Labour MPs change minds about Chinese expert submissions

A quick change of stance after Labour MPs block China expert from speaking at select committee.

RNZ: Labour MPs backtrack on Anne-Marie Brady committee decision

Labour MPs have backtracked on their decision to block China expert Anne-Marie Brady from speaking at Parliament after push-back from the Opposition.

Professor Brady had asked to address MPs about foreign interference in elections as part of a justice committee inquiry, but the request was turned down yesterday when the four Labour MPs voted against it.

A government spokesperson said the committee chair, Labour MP Raymond Huo, had a rethink overnight and the committee would briefly reopen submissions to the public later this year.

Mr Huo declined to be interviewed by RNZ, but in a written statement he said he “welcomed” new submissions.

He said yesterday’s decision to block Prof Brady was “purely procedural” and denied he had shifted stance under pressure.

“That’s my own initiative,” Mr Huo said.

However, just hours earlier Mr Huo made no mention of that position in a separate statement sent to RNZ.

“As Committee Chair, I am satisfied that the correct procedure has been followed and that the [intelligence] agencies will keep the committee well informed about any issues of foreign interference that may arise,” he said.

Public attention seems to have had an effect.

Committee member and National MP Nick Smith yesterday called for the committee to reconsider, saying Parliament should hear from New Zealand’s most published academic around the risks of overseas interference in elections.

Dr Smith this afternoon told RNZ he was pleased Mr Huo had had a “change of heart”, but said it was only because he had spoken out.

“It’s blatantly obvious that the Beehive has recognised that silencing an academic on as issue as sensitive as protecting New Zealand from foreign interference was a really bad look and they’ve had to reconsider.”

Newsroom: Govt set to U-turn on Brady block

Committee chairman and Labour MP Raymond Huo, who has featured in Brady’s work for his supposed ties to Chinese government representatives, defended the decision on Thursday, saying it was “purely procedural” given the close of public submissions.

However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newsroom that Huo had reconsidered the Labour MPs’ original decision upon reflection.

He would discuss the inquiry at the committee next week, with a view to reopening it to public submissions from Brady and others.

While the decision to prevent Brady from speaking had been procedurally correct, the spokesman said there was merit in hearing from her and any others who wished to submit on the issue of foreign interference.

Neither Ardern nor anyone in her office had spoken to Huo about the committee’s initial decision, the spokesman said.

Jacinda Ardern said on 1 News tonight that the Labour MPs had had a change of mind and she thought that was a wise change of position, but kept a distance from that change of stance.

9 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  March 8, 2019

    Why didn’t the Committee make noises in October , a month after the cut off for submissions, when Little changed the focus?
    May not be any rulings in Standing Orders but there should be an investigation.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 8, 2019

    So what route did the instruction to change the vote take?

    • Gezza

       /  March 8, 2019

      You expect someone from the committee to answer that here?

  3. David

     /  March 9, 2019

    where is young Blazer, he always had loads to say about chinese stuff. Oh shit its Ardern who is guilty..panic panic panic.

    • Blazer

       /  March 9, 2019

      I am in favour of Brady making submissions.

      The Chinese influence is evident in both major parties..thats the way they work.

      Dr Jiang’s situation…refusing to talk to English journalists is…as amazing as his feeble reason for misleading immigration.

  4. Finbaar Rustle

     /  March 9, 2019

    Letting the Tories draw attention to a Uni academic
    who will make Labour look good.
    Completely out classing Nahshunall once again.
    Brilliantly played by Labour.

    • Gezza

       /  March 9, 2019

      Hard to say. Depends what she says. If anybody remembers anything about what she says they’ll also remember Labour tried to stop her speaking to the Committee. Points to each side scored here most likely.

      How come there’s a Chinese Herald option in The Herald’s main menu & no Maori Herald?

      Both main parties are up for suspicion the CCP has some influence on them. But Winston’s probably taking some of the heat off Labour, & Labour seems to have sucked up to dodgy characters. National was nuts selecting Jiang, especially when they have so many connections already with Chinese companies which are all subject to CCP control.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 9, 2019

        How come there’s a Chinese Herald option in The Herald’s main menu & no Maori Herald?

        All truthful answers are politically incorrect.

  5. oldlaker

     /  March 9, 2019

    I wonder if National can actually get rid of Dr Yang without blowback from its Beijing-aligned donors… Having a former CCP member in our Parliament is probably considered the least the Nats could do given all the Chinese money that comes their way.