The Falloon mess continues – he resigns from Parliament

I had a busy day yesterday and only saw the Andrew Falloon story gradually emerge in bits and pieces. Another political mess, and another young political career in tatters. Falloon is reported to have serious mental health issues, it’s not clear whether that contributed to his indiscretion or is as a result, possible a bit of both. His family life is likely under a lot of stress.

And this is another embarrassment for National and a serious blow to Judith Collins trying to present a unified team fighting the election.

The latest on this is Judith Collins saying ‘I can no longer trust his story”.

Reports say that Falloon sent a pornographic picture, not of himself, to a young woman (an 18 year old university student). Without context and detail it’s hard to judge how bad that is.

The  woman is likely also under pressure with all the publicity, even though she hasn’t been named.

Police investigated and decided it didn’t justify prosecuting.

Falloon announced he wouldn’t be standing for re-election in September, but Judith Collins says she can’t trust his story and suggests he should resign from Parliament today.

The statements.

Statement From Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon

“Today I spoke to National Party Leader Judith Collins to inform her I will not be contesting the upcoming election.

“As I noted in my maiden speech three years ago, when I was younger I lost three close friends to suicide. It was an extremely difficult period in my life. Unfortunately, recently, another friend took their own life, which has brought back much unresolved grief.

“I have made a number of mistakes and I apologise to those who have been affected.

“Recent events have compounded that situation and reminded me of the need to maintain my own health and wellbeing. I have again been receiving counselling.

“I want to thank Judith for her support during this time and I look forward to helping a new candidate in the Rangitata electorate in any way I can.

“I apologise for this disruption to my colleagues and to those I serve in Mid and South Canterbury.”

That is a sparse and vague statement.

Statement On Andrew Falloon

Hon Judith Collins

Leader of the National Party

“Andrew Fallon has advised me that he will not be standing for re-election.

“The National Party was advised of an issue relating to Andrew late on Friday afternoon and we have dealt with it this morning.

“Andrew is suffering from significant mental health issues and his privacy, and that of his family, must be respected.”

Information has emerged since then. Collins says she can’t trust his story and suggests he should resign from Parliament today.

RNZ: National MP Andrew Falloon to retire at election

Police investigated National MP Andrew Falloon after receiving a report he sent an unsolicited image to a young woman, but determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

The National Party was notified on late Friday afternoon of an alcohol-related incident involving Falloon in which he behaved in a way “unbecoming of an MP”.

Falloon sat down with National Party leader Judith Collins early this morning and after their conversation, he agreed to step down at the election.

PM Ardern’s office received information

The incident relating to Falloon was first raised by an individual who contacted the office of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Her office passed on the correspondence to the office of Judith Collins, Leader of the Opposition, with that person’s permission.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said all correspondence was treated with confidentiality and all matters to do with Falloon’s resignation were a matter for Judith Collins.

At her weekly post-Cabinet briefing this afternoon, Ardern said her government had no more involvement and it was a matter for the National Party now.

She said she did not know, or seek to know, where the correspondence came from and nor did she seek to know the MP involved.

“The detail I had was reasonably limited,” she said.

NZ Herald – National MP Andrew Falloon quits after sex-text scandal: Message sent to university student

National MP Andrew Falloon’s explanation for the sex-text scandal that ended his political career is understood to be that acquaintances at a party sent the offensive message.

The Herald understands that Falloon’s version of events is that he was at a party several weeks ago and briefly left his phone unattended – and at that time acquaintances used it to send the sexual image in question.

The Herald understands the image was not of himself but was pornographic in nature.

Police confimed last night that an investigation began after receiving a report of an individual sending an “unsolicited image”.

Despite insisting he did not personally send the message, Falloon is believed to have offered his resignation and (Collins) accepted.

Sending harmful content is one of Collins’ zero-tolerance issues.

As Minister of Justice, Collins put up the Harmful Digital Communications legislation which primarily targeted cyber-bullying, and covered the sending of objectionable material.

This is bad news for the apparently unwilling recipient, it is bad news for Falloon, it is bad news for Collins, it is bad news for National, it is bad news for Parliament, and it is another blow to the image of our democracy.

And as usual with political stories their are partisan reactions from holier than thou to stinkier than shit.

It looks like there will be more to go on this story today.


More from RNZ – Judith Collins: National MP Andrew Falloon should resign today

Today Collins told Morning Report she thought Falloon should resign as she could no longer trust his 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.”

Collins said she had not seen the image in question. But she said it was of a pornographic nature and not of a male.

“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.”

Police investigated Falloon after receiving the report, but determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

“The Prime Minister’s office received complaints with detailed information on or before Wednesday last week. My office was advised late on Friday afternoon that there was the complaint and I was advised myself on Saturday,” Collins said.

She said she called Falloon to a meeting at her office in Parliament on Monday, and he offered his resignation.

The image had been described to Collins as “entirely inappropriate and a disgrace”.

Collins said the message was sent “about two or three weeks ago”.

“What I have been advised from the message that was sent to the Prime Minister was that the matter was referred to the New Zealand Police, the young woman and her parents.”

Collins’ first contact with Falloon about the issues was Monday.

“He advised me that he had significant mental health issues… and that has been an issue for some time.”

That was not known to Collins earlier, she said.

“I have no questions in my mind, no doubt that he did send that message. Any suggestion that he didn’t is simply wrong.”

He only knew the young woman in a professional sense, Collins said.

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

She also said it had been brought to her attention by media that there were other indiscretions by Falloon.

It is clear that Collins is not happy with him.


UPDATE:  RNZ report that Falloon has just resigned from Parliament, effectively immediately.

What changed to prompt David Clark’s resignation now?

David Clark offered his resignation as Minister of Health in April, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern because of the Covid-19 pandemic it was necessary to retain him in the role.Clark said yesterday:

You will recall that I offered my resignation during the Level Four lockdown in response to mistakes I made in a personal capacity.

The Prime Minister made it clear at the time – that under normal circumstances – she would have accepted that resignation, but she did not want significant disruption to the health system in the middle of the emergency response.

As recently as last Friday she said Clark would stay on as Minister until the election. Clark had also said he would stay on.

But yesterday Clark resigned. What changed to prompt this?

There have been conflicting claims by Clark and Ardern.

Newshub: PM Jacinda Ardern was pushing David Clark out as Health Minister while publicly saying he’d stay until election

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was pushing David Clark out as Health Minister while publicly saying he would stay on until the September election. 

Dr Clark resigned as Health Minister on Thursday saying he had “made the call that it is best for me to stand aside” because he had become a “distraction”.

“He reached the conclusion his ongoing presence in the health role was causing too much distraction to the Government’s response to COVID-1 – an assessment I agree with,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

My guess is that internal polls indicated that Clark staying on was detrimental to Labour’s re-election chances.

The distractions have been abundant. The lockdown breaches: moving house, the drive to the beach with his family, and that mountain bike ride – prompting Dr Clark’s first resignation offer in April.

“It was bloody obvious to me at that point I felt like a complete dick,” he told The AM Show at the time.

The Prime Minister responded with a threat to Dr Clark’s job.

“Under normal circumstances I would sack the minister,” she said at the time.

With those eight words, the Prime Minister delivered Dr Clark a fate worse than sacking – stripping him of the authority to do his job.

Clark already didn’t seem to be acting authoritatively, and this emphasised that.

After that Clark seemed determined to stay on in the job.

“I am certainly very keen to get on with this,” he told Newshub Nation in June.

The Prime Minister doubled down in Queenstown last Friday when asked if Dr Clark would hold onto his job until the election at least.

“Of course, that is what I’ve continued to say.”

But we now know that around that same time late last week the Prime Minister was edging Dr Clark out.

That would mean that Ardern was deliberately misleading the public.

Newshub asked the Prime Minister if she in any way insinuated or suggested to Dr Clark that she wanted him to offer his resignation.

“No, it was a very open conversation,” she said.

And in that “very open conversation” the Prime Minister gave him the kiss of death – making it clear he was becoming a distraction so close to an election.

Ardern was asked if she had raised with Dr Clark that he was becoming a distraction.

“We had a general discussion around what was needed to put the country first and our COVID response first,” she said.

As for why she didn’t just sack Dr Clark, Ardern said: “My focus has been COVID all the way through – our response to COVID. Those early days, continuity was the most important thing.”

In yesterday’s prepared speech announcing “This morning I have formally tendered my resignation as Minister of Health” Clark defended his performance, praised his performance and electioneered.

The Prime Minister made it clear at the time – that under normal circumstances – she would have accepted that resignation, but she did not want significant disruption to the health system in the middle of the emergency response.

We still have a health emergency, and him resigning is still a significant disruption.

But it has not always been plain sailing and I wish to put on record again that I take full responsibility for the decisions made and taken during my time as Minister of Health.

It’s on the record that he didn’t take full responsibility, and again here he carefully avoids taking direct responsibility – “the decisions made and taken during my time as Minister of Health” implies decisions made by others, there is no personal ownership of his decisions and actions – and just as critical, his lack of decision making and oversight of his ministry.

I’ve always taken the view that the interests of the team must come first, and New Zealand’s COVID response is simply too important, so I have made the call that it is best for me to stand aside.

Now is the right time to hand over the reins, and move forward with new leadership.

The time is now right to hand over to another Minister …

So an already very busy minister and Leader of the House, Chris Hipkins, has taken over as Minister of Health, one of the biggest jobs in Government at any time and especially during a pandemic.

Loading Hipkins with even more responsibilities has been deemed preferable to leaving Clark in the role.

Was Clark that inadequate? Perhaps he was.

But it seems that in saying “the interests of the team must come first” Clark may be referring to the Labour team, not the team of 5 million that Ardern keeps referring to.

It probably makes little difference whether Clark jumped or was dumped, but the explanations from him and Ardern have not been convincing.

Ardern’s ability to make tough decisions regarding poorly performing ministers is also not convincing.

 

David Clark – resignation or sacking?

David Clark has often been shielded from media and public scrutiny for good reasons. He has been widely regarded as out of his depth as Minister of Health, hapless (hopeless may be a bit strong).

But yesterday for some reason he did a number of media interviews – see Claytons responsibility Clark, Bloomfield, bus. Did he decide to repeatedly avoid any responsibility for the problems dealing with Covid, especially isolation and quarantine, and point the blame at his Ministry and the Director General Ashley Bloomfield? At one stage in front of Bloomfield?

Or was he let loose by his minders knowing he was likely to politically self destruct?

Notably fellow MP and Minister Willie Jackson joined in the dumping on Clark, as did Labour Party stalwart Greg Presland.

Perhaps Clark will be dragged back under cover, hoping the train wreck won’t be noticed amongst the rest of the bad news for the Government – it was confirmed yesterday that Light Rail was now officially off the tracks at least until the election, and Greens and NZ First traded blows.

Has the Government has been containing the shambles long enough for Colmar Brunton to finish their latest round of polling? That ended yesterday, results are expected tonight.

Clark seems intent on keeping his job, despite his reputation tattering even more.

A sacking would be a bit of a distraction from the onslaught of bad news, but is Jacinda Ardern up to dumping a long time colleague and friend of herself and Grant Robertson?


Toby Manhire: David Clark is not responsible

A minister of health with a humility bypass creates a problem for Jacinda Ardern – especially when he’s contrasted with Ashley Bloomfield, writes Toby Manhire.

With the cadence of a fingernail sliding down a blackboard, David Clark spent much of yesterday declining to accept responsibility.

No doubt Clark feels on thin ice after admitting to being “an idiot” and getting bounced down to the bottom rank of Cabinet for breaking the lockdown rules. That must have sucked. But accepting some ministerial responsibility doesn’t mean resigning – it is necessarily something that is proportional to whatever it is for which responsibility is being taken. And the principle of ministerial responsibility does not magically exclude “operational matters”. A 2013 Labour Party press release from then shadow leader of the house and now speaker Trevor Mallard welcomed a speaker’s ruling on parliamentary questions with the headline, “Ministers are responsible for operational matters”.

“Operational matters” aren’t a get-out-of-responsibility-free card. “Operational matters” can be substituted in most sentences for “things that happened”.

Usually invoked in relation to police or justice matters, the concept is useful to determine when a politician should stay the hell out of an “operational matter” to avoid inappropriate influence.

Turns out, in fact, Clark has not once – not once – visited an isolation facility in person. Truly he is unblemished by the operation.

For Clark, the writing looked mostly on the wall the day that prime minister said she’d have fired him if they weren’t in the middle of a crisis. It’s unimaginable that he’d get the health portfolio back were Labour re-elected. The more pressing question for the prime minister is whether he’s a liability on the campaign trail.

Where to start on Jami-Lee Ross versus Bridges and National?

There is a huge amount of material around after yesterday’s unprecedented developments, where Ross was dumped from the National caucus but resigned anyway and also resigned from Parliament.

This will trigger a by-election in Botany that Ross says he will contest as an independent, saying it will be a vote on the leadership of Bridges. I’m not sure what voters will think of using democratic processes to advance a personal and party feud.

Ross says he will go to the police today after making accusations of corruption (that he says he played a part in). He seems to be trying to portray himself as some sort of principled whistle blowing hero.

Bridges denies everything and he and other National MPs have attacked back against Ross.

It may take some time to unravel the facts of this unravelling of Ross and National.

As Newsroom says, Jami-Lee Ross leaves more questions than answers

Ross denies being the original leaker of Bridges’ travel expenses. The expenses were leaked to a Newshub journalist in August and the PwC report commissioned by Bridges showed no correspondence between Ross and the journalist. The report said the leaker had not been identified “with certainty”, but the evidence pointed to Ross.

Ross has admitted to being the leaker of the text from the person claiming to be the expense leaker (stay with us). The text calling for the leak inquiry to be called off was leaked to a different journalist, from a different organisation. Ross said he passed the details of the text to the RNZ journalist because he disagreed with Bridges’ decisions regarding the leak saga, including his decision to push forward with an investigation despite the leaker revealing they had mental health issues.

So Ross denies being the original leaker but supported that leaker by leaking texts from them.

Ross is also now facing allegations of harassing at least four women. He was confronted by Bridges, deputy leader Paula Bennett, and National chief of staff Jamie Gray about three weeks ago. They said there were complaints from four women, and they were aware of a “pattern of behaviour”. Bridges said the women did not want to take the matter further.

Last night Bennett told Newsroom it was wrong of Ross to claim she and Bridges had raised allegations of sexual ‘harassment’ with him. “We just put to him some form of inappropriate behaviour for a married man. We had a private conversation with him. It was sensitive, but it is him who has chosen to go public about it being around sexual harassment.”

This is very touchy ground for MPs who generally don’t go public on the private behaviour of other MPs. I’ve seen a range of accusations but will wait for substance and evidence.

Ross denies ever harassing a woman, saying he was raised by his mother and grandmother to respect women. He then strangely referenced the Brett Kavanaugh affair in the US, saying a man who was accused of harassment these days found it almost impossible to clear their name. Ross said these allegations led to him having a “mental breakdown” and caused him to take leave. He said he was better now.

Odd, Ross wasn’t publicly accused of harassment. He outed himself, claiming to be the victim of false accusations of harassment.

Ross said Bridges filed false returns for electoral donations. One of those was a $10,000 donation from an organisation called Cathedral Club, which Ross alleged was a front for Bridges’ friend. Bridges said there was a clerical error regarding two donations totalling $24,000, as they were listed as candidate donations, rather than party donations. The return was amended and resubmitted.

Ross also alleged Bridges had received $100,000 from Chinese businessman Yikun Zhang, which Bridges asked Ross to collect and split up so it could be filed anonymously. The outgoing National MP said he would be taking information regarding the alleged “corruption” to police on Wednesday.

But:

So that may distance Bridges from prosecution (National’s party secretary could be in the firing line), but if substantiated it is likely to leave Bridges in political difficulty, especially as a leader.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said the party could find no proof of Ross’ allegations, which seemed “inconsistent with the donor information we have to date, including information previously supplied by Mr Ross”.

If Ross proves wrongdoing he may be culpable himself.

Bridges’ handling of the leak saga, and his popularity both in and out of the party, have been questioned during the past two months. The leader said the party was united and all 55 MPs had voted to expel Ross. He also said his leadership had not been discussed by caucus but the party was united. He repeatedly referred to Ross as a “lone-wolf MP”, who was “leaking”, “lying” and “lashing out”.

However, this will not be the end of the saga for Bridges, who may now be at the centre of an investigation into alleged electoral fraud. He’s in a stronger position than Ross at this stage but nothing’s a sure thing in politics.

I think it’s too soon to know how this will impact on Bridges’ leadership and on the National Party.

David Farrar is on RNZ right now saying ‘it is bad for both National and Bridges, they only questions are how bad and for how long”.

If the police launch an inquiry that is almost certain to drag things out for some time.

The Botany by-election will drag things out for a couple of months or so if they can fit it in before Christmas.

And Ross seems intent on revealing a lot of information including a recording and communications.

Curran’s inevitable resignation as a Minister

After a woeful effort in Parliament on Wednesday and a no-show on Thursday it looked inevitable that Clare Curran’s position as a minister was no longer tenable, and so it turned out.

The official story is that Curran offered her resignation as a minister to the Prime Minister on Thursday night , and that was accepted by Jacinda Ardern. Whether she needed nudging or pushing or whether it was entirely her decision is unknown.

Ardern’s statement: Clare Curran resigns as Minister

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted Clare Curran’s resignation as a Minister.

“Clare Curran contacted me last night to confirm her wish to resign as a Minister and I accepted that resignation,” said Jacinda Ardern.

“Clare has come to the view the issues currently surrounding her are causing an unacceptable distraction for the Government and immense pressure on her personally.

“I agree with her assessment that resigning is the best course of action for the Government and for her.”

Kris Faafoi will become the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, remaining outside of Cabinet, and Peeni Henare will become the Associate Minister for ACC.

Statement from Clare Curran on her resignation as Minister

“I advised the Prime Minister last night I would resign as a Minister, which she accepted,” said Clare Curran.

“I have come to the conclusion the current heat being placed on me is unlikely to go away. This pressure has become intolerable. For the benefit of the Government, and my personal wellbeing, I believe that resignation is the best course of action.”

Curran gave a brief statement to media yesterday afternoon:

She read a statement:

Today I advised the Prime Minister that I have resigned from all my Ministerial portfolios.

I am, like the rest of you all, a human being, and I can no longer endure the relentless pressure that I’ve been under.

I’ve made some mistakes. They weren’t deliberate undermining of the political system, but my mistakes have been greatly amplified and the pressure on me has become intolerable.

We all bring to our jobs strengths and weaknesses. Our political system should never try to cast people in the same mould.

I was really proud to have served in the coalition government ministry. During my time as a minister I’ve worked hard on issues I’ve really believed in. How to bring more depth, maturity  and sustainability to our media system, particularly publicly funded media, to fundamentally make our democracy stronger.

How to give New Zealanders more confidence and trust in our political system, and the motivation to be active and to understand how they can have their voices heard.

And how to build a productive, inclusive digital society that leaves no one behind.

I’m deeply saddened I won’t be able to do that.

I thank my Prime Minister for the chance she gave me.

I thank all my colleagues and my party for the support, encouragement and solidarity they show every day.

On the question of Gmail use.  I use my Gmail account infrequently for work, and it would have been discoverable, and it hasn’t been used to conceal anything.

And I will continue as the MP for Dunedin South.

She left as soon as she finished, not taking any questions.

So she blames it on “the relentless pressure that I’ve been under”, but she is responsible for much of that pressure.

One apparent discrepancy in her statements:

Ardern’s statement: “Clare Curran contacted me last night to confirm her wish to resign as a Minister and I accepted that resignation”.

Curran’s written statement: “I advised the Prime Minister last night I would resign as a Minister, which she accepted”.

Curran’s spoken statement: “Today I advised the Prime Minister that I have resigned from all my Ministerial portfolios.”

That could be a mistake. It could also be that the spoken statement was written on Thursday (day not night?) and not edited for being given on Friday.

Time will tell whether Curran puts herself forward for Dunedin South in 2020, whether the Labour party selects her, and whether she gets re-elected. It is not a given that she would succeed. Her majorities:

  • 2008: 6,449 (Labour majority  4666)
  • 2011: 4,175 (National majority 1,837)
  • 2014: 3,858 (National majority 2,485)
  • 2017: 8,717 (Labour majority 5,019)

The National candidate from 2011, Jo Hayes, is now a National list MP.

The National candidate from 2014, Hamish Walker, switched to Clutha-Southland in 2017 and won Bill English’s old seat.

ODT:

Tracey Watkins (Stuff):

NZ Herald:

 

Kirton resigning from Labour

Andrew Kirton moved to New Zealand two years ago to run the Labour Party as general Secretary, helped them to an election win and to negotiate a governing deal.

He ran into difficulties in handling of the Labour camp where it was alleged sexual harassment occurred. With the results of an investigation into the camp thought by some to be imminent (of course that could be coincidental), Kirton is leaving Labour.

Newsroom: Labour Party chief resigns

The Labour Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton announced his resignation this afternoon – after the high of an election win last year and the low of allegations of sexual assault and drunkenness at a Labour Youth Camp in February.

But when Newsroom broke news of the allegations from the summer camp near Waihi, Kirton’s handling of the matter was under intense scrutiny. Labour took what it called a “victim-led” approach to the complaints and no outside investigation was sought.

Newsroom revealed Kirton’s plans at lunchtime today and he announced this afternoon he was heading to a new role as government relations executive at Air New Zealand.

Some eyebrows could be raised over the timing of the announcement, coming at a time when political and media eyes are on Ardern’s new baby at Auckland Hospital.

On the investigation:

Police have been investigating and have indicated a charge may yet be laid against the person accused of the late-night assaults on young party supporters, one as young as 16.

Labour commissioned Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman in March to investigate how it handled the affair, its general culture and any other incidents of sexual harassment or abuse within the party. She had three months to report back and her findings were not to be made public but go to key party leaders.

Berryman only recently spoke to some of the five victims of the assaults at the camp.

So it could be a while before the investigation is completed. Kirton could be gone by then.

Twyford’s big little mistake

More trouble for Phil Twyford, self inflicted.

He was one of Labour’s most active and critical MPs in when in opposition. In Government he was given big and relatively many ministerial responsibilities.

He has struggled with the transition from Opposition, and with his new jobs, particularly the very demanding Housing portfolio in which Labour had been very critical, and made some big promises. As National had discovered as the number of houses kept falling behind a rising population, it can be a very slow behemoth to turn around, especially with our restrictive, time consuming and expensive RMA requirements.

Last week Twyford was reprimanded by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for referring to ‘kids at Treasury’ when he disagreed with a housing forecast. Ardern put on a show of telling him off but agreed with the thrust of his criticism. Twyford said “Some of these kids at Treasury are fresh out of university and they’re completely disconnected from reality”.

Interest.co.nz: Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf says he is “disappointed” with the Housing Minister’s comments that his officials are “kids… disconnected from reality”

Now another controversy has flared, with Twyford being  reported by a member of the public for making a cellphone call on plane after the doors had been closed.

This may seem like a trivial offence breaching what seems like a pointless airline rule.

But it is highly embarrassing for Twyford, because as Minister of Transport he had responsibility for Civil Aviation.

Twyford has admitted his mistake. He also ‘offered to resign’ in a statement:

I recognise that I made the call when I shouldn’t have.

This is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly inappropriate for me as Transport Minister. I apologise unreservedly.

I have apologised to the Prime Minister and offered my resignation as Transport Minister.

She has declined my offer but chosen to transfer my responsibility for the Civil Aviation Authority to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

I have referred the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority who will follow whatever processes they deem appropriate,

So he didn’t actually resign, he left it to Ardern to make a show of declining it, and she also appropriately appropriately stripped him of Civil aviation responsibilities. Regardless of the offence reducing his workload seems like a good idea.

This is being compared to Gerry Brownlee’s breach of security at Christchurch airport in 2014 while he was Transport Minister. he was fined $2,000 for that.

It can be argued that Brownlee’s offence was worse, or potentially not as dangerous (if there is any danger from using phones on planes), but that’s largely irrelevant. This is four years later and Twyford is the current Minister and he has earned some flak.

This will probably blow over fairly quickly except for ongoing attempts to niggle away at the Government by opponents – unless Twyford keeps making mistakes and inappropriate comments. It’s time for him to measure up as a minister, or he could find more of his responsibilities slipping away.


Update: This irony is being reported on RNZ, from July 2014: PM too quick off mark – Labour

Labour transport spokesperson Phil Twyford said John Key had been too quick off the mark in deciding not to accept Mr Brownlee’s resignation and should have waited for the outcome of the CAA investigation.

“The Prime Minister did say that he was going to hold National Party ministers to a higher standard of accountability, so I would have hoped that the prime minister would have waited for the facts to be on the table about what regulations Mr Brownlee might have breached.”

Mr Twyford said it was important Mr Brownlee was held to account, and pointed to the prosecution of John Banks when he was Police Minister for using his cellphone during a flight.

“Well I think it’s very important, for the public, that politicians are seen not just to make the laws but to follow them, as well, and that’s a pretty fundamental principle of our democracy.”

 

 

The Coleman resignation

It was relatively easy for Bill English and Steven Joyce to resign from Parliament, they were list MPs who were automatically replaced by the next on the National list.

But if an electorate MP resigns, and they don’t wait until just (a few months) before a general election like John key and David Cunliffe, it is more consequential, as a by-election is required.

Yesterday Jonathan Coleman announced his resignation from Parliament, just six months after the general election. He stood for and won the Northcote electorate, so a by-election will be necessary.

In some ways Coleman’s resignation wasn’t surprising. He has spent most of his time in Parliament in government and as a Minister. Some MPs with similar experience struggle to adapt to being relatively ineffective and powerless in Opposition.

Coleman had also just failed in a leadership bid, his second unsuccessful attempt (he also competed with English to replace Key in 2016).

So he’s packing his bags and leaving Parliament. Obviously this option is open to him, but I think is poor.

Like anyone standing for an electorate Coleman effectively committed to representing people for a three year term. To leave after half a year is bad, for no reason other than (he claims) he was offered a better job.

This is cynical pissing on democracy. And taxpayers have to fork out for the substantial cost of a by-election.

On the plus side Parliament will be better off without a poorly committed politician. Better that Coleman is replaced by someone who is committed to the job and to the responsibilities.

Bill English’s resignation

Bill English managed to keep secret the news of his resignation as National Party leader and from Parliament until just before he have a news conference announcing it this morning.

This isn’t really a surprise to me. English was reportedly considering resigning a couple of years ago but stepped up and stayed on when  John Key resigned. English went on to do a creditable job in the election campaign last year, and possibly also to his credit he didn’t concede enough to win Winston Peters’ support to form a Government.

The timing was initially a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense. If he stepped down too soon after the election the party would have not been in a good situation to consider a new leader – after losing power all National MPs would have benefited from considering their futures.

So English waited until everyone was settled into the first full year of the current term, and then made his announcement.

English has been one of the most influential politicians in new Zealand this century. He is widely applauded for managing the country through very difficult financial times, first taking over as Finance Minister as the Global Financial Crisis hit, and then managing our way through the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Labour will be thankful to have taken over when the country’s books are in such good order.

And Jacinda Ardern seemed to genuinely applaud his achievements, as any good Prime Minsiter would:

Just heard the news that Bill English has decided to stand down. Bill has made a huge contribution through his time in office and to politics generally. I admire those who serve NZ in this place, and Bill did for a long time, and he did it well. My best wishes

So it’s a well earned political retirement for English, while National now has to deal with choosing a new leader, but that’s a different story.

UPDATE: Statement on Bill English

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today paid tribute to outgoing National Party Leader Bill English.

“Bill has worked tirelessly as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Opposition Leader among his many public roles. Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many.

“He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf.

“The impact of public service on a politician’s family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up.  They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability.

“I wish Bill and his family all the best for the future,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Interview: Bill English on his resignation

Green problems continue

A battered Green party seems to have taken another hit with one of their top staff stepping down and another either stepping or being pushed sideways.

Whatever the reason, a month out from the election this has to be disruptive and an indication of ongoing repercussions in the party after a damaging few weeks.

NZH: Top Green Party staffer resigns just weeks out from election

The Green Party has been hit by more turmoil after its political director resigned with just weeks to go until the election.

The resignation of communications specialist Joss Debreceny follows the departure of the party’s chief of staff Deborah Morris-Travers, although she will keep working for the Greens on a special anti-poverty project.

Responding to Herald inquiries, Shaw said he had reluctantly accepted Debreceny’s resignation.

“Joss has given tireless, loyal support and made an important contribution to the Green cause, and I am deeply grateful for that.”

Shaw said Morris-Travers’ move out of the chief-of-staff role was to take up a “special projects” role, including providing policy advice on ending poverty in New Zealand.

“We are keen to utilise Deborah’s expertise on the rights of children, as well as tapping into her past experience as a member of Parliament,” Shaw said.

“Joss and Deborah are superb operators. As these changes are operational issues it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”

One could wonder how involved these two staff members were in the Metiria mission on poverty, and the handling of the PR disaster.

One could also wonder whether they are deserting a sinking ship, or if they have been thrown overboard.