Government appointed Speakers are always contentious, but Mallard…

…is the one currently in the gun for being tough on National MPs, and particularly struggling to tolerate Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges. And National are getting more vocal (reckless) in criticising Mallard’s protection on Government MPs, particularly Jacinda Ardern.

Bridges and Gerry Brownlee were turfed out of Parliament by Mallard yesterday – see Bridges, Brownlee ordered out of Parliament – which shows that the intolerance and antagonism is unlikely to diminish.

Why would Ardern need paternalistic protection of the Speaker? From what I’ve seen she is capable of standing up for herself quite adequately in Parliament.

Audrey Young (NZH): Bridges punishment was fair but Mallard’s intolerance is an ongoing problem

Parliament’s Speaker, Trevor Mallard, has an inbuilt bias against National Party leader Simon Bridges and a soft spot for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

That much has been clear since Mallard took the chair just over a year ago. Bridges gets under his skin.

But what is also clear is that Bridges crossed a line in the House today and cannot credibly object to having been thrown out by Mallard.

No one is complaining that Bridges and Brownlee got turfed out yesterday – least of all Bridges. He has used the additional publicity to voice his accusation that Mallard protects Ardern.

It was during questions to the Government about the Karel Sroubek case that Bridges accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of “ducking and diving”.

Such a description is not unusual in the cut and thrust of politics, and barely raised anybody’s eyebrow – except Mallard’s.

Mallard stood up to object – we don’t know whether he was about to make Bridges withdraw and apologise and put him on a final warning.

But before he could mete out punishment, Bridges said: “Here comes the protection.”

That was the offending phrase and that got him ejected from the House – and for that there can be no objection.

It crossed a line. It can be easily argued that Mallard was too quick to leap to the defence of Ardern after she was accused of ducking and diving – not that she requires any help from Mallard in the chamber.

Mallard crossed a line the day before.

Mallard’s intolerance was on display yesterday when he referred to Bridges’ questions as “smart-arse” which is also an appalling lapse by a Speaker to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mallard did apologise for that remark.

And during an exchange with Brownlee, he basically agreed that tighter standards apply to Opposition questions than to answers by Government Ministers.

He can’t stand a bit of cross-house banter and he seemed personally offended when MPs interject in the second person.

The sadness of Mallard’s speakership is that he had hopes of inserting himself less into Question Time than other Speakers, but he is doing the exact opposite.

On Newshub this week, Winston Peters tried to suggest that Mallard was not behaving like a Labour MP, but that is not true. It is impossible to take the politics out of the politician.

It would be difficult for Mallard – a Labour Party member since 1972, a Labour MP since 1984 (with a one term break when he lost his seat in 1990), a member of the Labour-led Cabinet from 1999 to 2008, and a parliamentary colleague t of Ardern’s in Pa – to  become totally impartial.

On a good day, when he is in a good mood and does not expect perfection, when he is in a mood to help the Opposition hold the Government to account, Mallard is the best of Speakers.

His stewardship of the House as the Opposition sought answers from the Government over its decision to exempt Te Arai Development from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill was exemplary.

The stakes were high. He bent over backwards to be fair to all. It was the House at its best because Mallard was at his best.

Unfortunately, the good days don’t come often enough.

The last couple of days were not good for Mallard.

Today may be different – neither Ardern nor Bridges will be in Parliament today. But Brownlee may be.

 

Bridges, Brownlee ordered out of Parliament

Simon Bridges and Gerry Brownlee were turfed out of Parliament today by the Speaker, Trevor Mallard, in another sign of an ongoing battle between them.

Bridges was not getting the answers he wanted from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and when Mallard rose Bridges said “Oh, here comes the protection.”

An overreaction from Mallard?

An attention seeking stunt?

Whatever, it is unlikely to change much.

This is how it panned out.

Question No. 2—Prime Minister

2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why did she assert last week that Mr Sroubek’s estranged wife, quote, “changed her tune”, and that she is, quote, “the National Party’s informant”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I assume the member is referring to responses made on my behalf. To answer the question, the Deputy Prime Minister, at the time, was making reference to information that I believe at that time was already raised in the public domain. Certainly, the first I knew of that information was when it was raised with me by the media.

Hon Simon Bridges: What does she say to the claim by Mr Sroubek’s estranged wife and family that her Government’s statements have been beyond appalling, and have caused immense stress and feelings of utter hopelessness in the estranged wife?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the first I knew of some of those issues was when they were raised with me by the media, and I have seen some reports since then. My expectation would be that if we had information brought to us that raised concerns around her safety, we act appropriately on that. When that issue was first raised with me, I told the Minister directly about that issue, and I understood he followed that up. My understanding is that is what has happened in each case that concerns have been raised with us directly.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can we be clear that she’s rightly distancing herself from statements made on her behalf that this woman was the National Party’s informant?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: What I’m pointing out is that—

Hon Simon Bridges: Oh, so you’re not?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —my first knowledge of some of these issues was when they were already brought into the public domain, and that whenever we’ve had issues—

Hon Simon Bridges: What’s that got to do with anything? Do you stand by the statements or not?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —of concern raised, we acted appropriately—

SPEAKER: I don’t know how many times I have to tell the Leader of the Opposition: when he interjects, he is not to do it in the second person.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she think that tarnishing a victim’s reputation by inferring they were politically motivated, and pushing her to feel utterly hopeless, aligns with her kinder, more compassionate style of Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The first time I heard any such connection was actually in a media report—I think, my recollection is, on Radio New Zealand. That was the first time I heard that statement. I’d have to say, if there’s genuine concern about protecting that individual’s privacy, we would not be having this question in the House right now.

Hon Simon Bridges: How did Immigration New Zealand get the home address of Mr Sroubek’s estranged wife, given there was a police safety plan in place—facts known only to the police?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I obviously have absolutely no involvement with Immigration New Zealand’s following up on issues or concerns or, indeed, interviews or questioning. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to have that knowledge or that level of involvement.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she agree with her police Minister on this, who did have a view, that, quote, “There are some people who just need to be kept safe, and there is no way that anyone apart from police should know where that is.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think there’s appropriateness to the statements the police Minister was making. In fact, my understanding is that when he’s been informed of issues, he’s dealt with that entirely appropriately.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is it OK that two police detectives and Immigration New Zealand turned up at the estranged wife’s home address, unannounced, to obtain a changed statement from her, leaving her feeling “extremely vulnerable, exposed, and under threat.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Obviously, I wouldn’t have knowledge of some of the level of detail that the Leader of the Opposition is raising. My advice would be that if these are issues that have indeed occurred, it would be appropriate, I think, for the Minister of Police to put them to the police and have them follow up independently of him. It is an operational issue; it is appropriate for them to respond. There’s also an independent police complaints process if there has been anything that’s occurred that has been questionable or should be followed up on.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will she answer whether it’s OK that two police detectives and Immigration New Zealand turned up at the estranged woman’s home address, unannounced, to obtain a changed statement from her, leaving her feeling “extremely vulnerable, exposed, and under threat.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said, I simply cannot know exactly what’s happened in this scenario. What I am laying out are all of the appropriate channels that are available for the member to ensure that this is looked into appropriately, because that is not something I will have detail on. I also want to point out that if this individual is feeling vulnerable, they should be supported, and canvassing these issues openly, here in this House, I don’t think is one way of doing that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has the system let down the estranged wife of Sroubek?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would have to be intimately involved in every level of detail in order to know that. What we do need to make sure is that if there are complaints there that need to be made, they are followed up on appropriately, and I’m sure Ministers will ensure that that is the case if the member brings those complaints directly to them.

Hon Simon Bridges: When will the Opposition get the representations made to the Government on Sroubek’s behalf?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Obviously, this is a case that is still potentially subject to legal challenge. The Minister of Immigration has put out the information that is available at this point, but at the same time there is a process still to be gone through.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she know personally any of the people who have made these representations?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I am not privy to the representations in the case that have been made, and nor would it be appropriate for me to be privy to the representations or the process that immigration independently conducts in these situations.

Hon Simon Bridges: When will career criminal Karel Sroubek leave this country?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: When this process is complete. Obviously, the Minister of Immigration has made public his decision.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she anticipate it will now take years, given the court case that will ensue?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I am not going to answer a hypothetical on this case. The Minister has issued his decision; now there’s a process to be run.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has she entirely washed her hands of anything to do with the Sroubek fiasco, and is she ducking and diving to get out of its way? [Speaker stands] Oh, here comes the protection.

SPEAKER: No—the Leader of the Opposition will leave the House.

Hon Simon Bridges withdrew from the Chamber.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Struck a raw nerve.

SPEAKER: He will be followed by the shadow Leader of the House.

Hon Gerry Brownlee withdrew from the Chamber.

This was followed by National MPs walk out of debating chamber (RNZ):

A large number of National Party MPs have walked out of Parliament this afternoon during question time.

And Parliament continued without them.

Stuff: National leader Simon Bridges kicked out of the House after questioning PM on Sroubek

Fronting media after his expulsion, Bridges doubled down on his accusation the Speaker was protecting the Prime Minister from scrutiny.

“I was trying to ask the Prime Minister serious questions about the Sroubek fiasco. She wouldn’t answer and the speaker leaped to protect her – I called him on it. I said ‘here comes the protection,’ ” Bridges admitted.

Criticising the Speaker in such a way is a fairly serious breach of the parliamentary rule-book. But Bridges said it was in the public interest to break the rules in this instance.

“What I’ve seen is a Prime Minister who hasn’t answered serious questions. Here, we’re talking about a victim, we’re talking about very serious matters there should be answers to that she knows about or should know about as Prime Minister.”

Bridges said the walkout was not planned or coordinated.

“No, certainly none of this was my intention. My intention today has been to ask serious questions about Sroubek, about the estranged wife who feels like she has been targeted, that she is a victim of being called by Winston Peters effectively a National Party informant.”

Mallard said he had been reflecting on the supplementary question when he rose and it was out of order on at least two counts.

“As I rose, he questioned my impartiality.”

 

 

Bridges makes first term promise on taxes

But he doesn’t say when he expects that first term to be.

There may be some scepticism about ‘no new taxes in first term’.

Didn’t John Key say something like that and then raise GST? National claimed the GST hike was revenue neutral, offset by reduced income tax rates, but that didn’t affect everyone evenly. Higher consumption taxes like GST can impact disproportionately on poorer people, because much of their income is spent on buying stuff to survive.

National also raised fuel levies.

Didn’t Grant Robertson say something similar and then introduce regional fuel taxes and increase fuel levies?

Didn’t a politician say something that was bent into a different shape when they got into power?

The pledge to ‘repeal any Capital Gains Tax’ is odd – unless bridges concedes he won’t get into power in 2020, and a Labour led Government will introduce more Capital Gains Tax, and then Bridges will repeal it if he takes over in 2023. or 2026. By then this pledge will be forgotten.

And his CGT pledge needs clarification on what it actually means. Capital gains are already taxed in many circumstances. National introduced a 2 year bright line test to make it easier to enforce. Labour increased the brightline test. Would Bridges repeal all that? Would he scrap tax on property deals that now incur a gains tax?

No mention of adjusting personal income tax thresholds. If left unchanged effective tax rates keep creeping up.

Everyone wants to pay less tax.

Most people want the Government to do more and to spend more.

Some people want to pay less tax but want other people to pay more tax.

Politicians make simplified pledges that don’t have a good record of being solid promises.

Stuff have more on this: Bridges: We would repeal capital gains tax

In his speech to Aucklanders at Parenting Place on Monday afternoon, Bridges promised not to introduce any new taxes during National’s first term if elected in 2020.

Bridges told media a capital gains tax was very likely and any proposed exceptions for it were “even more preposterous”.

“New Zealanders are taxed more than enough,” Bridges said.

“No new taxes. Jacinda Ardern also made that promise but she didn’t keep it and it looks like they’re warming up to a capital gains tax. We will repeal that tax, we don’t need any more, it’s bad for our country.

Bridges said the TWG’s interim report created uncertainty and people were factoring it into their decisions already.

“People are deciding to invest less, to do less. We want to be clear with New Zealanders, we will repeal a capital gains tax.”

In his speech Bridges said costs were increasing more than wages.

“It’s becoming more expensive to get by, the Government is taking more of what you earn, and incomes aren’t rising fast enough. The Government has more and you have less. That’s wrong.”

“The Government is imposing a raft of new taxes and regulations on landlords including ring fencing of losses, extending the bright line test, changing the Residential Tenancies Act, introducing more costly standards and threatening a capital gains tax.”

Bridges also criticised the rise in petrol, rents and the Government’s “good intentions that have resulted in bad outcomes”.

“Petrol prices also recently reached record highs. It not only costs you more to rent your house – it costs you more to drive to and from it.”

“The Government have banned letting fees. But landlords are now being charged more rent to cover these new costs. Some are even selling up because it’s become too expensive, too difficult and too complicated. Fewer rentals, higher rents. Good intentions, bad outcomes.”

He also said National would increasing funding for core public services such as health, education and transport.

A typical politician pledging less taxes and more spending.

I couldn’t find any sign of this on National’s ‘news’ page.

We now we see these unelected journalists for what they really are?

This is remarkable commentary from Newshub’s ‘national reporter’ Patrick Gower: Simon Bridges is finished

I don’t think that it’s his call to make. It is the business of the National caucus. And if Bridges survives through to the next election, it will be up to voters.

It’s been 62 days since Newshub Political Editor Tova O’Brien got that excellent scoop of Simon Bridges’ limousine expenses.

An excellent scoop? It was a leak of expense information that was die to be released publicly in several days time. The story was not the expenses, which were high but explainable.

The story was the attempt to undermine Bridges by an MP who, later at least, suffers from bad enough mental health problems to seek several months leave from Parliament, and to be committed into mental care with claims of a suicide attempt (that was claimed by Cameron Slater so should be viewed with caution).

Tova O’Brien was effectively aiding and abetting a political hit job – and Gower appears to be doing likewise now.

This was a sophisticated hit from the leaker, setting in motion a political train wreck that’s now at bullet-speed – full-scale political carnage.

I guess it could be called ‘sophisticated’ as the political hit job was done with the collusion of a journalist and a media organisation.

Gower seems to see glee in setting in motion a political train wreck and precipitating ‘full-scale political carnage’ – except that he is over-egging a rotten pudding.

We now we see these elected representatives for what they really are; concerns over possible mental health issues have been tossed aside in the rush to the kill or be killed.

There is no humanity.

What we actually saw was non-elected journalists tossing aside mental health concerns as they shilled for a political kill – and now Gower seems to be ecstatic over the thrill of the kill.

This is alarming from a major media organisation. Is Newshub alarmed about what they have been used for?

Meanwhile, National isn’t addressing the important issues. There are not enough teachers for our classrooms and there’s not enough money in our wallets to pay for petrol.

Actually that’s bullshit. National have been accused more of the opposite – of criticising too many things. They have certainly been trying to address teachers and petrol prices.

The only thing in Bridges’ favour here is that National is short of contenders.

More bullshit. There may be one less contender in National, but they still have 54 MPs as alternatives to Bridges. Ity’;s just that now would be a stupid time to contest the leadership, which would reward the maverick MP and activist journalists for their hit job.

But back to Simon Bridges – this is about him and how he’s not handling the job – or connecting with the public.

This was obvious enough to political observers for months. It didn’t need an attempt to force Bridges out of the leadership role to point that out.

Ironically Bridges has probably strengthened his leadership after Newshub’s collusion in trying to have him dumped.

The only chance National has to get back in power is a deal with Peters.

More bullshit. That’s not the only way for National to get back into power. Currently their coalition options look grim, but under MMP there are a range of options, including:

  • Act could make a miraculous resurgence
  • Greens could support a National led government (unlikely at this stage but it can’t be ruled out)
  • Labour and National could form a grand coalition
  • the Maori Party could return and support a National-led government
  • a new party could emerge and beat the threshold
  • National could split and get enough votes between two parties to form a government
  • National could get enough votes to form a government on their own (they have come close in the past)

Last term Gower often obsessed over National needing NZ First to stay in government. Until the Little/Ardern switch it looked very unlikely Labour would have been able to form a government, so National were in the box seat.

And the way Winston keeps burning Bridges, that will never happen.

That’s why Simon Bridges is finished.

Winston burns anyone when it suits him – and then forgets all his rants and promises and flip flops if it suits him.

It may actually be more likely that Winston will be finished after the next election. There’s certainly a bigger chance that NZ First will crash and burn than National.

It doesn’t matter how many days are left, Simon Bridges, because there is no chance National can win in 2020.

That’s a pathetic claim from someone who remarkably used to be Newshub’s political editor.

And it hardly even makes sense – he implies that National has no chance regardless of Bridges leading them or not.

This is very poor commentary from Gower.

Worse – it seems that he supports and is ecstatic about collusion between an MP with mental health problems and journalists and media in a concocted coup attempt.

Gower can be dismissed as out of touch and irrelevant, but Newshub look very poor here and have seriously diminished their credibility as politically neutral media.

Bridges and National have problems – that’s normal for any political party. But National at least are likely to survive, and are likely to eventually get back into Government, with or without Bridges.

Newshub have a bigger challenge trying to survive. While the Jami-Lee Ross headlines may have given them a temporary boost to ratings and clicks, it has seriously damaged their already struggling reputation.

Gower hasn’t helped – he has emphasised how low they have stooped on this.

 

Journalism versus political hit jobs

There has been discussion and questions asked lately  about why some media (Newshub and RNZ in particular) have been publishing conversations that had been secretly recorded by Jami-Lee Ross. It has appeared at times as of they are aiding ongoing attacks on Simon Bridges and National on behalf of Ross and/or Cameron Slater and/or Simon Lusk. They have at least aided and abetted the attacks.

Some of the latest headlines on it from Newshub:

That ‘expert’ was an employment consultant, and the issue being covered had nothing to do with employment.

An indication of how agenda orientated these are is that this sort of article is being repeated at Whale Oil – and most other media are not covering it with anywhere near the same attack style.

The Newshub approach prompted an interesting discussion on Twitter:

Matthew Hooton: People complaining that is campaigning to get rid of Bridges don’t understand current media ethics. etc are doing . They think Bridges is too socially conservative so they think they need to protect NZ from him by getting rid of him

Tim Watkin: Matthew, I’m putting this into your ‘wind-up’ category. Because I assume you do actually know what advocacy journalism is… and know that’s NOT advocacy journalism.

Liam Hehir: Advocacy journalism is more like what John Campbell does – or did – right? What do you call it when you simply go out to wreck politicians and degrade public trust in the institutions of politics?

Time Watkin: Advocacy journalism explicitly advocates for a cause or argument. Sometimes for a group of people/victims. It takes a viewpoint & transparently says it’s not balanced. Saying Tova is not balanced is insulting & undeserved. I don’t like lazy insults.

Lawrence Hakiwai: I think what is saying is that there is a clear and obvious attempt by members of the media to unseat as leader of the National Party by using manufactured and imagined crises. The issues this Government faces are real and far more newsworthy.

Tim Watkin: Well if that is what he’s saying, then I think he’s very wrong. (And I’m sure he knows that’s not true). If any journalist in NZ set out to try to unseat a politician they would be fired. Anyone claiming that has never been in a NZ newsroom. Let’s value our independent media.

Matthew Hooton: Don’t make me laugh. Journalists of a certain kind constantly speak privately in terms of “we’re gonna get her/him” as you very well know. This is exactly what is happening in this case.

Russell Brown: On this one point, I agree with you. I hate hearing journalists brag about “scalps”, as if ending a political career is what they’re there for. But that’s quite different to your original allegation. It just happens to weakened leaders, because that’s safer and easier to do.

And I don’t even know that that’s what’s happening in this case. Maybe it’s more about a supply of newsworthy material for people who are under constant pressure to deliver news. That’s why some journalists used to hold their noses and deal with Slater.

Matthew Hooton: “used to”?

Liam Hehir: The nihilistic approach to covering political news here, with its emphasis on corroding trust in institutions & assuming the worst about everyone, will continue to have purchase since at any one time, half the audience just laps it up with little regard to how they felt earlier.

Matthew Hooton: It’s like the thing. A total colossal fuck up of course. But “gotcha” reporting didn’t start speculating on how it all happened (which would be of huge interest) but on whether he would resign (which is neither here nor there).

Russell Brown: To be fair, the gotcha was the key message of the Opposition party. National doesn’t *actually* think ILG has committed a resigning offence, but must be delighted that the more biddable commentators have bought into the idea.

Whether the sort of journalism being discussed is a result of pressure to produce headlines and clicks with a fast turnover of stories, or whether some journalists get sucked into the thrill of the political kill (there is probably some of both) this is a serious issue facing both journalism and politics in New Zealand.

One symptom is media making virtual demands that politicians resign over embellished stories that can look more like hit jobs than reporting.

Jami-Lee Ross continues attacks with another recording reported on

I thought hard about posting in this – another secretly recorded conversation between Jami-lee Ross and Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. It appears to be released as another attack on Bridges and National, being headlined as ‘a cover-up’, but it looks to me like fairly normal political management, plus an attempt to go relatively easy on Ross.

Previous claims by Ross and released recordings have been more damaging for Ross’ credibility and more supporting of Bridges’ handling of an alleged miscreant MP.

Bridges promised to keep problems quiet, but Ross seems intent on broadcasting his own failings, and reinforcing again his serious breach of trust in making the recordings in the first place, and then giving them to media (I presume he has at least approved of the release of the recordings).

Newshub are the means of distribution again: New leaked recording suggests Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett planned Jami-Lee Ross cover-up

“You haven’t even told me what I’ve supposedly done,” Mr Ross says.

“Simon told you all about the disloyalty stuff Jami-Lee, and quite frankly if that was put to caucus, that would be enough,” replies Ms Bennett.

“The stuff around harassing staff which I reject, that is the worst. I don’t even know what that is,” says Mr Ross.

“Well you do know what the disloyalty stuff is, and that’s been put to you really clearly. If that was put to caucus, that would be enough,” says Ms Bennett. “We are trying to give you the lightest possible way out of this.”

Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett also take Jami-Lee Ross through a plan to minimise media coverage and the fallout for Mr Ross.

“I give you my 100 percent assurance that if you go with the statement along the lines we’ve talked about, I will never badmouth you in relation to this – privately, publicly, in background, off the record in any way,” Mr Bridges can be heard saying.

“I will do everything within my power to keep the things we talked about last week out of the public [inaudible]. I will do everything.”

And Ross seems to be doing everything he can to make it public. It’s hard to fathom what he hopes to achieve. Maybe he has trashed his own reputation so much he can’t damage it any more, so this is an attempt at dragging Bridges and National down.

Ms Bennett and Mr Bridges repeatedly say they care about Mr Ross and his mental health, adding that if he follows their instructions he could be back in Parliament next year – and could even be promoted.

No chance of promotion now, and I think also no chance of a return to any role in the National Party.

It may be that Ross thinks that he has done nothing wrong – whether that was the case before this blew up or not, he has done just about everything wrong possible in how he has dealt with this.

If Ross succeeds in doing what he appears to be trying to do, trashing Bridges and trashing National, he is substantially improving the chances o Labour having a long stint back in Government.

This looks like more self-destruction of Ross plus an ongoing attempt at destroying the prospects of the political right.

If it were possible this will make a return to Parliament even more difficult for Ross, and it may increase the prospects of a waka jumping bumping.

What has come out so far from secretly recorded conversations is in the main unremarkable private party conversations that highlight how untrustworthy Ross is. I wonder how he has lasted in national this long – has he made threats to try to thwart action against him? And is he now delivering? He seems to be digging his own political hole even deeper.

UPDATE – More from Newshub:

“So it would be for medical reasons?” asks Mr Ross.

“Is that what you want?” asks Ms Bennett. “I think either medical or family.”

“Medical is true,” says Mr Ross.

“That’s right,” says Mr Bridges. “There’s no shame in that.”

“And it means everyone will back off you too – the media and all that sort of stuff,” says Ms Bennett.

The media are doing the opposite of backing off, again now.

It seems to be trying to claim that Ross is an innocent victim, but it makes him look more of a political cretin than ever.

National rejects proxy vote offered by Jami-Lee Ross

Now-independent MP Jami-Lee Ross offered his proxy vote to National on Wednesday:

…but this has been rejected by National.

Stuff:  National rejects proxy vote offer from MP Jami-Lee Ross

In a statement, a spokesman said: “The National Party will not be casting Jami-Lee Ross’s proxy vote.

“Mr Ross is no longer a National MP, having been expelled from the Caucus on 16 October and resigning his membership of the National Party on the same day.

“The Party’s decision not to accept his vote is unrelated to the waka jumping legislation. No decision has been made on that.”

Sources close to Ross say he received the letter Thursday but was not intending to take any immediate action.

The letter arrived while Ross is on mental health leave, after earlier suffering a breakdown over allegations about his treatment of women.

Ross was later expelled from the caucus after leader Simon Bridges accused him of leaking details of his travel expenses.

The letter from party whip Barbara Kuriger informed Ross that he must confirm with the Speaker that he was no longer a member of the National caucus.

National don’t need his vote as they are a few short of causing any problems for the Government (they have 55 of the 120 seats after ejecting Ross from their caucus).

I think it is understandable that they don’t feel inclined to vote on behalf of Ross after he created chaos in the party and openly and extensively attacked party leader Simon Bridges.

Will Ross offer his proxy vote to ACT? I don’t know what other options he has. He may be left entirely on his own in Parliament. He may also have trouble finding willing staff.

Jami-Lee Ross gives proxy vote to National

After over a week of absence Jami-Lee Ross resurfaced yesterday with a notice that he has given his proxy vote to National. He is now an independent MP but hasn’t been in Parliament since he was hospitalised a week and a half ago.

Making a point about ‘the maintenance of proportionality’ may be an attempt to thwart possible attempts to have him removed from parliament under the new waka jumping bill (Simon bridges recently said he has no intention of trying to invoke that at this stage).

 

 

The non-naming of the National MP

The National MP who is alleged to have had a relationship with Jami-Lee Ross and is claimed to have played a part in precipitating a claimed attempt at suicide has not been named publicly by media. Ross did name her in a radio interview, but in replays her name was beeped out.

Discussions have continued on why she has not been named by media, and whether she should be named.

One of the strongest reasons put forward for not naming her is her well being. It has been claimed she is the victim of harassment, so naming her would add to the exposure and harassment.

It can also be asked whether there is public interest in naming her. Just about everyone with an interest in this probably knows who it is. I found out without looking for it. Naming her probably has more risks than good reasons.

But there could be some public interest in knowing of an MP who allegedly had a long term affair with another MP, and that that ended with a harsh text that some have claimed incited suicide (I don’t see that, especially looking at the timeline – the claimed suicide attempt event happened months after the text was sent).

And identifying the MP removes suspicion from other female National MPs, but this seems to be a minor consideration given that most people involved in politics will know who it is.

Why has the media not named her? Obviously they are not saying.

One risk that has been mentioned is the risk of it opening the floodgates of publicising Parliamentary promiscuity, and some journalists are alleged to playing a part in that generally, and accusations and names have been mentioned (no evidence that I’ve seen) that at least one journalist has been involved with Ross.

Do the public have a right to know if there is a compromised MP who may also be under severe mental health stress? That’s a difficult question. Usually there is no way of knowing which MPs are under health care. Most operate under some degree of stress. Medical information is governed by privacy laws.

It should be noted that Ross was the first to out himself as being subject to claims of harassment (as well as naming the MP on air).

Cameron Slater blames the MP (and a wider conspiracy) for Ross being dumped from the National caucus and for causing his mental meltdown (alleged, all we know about Ross’ mental state is what has been claimed by peoeple with vested interests, Slater being prominent.

He has all but named her a number of times at Whale Oil, making it easy to work out who it is (his obvious intent). He has also complained bitterly about the media not naming her, but despite repeated threats to out her himself, and despite promoting himself as media, for some reason he doesn’t want to be the first to do so. One can imagine that if mainstream media do name her he will be using that as an excuse to continue in ‘full retard’ mode against the MP, Simon Bridges and National.

One thing holding Slater back may be finances. He is facing what could be some large legal bills for overstepping in the past on Whale Oil, and is now mired in multiple defamation actions. He may be reluctant to risk another.

And he has admitted losing subscriptions at Whale Oil over his ongoing campaign attacking Bridges and National, which he escalated on the back of the Ross revelations. Subsequent self praise promotions and promotions of Whale Oil by SB suggest that the loss of subscription revenue is of concern to them. The timing is bad.

And the motives and methods of Slater, who claims to be acting for Ross who has gone silent, are highly suspect. he haas admitted making incorrect claims, and it is sensible to be highly sceptical of anything he says that isn’t backed up by evidence – and that means more evidence than screen shots of communications that are not authenticated and could be cherry picked and at real risk of being out of context.

Slater will probably keep agitating and complaining, but most people who had an interest in the Ross and MP issue are largely over it. As are the media.

I have considered naming the MP but continue to choose not to. I’m not aware of all the facts so can’t justify the potential risks.

One possible risk is legal – given the silence on identity there could be legal injunctions that have gagged the media. Similarly as for court suppressions, these make things difficult for non-mainstream media like Your NZ – there is no way of me knowing what I am legally not allowed to say.

So no names and no hints here please.

It may be best to move on, and to ignore a Wail Oil desperate for attention and intent on inflicting political utu. he may eventually do what he has promised and name names, but Dirty Politics has done it’s dash and should be trashed.

A discussion on the naming or not here (Kiwi Journalists Association):

https://www.facebook.com/groups/216332661716385/permalink/2424609580888671/

Bridges versus Slater escalates

Cameron Slater seems to have been largely speculating from the sidelines of the Jami-Lee Ross saga, until the weekend when Ross was committed to mental health care. That is now getting very messy and ugly.

Yesterday from NZ Herald: National’s leader Simon Bridges rings Dirty Politics blogger to talk Jami-Lee Ross

The Jami-Lee Ross saga has forced National Party leader Simon Bridges into conversation with Dirty Politics blogger Cameron Slater, who is in close contact with the rogue and unwell MP.

Bridges’ office confirmed to the Herald that Bridges called Slater to give the right-wing attack blogger assurances over decisions about Ross having been made after taking proper medical advice.

The phone call confirms Slater’s key role in the Ross affair, which has caused the National Party more than a week of anxiety and chaos.

It is believed Slater has been personally supporting Ross since the weekend and his assistance extended to helping the MP in his release from Middlemore Hospital’s mental health facilities yesterday.

Slater’s role has also extended to briefing media on aspects of the Ross saga.

A spokesman said: “Mr Bridges contacted Mr Slater to make clear that he acted on appropriate medical advice throughout this process.”

The spokesman would not say how long the call was or if other matters were discussed, although said: “It was a brief conversation focused on Mr Ross’ health.”

The phone call was referred to by Slater in a lengthy blog post in which he accused the National Party of arranging publication of the claims by the four women who spoke out about Ross’ behaviour.

Slater wrote: “When I spoke to Simon Bridges on Monday he was continuing to deny a hit job.”

Last night Slater posted:

Thanks for calling by. Funny thing is…or concerning…is that when Bridges called me he had zero concern for the safety of JLR, despite his own office being involved int eh incident on Saturday night. Something he now denies. When confronted with some salient facts on the call all he did was lie and lie some more. The fact is his chief of staff contacted JLR’s doctor on the evening of the incident. There is a text record of it, and yet this morning he denied ever knowing what was going dow. Despite one of his MPs calling the police, despite the two members in his office and the MP fabricating their stories to Newsroom. Dear old Simon bridges knows nothing.

All Simon Bridges did on the call was explain and lie.

Even worse is this claim that he is the brilliant mastermind who leaked his call tot eh media. Idiots…I wrote about it this morning.

I’m sorry that you think caring for the life of a friend is more important that your stupid political party. You should distrust a political party that is prepared to kill someone by setting him up rather than a blogger who only seeks to tell the truth about people who lie.

You will find out at 1100 tomorrow how that works out for people who accuse me of lying.

And:

Yes I don’t like the smell either, of lying politicians who are prepared to kill people.

There’s a bit of hypocrisy here, given what Slater had suggested happen to the leaker. Earlier Slater has claimed “They do not have mental issues”, and said “He should be hunting down this person and cutting their throat.”see Slater reverses his claims about leaker.

There are also some serious accusations. It was hard to imagine this getting messier, but that’s how it looks.

A post just up on WO: Herald breaks news that Simon Bridges called me, after I already wrote about it in the morning

I have been piecing together the evidence. There is evidence. The stories of National, Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett don’t add up. They know they don’t add up, and so they roll out David Fisher to break the news I had already posted in the morning that Simon Bridges rang me.

The posts and comments of Slater don’t seem to add up either.

This is deadly serious and sometime politics should be trumped by humanity.

Slater actually said that. Perhaps the problems Ross has have been a wake up call for him. perhaps.