and is working hard on making amends.

    Why does ‘repentance’ mean nothing to you? And why are you tough on a man
    whose weaknesses are laid bare by personal choice of transparency?

    You are a cynical mean lot. If this is indicative of majority attitude in NZ then it is little wonder our top politicians are not the best.

    Sympathy for Sarah? I find that very condescending toward women in general. She wasn’t a poor little damsel getting coerced into wrongdoing. She was an intelligent woman, equal with men, making her own choices.

    At the start of these comments the theme was set to blame Mr Ross for the saga. He was only one small cog in a larger machine of human pride. He has apologised for his part. You cry him down regarding his desire for accountability of the other cogs. It makes me wonder how many men are out there who have never learned to apologise sincerely, and whether or not there is an appetite for good and transparent leadership.

    I think that Mr Ross is sincere. I’d talk with him more comfortably than I would with most of you. I think it is highly likely that he is a man who is willing to learn, grow and serve.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  23rd January 2019

      so reach out to him …then!

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  23rd January 2019

      Why does ‘repentance’ mean nothing to you? And why are you tough on a man
      whose weaknesses are laid bare by personal choice of transparency?

      They were already laid bare by others. He comes across to me as attempting to excuse them.

      Sympathy for Sarah? I find that very condescending toward women in general. She wasn’t a poor little damsel getting coerced into wrongdoing. She was an intelligent woman, equal with men, making her own choices.
      Who knows what was happening in her private life at the time? I’m still waiting to find out more about these journos’ private lives, for a bit of balance. When one sees what JLR was up to, undermining his own party and leader, ostensibly out of bitterness at not getting portolios he wanted as much as, if not more than, anything else

      I think that Mr Ross is sincere. I’d talk with him more comfortably than I would with most of you. I think it is highly likely that he is a man who is willing to learn, grow and serve.
      I don’t . I think he is a man caught with his pants down (so to speak) who is dodgy as all get out & cunning as a rat.

      Reply
    • MaureenW

       /  23rd January 2019

      Always find it hilarious when those extolling their own virtues start name calling. Ha ha (slaps knee) thanks for the laugh. By the way, who is the “you lot” you refer to when talking about the people who comment on this site? If we are “you lot”, who is “your lot”?

      “You are a cynical mean lot. If this is indicative of majority attitude in NZ then it is little wonder our top politicians are not the best”

      Reply
  11. Mother

     /  23rd January 2019

    Mr Ross’ weaknesses were not laid bare by others. His weaknesses were distorted by gossip, the media and the pack.

    Mr Ross himself fronted up (laid bare), I think sincerely. If people are finding that National leaders are double speaking on other issues, such as cannabis reform, it is because they have double standards in general. The JLR saga highlighted this painfully.

    Mr Ross is not ‘cunning as a rat.’ Cunning maybe. Good on him. Anyone’s intelligence should be put to use for the greater good – hopefully.

    Reply
  12. Mother

     /  23rd January 2019

    God bless you Maureen☺

    Reply
  13. Zedd

     /  23rd January 2019

    Surely he knows, he is now.. ‘Passed his useby date’ ?
    Even ACT likely dont want him ?? :/

    Maybe JLR needs to be reminded that he only got to parliament as a ‘faceless suit with a blue rosette on’. In some electorates, meaning; a shopfront DUMMY could do, just as well 😀

    Reply
  14. Mother

     /  23rd January 2019

    Mr Ross himself will know his own motives. Mean speculating is unhelpful. The Mental Health Foundation received many messages of distress last year during the saga. Please do not start it up again. Snide intolerance is cruel to more people than you realise – perhaps someone in your own family or circle of friends.

    Like most people, Mr Ross will know what is best for his own employment. Criticism of his performance as an MP could be directed to his office.

    NZ is sorely lacking the true Christian voice. The vitriol displayed anonymously and the pettiness by media is frightening. In every community we need people who remind others to keep applying the golden rule. The people who understand this best are those who have a Redeemer.

    I think that Mr Ross saw anomalies which he thought would be best cleared up.
    He lost.
    So?
    Leave him to continue on improving.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd January 2019

      I think he’s a jerk, mental illness or not. I’ve known people with real severe mental illnesses but they weren’t jerks. He is and anyone who thinks otherwise is in for certain disillusionment IMO.

      Reply
  15. Gezza

     /  23rd January 2019

    National MPs have received apology letters from embattled MP Jami-Lee Ross, in which he attempts to explain his dramatic actions last year.

    Jessica Mutch McKay, 1 NEWS’ political editor, understands each National MP was given a personalised letter.

    Before he left the party, Mr Ross held the position of senior whip for National, which made him privy to private information.

    He promised in the letters that he would not reveal those details, adding that he is not intending to cause trouble when he returns to Parliament.

    However, one of the MPs that 1 NEWS talked to described the letter as “self-serving”.
    More here and in video
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/rogue-mp-jami-lee-ross-sends-apology-letters-national-mps?auto=5992687759001&variant=tb_v_1

    Reply
  16. PartisanZ

     /  23rd January 2019

    Sad … He’s been ‘reprogrammed’ by a PR consultancy and the Ministry of Truth in a Public Private Partnership a.k.a ‘The Lodge’ … and now takes ‘Semblanoxymorin’ 500mg four times daily … with a glass of whiskey … at ‘The Club’ …

    I wonder if he had the presence of mind and nous to negotiate a good ‘package’?

    Who doesn’t want Electoral Law Reform and investigations into ‘Chinese Influence’?

    Reply
  1. Mixed messages from Jamie-lee Ross | Your NZ
  2. JLR: “…didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.” — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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