Written By: - Date published: 8:24 am, May 11th, 2014 - 92 comments
Categories: corruption, john key, Judith Collins, Media, national, paula bennett, same old national - Tags: Donghua Liu, maurice williamson, Oravida
Yesterday’s and today’s Heralds have a fascinating collection of articles all suggesting that patience with this Government is running thin.
Firstly more questions relating to Donghua Liu’s extraordinary treatment by Maurice Williamson were raised. Adam Bennett reported that Williamson had in the past lobbied three different Ministers of Immigration seeking a relaxation of the entry rules for wealthy immigrants. He was also present at the meeting where Dunedin based Michael Woodhouse paid a house call to Mr Liu at his Auckland hotel. As well as his lobbying efforts Williamson also personally swore Liu in as a New Zealand citizen as well as finding him a house in Pauanui and attempting to get police to review his prosecution. His dedication to serving someone who is not even a constituent is extreme.
The look is not good. A rich businessman donates large sums of money to National and gets preferential treatment. If National had changed the immigration policy as Liu had asked its future would have been sealed. National MPs must be pleased that the party did not succumb to the temptation. If there is work being performed on changing this particular aspect of Immigration policy National is toast for a long time.
To add to Williamson’s woes there is a story today on how he failed to declare a Samsung Galaxy phone in his register of pecuniary interests. His justification is that it was a loan rather than a gift and the value was less than $500 although this seems unlikely. The sense of entitlement is strong in this one. A question that springs to mind is how did the Herald find out about this? The RPI is not subject to the Official Information Act 1982.
Then Audrey Young wondered if Judith Collins’ hopes of becoming the next leader of the National Party have been dashed and she wondered if, shudder, Paula Bennett may be the next senior ranking female in National’s caucus and Collins may not survive as a Minister.
The extent of Collins’ demise can be measured by the fact that the big question is no longer whether she has damaged her chances of leadership. The question is whether she will survive as a minister.
The comments about Paula Bennett are fascinating. If she is the answer to National’s problems then they have major problems. Her pugnacious stupidity reminds me of Pauline Hanson in her prime.
About Collins Young said the following:
She [Collins] had already suffered the ignominy of a lecture in caucus by Bill English – “we support you as a colleague but not your actions” was the gist of it – on top of the Prime Minister telling the country she should take some time off.
Tolley has been by Collins’ side most of the week, but on Tuesday Paula Bennett joined the support team.
And about Bennett Young said the following:
Both Collins and Bennett declined to talk to the Weekend Herald, but there is no mistaking that Bennett is on the ascendancy in terms of her influence in the party.
It was happening before the Collins decline, but it is more obvious now.
Bennett got the seat she wanted in Upper Harbour. She has recently been appointed to National’s campaign committee.
She has the active patronage of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and would almost certainly leapfrog over Collins in the rankings were National to get a third term – assuming Collins survives.
If National did not win a third term, Bennett, who entered Parliament in 2005, could well be a contender for at least deputy leader.
And to add to the depressing news for National normally supportive commentator John Armstrong thinks that the wheels have fallen off National’s reelection campaign.
Tempting as it must have been to have done so, John Key apparently did not read the riot act to his fellow National MPs at their weekly closed-door caucus meeting last Tuesday.
That was probably wise of the leader. His colleagues did not need a lecture. What they wanted was reassurance.
Puzzled, befuddled and frazzled, they would have wanted answers to three questions – why are things suddenly turning to custard for National, what on earth is going to happen next and what are they going to do about it.
National is floundering. This may turn out to be a temporary aberration, and Key will call on every device in his political repertoire to ensure that it is.
But right now, it feels as if the political gods are bored with the widely-held assumption that National will cruise to victory in September’s election and have decided to throw obstacles in its way.
Even Rodney Hide thinks that the Government has had a week from hell. Of the Williamson and Oravida scandals he said:
The two stories run together create an odorous pattern: Chinese immigrants, political donations, favoured treatment. The faintest whiff of corruption is the last thing the Government needs.
Williamson’s resignation was quick, clean and over. Meanwhile, Collins’ “short private dinner”and “quick glass of milk” drag on.
Screwing up in politics is forgivable and survivable. What is not forgivable – or survivable – is not killing the story stone dead. That is Collins’ predicament. Her screw-up is proving an ongoing sore and distraction.
There are still the cheerleaders.
John Roughan thinks that Judith Collins’ actions relating to Oravida are acceptable because New Zealand as a whole benefitted. He concedes that she was in breach of the Cabinet Manual requirements. His suggested rewrite of the rules is bizarre because then every Minister would be free to pursue business interests as long as they could show an advantage for the country as well. This would be a recipe for blanket corruption. I cannot believe that he said this.
But National must be worried that one of its strongest media supporters is now openly critical of its performance.