The dangers of crying ‘bully’

Bullying can be crappy, horrible, terrible, debilitating. Sometimes it is clear cut and obvious, but it can also be subjective, and bullying can easily be perceived as such when it is closer to over-expressive leadership, and even of being a justified bollocking.

Listener (Noted):  Maggie Barry and the dangers of crying ‘bully’

It was easy to applaud the advent of #MeToo. The felling of atrocious tyrants, such as movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the drunken, groping New Zealand legal titans who were revealed as serial sex pests, was long overdue. There has been a welcome global consciousness-raising.

There has been overdue attention given to despicable behaviour.

But as this era of atonement for workplace bullying matures, its fine print is proving divisive. The recent inquiry into police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha’s conduct and allegations against MP Maggie Barry show a lot of on-the-job conflict is rather more nuanced and debatable than the headline #MeToo cases.

I don’t know how nuanced either of those situations was, but they are certainly debatable, especially with the absence of much evidence.

Haumaha’s career was called into question because three staff in his unit didn’t like the way he spoke to them. A QC’s enquiry has found no evidence of bullying, but a robust leadership style. Barry stands accused of bullying two former staff by such actions as swearing in front of them, teasing them and saying disparaging things about other people.

As far as I’m aware the jury is still out in both these cases.

It’s straightforward to diagnose such things as violence, threats, groping and sexual extortion as abusive. The older #MeToo grows, the more amazed we’ll be in retrospect about how much of it society has tolerated and excused.

But, speaking tersely, swearing, bantering, tantrums, sniping behind colleagues’ backs – are these necessarily bullying? They’re generally undesirable, and in quantity can become abusive, but in occasional doses, such behaviour is normal and human.

If people are going to start informing on each other, or as with Barry, covertly taping for such transgressions, we risk creating another form of workplace danger: a low-trust environment.

Worse than that – it risks over-embellished accusations, hit jobs and revenge attacks.

The allegations against Barry seem well short of the sort of mistreatment #MeToo was conceived to root out.

As for personal remarks, such as Barry’s likening a staffer’s attire to that seen in The Great Gatsby, one person’s affectionate teasing is another’s hectoring sarcasm. We cannot reform human nature. Teasing, and even its ruder cousin, banter, is often a sign of deep affection and a way of signalling mutual trust. A little gossip can be team-building. These things can morph into bullying, but are we seriously considering outlawing them as inherently dangerous?

Banter one day could be perceived as bullying the next, depending on the mood and the situation. Too much ‘banter’ can become bullying.

Parliament’s timely inquiry into its bullying is justified by the serious transgressions of MP Jami-Lee Ross and former minister Meka Whaitiri. But there’s a danger of our getting to the stage where just crying “bully!” is enough to blight someone’s career, and for that suspension of doubt to be misused out of spite. Not all workplace interactions can be positive and nurturing. High-pressure situations cannot always be gentled with pleases and thankyous. And it’s not abusive to tell a staffer their work isn’t good enough.

It’s easier (and human) to allege bullying than concede and accept ‘I was crap’.

Workplace safety can surely be protected without outlawing many manifestations of the human personality, or holding that feeling slighted is proof of abuse. We need simply to treat others as we’d like to be treated, and have the wit and empathy to notice if our tone or humour isn’t well received.

Sometimes relationships turn to crap, in workplaces as well as in homes.  It is easy for for behaviour that had once been acceptable to become intolerable.

All of us can at times overstep the banter line.

We need to be careful we don’t overstep the line of acceptable behaviour into dumping on anything someone else says they don’t like.

This is a particular problem in politics where it is common to exaggerate things for devious political motives.

We should expect reasonable and professional behaviour from our MPs and public servants, but we should also not cry ‘bully’ when it isn’t justified.

If we get too picky and too sensitive and too intolerant of normal human behaviour then we will take our eye off the important ball – the serious cases of harassment and assault and bullying that deserve proper investigation, and condemnation when proven.

Scholtens inquiry clears Haumaha appointment process, other issues remain

Oddly after Tracey Martin seemed to be maaking the decisions over the release of the Scholtens inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha, the only official statement has been made by State Services Minister Chris Hipkins.

The Inquiry into the process that led to the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner of Police has found that the process was sound, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins says.

The Government asked independent reviewer Mary Scholtens QC to report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment of Wally Haumaha.

Mary Scholtens’ report was released today.

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment.

It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted.

However it did make some recommendations on how the appointment process could be improved in the future.

“I want to thank Mary Scholtens for her work and thank everyone who participated in the inquiry,” Chris Hipkins said.

The inquiry found that information that later emerged about Haumaha was not available at the time of the appointment. Some of this is being covered by an ongoing IPCA inquiry.

Media are following up on the report release.

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Haumaha and politics of perception

On the political stage, perception is the backdrop curtain that hangs over everything.

The “nothing to see here” report on the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha makes for interesting reading – it’s not the typical whitewash.

Inquiry head Mary Scholtens, QC, found the process to appoint Haumaha was “sound”.

Her investigation into Louise Nicholas’ concerns over Haumaha and statements he made to Operation Austin suggest he appeared to have her support – at least in the absence of outright opposition.

The public perception that’s likely to form, after an advocate of Nicholas’ standing publicly spoke out against him is probably enough to empower a number of recipients of negative actions to come forward and lay their own complaints of negative treatment, and it did.

Government coalition party NZ First, with MPs who historically had close ties to Haumaha, adds further fuel to fire of public perception.

In fairness to Haumaha, he has had, at least outwardly, an exemplary career. On paper, he should be a prime candidate for the role. The allegations for which he has had little avenue to answer to, are found to be unsubstantiated in this report – but public perceptions about him will remain.

Haumaha report to be released on Monday

There seems to have been a lot of fluffing around since Tracey Martin received the report over a week ago, following the inquiry into the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha. Yesterday Martin announced that the report would be released on Monday at 11 am.

On Newshub Nation  on Saturday morning:

All right, final question with your third hat on – Internal Affairs Minister. You’re in charge of the inquiry into Wally Haumaha’s appointment to Deputy Police Commissioner. You have that report right now, so when are you going to release it?

Monday at 11am.

Why have you not released it before the police commissioner went to the select committee?

Because, first of all, I didn’t even know the police commissioner was going to the select committee. Because I needed to make sure that Crown Law had gone through and redacted all the names and so on and so forth of Woman A, Woman B and Woman C, to protect their privacy. And so that is what I did. I wanted to make sure that that had happened and then to set in the process by which to release it publicly.

So they took a week to redact names from the report, and then deferred release of the report until after the weekend – they would have been slammed if they released the report on Friday afternoon, so I guess Monday is as good a time as any.

Jacinda Ardern will have had plenty of time to prepare for her response, either following the release of the report or at her weekly media conference on Monday at 4 pm.


One could wonder if this had any connection: NZ First party president denies laying down the law in Nelson

NZ First’s president called a sudden party meeting on Saturday to deal with “concerning issues” that were said to involve a rift.

New president Lester Gray flew into Nelson with the party’s judicial officer, lawyer Brian Henry. One source said he was demanding members toe the party line, or face expulsion.

The short-notice invitation from Gray said “this week I have been notified of some potentially concerning issues for the NZ First Party. We have therefore called a special meeting in Nelson for Saturday.”

However, Gray said it was a standard electorate meeting, with the agenda closed to members.

Members across parts of the South Island received an email late on Friday morning, calling them to the meeting the following day.

Martin received the report that Friday. I don’t know whether the ‘special meeting’ had anything to do with the report or not

Oddly, Martin didn’t hand on a copy of the report to the Prime Minister until the following Monday.

Question No. 12—Internal Affairs

12. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Which Ministers, if any, have been provided with a copy or executive summary of the final report of the Government Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police, and when were those Ministers provided with those copies or summaries?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): My office delivered a copy to the office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

Chris Bishop: Will she be discussing the report and the next steps the Government will be taking with the State Services Commissioner and/or the Solicitor-General?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: My office is currently taking legal advice around the process to hand over to the Minister of State Services and the process with which to do pre-releases to those who need to see the report—e.g., those who participated in it—and then when that report will be released. We are trying to release the report as quickly as possible.

Surely this could (should) have all been worked out prior to the report being handed over.

On Wednesday:

Question No. 10—Internal Affairs

10. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does the report of the Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that the appointment process be reopened?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released. We are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Because it is not in the public interest, we are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Chris Bishop: Does the report of the inquiry into the appointment process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police make findings or recommendations in relation to the allegations of bullying against Mr Haumaha made by the three public servants who worked with him?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I refer the member to my answer to the primary question. It is those people exactly who we are trying to make sure are protected.

Martin repeats “The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released”. But then…

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm, in light of the report, which she has seen, that the allegations of a cover-up are just plain ridiculous?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Unfortunately, the scope of the inquiry is not around the terrible allegations put forward by members of this Parliament.

…she responds to a question from Peters regarding the findings of the report. Obviously Peters had seen the report or had been advised of the contents of the report by now.

Peters and NZ First have associations with Haumaha and his appointment, so it seems odd that a NZ First minister is managing the release of the report.

 

 

 

Winston Peters refuses to back up phone claims and denials re Wally Haumaha

In Parliament this week National MP Chris Bishop accuses Winston Peters of Wally Haumaha contact

Today I can also reveal that Winston Peters rang Wally Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be OK. That is deeply, wildly inappropriate. Mr Peters needs to explain who invited him to the marae, why he rang Wally Haumaha to assure him that things would be OK despite an inquiry into his appointment, and why he thinks Mr Haumaha should stay in the role while he is subject to two separate investigations, with a third on the way.

Peters denied this (Stuff) – Wally Haumaha phone call claims: Winston Peters says he doesn’t use landline

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says his phone records clear him of making a call to under-fire top cop Wally Haumaha – but he can’t explain how he got hold of them.

Neither the Parliamentary Service nor the Department of Internal Affairs received a request to provide the records on Wednesday.

In a press release issued to deny claims made by National MP Chris Bishop, Peters said: “I have not called nor had any reason to call Mr Haumaha since the controversy. My office has checked all my phone records since the inquiry was announced. No such call was made.”

When pressed by Stuff on Thursday about how he got the records so quickly, he said: “Got my staff to get it… I can’t tell you how. I trust my staff.”

Peters says he doesn’t use a landline phone.

Asked if he could have used another phone, he replied: “Oh, what went down down to a telephone booth you mean? To the best of my memory, no such thing happened and I got my staff to check it out, just to be safe.”

Later, a spokesman for Peters clarified to Stuff:

“The phone bills get sent to the office each month and are readily accessible. The bills itemise calls made and received…We then asked around for Mr Haumaha’s phone number (so we knew what we were looking for) and cross checked that way.”

Peters was asked for clarification on Newshub Nation this morning:

Lisa Owen: National alleged in parliament that you rang deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha to reassure him aftter an inquiry was launched into his appointment and the circumstances of that employment. You say that your office checked your phone records and there was not call. So I just want to be clear, does that include any and every phone that you could have used to make the call, and was there any other contact using any other means with Mr Haumaha from you?

Winston Peters: I can’t, I can’t believe, I can’t believe you’re wasting my or your viewership’s time. Mr Bishop said he had a revelation, and if he’s got a revelation why hasn’t he shown you that? That’s what a revelation means. No, he made a vile allegation, couldn’t prove it, and now you’re asking me questions about it.

Lisa Owen: Yeah well you could clear it up. Yes or no, have they checked all your phones if you have had contact with Wally Haumaha…

Winston Peters: No, I’ll, no I’ll clear it up by going, no Lisa, we’ll go to the original source who promised all you journalists a revelation. What was that revelation?

Lisa Owen: But you would know who would best know whether you’ve spoken to Wally Haumaha, you, do you not want to give a clear answer…

Winston Peters: That’s, that’s not the way our society, our democracy or our standards of law works. You just can’t make baseless allegations without putting up the facts. he hasn’t, and why aren’t you talking to him about that and not wasting my time?

Funny and highly ironic.

Peters has made a political career out of making allegations, and a number of times not delivered any evidence, but instead demanded that the media or the police investigate and find evidence for him. They usually haven’t obliged.

The way our democracy and our media are supposed to work is that journalists ask questions to hold politicians to account.

Peters has already tried a denial, and when held to account on that has switched to refusing to answer a simple but comprehensive question.

He could make a clear statement that he made no such call, but by refusing to do that leaves people to make their own conclusions.

I think that it is reasonable to see this as Peters trying to avoid being called out for making a call to Haumaha, and then being caught out trying to fabricate a denial.

And i think it is fair to ask and investigate how close peters and NZ First were to Haumaha and to his appointment, which raises valid questions about their involvement in setting up the inquiry.

More of the Peters interview:

Chris Bishop accuses Winston Peters of Wally Haumaha contact

In Parliament’s General Debate today Chris Bishop:

Today I can also reveal that Winston Peters rang Wally Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be OK. That is deeply, wildly inappropriate. Mr Peters needs to explain who invited him to the marae, why he rang Wally Haumaha to assure him that things would be OK despite an inquiry into his appointment, and why he thinks Mr Haumaha should stay in the role while he is subject to two separate investigations, with a third on the way.

CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Well, while the Prime Minister is offshore in New York, desperately trying to shake off the Meka Whaitiri and Clare Curran debacles, there is yet another political scandal she is finding it very difficult to shake. That is the problem of the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Commissioner of Police. Let me outline what has happened so far.

The term of the Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard expired on 3 June 2018. Cabinet confirmed the vacancy on 7 May and applications closed just eight days later. The candidates were interviewed only six days later by Peter Hughes and Debbie Power of the State Services Commission (SSC) and Mike Bush, Commissioner of Police. My understanding is that Mr Haumaha was asked, in the interview process, words to the effect of “Is there anything in your past that would embarrass the Government?” And he said no. I can also reveal that Mr Haumaha was not the preferred candidate of the panel. The Cabinet paper proposing his appointment does not state that he was the preferred candidate, but he was appointed anyway by the Prime Minister. The big question is “Why?”, particularly in light of what happened next.

After Mr Haumaha’s appointment, the New Zealand Herald broke the news that an officer had told the 2004 Operation Austin investigation that Mr Haumaha had described Louise Nicholas’ allegations as a nonsense and that “Nothing really happened and we have to stick together.” An inquiry was, rightly, ordered by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters. He must have hoped that the problem would go away. An email released to me says that the Government wanted a short and sharp inquiry. Officials originally suggested an $840,000 inquiry over three months. Cabinet wound that back to $150,000 over six weeks, with just one member.

The first attempt to start the inquiry was a disaster. Emails revealed to me that they couldn’t find anyone to do the inquiry until a few days before it was announced. Pauline Kingi was announced as the inquiry chair but was revealed to have endorsed the subject of the inquiry 23 times on LinkedIn. Finally, the Government did the right thing and appointed an independent QC to run the inquiry. Then further allegations came to light. Three women have accused Mr Haumaha of bullying while working on a joint justice, police, and corrections project in 2016. Those allegations are being considered by the Independent Police Conduct Authority as well as by the Scholtens Inquiry and, possibly, by the State Services Commission.

Here is the question: why will the Prime Minister not stand Wally Haumaha down? Meka Whaitiri was accused of wrongdoing and stood aside. Why will she not do the same for her own appointment? The answer, I believe, lies in the relationship between New Zealand First and Wally Haumaha. He was reported as being the New Zealand First candidate for Rotorua in 2005. The Deputy Leader of the New Zealand First Party, Fletcher Tabuteau, referred to Mr Haumaha as a member of his whānau in his maiden speech, in 2014. Mr Haumaha is the chairman of Mr Tabuteau’s marae at Waititi. The links go further. Close Winston Peters confidante and uncle of Fletcher Tabuteau, Tommy Gear, is also a senior leader on the marae.

Let me talk about the special function on the marae in June last year to celebrate Mr Haumaha’s promotion to Assistant Police Commissioner. Winston Peters was there. He sat next to Wally Haumaha. He told Parliament, in a personal explanation, that he attended the function because he was invited by the police and the Government of the day. He was not. Documents from the police, sent to me, make clear that he could only have been invited by the marae itself. The question is: was he invited by Wally Haumaha or by someone close to him?

Today I can also reveal that Winston Peters rang Wally Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be OK. That is deeply, wildly inappropriate. Mr Peters needs to explain who invited him to the marae, why he rang Wally Haumaha to assure him that things would be OK despite an inquiry into his appointment, and why he thinks Mr Haumaha should stay in the role while he is subject to two separate investigations, with a third on the way. Until those questions are answered, this scandal will continue to dog the Prime Minister and her Government.


UPDATE: Peters has responded (NZH):  ‘Things would be okay’ – National claim Winston Peters called Wally Haumaha about inquiry

However, Peters said he has not contacted Haumaha in relation to the inquiry.

“He hasn’t made a revelation and I’m swatting-off this midge right now,” he said in a statement.

“There is no basis to Mr Bishop’s claim that I rang Mr Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced, nor have provided any assurances on the matter.”

“I have not called nor had any reason to call Mr Haumaha since the controversy.”

Peters assured the public his office has checked all phone records since the inquiry into Haumaha was announced.

So it sounds like it’s up to Bishop to front up with evidence, or apologise.

Formal complaint laid against Police deputy commissioner Haumaha

A complaint of bullying has been formally laid against Wally Haumaha. This increases the pressure on him (and the Government). with an inquiry under way over his controversial appointment.

NZH: Formal complaint about alleged bullying laid against deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha

A formal complaint of alleged bullying has been laid against deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha.

The complaint was laid by one of the three women who walked out of Police National Headquarters in June 2016 and refused to return because of Haumaha’s alleged behaviour.

The Herald revealed last month that the three women told their managers, did not return to PNHQ, and continued working on the project from the Justice Ministry offices.

One of the women confirmed to the Herald she formally laid the complaint last week, although the police last night refused to comment, or even acknowledge the complaint had been laid.

This was on the grounds that Mary Scholtens, QC, who is heading the Government inquiry into the appointment process of the deputy commissioner job, has said she will consider the bullying allegations.

In response to questions from the Herald, Deputy Commissioner Andy Coster declined to answer, citing a letter from Scholtens requesting information from the police including whether any complaint was laid formally, or informally, but only prior to Haumaha’s appointment in June.

However, the minute released by Scholtens which confirmed she was considering the bullying allegations specifically noted “this does not prevent any complaint being made to, or considered by, any other agency”.

See Power, politicians and police – What the inquiry into the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha is really about

Parliament – ‘anti-Māori’ and racism implications

The referencing of referencing family of MPs, plus hints of and MP being ‘anti-Māori,r arose in an exchange in Parliament today, in relation to the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner. There’s co clear conclusion (to me) but some interesting discussion.

It came out of this primary question:

8. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does her Government expect high standards from all Government departments and Ministers?

It starts at 2:36…

Chris Bishop: Does she have confidence in her Government’s professional independence from Mr Haumaha when her police Minister gives him a shout-out in his workout videos, her Deputy Prime Minister attended a celebration on a marae for his appointment as assistant commissioner, her foreign affairs under-secretary has whānau links to him, and he was previously announced as a candidate for New Zealand First?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, I am going to go back to that question and not require but ask the member to think very carefully about rewording it. We have had a tradition in this House, wherever possible, of not including the actions of family members—certainly within question time. I’d ask the member to reflect on his question and, if he agrees with me that that is unhealthy, to rephrase it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely we have to have some accuracy in the questioning in this House. Mr Bishop began by talking about what, in effect, is an allegation of witness tampering. So the real issue, sir, for you to judge is: who is this witness who is being tampered that he talked about? The fact is the person is not a witness. The person may be a complainant, and there’s a huge difference. He’s putting the two together quite naively and mistakenly and getting away with it in the House when he should be stopped.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I think if we had the degree of exactitude that the Deputy Prime Minister is advocating, we’d have quite a few members on both sides of the House who wouldn’t be able to answer or ask a single question. Mr Bishop—going back to where we were at.

Chris Bishop: Did the panel convened by the State Services Commission to interview the short-listed candidates for the job of the Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that Mr Haumaha be the preferred candidate for the job?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m not going to get into elements of an issue that is now being independently assessed by an independent inquirer.

Hon Paula Bennett: When the Prime Minister just previously said, as she did yesterday, that, actually, he cannot be either stood down or on garden leave because it would be the decision of the commissioner and that she can’t do it, is she aware that under section 13 of the Policing Act, the deputy commissioner’s role is a statutory appointment that holds office at the pleasure of the Governor-General on the advice of her, the Prime Minister, and that she has the power to act?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That includes them acting in that role of employment. What the member was asking about was whether I had the ability to stand someone down when there had been no formal process, and we’re undertaking an inquiry to ensure natural justice provisions apply, because the threshold test here is incredibly high. If the member is asking about gardening leave or temporary stand downs, that threshold, of course, is very different, and that is employment matter for the Commissioner of Police.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise an issue that is troubling a number of us on this side of the House: the regularity with which those of us who enjoy Māori ancestry—and I direct your attention to Speakers’ rulings 39/4-5. I accept in the roundhouse of politics it is tough, but I am particularly irked by the allegation that Mr Bishop made, enjoying private briefings from dissolute elements in the police force, that he has labelled those of us, essentially, by talking about Fletcher Tabuteau and Winston Peters, as somehow not passing the test of parliamentary probity. And I’d invite you to reflect on it, because it will lead to a substantial bout of disorder from the House. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mr Bishop is anti-Māori, and, quite frankly, I don’t care if he is, but it is an important principle, with the number of Māori in the House—whether they’re urban Māori or broader traditional Māori—that you contemplate that situation, because we’re not going to put up with it for one more day.

Hon Paula Bennett: As one of those Māori, there is actually also a convention that we express our conflicts of interest for our whānau and particularly when we are looking at making statutory appointments, and this side of the House has a right to question that.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, yes, I would have made the same point that the Hon Paula Bennett has made, because what Mr Jones is effectively doing is saying that if there is a statutory appointment that involves someone who identifies as being a Māori New Zealander, then that process can’t be questioned and nor can anything that would make the suitability of that person appropriate for that. But further than that, sir, you sat there while Mr Jones referred to another member of this House, effectively, as having some racial bias, and that’s a completely unacceptable thing for him to do.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The allegation that someone is a cousin and therefore is biased in the choice of someone in a governmental job is so demonstrably false when the person doesn’t go to the lengths to describe how far removed that relationship might be. If he were Scottish or Māori, he might understand that this would include 7,500 people. But no such attempt is made. It’s the insinuation that because that relationship, distant though it might be, nevertheless corrupts the member’s mind in being impartial, and that’s unfair.

Mr SPEAKER: I am in a position to rule. Members may have forgotten that I intervened on Mr Bishop’s question and asked him to reword it, because I thought the tone of it was not consistent with the way that we have gone as a country over the last number of decades. He reflected on that and, despite the opportunity, decided not to repeat the question in that form and I want to thank him for that.

There are a lot of elements of judgment in this. I, of course, don’t want to indicate that people cannot be questioned where there are seen to be untoward influences and of course that is the case, but what I did indicate was that I thought it was particularly important where family matters are being brought into account that people are either very specific or very careful and not general in allegations.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Precedent in rulings in this House are very important, because they do guide the House. I’d ask that you have a look back through, I think, the mid-part of 2015 when a then prominent member of the Opposition, now a very, very prominent member of this House, was asking questions of a Minister of the then Government that related directly to a family member. Those questions were allowed, they stood, and they went on for quite some days. When you’ve gone back over those transcripts and perhaps reflected on the wisdom of the course of action taken by the prominent Opposition member, now a very prominent member of Parliament, could you perhaps bring down a ruling that brings all of these things together. I think the general allegation made against the Parliament by Mr Jones today that it is somehow racially selective to bring up an issue that relates to the appointment of a person who is of New Zealand Māori descent is a very, very backward step for this Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: I don’t feel any need to bring back a considered ruling on it. I think the matter is pretty clear. Speaker’s ruling 41/1 makes it clear that people should avoid referring to MPs families in their private capacities. It is all right to refer to family members who have official roles, and that is a ruling of long standing. It is also all right where there is a clear intersection of the public business of an MP and a Minister and the actions of a family member, and that is an area of longstanding ruling where there is a suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on the part of a Minister in favour of a family member—that is the subject of questioning in the House and will always continue to be.

 

Haumaha contacted witness of alleged bullying

The Herald continues their pressure on the the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, this time revealing that Haumaha contacted a police officer who witnessed alleged bullying while the Herald were investigating over the last few weeks.

NZH: Police to investigate why Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha phoned a staff member about alleged bullying ahead of Herald story

Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha contacted a key witness to an alleged bullying incident after the Herald asked questions about accusations by three women working on a joint justice project.

The witness is a senior police officer who intervened in a heated exchange between Haumaha and one of the three women from Justice and Corrections who refused to work inside Police National Headquarters because of Haumaha’s alleged behaviour towards them.

One of the three women who walked out of police headquarters — and says one alleged incident was witnessed by the police officer whom Haumaha contacted last week — now plans to make a formal complaint about Haumaha’s alleged behavior.

The Herald can now reveal Haumaha allegedly called the lower ranking officer, who previously worked directly for him in the Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services division, one night last week to ask for his support.

This was several days before the Herald published the allegations.

The officer reported the conversation with Haumaha to his district commander who in turn alerted senior leadership in Police National Headquarters.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said his executive team was made aware on Friday of contact between Haumaha and a staff member in relation to bullying allegations.

“This will be investigated and we are currently seeking further information about what has occurred to determine what steps are required,” said Bush.

“The Police Executive, including Deputy Commissioner Haumaha, recognise the need to ensure that there is an appropriate level of independence to any investigation of all the matters raised in the media recently, including this most recent allegation.”

The new investigation comes as a government inquiry by Mary Scholtens QC will review the recruitment process which led to Haumaha being appointed as the deputy police commissioner in June.

The Herald has been all over this for weeks now. There must be concerns within the police given the information the Herald are getting to report on.

Due process needs to be followed, but looking like a growing problem for both the Police and the Government.

New appointment to head Haumaha inquiry

For some reason this isn’t on the Beehive media release website, but the Minister of Internal Affairs announced a new appointment of Mary Scholtens to head inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha.

@cjsbishop:

Good to see Govt has taken our advice and appointed a highly respected independent QC for the Haumaha inquiry. Should have been case from start. Still inappropriate NZF Min Martin is the appointing Minister, terms of ref still inadequate too. And big qu’s still for Ardern/Nash.

This was announced late on Friday afternoon.

Audrey Young:  Jacinda Ardern takes charge of Wally Haumaha inquiry fiasco

A series of scoops by Herald investigative journalist Jared Savage, some astute political work by National rising star Chris Bishop and some own-goals in the Government have ensured that the issue has been kept alive.

It is a much more challenging problem for Ardern than just identifying someone suitable to find out whether the appointment panel and ministers had all relevant information – that much is known already.

It is mired in complexity and even a resignation by Haumaha, which does not appear to be imminent, would not cauterise it.

Underlying it is the public’s confidence in the police and the public’s confidence in the Government to deal with challenging issues.

It involves Ardern’s confidence in Police Minister Stuart Nash, and Nash’s confidence in the judgement of Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who sat on the panel.

There were signs of trouble at the outset when Winston Peters was dealing with it as Acting Prime Minister.

The delay was in finding a suitable reviewer who would have the confidence of the Police, Maori and feminists.

That in itself is a reflection of the identity politics that is more important in this Government configuration.

National would have quickly found a retired judge or QC, which is what Ardern did last night in getting respected QC Mary Scholtens to undertake the inquiry.

Scholtens was Counsel assisting the 2004 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, and has conducted an inquiry for the last Labour Government into how the whistle-blowing laws have operated. Scholtens is not considered a political risk at all – she is the wife of former National minister John Luxton and has worked for Governments of both hues.

Scholtens was on the list of ten names put forward to head the inquiry. It would have saved a lot of grief if she had been selected in the first place.

Haumaha mess up-murks

Controversy over the appointment of Wally Hauhama as deputy police commissioner has up-murked even more.

NZH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ‘hugely frustrated’ with ‘drip feed’ of information after promotion of Wally Haumaha

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is “hugely frustrated” information which should have been considered before Wally Haumaha was promoted to deputy police commissioner is being “drip fed” after the appointment was made.

“I’m hugely frustrated to be in a situation where an appointment has been made and now we’re having information being drip fed out, which should have been made available at the time of the appointment. That’s why we’re undertaking this work,” said Ardern, referring to the inquiry.

She has come back onto the job after the fuse was lit on this stink bomb left behind by Winston Peters, who has been implicated in questions over the appointment and NZ First connections with Haumaha.

More murk yesterday:

Her comments came after an ongoing Herald investigation into the promotion today revealed three women working on a joint project walked out of Police National Headquarters because of Haumaha’s alleged bullying towards them.

The policy analysts – two from the Justice Ministry, one from Corrections – were based at PNHQ in Wellington working in the Māori, Pacific, Ethnic Services division run by Haumaha, a superintendent at the time.

They were excited to be working on the cross-sector project, which started in October 2015, to improve “justice outcomes” for Māori, who are over-represented in arrest statistics and the prison population.

A number of alleged verbal bullying incidents, including a particularly heated exchange in which one of Haumaha’s senior staff intervened, contributed to the three women leaving PNHQ in June 2016 feeling “devalued and disillusioned”.

The three women told their managers, did not return to PNHQ, and continued working on the project from the Justice Ministry offices.

And:

The inquiry into Haumaha’s appointment was announced the day the Herald revealed comments he made during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.

He described his friends Brad Shipton as a “softie” and Bob Schollum as a “legend” with women, while one officer told the 2004 investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha described Nicholas’ allegations as “a nonsense”.

While Haumaha has apologised, Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was unaware of the “deeply disappointing” comments when he gave Haumaha’s name to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the deputy commissioner role.

Under questioning in Parliament by National MP Chris Bishop yesterday, Nash also confirmed the “Wally” he mentioned in Facebook video post about lifting weights was Haumaha.

“Peeni Henare, Wally and Alf – Just calling out those who doubted. All in the name of trying to keep the ageing body in some sort of shape. Hard on a parliamentary diet,” Nash posted in April, referring to fellow MPs and Haumaha.

Nash said he did not lift weights with Haumaha and they did not have a personal relationship.

National MP Chris Bishop has been keeping the pressure on the Government over the appointment.

The comment was “odd”, said Chris Bishop.

“I certainly think it’s strange you’ve got the Minister calling out on social media someone who is now the Deputy Commissioner of Police.”

Also from Bishop:

From RNZ: Government confidence in Wally Haumaha wavers

Senior government ministers are not falling over themselves to back Mr Haumaha. Police Minister Stuart Nash, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern all gave similar answers to the question of whether they had confidence in him.

Also Haumaha ‘disrespects and bullies women’ – Louise Nicholas

Louise Nicholas says several women have approached her over the years complaining about Wally Haumaha’s attitude towards women and his bullying behaviour.

Ms Nicholas said there wasn’t a lot of information given to her at the time but she wasn’t surprised that the women were saying this was what Mr Haumaha was like.

“One in particular said to me ‘how the hell did he get to where he is with the way he treats women, it’s not right’.”

The women told Ms Nicholas that Mr Haumaha was a bully.

“They felt they weren’t listened to, they were in positions of doing the job they were employed to do, if I can put it that way, and yet it didn’t matter what they were saying or doing, it was kind of like he was slam dunking them, he wasn’t listening to them.”

She hopes the inquiry is wide enough to cover these concerns.

“Wally Haumaha has done amazing work in his capacity as iwi liaison, we can’t take that away from him. My concern, and the concern of other women has been that he disrespects and bullies women, that is what’s come to my attention and that is what I know.”

Ms Nicholas said she warned the executive when they were looking to appoint Mr Haumaha.

“I said ‘it’s going to come back and bite you in the arse, it’s something you should not be doing’.”

The Government arse is getting a bit of a biting over this.

The inquiry should address most of these concerns, but first a new inquiry needs to be appointed.

Ardern and her Government should be checking things very carefully before making that appointment.