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.