Praise for Collins and Ardern handling of Falloon issue

When the Andrew Falloon issue started to emerge there was a lot of mostly partisan premature piling on and criticism of Judith Collins especially and also Jacinda Ardern over how they handled the serious poor behaviour of Falloon but also his claimed mental health issues.

But I think both Collins and Ardern largely deserve praise for how they handled the revelations and potential problems for victims of Falloon’s sleazy attention as well as Falloon himself.

It’s common for people on social media demanding instant action and immediate sackings for any alleged transgression, but that is often based on scant facts, no appreciation of what is involved in dealing with serious problems, no thought for proper and fair processes, and no consideration for the time taken by busy politicians and their teams to do things.

A 19 year old victim took a complaint to the police early this month, who decided it didn’t warrant charges (yesterday police decided to have another look at multiple complaints). Then her parents sent information to Ardern last Wednesday, and Ardern’s office passed this on to Collins’ office on Friday, after first checking this course of action out with the victim. Considering it wasn’t an urgent situation and this seems fairly prompt.

Ardern seems to have acted properly and promptly, protecting the privacy and rights of the victim.

Collins’ office passed on the information to her on Saturday. She would have been in Wellington or Auckland, and Falloon in his electorate in South Canterbury. Collins demanded a meeting with Falloon as soon as was practical, which was Monday. She said it needed to be dealt with face to face, which I think was appropriate.

At the meeting Falloon only disclosed sending one inappropriate image to one woman to Collins, but even then she thought his behaviour warranted him ending his political career, and that afternoon Falloon put out a statement announcing he wouldn’t stand for re-election.

But the statement hinted there may be more, saying ““I have made a number of mistakes…”

By first thing Tuesday Collins had learned of more ‘mistakes’ and made it clear that Falloon should resign from Parliament immediately. This happened soon afterwards.

I think this is rapid action in appropriate time frames.

RNZ: National MP Andrew Falloon quits politics amid indecent image allegations

Yesterday it was revealed the Rangitata MP apparently sent an indecent image – not of himself – to a 19-year-old woman and had announced he would retire at the election.

This morning he wrote to Collins and Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard to resign with immediate effect, after reports of the new claims emerged.

Collins said she spoke to the 19-year-old on the phone this morning, and protecting her confidentiality was of utmost importance.

Shortly before Falloon’s resignation, Collins told Morning Report she had been told of further allegations and could no longer trust the MPs story.

“I think he should resign from Parliament today, now that there are further statements and I can no longer trust his story. I believe that that would be the best thing for him ultimately. He is clearly now with his family and receiving professional assistance. It is I believe better for him, better for the young woman who is my first priority, and for Parliament, that he resigns.

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what was being alleged, what had been alleged by the young woman, and that I’ve now been advised by media that Andrew Falloon has now changed his story.”

“My first priority yesterday was the young woman who is now dealing with the terrible trauma and I’ve reached out to her and made it very clear that if there’s any assistance I can give I will do so.”

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what had been alleged.

“I am very concerned because I have today – it was very early this morning – received advice from media of other instances of this with at least another person.

“That indicates that it is unlikely to be a solitary incident.

“It may well be a pattern of behaviour – but the only thing I have to go on is the information from the media and I have not seen the evidence myself.

“But I do believe that with my priority being the young woman, and any other women who have received this sort of of pornographic imagery, that Andrew Falloon should today resign from Parliament.

“Obviously he has, from what he has said to me, significant mental health issues, however I am very very aware of the young woman involved, and any other women involved if this is a pattern of behaviour.”

Collins said: “If they have any [information] and they wish to provide it to me it would be treated with the utmost confidence… I would treat this extremely seriously”.

On Ardern’s involvement:

The initial correspondence had gone to the Prime Minister’s office on Wednesday. Jacinda Ardern said her office had handled the matter properly.

“I had a quick discussion with my office about the best way to handle it. The most important thing for us was that nothing happened without the permission of the person who had written. We sought permission for it to be shared with the [National Party] leader.”

Ardern said once that permission was granted the information was given to the National Party leader and that was the end of her office’s involvement.

“We shared it with the leader of the Opposition and that was the only place it was appropriate for it to be shared.”

That all sounds appropriate from both Collins and Ardern.

Later from RNZ: Judith Collins believes ex-MP Andrew Falloon ‘lied’ over indecent image message

National Party leader Judith Collins says it is “very obvious” disgraced ex-MP Andrew Falloon lied to her, the police and a lot of other people about inappropriate sexual messages to women.

Collins said police told her they were “likely” to reopen their first investigation in light of the new information and more women coming forward.

“I’ve also spoken to them about the safety of Andrew Falloon and they’re taking the matter very seriously.”

Collins is “absolutely appalled” by what she has been hearing.

She made contact with the 19-year-old and offered to speak to her and the young woman called her this morning.

“She’s very grateful the Prime Minister and I have taken seriously and dealt with the issue … she comes across to me as a very very nice young woman who is appalled by what has happened, and so am I.”

“I’ve acted very quickly, I had to confront Andrew Falloon face-to-face. This is not a matter to be dealt with by email or phone calls,” she says.

On Monday, Falloon told Collins he was being treated for serious mental health issues.

She said she had to take that seriously.

“Andrew Falloon is still a human being, and he has a family.”

“Since then his story has changed somewhat, quite significantly, more people have come forward to advise me they have also received similar communications – unwelcomed and uncalled for communications from Andrew Falloon.”

Collins has been criticised for allowing Falloon to ‘hide behind’ claims of mental health problems, but I think Collins had no option but to take this seriously. If she hadn’t and worse happened she would have been hammered by critics for not taking it seriously.

Falloon’s media statement referenced unresolved grief around three friends committing suicide when he was younger, and that another friend recently taking their own life had reopened those wounds.

He also addressed his mental health issues saying he needed to put his health and wellbeing first.

Collins said it was appropriate to be concerned about his safety and mental health.

“I know some people say you can hide behind this but I take mental health very seriously.

“If someone’s sitting in my office and telling me they have a serious mental health condition for which they’re receiving treatment I’ll take it seriously.”

Falloon was escorted to Wellington airport by chief whip Barbara Kuriger on Monday afternoon. Junior whip Matt Doocey – a mental health practitioner – took him from Chistchurch airport to his parents’ home in Ashburton.

“He is now, I understand, receiving mental health assistance at a level that it needs to be and I am obviously deeply concerned for the welfare of the young women involved,” Collins said.

That appears to have been handled very well.

Collins has now demanded that any other National MPs who have dirty laundry should front up and disclose it now. She has made it clear she has zero tolerance for bad behaviour from MPs, and has made it clear she will act decisively if anyone stuffs up.

The Falloon issue is bad for National right now, but Collins’ actions and stance should ensure an improvement in the future.

I think that Ardern handled her side of things properly, and Collins largely did likewise in very difficult circumstances.

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60 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  22nd July 2020

    Collins resolved the issue in 48 hours from when she was first alerted on Saturday.
    Contrast her swift action with the months and months of procrastination from Ardern when confronted with her errant and woeful ministers.
    Her “ go to “ position is to pretend there is not an issue to address when the whole country knows the opposite.
    Now she is faced with allegations involving another MP, wonder if she will address this before Christmas?

    Reply
  2. Collins is just talking on RNZ, she says that Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye knew nothing about the Falloon issue until it went public. This means Falloon did not disclose to his party leader that he was being investigated by the police.

    He also didn’t disclose this to his family.

    She also says she was extremely concerned about the possibility of suicide, and acted to protect against this.

    She was advised yesterday Falloon has “the right level of assistance”.

    She says that what Falloon did was despicable, but he is still a human being and should receive appropriate care.

    Reply
  3. Collins also says she has passed on a matter of alleged inappropriate behaviour of a Labour Minister to the Prime Minister and it is now up to her to deal with.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  22nd July 2020

      I don’t believe her.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  22nd July 2020

        PartisanZ, ignore her at your peril— Ardern will not make that mistake.
        By this time tomorrow there will be a very public revelation as to who and what is the issue.
        Collins would not waste her time “ bluffing “ when so much is at stake.
        She has a habit of knowing the answers before she asks the questions.
        I know this will disappoint you but be prepared for some very bad news affecting Labour.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  22nd July 2020

          John, I’m more than prepared for more DIRTY FILTHY POLITICS from National …

          I predict that, whatever this “revelation” is, it will backfire on her totally, and probably make the ultimate resignation of the Opposition inevitable.

          Why? Well, we talk about “moral high ground” …

          Collins and National exist in an ethical quagmire. Political bog quicksand …

          National, the Poison Chalice.

          Reply
        • duperez

           /  22nd July 2020

          “Collins would not waste her time “ bluffing “ when so much is at stake.
          She has a habit of knowing the answers before she asks the question.”

          She has a record of that? Or that’s how she tries to project herself? How does her famous Oravida trip to China fit into that? Was that just ‘bluffing’? With so little at stake too, trivials including minutiae like integrity?

          And having all the wrong answers to the wrong questions with simply expecting to be beyond questioning?

          Reply
  4. duperez

     /  22nd July 2020

    Kate Hawkesby on radio this morning had a much harsher assessment of Ardern’s role.

    Appreciating reality as outlined in the third paragraph above would always be likely to be beyond her.

    Then to expect anything more than a facile political attack?

    After that diversion into zb I drove out fast so as to not hear her husband carry on the theme. By lunchtime he’ll have his cronies believing Falloon’s errant behaviour is all Ardern’s fault.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  22nd July 2020

      Thats her full time job , to find fault with labour in all circumstances, just like hubby Mikey

      Reply
  5. Reply
    • duperez

       /  22nd July 2020

      Isn’t that an example of ‘controlling the narrative “?

      Was the letter from Cameron Slater? Or Jason Ede?

      Reply
      • She says she was asked if she had been sent anything and answered honestly. If she had fudged the question and it was later revealed that she had received information she would have been hammered for lying and hiding information.

        It’s the media who have most power over the narrative.

        Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  22nd July 2020

      Notice Jacinda didn’t say anything beforehand about communications from ANYONE regarding Fallooon, that’s the difference.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  22nd July 2020

        PartisanZ, once again you have willfully missed the point.
        Unlike Ardern, Collins was asked a direct question to which she gave a truthful response.
        Would you rather have her lie because it involves a Labour Cabinet Minister?

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  22nd July 2020

          John I’m likely to willfully miss the point of almost any comment you make …

          I find your comments pointless. Okay, you like and trust Judith Collins.

          I acknowledge and accept that. I absolutely will never respect it though.

          I don’t believe it involves a Labour cabinet minister. Or I’ll believe it when I see it.

          Presently, I believe this is the Troll-Ops ‘False Flag’ that will bring down the NZ National Party … and I believe Aotearoa New Zealand will be an infinitely better place without them.

          Oppositionality – as opposed to healthy opposition – should be treated, not bleated.

          Reply
          • John J Harrison

             /  22nd July 2020

            PartinsanZ, appears a senior Labour Minister by the name of Ian Lees- Galloway is in a spot of bother !
            Listen at 11 AM.

            Reply
  6. David

     /  22nd July 2020

    Who could be the Labour minister ? The obvious go to is either Clark or Twyford based on rank stupidity but doubt it, my money is on Megan Woods sharing some saucy snaps.

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  22nd July 2020

      David, I would rather chew my right arm off than view some saucy snaps of Megan Woods !

      Reply
  7. lurcher1948

     /  22nd July 2020

    Sorry Ms Collins I think you are just spinning.saying someone is naughty and leaving it at that.

    Reply
  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd July 2020

    Hard to assess morality without knowing who was leaking to the media. If it was not from politicians, PG’s assessment is good.

    Reply
  9. Blazer

     /  22nd July 2020

    A National M.P proves to be a sleazy ,liar and Labour must be involved somehow…..desperado…….

    I predict Collins hearsay will go no where and is just political smoke.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  22nd July 2020

      I reckon it will backfire horribly and bring ’em down!!! I’ll dance “Good Riddance” in the street.

      A dark cloud of boom and bust, gloom and lust will lift off the nation, revealing Aotearoa New Zealand in all our true glory … “Together as Two” AND “Together as Many” – Bicultural AND Multi-Ethnic … A nation like no other …

      We must

      A) Self-Preserve aka continue to follow the “command of Love”
      B) Get much more Local and much more Self-Sufficient
      C) Seriously start cleaning up our pervasively Toxified Environment (of which politics and “managed democracy” are but one of an array of expressions) …

      Just some thoughts …

      Reply
  10. Reply
    • duperez

       /  22nd July 2020

      Oh good, I’ve got a couple hours to make a story. At the mo my favourite is something about homeless man, two women travelling down the island and a beach in Dunedin. 🙃

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  22nd July 2020

        This one’s gonna backfire WAY BIGGER than any of those …

        Although frankly I don’t know why ‘Twin Karens’ didn’t disintegrate the Party?

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd July 2020

      “She told The AM Show she had passed on an unspecified tip-off about a Labour minister to the Prime Minister on Tuesday afternoon, and had asked the person who got in contact with her to talk to the Prime Minister.

      She later told RNZ she had received the “allegation” – but no evidence – about the unspecified Minister on Tuesday morning.

      “I spoke to the Prime Minister yesterday as we were coming out of Question Time. I asked to speak to her and I said I had received such a tip off and I did not want to receive any information on it. I would be asking the person to send it directly to her,” Collins said.

      “She has provided me with an email address for that and that has been passed onto the person who contacted me. I don’t want to engage in this.”

      The Prime Minister’s office have declined to immediately comment. But the Prime Minister has announced an unscheduled press conference for 11am on Wednesday morning.”

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300062623/judith-collins-claims-to-have-tipoff-about-labour-minister

      Have to wait & see. It’s not saying much for our system of politics that these kinds of matters are what are getting attention. Pretty depressing.

      Reply
  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd July 2020

    Another political corpse. Will the public tire of these ritual sacrifices to public morality? The media won’t.

    I think the bar should be raised to the level of criminal behaviour.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  22nd July 2020

      Judith Collins has just lowered the bar, the relationship was common knowledge says Soper
      “The rumour mill over Iain Lees-Galloway’s behaviour has been working overtime for months now.”
      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=12350115

      So much for the claim shes ‘too busy for dirty politics’ and has ‘learnt from experience’

      Collins always said hit back twice as hard , shes decided to weaponize common knowledge of infidelity.
      .
      Is the national caucus just as virtuous as as their Mother Superior

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  22nd July 2020

        So Jacinda didn’t know?

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  22nd July 2020

          She didnt publicise it ‘ahead of time ‘
          Collins raised the issue of a Labour Minister’ on – where else- the AM show with Garner, thus making it public knowledge.
          What time do you think the AM show is broadcast ?

          Collins was the first to mention Falloon publicly not Ardern

          Reply
  12. I’ll give Ardern her dues for acting swiftly … and with discretion as far as the third person was concerned. Lees-Galloway was gone by lunchtime, and the issue resolved in under 24 hours.

    Good leadership from both Ardern and Collins – refreshing to see women demonstrating how these things should be handled.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  22nd July 2020

      Disagree. Collins had to act and did. Ardern didn’t have to act and did (twice – first injecting herself into the Falloon case unnecessarily and second sacking Lees-Galloway arbitrarily and politically).

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  22nd July 2020

        “twice – first injecting herself into the Falloon case unnecessarily ”

        It was passed onto Collins, why is that ‘interjecting’?

        This is the question from the media at the post cabinet press conference this week, first time it was mentioned by Ardern and AFTER the releases by Falloon and Collins

        Media: Prime Minister, the correspondence that you received with regards to Andrew
        Falloon—can you tell us what it involved, or what was it?

        Click to access Post%20Cab%20Press%20Conference%2020%20July%202020.pdf

        The PM didnt inject herself into the issue. The first anyone knew was National talking about it earlier in the afternoon

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  22nd July 2020

        Duker’s comment above re Barry Soper’s article saying the affair was common knowledge puts a different construction on why & how it suddenly became a reportable matter.

        I still don’t see how Ardern injected herself into the Falloon situation if she was asked about it by media after his resignation was suddenly announced. The same situation “presented itself” this morning when Collins was asked what may have been a patsy question by Garner.

        We don’t know who’s running around tattling what to journos.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  22nd July 2020

          The Prime Minister’s office has confirmed it was sent “a piece of correspondence” relating to an incident involving Falloon last week which was forwarded to National Party leader Judith Collins.

          “With the correspondent’s permission the letter was forwarded to the leader of the Opposition,” Jacinda Ardern’s office said today.
          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12349451

          That was the first media mention on Monday prior to the post cabinet press conference. Nothing in Collins or Falloon’s statements had any mention of the PMO.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  22nd July 2020

            No, but it says the PM’s Office has confirmed…

            So someone in media seems to have asked if they were involved. And we don’t know who first asked, or who told them to.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd July 2020

              Yes. Strange they didn’t just say “No Comment” if the PM was in the Cabinet Meeting.

            • Gezza

               /  22nd July 2020

              Reply went below.

          • Duker

             /  22nd July 2020

            Collins and Falloons statement was soon after 2PM, before the PMs press conference, thats why it was the first media question.
            https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2007/S00179/statement-on-andrew-falloon.htm

            Are you also asking why Collins ‘injected herself ‘ into the Lees Galloway situation ?
            ( She mentioned it with Garner on AM)
            Some would say it was ‘Double Payback’

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd July 2020

              The PMO issued a statement off its own bat: “In response to calls and emails about Andrew Falloon …” https://yournz.org/2020/07/20/open-forum-monday-249/#comment-434683

              No indication that before that media knew that the PM was involved.

            • Duker

               /  22nd July 2020

              Not so . The PM statement after 3 pm
              Collins and Fallon released statements at 2:15 pm
              I would say Collins office spread the details earlier, as they only asking Arderns connection, not mentioning the ‘ female student’ angle which is the really explosive stuff…that came later

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd July 2020

              @Duker, you would obviously say anything.

              It’s clear: Collins was directly asked if she had had any more complaints and answered that she had only one passed to the PM. The PMO was apparently asked for comment about Falloon’s resignation and rather than a general comment issued a statement giving details about the complaint process.

            • Duker

               /  22nd July 2020

              Please Garner knew what to ask…it’s that sort of show.
              Ardern only spoke after Collins and Falloon released their attempt to cover the story up.
              So yesterday it was bad Ardern was involved publically, today Collins is pushing an allegation before most have had their weetbix.
              Collins is the hit back twice as hard politician, and she did….in spite of saying pedalling info about MPs private lives isn’t on the agenda.
              She’s not even following her own guidelines from a day back….

              Let’s guess when she’s challenged on that she’ll say ….Don’t be silly

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd July 2020

              No, Collins had previously said she had ordered her caucus to come and tell her any bad secrets they were sitting on. Of course Garner was going to ask her what that had turned up.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd July 2020

              No Alan, in the context of the PM having received a complaint about a National MP, Garner asked Collins whether she also received allegations of bad behaviour by Labour (or it might have been government) MPs.

              Collins said yes, she did, & that she had received one the day before that she had informed the PM about. That statement then became the topic of all her other media interviews throughout the morning.

              She made a personal appearance on the show around 6.20 am. The day before she’d appeared by video link.

              I think it likely that Garner was primed to ask that question, as duker suggests.

            • It may well be that Garner was primed to ask the question by someone acting for Collins – I think this is common practice in politics. I have experienced it myself, in one of my first political interviews, on local television, Te Reo Putake primed the interviewer with a question he thought would embarrass me (I laughed at it).

              But in the ILG case it seems that Collins going public had no impact on the outcome – ILG seems to have been already dumped by Ardern the night before, so she must have been working out the best PR strategy and timing. There was politics on both sides.

  13. Gezza

     /  22nd July 2020

    Yes. It is. And by Post Cabinet press conference time she was well-prepared for the media questions that followed. So I have an open mind on whether it was a set-up.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd July 2020

      Thats because the media hadnt waited for the post cabinet briefing , they had already been asking the questions of the PMs media people.

      My theory is because the media were focused on the largely irrelevant matter of the matter going to the Pms office when the explosive detail of the ‘teenage female student and sexting’ wasnt being raised at all yet , is that Collins office was putting the Ardern link around ‘as a squirrel’

      Reply
  14. Duker

     /  22nd July 2020

    Claire Trevetts comment in NZ Herald
    “But despite telling her caucus she did not want them peddling in the private or family lives of other MPs, it was Collins who first made it public that she had received allegations about a Labour minister. Collins told media on Wednesday that she had forwarded an issue about “fairly inappropriate behaviour” to the Prime Minister on Tuesday. There seems no reason Collins would have gone public other than to seed a “plague on both their houses” perception to detract attention from her own woes. When Ardern passed the Falloon complaint over to Collins, Ardern gave Collins the benefit of time to deal with it and did not speak publicly about it. Collins – like Ardern – did the right thing in passing the information she had on to Ardern’s office.
    But Collins did not do the right thing by publicly revealing she had done that, rather than waiting for Ardern to make her own decisions and act.”
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12350165

    Its Collins who comes out looking mean and vindictive
    Firstly by saying she didnt want them peddling in the private lives of other Mps ….and then doing exactly that. ( on the AM show early this morning )

    Collins is heading for big fall and has very quickly reverted to type

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd July 2020

      The unknown factor is why were Ardern or her office asked by media about the Falloon resignation?

      I can’t remember the precise timing of the first media reports that her office had confirmed they had received correspondence & passed it on to Collins, but I think that came out before Ardern was asked about it at her press conference.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  22nd July 2020

        Collins and Falloon were first out of the gate ahead to get ahead of the story, around 2:15.
        That must have been when the media rang around and we’re told the Ardern connection.
        It’s impossible to know exactly as public press releases are followed by private briefings .
        Collins didn’t waste anytime by going public this morning. ….clearly primed Garner to ask a leading question

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  22nd July 2020

        No, the unknown fact is whether anyone asked the PM if they had any involvement with the Falloon complaint as opposed to just being asked for general comment about it.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  23rd July 2020

          Well yes. If you like. That’s what I meant. Who asked the PM’s office, why did they ask, & what did they ask, is unknown.

          I agree it would not be surprising if the PM was asked immediately if she had any comment. I didn’t think of that.

          But the early media reports were not about that. They were about the PM’s office, & the PM, “confirming” that she had received the information & passed it on to Collins.

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  23rd July 2020

          More interesting is did the Parents who we know went to the Police ( early July but we told can do nothing) also went to the National party hierarchy and Mullers office first. Nothing happened there and did they as last resort go the PMO.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd July 2020

            Collins was asked that & said on the AM Show yesterday that she had asked Muller, & Kaye, & even Bridges if they had ever been contacted about it & they all said no. I think she said she had also asked National Party HQ if they’d been contacted & they’d said no too.

            Reply

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