Ardern and Shaw silent on Peters and NZ First concerns

Also: Jacinda Ardern’s silence on Winston Peters is deafening

Jacinda Ardern is yet to say anything at all about the fact the Electoral Commission made absolutely clear on Monday that the way NZ First was treating donations to its foundations was wrong.

Instead of properly taking this on, Ardern has hidden, as politicians often do, behind the perceived inappropriateness of commenting while some process is still active.

Following the Electoral Commission’s finding, Ardern would have been totally within her rights to say, at the very least, that she thought these donations should have been declared to the commission. She could have said she was disappointed that a coalition partner appeared not to have been as fulsome as it could have been with informing the authorities – all without alleging any kind of crime. Trying to hide your donations, even legally, is a political act that politicians should be happy to talk about.

This silence got even louder on Thursday when it became clear that NZ First had some kind of involvement in two covertly taken photographs of journalists reporting on the Foundation story, which found their way onto a right-wing blog. Peters told Magic Talk on Tuesday that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, but later backtracked to say a supporter just happened to see the journalists and thought he or she should snap a photo.

When a politician’s story keeps changing it warrants more suspicion that something deserves exposure.

The thing is, the Cabinet Manual does have a section about ministers upholding and being seen to uphold “the highest ethical standards” at all times, not just when doing ministerial business. Ardern has all the ammo she needs to give Peters a dressing-down over this, but instead she defers. Things don’t have to be illegal to be wrong.

Worse, this rot of silence has also infected the Green Party, which, as a confidence and supply partner, has plenty of legitimate room to criticise such tactics. You don’t need to tear the Government up or demand that Peters is fired – you can just say what the journalists’ union said on Friday, that Peters needs to explain himself and apologise.

Instead the Greens just talk about how the law needs to be changed – which most people agree with, but isn’t the point. The topic at hand isn’t underhanded but lawful behaviour, it’s stuff that is potentially illegal – hence the police referral. The party should grow back its spine.

There is quite a lot of pressure on the Greens online to speak up.

It is blindingly obvious why Ardern is so blind to Peters’ actions. He is not the kind of man to take a telling-off sitting down, and it would probably all get messier as Peters extracted some kind of utu for her daring to criticise him.

But she is the leader of this Government, and of a party that is vastly larger in both power and popularity. Her words set the standard of behaviour for ministers – she is in this sense the most powerful political pundit we have. It’s well past time she found that voice.

But that doesn’t look likely unless someone like Helen Clark starts tweeting about it.

Leave a comment

11 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  15th February 2020

    It was an opinion.
    https://elections.nz/media-and-news/2020/statement-on-donations-enquiries/
    Referal to the SFO puts it in the legal box.

    Reply
  2. Corky

     /  15th February 2020

    Jacinda is holding on for dear life hoping she can make the election without having to make hard decisions. The irony is, if she stood Winston down, she would probably win the election. And Peters would be gone for good.

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  15th February 2020

    Guess what, Stuff’s Cooke writes this story and takes the National Party line

    When its Bridges who has ‘ hot donations’ on his hands , guess what Cooke just tells the official Bridges version- “Donations wrongly filed”
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/107857267/simon-bridges-says-24k-donations-wrongly-filed-to-him-not-the-party-by-mistake

    What really happened was a prima facie case of National ‘whitewashing large donations’ to a Member through the party ( and back again) to avoid disclosure
    One donation was from a Brethren official.
    “The party declined to provide a copy of the donation to Stuff to verify that it was indeed written out to the Tauranga National Party and not Bridges himself.”
    No evidence but the story headline ends up as a Bridges mouthpiece
    “Simon Bridges says $24k donations ‘wrongly filed’ to him, not the party, by mistake”

    Ahhh a ‘mistake’

    Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  15th February 2020

    Whataboutism Duker.

    In PG’s original post “Following the Electoral Commission’s finding, Ardern would have been totally within her rights to say, at the very least, that she thought these donations should have been declared to the commission.”

    Utter rubbish.

    The Commission handed it’s opinion over to the Police who handed to the SFO.

    Arden is right to hold comment until the legal process has completed.

    We are not in the US where it’s customary to have two court cases.
    Court of public opinion followed by the Judiciary.

    Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  15th February 2020

    ‘Things don’t have to be illegal to be wrong.’

    so exactly who decides things are ‘wrong’?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  16th February 2020

      Common decency, I suppose. It’s probably not illegal to destroy a child’s self-confidence with constant put-downs, but most of us would think it was wrong.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  16th February 2020

        ambiguous…who defines ‘common decency’?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  16th February 2020

          There are some things that are generally agreed to fit the standard. like helping old women onto buses and not sending them flying. Most people would regard child sex abuse as an affront to common decency. If someone’s been run over, common decency demands that one at least calls for help and doesn’t leave them to bleed to death.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  16th February 2020

          There are some things that are generally agreed to fit the standard. like helping old women onto buses and not sending them flying. Most people would regard child sex abuse as an affront to common decency. If someone’s been run over, common decency demands that one at least calls for help and doesn’t leave them to bleed to death.

          It’s common decency to not mock a blind person who can’t see you doing it or a deaf person who can’t hear you doing it.

          Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s