Gayford could become a PR liability for Ardern

Apparently operating outside the Prime Ministerial PR loop Clark Gayford could become a PR liability for Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern’s partner Gayford and her baby Neve have been an asset to her image, but Gayford keeps intruding on her job. He gets himself involved in Ardern’s political life and this could cause her some problems.

It has already come up, like this in September:  Jacinda Ardern should tell Clarke Gayford she ‘fights her own battles’

PR expert Trish Sherson says the Prime Minister’s partner should take a step back from defending her online, after he weighed in on a debate over her cancelling TV interviews in the weekend.

Former Three producer Tim Watkin tweeted about Ms Ardern pulling out of Newshub Nation on Saturday and TVNZ’s Q&A on Sunday.

It seemed odd that Gayford would get involved in matters involving the Prime Minister’s diary. She has staff for that.

Ms Ardern’s chief press secretary said the Prime Minister would not be appearing on Newshub Nation because he got the date of the interview wrong.

“If I were Jacinda I’d be saying ‘hey mate, I fight my own battles,'” Ms Sherson said on The AM Show, and host Duncan Garner agreed.

However after the UN trip:

Yesterday Gayford tweeted:

I think that reminding everyone that Peters played and manipulated Ardern, Labour and the media for his own aggrandising is embarrassing for Ardern and Labour.

It is remarkable that Peters made the important job of forming a new government all about him and his attention seeking, at the expense of Ardern and Labour in particular (and also the sidelined Greens).

A sensible way of announcing a new three party government would be including all three parties in the announcement rather than pandering to Winston’s whims and ego.

Showing how dependant Ardern is on what Winston wants and says is not good PR for Labour.

How many PR staff does Ardern have? I am sure they are under instructions to carefully convey the right images and messages for Ardern.

But Gayford may be operating outside this carefully manicured media movement. He seems to like attracting attention to himself as well as trying to promote Ardern, but I don’t think this is helping her. He is a risk and could be a liability.

Perhaps Gayford should stick to the Women’s Weekly sort of stuff and leave the serious business of running the country and running the Prime Minister PR to Ardern and her substantial team.

 

Chinese influence in New Zealand politics

The issue of political donations in return for political influence and even candidacy has come up in the Jami-Lee Ross saga, even though it now seems that Ross has not come close to delivering on his accusations.

The related issue of Chinese influence in New Zealand (and world) politics has also come up.

I think we have to be careful here separating legitimate engagement in our democracy by registered voters, and alleged influence from China. Chinese New Zealanders (NZ and foreign born) make up about 5% of the population so presumably make up about 5% of the voting population. They have a right to stand for Parliament, to support parties, to donate and to vote, like anyone else here.

But there are concerns about influence from China, and some of these concerns may be reasonable.

Martyn Bradbury posted National looks less like a political party and more like a front for Chinese business interests

As China regresses into a censorship totalitarian state, we need to ask how much influence our largest Political Party is under from Beijing and in whose interest does National rule? New Zealand’s or the People’s Republic of China?

The Woke Left feel terribly anxious about any questions like this as they see it as nothing more than Xenophobia, but when we have this level of influence over a Party and when academics are having their homes broken into, such attempts to shut down the debate and questioning is naive at best and aiding China at worst.

That was just a general swipe (and before facts of the Ross allegations became clearer), but a comment from Iain McClean was more informative.

Yes; our Allies are worried:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/28/new-zealands-five-eyes-membership-called-into-question-over-china-links

An example / insight in how some of this infiltration works.

From Your NZ.org:

https://yournz.org/2018/10/17/open-forum-forum/#commentsrobertguyton

robertguyton
/  October 17, 2018
“Explain the primary role of the United Front Work in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The United Front Work Department of the CCP is an integral part of the Party structure, down to sometimes the lowest levels and coordinated at the very top by a United Front Leading Small Group initiated by Xi Jinping. The Department works to reach out, represent, and guide key individuals and groups within both the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and greater China, including Chinese diasporas. The goals include to have all such groups accept CCP rule, endorse its legitimacy, and help achieve key Party aims. Because United Front Work has officially been extended to those who emigrated after 1979 as well as those Chinese studying abroad, some 50 million or more, United Front Work is now of direct relevance and sometimes concern to an increasing number of foreign governments, notably Australia, Zealand, Canada and the United States. United Front Work abroad is not limited to only these countries though.”

https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/chinas-united-front-work-propaganda-as-policy/

And if we do nothing……? This is heading our way.!!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-19/digital-dictatorship-china-exerts-control-over-population-through-social-credit

I would suggest the same tentacles are within Labour as well.
We need to ‘keep an eye out’.

So we should have concerns about influence from China. If it can be found that political donations are coming from China then we should be concerned (is there any evidence of this or is it just scaremongering?).

But this should not spread out to general attacks on registered New Zealand voters with Chinese ethnicity.

Today in NZ Herald – Tze Ming Mok: Here is the big deal about Bridges’ ‘Chinese’ donations

During his epic Tuesday presser, MP Jami-Lee Ross carefully stated he didn’t think Zhang Yikun did anything wrong by trying to donate money that Ross alleges was illegally separated into legal-seeming bits.

Putting aside whether Mr Zhang (MNZM, gonged by Labour) himself has any links to the Chinese Communist Party, there is no reason anyone who actually is overly close to the Chinese Government would think it wrong to hand over bulky donations to New Zealand politicians, given the embrace of CCP-linked cash by senior figures on both sides of the House for years.

There has been little informed public debate of the scale of such funding, or what it means for the independence of New Zealand’s foreign and domestic policies.

Only one China expert here has spoken out consistently on this, Professor Anne-Marie Brady, infamously subjected to burglaries alleged to be the work of Chinese state operatives. When other local experts publicly equivocate or fail to comment about Brady’s research into the United Front campaign in New Zealand, the public is led to believe the scale of Chinese government influence here can’t be that bad, or at least that the situation isn’t clear.

This chilling effect is harming Chinese people in New Zealand. Many people cannot differentiate Chinese people from the actions of the CCP (I mean hey, many people can’t tell a Chinese from a Korean), but this is made worse when hardly any authorities on the topic will address the issue openly. Concerns can only erupt as xenophobia against the Chinese and “Asian” population.

It’s tragic that only Western countries with openly xenophobic leadership such as the US and Australia, have found the political capital to address China’s influence campaigns.

New Zealand needs to be the unicorn that can resist CCP influence as a way to uphold the rights of its own Chinese populations to political independence. We deserve better than to be trapped between knee-jerk racists and Xi Jinping Thought. Abandoning us to this fate is racism too.

And we should have about 6 ethnic Chinese MPs if they are going to be proportionally represented.

A poll last May showed how Chinese voters intended to vote (compared to how they voted in 2014:

If an election was held tomorrow, who would you vote for?

  • National 73.5% (down from 74.1%)
  • Labour 15.8% (up from 14%)
  • NZ First 4.7% (up from 1.1%)
  • ACT 3.6% (down from5.7%)
  • Greens 2% (down from 2.4%)
  • Conservative 0% (down from 2.4%)
  • Other 0.5% (down from 1.6%

– NZH Rise in Chinese voter support for New Zealand First, survey finds

Note that that was before the swing in support back to Labour after Jacinda Ardern took over in August. Another poll in September 2017:

  • National 71.1%
  • Labour 21.6%
  • NZ First 2.4%
  • ACT 2.4%

National will be back in Government if Chinese voters had their way

So there support seems reasonably fluid.

Law and order, health care and education were the issues that mattered most to Chinese voters according to the poll.

National List MP Jian Yang is believed to be the Chinese MP who would be the one to most effectively serve the Chinese community in the next three years on 44.8 per cent, followed by Labour’s Raymond Huo on 18.8 per cent.

Jian Yang cops quite a bit of flak because of his past in China, but he is verywell supported by ethnic Chinese voters in New Zealand.

 

Electoral law wrongdoing “doesn’t amount to much” – yet

If there is an end game, it won’t come this week. And if it won’t come this week, the political shocks for National may just keep coming.

Bridges admitted as much. “I think he has been recording me, and potentially many other members of Parliament, for a very long time.”

If Ross doesn’t crash and burn he could drag this out, just out of spite because his political (and employment) future looks very shaky.

Ross said on Tuesday: “The Electoral Act clearly states knowingly filing a false return is a corrupt practice. I know Simon filed a false return because Todd McClay and I spotted that false name in his return in January and suggested it needed to be tidied up.

“Simon Bridges knows exactly what Cathedral Club is. It was a name he used to hide a donation from a close friend of his. He claimed it was a clerical error. I call BS on that.”

The Herald further uncovered evidence showing Bridges knew what the Cathedral Club had been – because he attended dinners with Ross back in 2006. A photograph from one dinner shows Bhatnagar, Bridges and Ross together.

But if the donation was meant to be to the National Party – and not to Bridges personally – then what of it?

Ross says mistake or not, Bridges signed it and would have done so knowing the name would have meant Bhatnagar.

Geddis? Yes but no, says the law professor.

There is a possible argument of a “technical” breach but it would be extremely unlikely to hold water.

The Electoral Commission has an unofficial grace period, he believes, during which those who submit returns are afforded an opportunity to get the information right.

Four women claim harassment by Jami-Lee Ross

On Tuesday Jami-Lee Ross claimed that Simon Bridges had confronted him with claims that four woman had made allegations against him. Ross suggested he was in a similar situation to Brett Kavanaugh.

Paula Bennett was criticised for saying that Ross had acted “inappropriately for a married man” – Paula Bennett stands by claim Ross acted inappropriately for a married man, during tense interview with Jack Tame

National Deputy leader Paula Bennett stands by saying Jami-Lee Ross acted inappropriately for a married man but denies accusing him of sexual harassment.

Yesterday, as part of the extraordinary hour long stand-up in which he levelled a number of allegations at Simon Bridges and the National party, Mr Ross accused Ms Bennett of trying to scare him off with anonymous sexual harassment allegations.

Ms Bennett defended herself today, saying Mr Ross has mischaracterised a meeting they had.

“Well he came out yesterday and he said we’d made claims to him of sexual harassment and he likened himself to (US Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, which I found extraordinary in itself,” Ms Bennett said.

Ms Bennett said she stood by telling media Mr Ross had acted inappropriately for a married MP.

At his media conference yesterday after making a complaint to the police about his allegations of corruption (against Bridges) Ross said:

“Well I’m the one here in front of a police station who’s just spoken to three senior sergeants about my concerns around the Electoral Act being broken, so

“I’ve said that I’m comfortable with all of my conduct, I’m comfortable that I am somebody who is standing up and doing the right thing.

“I know that there’s smears about me at the moment: what I think has always been something in New Zealand politics that we leave personal lives and family out of this.

“I’m comfortable with what I have with my wife – if the way in which we’re about to play politics, when a political party and the leader is under pressure, if they want to start lifting the bedsheets on everyone that works in that building, you guys and MPs, then I think there’ll be a lot of people concerned – even those that are throwing allegations now.”

But four women have indeed made claims, according to Newsroom – Jami-Lee Ross: Four women speak out

Over the past year, Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid has been looking into the background and behaviour of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. She has talked to a number of people who have given detailed accounts, recordings and documents of their close working and personal relationships with the controversial politician.

So this is not just a reaction to this week’s events.

Some felt manipulated and intimidated by the way he goes about his politics and his social interactions. Others felt pressured not to speak out.

Today Newsroom presents, on the condition of anonymity, the stories of four women and the relationships which they now believe saw them variously groomed, used for access to information and power, and abused.

Each saw the MP speak out on Tuesday denying his leaders’ allegations of “harassment”, saying he was raised to respect all women.

Yesterday Ross, who is married with children, told journalists he was happy with how he had conducted his personal life and warned against anyone in politics trying to “lift the bedsheets”.

However, each of the women interviewed below wanted to speak out, now, to set the record straight.

Profile of a narcissist

A woman who moved in the same political circles as Ross says he targeted her for a relationship which evolved into controlling behaviour, “incoherent rages” and “brutal sex”.

The woman, who described herself as the ‘primary supply’ for Ross’s narcissistic tendencies, says she was manipulated during a time of personal vulnerability.

A close friendship developed into an affair after consistent and repeated pressure. She described it as “her biggest mistake”.

“It was very clear to me his political motivation was a lust for power and control.”

She saw her opportunity to get out after noticing him seeking ‘supplies’ in other women.

Playing the long game

Another woman says she “absolutely regrets” having an affair with Ross and now believes he manipulated her for information about key National Party figures.

What started as a work friendship at Parliament became sexual after Ross initiated back-and-forth messaging – often late into the night.

The woman told Newsroom that while the encounters were consensual, she felt Ross had “100 percent groomed her” in order to seek information about National Party members she had access to.

During this time Ross had suggested she sleep with other men in the workplace – including MPs who were married – and made many other inappropriate comments.

“He said things like ‘You’re going to go out tonight and pull’.”

The woman said her reaction to Ross’ claim he respected “all women” was to “laugh out loud”.

Threats and harassment

A National Party member who says she was on the receiving end of Ross’ abuse, says she was “completely floored” by his claim he had never harassed a woman.

“I watched as Jami-Lee Ross looked reporters in the eye and told the nation that he, ‘to the best of his knowledge, had never harassed a woman’.

“He was calm. He was collected. He was every bit the master of deception.”

He went on to say that “he was raised by his grandmother to respect women”.

“Well, during the past two years, I can assure the public that my dealings with Jami-Lee Ross have never left me more harassed and disrespected as a woman in my whole life.”

“This man is a narcissist. He absolutely turns on people when he doesn’t get his own way. He is a master manipulator and a deceitful liar who has no problem looking somebody in the eye and outright lying.”

A pattern of behaviour

A woman who worked in close quarters with Ross says he “nearly destroyed” her.

“Not only was he rude and arrogant, he falsely accused me of things I didn’t do. He really didn’t treat me fairly.”

The woman had a history of many years in Parliament, and says she has never experienced anything like it “before or since”.

Ross continually undermined her and her work.

“He was setting me up and I knew I hadn’t done the things he said I had.”

The stress and anxiety became so bad she had to seek medical help.

“I didn’t even feel like I could enter the building afterwards … he destroyed me as a person.

“It makes me shake, just thinking of him.”

Ross didn’t respond to Newsroom requests for a response.

 

Law on audio and video recordings

This post from June 2017 has had a lot of search hits over the last couple of days in relation to the Jami-Lee Ross recording and threats of releasing more recordings, so worth a re-post:


The Todd Barclay saga, in which the Police decided not to prosecute Barclay for making audio recordings of an employee in his electorate office in Gore (the Police are currently reviewing that decision) has raised the issue of what can and can’t be legally recorded.

Video recordings are legal:

Surveillance video is common in public and in work places.

The Privacy Commission website states that it is “usually unfair to record someone without telling them”.

Can I record someone without telling them?

Whether making an audio or visual recording of someone without telling them will breach the Privacy Act will depend on the circumstances in each case. In particular, it will depend on who is making the recording and why they are making it.

If you are an individual and you are making a recording in relation to you own personal, domestic or household affairs (for instance you’re recording a personal conversation with a friend), there is an exception which says that, generally, the Privacy Act won’t apply to what you do.

However, if you collect, use or disclose personal information in a way which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, this exception will not apply. In other words, someone could make a complaint about you.

If you are making the recording for any reason, other than your own domestic, personal or household affairs, the general rules about collection of personal information will apply. In particular, it’s usually unfair to record someone without telling them.

You should also keep in mind that there may be other laws which apply apart from the Privacy Act – for instance, recording a private conversation that you’re not involved in will often be a crime.

That seems to be what Barclay was investigated for.

On usually unfair to record someone without telling them:

Can an agency make a video or audio recording of me without telling me?

Generally speaking, an agency must tell you if it is collecting your personal information.

However, there are some cases where an agency could collect your information without telling you. For instance, it might not have to tell you it was collecting your information if this would undermine the agency’s purpose for collecting the information in the first place, or if it would endanger the safety of any individual.

If you believe an agency has collected your information without telling you, we suggest that you contact the agency and ask to speak to their privacy officer to see if you can resolve any concerns you have about this directly.

If you’re not able to resolve your concerns, and you believe you have suffered some sort of harm as a result of the collection of your information, you can make a complaint to us.

Or make a complaint to the Police, as Glenys Dickson did in the Barclay case.

Andrew Geddis comments on this in It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup

…it’s not an offence to record yourself in conversation with others, even if they don’t know you are doing so. Nor is it an offence to record other people without their knowledge if they are not engaged in a “private communication”.

But the allegation against Barclay is that he left a dictaphone running when he wasn’t in his office so as to record what Dickson was saying in conversations with constituents.

Also in Police take another look at Barclay secret recording investigation

Geddis said the alleged breach in law on which Barclay was investigated needed to tick three boxes to be proved.

The first was there needed to be a recording with an “interception device”, as the law phrased. In this case, he said, the “device” was alleged to be a dictaphone.

Then it needed to be proved it was a private conversation – in this case, said to be the electorate office where Dickson worked.

The third element was proving that the recording was made intentionally, he said.

“If you could prove all three elements, the offence carries a jailable offence of up to two years.”

Conviction to the two-year point is the trigger which forces MPs to resign from Parliament.

Steven Price at Media Law Journal (in reference to the Bradley Ambrose case):

It’s a crime to intentionally intercept a private communication using an interception device. A private communication is one that is made under circumstances that may reasonably taken to indicate that any party to it desires it remain private, but:

does not include such a communication occurring in circumstances in which any party ought reasonably to expect that the communication may be intercepted by some other person not having the express or implied consent of any party to do so.

Although a battalion of journalists were about a metre away behind a window, let’s assume that Key and Banks couldn’t reasonably expect it to be overheard, and that the circumstances indicate that both desired their conversation to remain private.

In an electorate office if the conversation was in an open office where others were present and could hear it then it may not be private. But if Dickson was the only person present then it could be private.

The only issue, then, is whether the interception was intentional. On the paper’s account, it was inadvertent. In fact, it says, the cameraman tried to retrieve his recorder before the conversation but was stopped by Key’s security folk, and didn’t know that the recording was even happening. Now, I don’t know anything more than has been reported. But I wonder whether there is room for doubt about whether the cameraman genuinely didn’t know that the conversation was being recorded.

If it could be established that he did know, then he has committed an offence.

Bill English has said (in the now public police statement) “I had a conversation with him regarding Glenys Dickson leaving his office and he said to me that he had recordings of her criticising him”.

Barclay has said “I have read and Mr English’s statement to the police and accept it.”

“Recordings” is plural. It could be difficult claiming that more than one recording was accidental.

We will find out next week what the Police decide to do and whether they re-open the case or not.

If Ross has one recording…

Jami-Lee Ross says he has a recording of a conversation with Simon Bridges that proves breaches of electoral law and corruption.

Why he recorded this particular conversation is not clear.

If he recorded one conversation, for whatever reason, it would be fair to assume that he may have recorded other conversations. Possibly many.

One of the big unknowns at this stage is how much Ross will go public with, and how long he will do this for.

Ross has the knowledge and the power to inflict a lot of damage to his now ex-party. If armed with multiple recordings this could get even messier and murkier.

A big day for Simon Bridges

Yesterday was an awful day for Simon Bridges, and for the National Opposition, but I actually think Bridges handled the mess reasonably well, stepping up in difficult circumstances, showing he may have some leadership abilities after all. To me he came across ok at his media conference, speaking better than normal – having to speak off the cuff on important matters, and no lame scripted platitudes nor his normal boilerplate criticism of the government.

There were signs of solid support from other National MPs like Judith Collins and Maggie Barry. I can imagine most if not all National MPs being very pissed off at what Jami-Lee Ross had inflicted on them, their party, and on their prospects in the next election. It was a possible sign of real solidarity rather than feigned fawning.

How Bridges handles today may determine whether he survives as National leader or dives irrecoverably.

The National caucus will meet to consider what to do about Ross over what now looks like his very likely leaking of Bridges’ expenses (the original offence), him almost certainly being the MP who sent messages asking for the inquiry to be called off because of mental health pressures (was that real or was it a desperate attempt to escape exposure), and his very clear deliberate damaging of Bridges and the National party yesterday.

Bridges also referred to other matters:

I also discussed with Jami-Lee other matters concerning his conduct that have come to my attention and suggest, together with the leak, a pattern.

MP Maggie Barry gave more of an indication what this referred to:

What a disloyal disgrace this flawed & isolated individual has become. Having now read the PWC report I personally believe the unpleasant & bullying pattern of behaviour of Jami Lee Ross has no place in an otherwise united National Caucus under our leader Simon Bridges.

I think that Bridges and National caucus have no option but to dump Ross from the caucus, on his behaviour yesterday alone.

How Bridges manages this publicly will show his mettle as a leader. If he is as decisive as he is able to be it may end up enhancing his leadership prospects.

There are limits. Ross cannot be removed as an electorate MP by anyone but himself or the voters at the next election. He could continue to spit the dummy, causing ongoing problems for Bridges, but his credibility is wrecked and if Bridges does ok handling it then he may build his leadership mana.

From what I’ve seen so far I don’t think the stuff yesterday about donations is a big deal. MPs and parties (plural) fiddle their donations, usually within lax rules, and generally the public don’t care much.

Yesterday looked more like an attempted hit job on Bridges. That may not harm him.

Ross also claimed to have a secret recording of Bridges “discussing with me an unlawful activity”. As Judith Collins said, he needs to “put up, or to shut up”. It also raises the question of whether making a secret recording is an unlawful activity itself. It is certainly political career ending action or threat.

Bridges has a chance of coming out of this ok, of actually looking like a leader. There will be difficulties and repercussions for National, but that’s what leaders have to deal with. If Bridges does it well his job may be more secure.

On the other hand if he fluffs it he will be toast.

So it’s a crucial day for Bridges and his leadership, and also for the National Party.

There’s an old saying in politics that goes something like ‘it’s not the original issue that causes the damage, it’s how it is handled’. The same could apply here.

I think voters know leaders will find themselves in difficult situations dealing with difficult people. That’s politics. The key here will be whether Bridges steps up as a leader to sort things out or not.

There were glimpses yesterday that this  could be the un-wimping of Bridges.

Bridges-Ross-National gets messier

Simon Bridges was already struggling with the leak issue. This morning Duncan Garner confronted him with another leak, this time over incorrectly filed donations. Bridges set up a press conference for 1 pm and Jami-Lee Ross pre-empted that with a series of tweets, claiming he had an incriminating secret recording with of Bridges.

In reverse order:

At the media conference Bridges said the leak investigation found that on the balance of probabilities Ross was the leaker (and it looks that way). His official statement:

Statement on National Party Leak Inquiry

Earlier today I received the independent report from PwC on their investigation into the recent leak of the National Party’s travel expenses.

The report states that the evidence identified points to Jami Lee Ross as being the person who sent the anonymous text message.

I am releasing the report today.

John Billington QC has independently assessed the investigation report. It is his opinion that on the balance of probabilities the evidence establishes that Jami-Lee Ross was the person who leaked the expenses and the sender of the text message.

I accept both the investigation report and the opinion of Mr Billington.

Earlier today I visited Jami-Lee Ross with Paula Bennett and explained to him the report and the opinion of Mr Billington and gave him an opportunity to respond. I was not satisfied with his explanation.

I also discussed with Jami-Lee other matters concerning his conduct that have come to my attention and suggest, together with the leak, a pattern.

I informed Jami-Lee that tomorrow the investigation report and Mr Billington’s opinion will be presented at a meeting of the National Party Caucus along with the other matters.

The Caucus will be asked to consider all relevant matters, including his membership of the Caucus.

Finally, you will recall Jami-Lee recently took leave from Parliament given personal health issues.

This action today is completely separate. I did not know what the investigation report would contain when those matters were addressed in recent weeks.

Today I have taken steps to ensure that Jami-Lee has the necessary support around him at this time.

The step that I have taken today is not made lightly. I am balancing the health issues with the considerable public interest in the outcome of the investigation.

The report is here: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1810/PWC_Investigation_Report_into_National_Leak.pdf

Media are reporting there have been other complaints about Ross.

Ross is now clearly done as a politician, no party would trust him after this.

Bridges is also on even shakier ground than before as National leader, Much may depend on how he deals with this tomorrow at and after National’s caucus meeting.

Mallard and Parliamentary Services cleared of Bridges leaked

A lack of evidence connecting Trevor Mallard or Parliamentary Services to the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses makes more of a mountain out of what looks increasingly like a mole in the National Party.

RNZ:  Bridges’ expenses inquiry narrows down possible leakers

Mr Mallard initially called a Parliamentary inquiry into the leak but that was overtaken by political events.

His inquiry ended in August after RNZ revealed the person claiming to be both the leaker and a National MP contacted Mr Bridges and Mr Mallard pleading for it to be stopped for the sake of their mental health.

Subsequently, a National Party inquiry was launched – the findings are expected in the next week.

Mr Mallard arranged a forensic investigation of emails and relevant databases connected to his office and those staff involved in the preparation of the expenses – about 20 staff in total.

KPMG, who carried it out, has concluded there is no evidence that Mr Mallard or any Parliamentary Service finance staff were responsible for the leak.

“On the basis of this independent review there is no evidence that staff in the office of the Speaker, Mr Speaker or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released details of this quarterly expense disclosure report to any unauthorised parties,” the report said.

This doesn’t surprise me – why on earth would Mallard or anyone in Parliamentary Services leak expenses information that was due to be officially released a few days later? It defies logic.

With those possibilities ruled out that leaves National MPs and their staff or someone in the National Party.

Mr Bridges has repeatedly insisted none of his MPs were responsible but now that Mr Mallard has all but cleared his own name, his office staff and the Parliamentary Service staff involved in the preparation of the expenses, the finger of blame is pointing to the National Party.

The National Party’s own investigation is being led by PWC and Simpson Grierson.

It will consider both the original leak to Newshub and the subsequent text sent by someone citing mental health issues.

PWC will conduct the forensic work and lawyers at Simpson Grierson will be responsible for filtering what information is and is not passed onto Mr Bridges and his deputy, Paula Bennett.

So this bizarre issue will keep festering away for Bridges for a while yet.

If the leaker is discovered and revealed to be a National MP that will be tricky for Bridges to deal with.

If Bridges decides not to reveal the outcome of the inquiry it will be tricky for Bridges.

It’s hard to see a good outcome for Bridges. He may have created a mountain of a mess from a mole in his party.

More on ‘Kiwi values’ and NZ First and MPs

One of the things to come out of the NZ First conference last weekend was a call for legislation to ensure immigrants comply with some vague ‘Kiwi values’. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it from Labour, Greens and National, but they weren’t the voter demographic that NZ First would have been targeting.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff):  Whistling on migration yet leaving migration high: what’s Winston playing at?

But here’s the thing about Peters’ perennial race-baiting – given airing most recently following a remit at the party’s 25th birthday over the weekend. He campaigns on the immigration issue every election, but Peters has been in the powerbroker position in government three times now, and each of those governments has seen very high levels of net migration of what his supporters and voters consider “the wrong sort” of people.

There are a few reasons for this. Most populist, anti-migrant politicians believe what they say about “our values” and “preserving our way of life”, and at least attempt to reduce migration when they get into office. Trump has his Muslim-ban; the conservatives have Brexit. But Peters’ statements about migrants appear to be as meaningful as so much else he says, ie nothing. It is useful for him to race-bait by grandstanding about immigration but never useful for him to ever do anything about the issue.

He could probably make the government reduce its intake of non-white migrants, if he was so inclined: we’ve just seen the passage of the waka-jumping bill; it appears that Peters can get Labour and the Greens to do pretty much anything. But so long as his voters and the true-believers in his party never figure out the nature of his MO there’s no incentive for him to act.

If Peters actually forced a significant reduction in immigration it would remove one of his campaign tools – attacking immigrants to attract votes from suckers.

…New Zealand First’s donors in the fishing and forestry sectors rely on high levels of migration to preserve a low-wage workforce working in high risk conditions. Maintaining those conditions is core business for Peters and Shane Jones. The people who pay for the party, who occupy the boardrooms of the fishing industry, are far more exacting than the suckers occupying the TV rooms of the retirement villages, who vote for it.

And talking about values, Andrea Vance (Stuff):  NZ First MP campaigning for ‘Kiwi values’ was ruled unfit to run a pub

The NZ First MP behind a “values” bill which could expel migrants was once judged unfit to run pubs because of his criminal record.

Clayton Mitchell wants new migrants to sign up to a cultural “code of conduct” that includes a commitment not to campaign against the legality of alcohol.

Mitchell is a former publican – but his licence to run a bar was cancelled after a series of incidents. They included a suspended prison sentence for assault – which a judge called an act of serious violence – and a dangerous driving conviction.

Two years later, Mitchell won back his certificate –  supported by a reference from former police officer Brad Shipton, who was subsequently disgraced over a rape conviction.

Those values have been under a lot of criticism lately, with #meto and the controversy over the appointment of Wally Haumata as Deputy Police Commissioner – Haumata has what looks like close links with Peters and another NZ First MP, Fletcher Tabuteau.

A couple of ex-MPs joined the discussion on Twitter:

 

Perhaps we need better vetting of the values of party list MPs before we worry too much about immigrants.

Oh, and talking of MP values, this is what Mitchell said when informed Vance was investigating his past:

The second term MP initially didn’t want to be interviewed by Stuff. “Is this one of your dirty little stories? You better get your facts right, because I tell you what, you better get your facts right or you’ll get yourself in a hell of a lot of trouble,” he said.

Taht sort of threat ois more likely to get Mitchell in trouble, but that’s unlikely with Peters who often attacks and threatens journalists.

Vance hopefully got these facts right.

In a subsequent response to emailed questions, however, he acknowledged:

* A conviction of assault with intent to injure in what a judge described as an “act of serious violence on your part.”
* A conviction for dangerous driving.
* A conviction for a “lock-in” at one of his bars – allowing customers to drink outside of the licensed hours.

They came from Mitchell so they should be accurate.