Human Rights Tribunal diss and dismiss McCready’s ponytail case

The Human Rights Tribunal have given Graham McCready a bollocking and dismissed his case against John Key over ponytail pulling.

[1] These proceedings filed on 14 May 2015 arise out of events which occurred at a cafe in Parnell, Auckland involving the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon John Key (Mr Key) and a waitress, Ms Amanda Bailey then employed at the cafe. The allegation is that while at the cafe as a customer, Mr Key on several different occasions pulled Ms Bailey’s hair which was tied in a ponytail.

[2] The Chief District Court Judge on 13 May 2015 rejected papers filed by New Zealand Private Prosecution Service Limited (NZPPSL) in support of an intended private prosecution against Mr Key alleging male assaults female. The rejection of the charging document was based on a failure by NZPPSL to comply with an earlier direction given on 1 May 2015 that it file formal statements in support of the allegations.

[3] These present proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal followed. It is alleged Mr Key breached s 62(2) of the Human Rights Act 1993. The statement of claim describes the plaintiff as the New Zealand Private Prosecution Service Limited but the document is signed by Mr McCready who has at all times been the spokesperson for NZPPSL. Neither Mr McCready nor NZPPSL claims to be the victim of the alleged sexual harassment nor do they claim to have brought the proceedings with the knowledge and consent of Ms Bailey. Indeed the statement of claim specifically acknowledges Ms Bailey has refused to cooperate in the bringing of the claim. The allegations in the statement of claim appear to have been gleaned from media reports.

[59] NZPPSL does not have the stature or credibility of an IDEA Services or of a CPAG. As with the attempted criminal prosecution, it has brought the proceedings for its own purposes, not to vindicate the rights of an otherwise voiceless or disempowered individual or group of individuals. Ms Bailey has given neither her consent nor her cooperation.

[62] The Tribunal’s processes cannot be allowed to be brought into disrepute. In the present case there is, for the reasons given, a distinct element of impropriety, sufficient for the proceedings to be stigmatised as vexatious, not brought in good faith and an abuse of process.

[63] In the result, quite apart from the fact there is no arguable case, these proceedings must be dismissed on the grounds they are vexatious, not brought in good faith and are an abuse of process.


[104] NZPPSL, assisted by Mr McCready as its representative, has brought proceedings before the Tribunal which are entirely misconceived and have no prospect of success. While asserting altruistic motives, they have filed these proceedings without the knowledge, consent or cooperation of the alleged victim. Given the publicity they have assiduously sought at every stage they have undoubtedly added to the hurt and embarrassment she has already suffered. Their apparent indifference to the risk of her being re-victimised by their actions cannot be lightly put to one side.

[105] Having regard to the documents filed by NZPPSL we have little doubt these proceedings, ostensibly wrapped in the language of human rights, have in truth been brought to embarrass the Prime Minister and to promote the interests of NZPPSL and Mr McCready. Along the way they have made baseless allegations against both the Chairperson and the lawyer representing the Prime Minister.

[106] It should therefore come as no surprise the proceedings must be struck out not only because no arguable case under the Human Rights Act can be established, but also because the proceedings are vexatious, not brought in good faith and are an abuse of process.

So that’s another major failure by McCready in trying to deal to Key, with Bailey not wanting anything to do with it. She has already made settlement with her employer.

The Tribunal Headnote: New Zealand Private Prosecution Service Ltd v Key [2015] NZHRRT 48

Download PDF document icon[2015] NZHRRT 48 – NZ Private Prosecution Service Ltd v Key.pdf — PDF document, 157 kB

BSA smacks Hosking’s hand, sort of

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has upheld four complaints against Mike Hosking but did not make any order, meaning this amounts to criticism without consequences.

Stuff: BSA rules against Mike Hosking

In April this year, a waitress said that she took offence to Key repeatedly tugging her ponytail when he came into the cafe she worked at.

Broadcaster Mike Hosking covered the topic at the time on the television programme Seven Sharp.

He said the waitress’ motivations for speaking out were “selfish” and “a puffed up self-involved pile of political bollocks”.

He also said the café owners were the “victims” of the situation.

He said: “To quote the waitress concerned today, ‘I felt New Zealand should know’. What a puffed up, self-involved pile of political bollocks. She had a problem at work. The owners were the people to consult, not a blogger.”

The Authority upheld the complaints that these comments were unfair to the waitress.

the Authority said the nature of this segment meant there was no opportunity for any response or defence to be given.

They also said that while public figures can be subjected to this sort of criticism, the waitress was not a public figure and should not have been scrutinised as such.

“[A] person who is not a public figure should be able to speak up and make assertions whether they are right or wrong without being treated unfairly and in an intimidatory way by a television presenter speaking from the platform of a powerful broadcaster”, the Authority said.

The Authority held publication of the decision was sufficient to mark the breach and did not make any order.

Hosking could do the decent thing and apologise on Seven Sharp tonight.

Exposing dirty politics – and journalists?

No Right Turn has a post about his ongoing attempts to extract details of communications between John Key and Rachel Glucina over the ponytail saga.

This raises important issues about whether politicians’ interactions with journalists should be private or not.

Exposing dirty politics

Back in April it was revealed that Prime Minister John Key had systematically and repeatedly assaulted and sexually harassed a cafe waitress (while his police bodyguards stood around and did nothing). Shortly afterwards, dirty politics operative and sewer-columnist Rachel Glucina ran a smear-job on the victim.

When he was asked under the OIA whether he had had any communications with her about it, Key refused to respond. That refusal was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and so naturally enough the requester took it to the Ombudsman. On Wednesday we learned that the Ombudsman was investigating the refusal. Key response to this has been to stand by his stonewalling, citing a “long-standing view” and a “convention” that his interactions with the media shouldn’t be released. The problem? None of that is in the law.

The OIA specifies a number of conclusive and non-conclusive reasons for withholding official information – and the Prime Minister having a “long-standing view” that he should be above the law isn’t one of them. And the grounds he does cite – “privacy” (his own) and “confidentiality” (offered for his own convenience) – are simply not applicable.

If the system works as it should, Key should be forced to reveal whatever information he holds (subject to legitimate redactions for privacy – things like names and phone numbers, not whether he or his minions talked to a journalist).

As for the supposed consequences, I’m perfectly comfortable with them. As I noted earlier, if Key is so ashamed of his contact with Rachel Glucina that he is blatantly ignoring the law to avoid admitting it, maybe he shouldn’t have contacted her in the first place. And if the threat of exposure deters him from making such contacts in future, then that would a victory for the OIA.

[Disclosure: I’m a party to this complaint, having complained about the refusal of my request for information regarding the existence of information]

I’m not so comfortable with the potential consequences.

Should any communications between any MP and any journalist be obtainable for publication under the Official Information Act?

While the OIA may not specifically address journalist/politician confidentiality other laws do.

The free exchange of communications between politicians and the press is a crucial part of an effectively functioning democracy.

If a blogger could successfully demand that any such communications be made public I think there will be many politicians and journalists very uneasy.

Idiot Savant wants to score a hit against Key here. Terms like “systematically and repeatedly assaulted and sexually harassed” and “dirty politics operative and sewer-columnist” suggest they are not particularly balanced on this issue.

While I have concerns about how Glucina handled the Amanda Bailey story I have greater concerns about the implications of opening up all politician/journalist communications to public scrutiny.

Especially when it appears there is a growing desire to attack and punish journalists and media who are deemed to be politicaly biased by some political activists and Winston Peters and Andrew Little.

I wonder how Peters and Little would like all their comminications with journalists open to public scrutiny?

Note: No Right Turn doesn’t allow comments but this has been reposted at The Standard so there will be comments on it here: NRT: Exposing dirty politics

Amanda Bailey not taking legal action against Key

Amanda Bailey, the target of John Key’s bizarre pony tail pulling, has apparently settled confidentially with her cafe employer and does not intend taking legal action against Key.

I’m sure I saw somewhere recently that Bailey had settled and was leaving it at that, (if I find it I’ll post a link) and it was discussed in Monday’s media conference with Key:

Key said he would not comment on Amanda Bailey’s decision to drop legal action against him regarding “the ponytail incident.”

Graham McCready’s private prosecution is however still proceeding.


McCready’s attempt to have Key prosecuted failed: Court rejects ponytail case

Mr McCready had sought permission to prosecute John Key over his conduct in repeatedly pulling the ponytail of Auckland waitress Amanda Bailey.

But Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue has ruled there is not enough evidence to justify a trial.

Mr McCready said he would take legal advice and decide whether to review or appeal against the judgment.

He said if Ms Bailey were prepared to make a formal statement, then the charging document could be refiled.

But Bailey has refused to cooperate with McCready.

However McCready is still pursuing his crusade through the Human Rights Tribunal: Key wants ponytail-pulling complaint dismissed

Prime Minister John Key’s lawyer has filed for the dismissal of a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal over the ponytail-pulling incident.

Serial private litigant Graham McCready laid the complaint, asserting Mr Key had breached the Human Rights Act.

“Mr Key’s lawyer filed a statement that Mr McCready didn’t have a standing to take this case because he is not an affected party,” a spokesman for the prime minister told NZ Newswire

So the issue is over for Bailey, at least as far as legal action is concerned, but McCready persists.

McCready loses one case, starts another, promises a third

Graeme McCready’s criminal prosecution against John has been rejected by the District Court. He complained about the bar being set to high but he had no evidence. If the police pressed charges with no evidence it would be absurd, and so is McCready’s action.

The Herald reports:

The case against Mr Key got tossed out after the judge criticised the lack of written statements.

The judge had also rejected an application for an oral evidence order, which Mr McCready could then have used to summons Ms Bailey, Mr Key and any witnesses and compel testimony under oath.

Amanda Bailey has refused to have anything to do with his legal action. AN no other alleged witnesses have helped him either.

But he’s continuing his political crusade.

The Hamilton-based litigant filed a case with the Human Rights Tribunal this afternoon seeking $30,000 punitive damages from the John Key over the infamous ponytail-pulling incidents.

He filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Mr Key just hours after a District Court judge tossed out an attempted criminal prosecution over pulling the hair of Parnell waitress Amanda Bailey.

Instead of pursuing the matter through criminal courts, Mr McCready said he had switched to a civil jurisdiction which would be more straight-froward.

“In the Human Rights Tribunal I can directly summons these people,” he said.

So still no evidence, so he seems to want the Tribunal to effectuate his investigation. Ludicrous.

Mr McCready said he could have pursued the case at the same time as the criminal complaint but did not want it to appear as if he was assaulting the case on all fronts.

“I could have but then I would look like a vexatious masked crusader, which I’m not of course. I would look like a serial litigant. I only do one of these a year.”

But he does appear to be assaulting the case on as many fronts as possible.

He said he also intended complaining again to the Independent Police Conduct Authority about Mr Key’s police bodyguards, to whom Ms Bailey complained about the hair-pulling.

He said the officers should have taken action – and that they would have done were he in the cafe pulling someone’s hair.

And if he fails with these next two actions then what? What a year so he doesn’t look like a serial litigant?

Shanna Reeder: Key is a sexual harasser who “should resign immediately”

Shanna Reeder, a Hotel organiser from the Unite Union, has implied that John Key could be a serial sexual harasser and has said “in my view this behaviour is abhorrent and he should resign immediately”.

Five days later it was announced that Reeder would advise and represent Amanda Bailey, the ponytail waitress.

As posted earlier today here is Reeder in a Radio New Zedaland interview:

The Unite Union has announced it will represent Amanda Bailey and support whatever action she decides to take. Union organiser Shanna Reeder is with us.

What does Amanda Bailey want to do?

Reeder : Ah well that’s a really good question. Um everybody’s been asking that question today. Um unfortunately we’re unable to give you a clear answer on that because we haven’t decided at this stage.

You haven’t decided or she hasn’t?

Reeder : Um well obviously we’re advising Amanda on what the best course of action will be, and Amanda hasn’t decided at this stage.

What are you advising her to do?

Reeder : Um well there’s actually I means there’s there’s a whole bunch of different um options that she could take. A lot of experts have been out in the media um recommending you know what she could do at this point, um so basically we’re just trying to help her through all of those options, um and help her find…

As it turns out Reeder was one of those ‘experts’ out in the media making recommendations.

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

That was Wednesday 29 April. She sounds a bit like a neutral spokesperson and an unbiased adviser.

But before she took up this role she posted about the Bailey/John Key issue at The Daily Blog (April 24). This doesn’t sound much like an employment/union organiser point of view.

GUEST BLOG: Shanna Reeder – The repercussions of having a PM who is a sexual harasser

Today our Prime Minister John Key admitted to repeatedly sexually harassing a waitress in a cafe he frequents.

She told her story anonymously via The Daily Blog

Clearly this presents many questions which may or may not be answered in the coming days. In my view this behaviour is abhorrent and he should resign immediately.

We also know that men with wealth and power usually consider themselves teflon-coated and he will probably spend the next two weeks taking the advice of those who were in charge of Roger Sutton’s damage control.

That’s a bit ironic when she is now giving advice to Bailey.

Although Key has admitted his behaviour, he is now trying to minimise, minimise, minimise his conduct just as all abusers do. It was just a harmless bit of fun he will say. He’ll add that he didn’t realise she didn’t like it but he is very sorry.

However he did know his behaviour offended her because she made that clear to him in a number of different ways. As she wrote: “I posted on the National Party and the John Key Facebook pages a message along the lines of “Stop pulling my hair – I don’t like it!” “I told his security that I was sick of having my hair pulled and one day I’ll snap and I’ll punch him in the face.”

When he continued his behaviour he simply followed the pattern of all abusive bullies in ignoring the protests, continuing the behaviour and pretending it was OK. Disturbingly he even tried to bring his wife into his “game”.

It is my hope the people of New Zealand will not stand for this. But I also know that Rape Culture and misogyny is denied and protected in our society from the average kiwi, all the way to the top. If only there was no name suppression.

That’s laying it on the thicker end of the scale of severity.

What no one has realised or commented on yet is that this young lady was an employee, being harassed at work. She had a right to be safe at work. Her employer had a responsibility to protect her.

They failed in that responsibility. “I exclaimed “Really?!!” to my manager beside me, and shot him a look of utter disbelief and frustration.”

This young lady could quite rightly take a case against her employer now and potentially win thousands of dollars.

She has already made this judgement. It would be interesting to know when she first started advising Bailey.

Sexual Harassment in the workplace happens daily in this country. Employers ignore it; they brush it off as a bit of fun, a misunderstanding. Only in very rare cases, usually involving a lawyer or union advocate are they complained about, followed up on, and resolved.

Who would come forward to offer help on that?

Unfortunately resolution usually involved a confidential settlement which cannot be talked about so these harassers stay on in the workplace, or go elsewhere and are free to repeat their behaviour to un-suspecting new colleagues, extended family, or even the waitress at the local cafe.

She’s implied that Key could be a serial sexual harasser.

Everyday our union works tirelessly to battle against bad employers who break the law, abuse, exploit and harass our workers, yet John Key and his National Government go out of their way to make it easier for employers to behave badly and harder for us to protect their workers.

So it’s political.

I have hope that we can beat rape culture; I have hope that sexual harassment and assault will no longer be a common experience for workers.

But it’s not going to happen whilst the New Zealand public allow a known sexual harasser to continue as our Prime Minister.

It’s clear what outcome she wanted before it was announced she would advise and represent Bailey.

Bailey will probably have read Reeder’s post at The Daily Blog. It was the day after the second of her posts. Four days later Unite Union put out this press release:

Unite to represent Amanda Bailey

Unite Union has agreed to represent Amanda Bailey, the waitress at the centre of the repeated harassment involving the Prime Minister.

Amanda Bailey has sought support from Unite after being named as the author of an anonymous story for the Daily Blog last week describing how the Prime Minister had repeatedly pulled her ponytail over a period of months.

Unite will be advising Amanda on employment issues and assisting to resolve concerns about how her identity was revealed by the New Zealand Herald.

And when interviewed later that day:

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

Perhaps it is completely up to Bailey, but if she decides to take any employment or legal action it sounds like she will have an adviser and representative who had already made up her mind what should happen and what the outcome should be.

Note that the Unite Union is a sponsor of The Daily Blog:



In the public interest I think it’s worth knowing when Bailey and Reeder first discussed this issue.

Before Reeder’s post? Before Bailey’s first post?

Bailey, Unite and Labour

I don’t have a problem with the ponytail waitress Amanda Bailey telling her story. John Key had acted poorly over a period of time, and Bailey’s annoyance and frustration seems to have been ignored. Normally a waitress in this situation would have few options for redress, but Key put himself in a vulnerable position and Bailey used that to make a valid point.

So I think it’s fine for her to have spoken up.

But the way the story has been played out raises some questions.

Bailey chose to put her story out via Martyn Bradbury and The Daily Blog. That guaranteed that her story would be seen by some as political and highly partisan. A more neutral medium would have avoided much of the political accusations, but Bailey went hard left.

Now Bailey is working through her options with the Unite Union. Was she a member of Unite? Or have the decided to represent her as a non-member?

Radio New Zealand interviewed the Unite Union organiser who is representing Bailey:

The Unite Union has announced it will represent Amanda Bailey and support whatever action she decides to take. Union organiser Shanna Reeder is with us.

What does Amanda Bailey want to do?

Reeder : Ah well that’s a really good question. Um everybody’s been asking that question today. Um unfortunately we’re unable to give you a clear answer on that because we haven’t decided at this stage.

You haven’t decided or she hasn’t?

Reeder : Um well obviously we’re advising Amanda on what the best course of action will be, and Amanda hasn’t decided at this stage.

What are you advising her to do?

Reeder : Um well there’s actually I means there’s there’s a whole bunch of different um options that she could take. A lot of experts have been out in the media um recommending you know what she could do at this point, um so basically we’re just trying to help her through all of those options, um and help her find…

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

What has she told you about ah issues we’ve just heard about what Graeme McCready just said about her feeling humiliated, ah being um comments being made to her by other customers, what’s she talking about the reaction she’s received from the public here?

Reeder : Ah she hasn’t commented on that to me so I’m unable to comment on that to you.

And you are not saying, are you saying to her she should support for example the action taken by Graeme McCready?

Reeder : That’s not something that we have discussed, I’m just unable to comment on it I’m sorry.

When do you think she’ll know what her course of action should be?

Reeder : Um I think she’s getting there, I think probably by the end of the week she’ll have a bit of an outline of what she wants to do.

Shanna Olsen-Reeder is listed as Unite’s ‘Hotels and Call Centres’ organiser in Auckland. While they have several fast food restaurant’ organisers they don’t have any designated as cafe or general restaurant organisers.

NZ Herald reported on progress on Saturday:

On Wednesday Mr McCready filed paperwork at the Auckland District Court on a proposed assault charge against Mr Key.

Mr McCready alleges a Crimes Act charge of male assaults female, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

To reach a trial Mr McCready would have to present sufficient evidence of the proposed charge and has asked for an oral evidence hearing with 11 witnesses, including Bronagh Key, to do so.

Bailey has wisely chosen to avoid dealing with McCready.

Today, he said Ms Bailey, through the Unite Union, had refused to speak with him and did not want anything to do with his private prosecution.

However, Ms Bailey was considering her own legal action and would be represented by the Unite Union if she choose to proceed.

The union did not say who any complaint or legal action would target.

Being a union I would presume Unite would be looking at employment matters with Bailey. But maybe not. This comment at The Standard describes Unite as political activists, not just worker representatives.

Unite union has been well represented at virtually every protest from TPPA, selling State assets, Oil drilling protests, opposing charter schools, defending Glen Innes State housing, etc., supporting Gaza/Palestine. In fact Unite’s Joe Carolan often speaks to the crowd at these protest rallies and is commonly on a megaphone during the marches. The Unite people have been very visible on social justice issues on all issues of social justice.

Carolan and Mike Treen (Unite’s National Director Day to Day Operations) are well known socialist activists.

Does “all issues of social justice” mean they could get involved in legal matters outside the employment arena that could potentially take down the current Government?

If they do this would ensure it remains a highly charged political issue. The Unite Union have had close links with the MANA Party/Movement.

And also with Andrew Little and the Labour Party. Matt McCarten has been heavily involved with Unite, leading the union from 2005 to 2014, and since then he has been and still is heavily involved with Labour as Little’s chief of staff.

Little and Labour have wisely kept a distance from the Bailey versus Key issue. But if Unite help Bailey take legal action outside of employment matters then dots will no doubt be connected.

Bailey will no doubt think through her options carefully. She justifiably felt aggrieved by Key’s behaviour. She will have seen the political reaction after publicising her grievance through a left wing political activist. She has been burned by some  apparently appalling behaviour by Rachel Glucina and NZ Herald.

If Unite are advising her well they will have pointed out not just what courses of action that are open to her but also the potential political implications of any action. Unite have a reputation of not just being a union representing workers on employment matters.

Unite may be able to keep Bailey’s issues separate from partisan politics, but that won’t be easy given how it has already been discussed in social media.

Key: prosecution likely, by-election possible

At Kiwiblog Peterwn has posted his view on the likelihood of a prosecution of John Key – very likely – and of a subsequent by-election in Key’s Helensville electorate – start preparing.

  1. A private prosecution appears very likely, if not from Mr McCready, then from the ‘victim’s’ supporters (eg Unite Union’s lawyer).
  2. There are three possible charges a. assault (6 months), b. male assault female (2 years), c. sexual assault (7 years).
  3. If a MP is convicted of b. or c. his seat is vacated and his seat is filled at a by-election or the party’s next person on the list as appropriate.
  4. Mr McCready has gone for b. Any other private prosecution is likely to go for b. as this has the potential to cause serious political damage.
  5. On past performance a District Court Judge would allow a private prosecution even if the ‘victim’ has not been consulted over this.
  6. Mr McCready cannot be called a vexatious litigant he has succeeded with one private prosecution and has been successful with the other as Crown Law took it over. Even if his attempt fails because he is having to do it via a shell company, a private prosecution by Unite appears likely.
  7. Historically an accused’s spouse could not be called upon to give evidence against the accused – the law has been changed to allow for this. The days of ‘feme covet’ are well and truly over.
  8. With what is currently known I cannot see why any prosecution for b. should not succeed.
  9. An accused in this case an accused has two options – try to get the charge downgraded from b. to a., or if proved try and get a discharge without conviction with respect to b. (I think the chances of this would be good based on other ‘discharge’ cases but don’t count on it). Diversion would be a possibility for a., but I am not so sure about b.
  10. So in conclusion, National would be well advised to start preparing for a Helensville byelection now. Both Winston Peters and Judith Collins will be licking their chops in anticipation.

Peterwn often posts comments that indicate he has a good working knowledge of law.

With a few exceptions the general feeling seems to be that Key’s alleged offending is at the lower level of severity, but as long as the maximum sentence available is two years or more then any conviction would force a resignation from Parliament.

This potential outcome disproportionate to the crime may seem tough but them’s the rules. It may increase the possibility of a discharge without conviction but that would cause a political uproar in some quarters.

Assault can cover a wide range of severity. I think simply touching someone could potentially be ruled assault – including touching someone’s hair apparently.

Annette King versus ‘the Prime Minister’

Annette King targeted John Key’s hair pulling in Question Time. Bill English responded on behalf of the Prime Minister (who is still in the Middle East).

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Jo Muir’s on-the-fly summary at Beehive Live:

English is responding on behalf of John Key and says yes, based on his observation, he agrees.

King is asking whether Key’s behaviour was appropriate in terms of the hair pulling incident.

English says the PM apologised and long before it was reported in the media.

King has just mentioned Key’s comments of “horsing around” and someone on opposition benches is neighing like a horse.

That’s unlikely to be someone who has been criticising Key for childish behaviour.

English is defending the PM saying that his “inappropriate” behaviour is particularly disappointing considering it’s unusual for him to act like that.

Winston Peters is asking how Key explains the numerous photos of him stroking the hair of young girls and what psychological behaviour that is?

English isn’t impressed and is dismissing the question.

Peters is asking, putting the Auckland cafe incident aside, has Key apologised for all the other times he’s stroked hair inappropriately.

English says if anyone felt he had behaved inappropriately they have means to complain.


[Sitting date: 28 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes. It was an observation based on watching the third term of the previous Labour Government.

Hon Annette King : Was pulling the hair of a woman worker in a cafe arrogant, veering off into a space where he had not been before, or just totally inappropriate behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, it was totally inappropriate behaviour, for which he apologised to the young woman concerned and, I might say, well before public attention was drawn to the matter.

Hon Annette King : Does he think that in modern New Zealand it is OK to describe repeated and unwelcome pulling of a young woman’s hair as banter, horseplay, joking around; if not, why has he attempted to minimise his weird behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The Prime Minister has not attempted to minimise the behaviour; he has acknowledged the inappropriate nature of that behaviour and dealt with the issue when it was drawn to his attention.

Hon Annette King : Was the National Party warned of his hair-pulling behaviour before his actions became public; if so, when?

Mr SPEAKER : In as far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Of course the Prime Minister had an indication about the behaviour, because the young woman raised it with him and he apologised to her. I might say that the Prime Minister has, through intensive interaction with the public over a long period as leader of the National Party and as the Prime Minister, observed almost always the highest standards of appropriate behaviour.

Hon Annette King : Was there any communication between his office or his staff and Rachel Glucina or the cafe owners following the breaking of this story?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I have not had the opportunity to establish whether or not that is the case, so I simply cannot answer that question.

Hon Annette King : Does he stand by his statement that he “needs to be better at reading the tea leaves” when making decisions about how he will behave in public ; if so, how often does he use tea leaves for advice?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, the Prime Minister does stand by that statement. I might say that part of the Prime Minister’s disappointment at these events—

Grant Robertson : He did it!

Hon BILL ENGLISH : —and the inappropriateness of his behaviour is that in almost every other respect his interaction with New Zealanders is positive.

Hon Annette King : What is the difference between his behaviour and that of Aaron Gilmore’s?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : They are different circumstances and have both been dealt with appropriately.

Hon Annette King : I seek leave to table a Facebook post on the National Party’s website—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I do not need any further assistance. It is available to all members if they want to look for it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the numerous Parnell cafe incidents, how does the Acting Prime Minister explain the countless photographs of Mr Key stroking young girls’ hair, and what psychological condition is that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I reject all the imputations of that question. The Prime Minister has a track record that I know Opposition parties resent, and that is of very positive interaction with the whole range of the New Zealand community. In this case he has acknowledged the inappropriateness of his behaviour and dealt with it well before it came to public attention because, in his view, if the young woman felt that way about the behaviour, then it clearly was not appropriate and he had to deal with it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the Parnell cafe case, what about the numerous other cases where he has not apologised at all? How does he explain that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Almost without exception the interactions the Prime Minister has with the New Zealand public are not the subject of complaints. In fact, more than any other Prime Minister, he is open to those interactions and they are positive. If anyone felt that he had acted inappropriately, they are able to raise that issue and, I think, as indicated by this incident, the Prime Minister will take responsibility for his behaviour and apologise accordingly.

Hon Annette King : Has the Deputy Prime Minister ever advised him that he undertakes such behaviour in public?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Very generally, the Prime Minister has been able to conduct a very positive relationship with the broader public without the benefit of advice from the Deputy Prime Minister.

In praising Martyn Bradbury

Greg Presland has joined the list of bloggers praising Martyn’ Bradbury’s handling of the Key/waitress/hair story.

Firstly in relation to the story I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it.  Unlike Cameron Slater and his attempts to bring down Len Brown with the Bevan Chuang story Bradbury did some important things.  He let the story be the story and did not inject himself into the story at all.  He let the waitress tell her own story in her own words.  And unlike Slater whose grandiose yet ridiculous plan to have Len Brown removed from office and John Palino somehow installed as mayor Bomber had no intention of achieving any particular goal.  He just facilitated the telling of a very creepy story.

He also quotes Danyl Mclachlan of Dim-Post:

[Bomber] simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.

I have also said that Bradbury deserves some praise for how he presented the initial post that broke the story.

But Presland and Mclachlan take a very narrow view, focussing on the first post only. Bradbury has gone on to try and link it all with Dirty Politics – his next post on it headlines this:

UPDATE: The Prime Minister and the Waitress Part 2 – Dirty Politics?

This post, about the horrendous Herald coverage of the issue – opened with a photo of David Farrar with Rachel Glucina with this caption:

Rachel Glucina and Government pollster and right wing political blogger, David Farrar

Glucina was at the centre of that controversy. I haven’t seen anyone – including Bradbury, Presland nor Mclachlan – provide any evidence that Farrar (or Cameron Slater or the Government) had anything to do with this issue.

But Presland and Mclachlan compared Bradbury extensively with Cameron Slater.

In pushing Dirty Politics links they are all playing dirty, while praising Bradbury for playing it clean. Sheesh.

I don’t think it’s deliberately hypocritical. Most likely they are blind to their double standard.

And before Greg accuses me of suggesting a conspiracy again, this is probably not a co-ordinated or planned approach.

Left wing bloggers seem so obsessed with ‘Dirty Politics’ and the narrow definition they try to apply to the term they are blind to their own mode of operation.

To keep Felix happy I won’t say they’re playing ‘Dirty Politics’ themselves (I understand what you want that term to mean Felix) so I will describe it as playing dirty to promote a political attack.

As Presland did in his post after praising Bradbury.

Rachel Glucina’s attempt at turning the story around by suggesting there was a political angle in the complaint failed miserably and only succeeded in providing an institutional target and showing that Dirty Politics is alive although not so well.

If Felix was consistent he would point out that this doesn’t fit his version of Dirty Politics.

The right had no where to go on this.  Every time one of their nodding heads in the media tried to turn the story around there was blow back.  And as the story took off and international media ran with it you could sense John Key’s credibility ebb.  Crosby Textor will have their work cut out to repair this fiasco.

I think Greg pushes the CT conspiracy quite often. And he brought Farrar into the post:

The response of the right wing bloggers has been interesting.  David Farrar obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it and his early post inappropriate if accurate was as realistically as positive as he could go.

So Farrar “obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it” but Presland said “I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” – that’s in relation to the story which was Bradbury’s first post but that’s disingenuous considering Bradbury’s ‘Dirty Politics’ follow-up.

Cameron Slater  is obviously no longer running pro Key lines and is preparing to support his mate Judith Collins in a leadership battle that when it occurs will be bloody and divisive and will leave National in far worse shape.  Let’s be real here.  There is no other leader of the quality of John Key in National.  The possibility of a leader emerging from the ranks of Collins, Joyce, Bennett, Adams or Bridges is one that fills me with confidence that the the next Government will be a progressive one.  Key is their only chance.  And he has been significantly damaged.

Slater’s lack of complicity (despite Presland associating him with it) is turned into a lame leadership hit.

Slater’s line on the story, that the left had stuffed up the chance of a political hatchet job spoke volumes about his world view.  He could not believe obviously (donotlink link) that a left wing blog could publish a story with no intent other than making sure that the story was told.  Subsequent posts suggesting that the waitress should toughen up just reveal a shallowness of human understanding that has always been apparent.

So “subsequent posts” at Whale Oil are relevant but Presland tries to judge Bradbury on one post in isolation “with no intent other than making sure that the story was told”.

If Presland wishes to “praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” then he is in effect praising Bradbury’s attempts to widen the issue in to another example of ‘Dirty Politics’ – which Presland also does himself. He commented here yesterday:

Basically I thought Bomber did really well, way better than Slater in his attempts to achieve similar things.

Presland has been an integral part of an attempt to tie the Herald, Slater and Farrar into the hair story as an example of ‘Dirty Politics’.

He speaks on behalf of all at The Standard:

The rest of the posts were spontaneous. We do not sit down and coordinate and plot posts as part of some conspiracy. Well intentioned individuals post about aspects that they think are important and interesting.

A number of bloggers at Dim-Post and The Daily Blog may have also been spontaneous and un-coordinated.

But they all seem to be singing the same tune – Bradbury impeccable, Key/Herald/Slater/Farrar/right dirty.

If it’s all spontaneous (and it may well be) does that just indicate “well intentioned individuals” are already thoroughly indoctrinated in the ‘Dirty Politics’ campaign?

In praising Martyn Bradbury for one isolated play they have ignored the bigger game and seem oblivious to theirn involvement in the whole dirty sport of politics.