Accountability then and now…

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, August 4th, 2009 - 47 comments
Categories: corruption, labour, national - Tags:

Then: Labour Minister David Parker accused of financial wrongdoing (filing incorrect returns). He resigns Ministerial portfolios and as Attorney General while the Companies Office investigates. Cleared of all wrongdoing (the returns were correct) and later reinstated as a Minister.
Now: National Minister Richard Worth accused of financial wrongdoing (using Ministerial position to seek personal gain). Given a warning, then a final warning, then a series of final warnings as more details emerge. No real sanction of any form.

Then: Labour Minister Lianne Dalziel illegally leaks private information to the press and is accused of lying to the media to cover her involvement. Resigned as Minister. (Reinstated two years later after the next election).
Now: National Minister Paula Bennett illegally leaks private information to the press and appears to have lied to the media to try and justify her involvement. No sanction of any form, as PM John Key is “comfortable” with this behaviour.

Then: Labour Minister Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle (Alliance) accused of rorting MPs allowances for Wellington accommodation. Both immediately stood down from Ministerial duties during investigation. The Auditor General declared their payments legal, but Bunkle never regained her ministerial position, and Hobbs voluntarily paid the money back.
Now: National Minister Bill English accused of rorting MPs allowances for Wellington accommodation. PM John Key is comfortable with this behaviour and scolds critics for “persecuting” Bill.

Then: Opposition leader John Key spent his time ranting at the imagined evils of the Labour government (I’ve had nine years of being told what lightbulb I can screw into the house, what shower I can take, what food I can eat, what things I can do, what thoughts I am allowed to have”!!!). Key promises new standards of accountability and a tough “one strike and you’re out” standard for his government.
Now: What a joke.

–r0b

47 comments on “Accountability then and now… ”

  1. burt 1

    rOb

    Re: David (I can sell stuff from under the nose of the receiver) Parker.

    <history_rewrite>(the returns were correct)</history_rewrite>

  2. when do I laugh? before or after Tim Ellis et al’s inevitable harrumphing?

    • Armchair Critic 2.1

      I’m sure Tim will be getting a sore arse, sitting on the fence like he is. Maybe this will be enough for him to pick a side and stop trying to work out if it is okay because someone else might have done it too.

      • burt 2.1.1

        Labour excused Helen Clark from a court case because ‘others were doing it too’ so I think Tim has a lot to catch up on before you should point the ‘childish excuses’ stick at him.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1

          Wasn’t it because Clark was the wrong person to sue? ie, the politically motivated case wouldn’t have gotten off the ground in any case.

        • IrishBill 2.1.1.2

          So when one “they did it too” argument falls down you shift to another? It’s like watching a child try to lie.

        • Armchair Critic 2.1.1.3

          When he starts making childish excuses I will point that out. Currently Tim is fence sitting.
          The issues are pretty simple, each is either right or wrong (I say National are wrong one each count, for the record). This applies to National, Labour and any other political party. I can’t wait for Tim to make an unequivocal call either way – you too burt.
          It is a bitch being in government – National are the ones in the spotlight now and they are the ones that can do something about it. It is too late to carry on about what Labour did for the last nine years, or National for the nine years before that, when the entitlements were even better than today.

          • Patrick 2.1.1.3.1

            I think you’ve missed a really big one,

            what happened to Shane Jones and Rick Barker – over Yong Ming Yan – aka Bill Liu?
            of course they gave the ‘donations’ back and stood down until a police investigation was completed….

            ….wot….
            .
            .. do you mean that didnt happen?

            but hasn’t Bill Liu also been arrested recently?

  3. SJ Hawkins 3

    Did I miss something? Has the privacy commissioner ruled that Bennett broke the law?

    • r0b 3.1

      No, but as the law seems clear and no credible defence has been mounted, I’ve gone out on a limb and stated that it was illegal. Note that I did the same thing for the Dalziel “Then:” comparison (as far as I know never formally tested in court). If I’m found to be wrong I will apologise to both here.

      • Swampy 3.1.1

        The only clear thing in the law is that MPs are not bound by the Act.

        • BLiP 3.1.1.1

          Do you have trouble reading things that disagree with reality on your planet?

          “Ministers of the crown, like other individuals, businesses, and organisations, are covered by the Privacy Act, and should take account of the privacy principles before they release personal details in a public forum,” said Ms Shroff.

  4. SJ Hawkins 4

    Then: Right wingers accuse the Labour co-alition government of hypocrisy
    Now: Left wingers accuse the National co-alition government of hypocrisy

    • Anthony Karinski 4.1

      Well National campaigned on the issue and should expect to be held to a higher standard. When the standard is the same or lower the “they too” excuse just doesn’t wash.

      • burt 4.1.1

        Come on – Labour promised a new standard of openness and accountability on the campaign trail as well. Do you have two eyes ?

        • Anthony Karinski 4.1.1.1

          And Labour should have been held accountable had they been the government now and messed around like the Nats are doing. They’re not the government, National is, and the responsibility to deliver on their own promises lie solely on them.

      • SJ Hawkins 4.1.2

        Agreed – ‘they did it too’ is no justification.
        So what option will the voters have in 2011?

        • Anthony Karinski 4.1.2.1

          Depends. If this triggers enough disgust among the general population one or more parties may campaign on WHICH rules and regulations they see as bad and HOW they will change them to make government more transparent and ethical. Not just make an empty promise to be honest, like the Nats seem to have done.

    • burt 4.2

      Both are correct – but dicks only have one eye.

    • r0b 4.3

      Are all accusations equally valid?

  5. Ianmac 5

    Funny that the MSM hasn’t put 2+2 together like you have Guest post. Well done.

    • Daveski 5.1

      r0b Guest

      A phantom writer at the Standard?

      I’m sure if r0b had more time, he would have discussed Taito, Winston, Helen’s apartment in Wellington, Trevor’s HR consultancy services etc etc

      Sadly, it’s the nature of politics – progress through pragmatism. Principles are fine for blogging but politics is more realpolitik than real.

      • r0b 5.1.1

        My methodology was simple Daveski. I took three recent accountability scandals from the current National government, and I compared them to the three closest cases I could find from the previous 9 years of Labour government.

        Do you draw any particular conclusions from the comparisons?

        • Daveski 5.1.1.1

          Yes, that there is no comparison to make with Taito, Winston and other beat-ups committed under Labour 🙂 It’s highly selective and on another day you might just admit it.

          Anyway, I had a feeling it was all going to turn to poop soon anyway (which is why Labour has been so silent on this):

          The annual leases of Labour ministers’ taxpayer funded ministerial homes last year has just been released and are totally comparable to the present ones.

          Goff admitted that he and other Labour Ministers had been in the same category as Housing Minister Phil Heatley who has accepted a house at taxpayer expense and then rented out his old flat – the only difference being that Heatley has rented his out to an MP and Goff hasn’t.

          See Audrey Young’s blog for more.

          I’m consistent on this one. They’re both as bad as each other.

          • r0b 5.1.1.1.1

            It’s highly selective and on another day you might just admit it.

            Are the comparisons valid? Taito was stood down as a Minister, Winston was stood down as a Minister, those comparisons would have reached similar conclusions. Whereas which ever way you slice it National is 0/3 on accountability.

            Goff admitted that he and other Labour Ministers had been in the same category as Housing Minister Phil Heatley

            I’ve not focused on Heatley, and I agree that most / all parties dine deeply at the trough. I have focused on English, an unusually egregious example, and the nearest equivalent past cases.

            As for Labour being “the same” – well, perhaps not

            So anyway, seriously Daveski, comparing the three cases of then and now, your conclusion is that there is no difference in standards of accountability? Really?

            • sausage fingers 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Taito was stood down as a Minister

              Only after months and months of being defended. Remember “He is only guilty of helping people”?

              Winston was stood down as a Minister

              Again, only after months and months of being defended. And even then, the left claimed it was nothing but persecution by the evil corporately owned media.

          • Ianmac 5.1.1.1.2

            They were not the same were they? From Stuff:
            “Labour ministers had only been entitled to up to the MPs’ limit of $24,000 a year or around $460 a week.” Wot only $24,000 per year. Bill has had that much in 12 months! Norty chap.

      • burt 5.1.2

        I do, it was selective and limited in scope so as to paint the picture you wanted and has no relationship to the broader reality of accountability in NZ politics.

  6. Mark M 6

    Sorry I thought Richard Worth got sacked!!
    David Parker got reinstated and thats a vast difference, letting some one have a holiday on full entitlement against a sacking.
    Worth has no job , his reputation in ruins and has probably lost some retirement entitlements as well no doubt

    Yes Lianne Dalziel illegaly released information and lied to the Press.
    Paula Bennett released information that had already been released by Labour the year before , and had been released by the DPB recipient herself.
    Where did you get the bit about releasing the information being illegal.
    Did you just make that up or do you have some future knowledge of the outcome of the complaint against Bennett

    Bill English hasnt been proven to have done anything other than receive his entitlement as per his employment contract.
    Should he not have the same rights Im sure you would demand for any other employee to receive their entitlements under their employment agreement.

    The issue of how fair those employment entitlements are is another issue.

    If he has somehow fiddled those entitlements then I would support him standing down.

    But do you really want Gerry Brownlee as finance minister

  7. Rex Widerstrom 7

    Echoing the points made above by Armchair Critic, Daveski and others (but worth repeating because partisans from both sides keep desperately blowing smoke over their side’s indiscretions while flashing mirrors at their opponents’)…

    What stands out most clearly from this post is the following:

    – Our politicians steal from us.
    – Our politicians use the power of their office to attack the weak who oppose them.
    – Our politicians lie to us.
    – At some point, when the heat gets too much, their bosses will rein them in. Then, when our backs are turned they (or a freshly elected lot) will pull the same s**t. At this stage in its life the National government figures it can take more heat than could Labour when similar issues arose.

    Conclusion: The present system is, as the Australians would colourfully term it, absolutely rooted. It needs fundamental and far-reaching change, and that’s never going to come from the people who have their teeth clamped to the teat or from those hungrily awaiting their turn.

    • BLiP 7.1

      And, speaking of politicians lying, here’s the latest example to come to light. John Key himself – and dobbed in by his own staff.

      hehehe – captcha: beginnings (of the end?) . . . fingers crossed.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        And possibly going to the privileges committee. I would like to assume that when a PM is found in breach of those rules he gets kicked out of parliament but the way the Nats have been going I’m none too sure of that happening.

      • Ianmac 7.1.2

        But a bit odd that the complaint of misleading the House has to be laid on the same day. Weeks later give immunity.

    • Quoth the Raven 7.2

      We see all this, yet the minute you question the need for the political class you’re labeled a kook.

      • Rex Widerstrom 7.2.1

        Yet the political class could be eliminated easily, as we’ve discussed recently.

        Thing is, it’d require major changes to the law. And who has their greedy fingers on the levers that make the law…? We live in a political Escher painting.

        Here’s an idea: A political party whose only platform is to change the way politics works and which would self-destruct at the election occuring after it had achieved that objective. It’d seek votes just to be allowed a term to do things such as (but not limited to) introduce accountability measures, slash feather-bedding (like housing rorts), and impose actual penalties for malfeasance in, or misuse of, public office.

        And to establish things like a Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards, with sanction powers, to whom the public could directly appeal (but only on matters of MPs and Ministers behaviour, not their decisions, so as to preserve the lawmaking supremacy of Parliament). And all entrenched.

        Trouble is, I can just imagine the righties saying “Great idea… just as long as it also brings back hanging” while the lefties say “Great idea… just so long as it makes cycling everywhere compulsory” 😕

        The only way round that which I can think of is that it’d vote to preserve the status quo, or abstain, on issues other than its electoral/political reform platform. That way perhaps enough people would think it worth postponing dealing with other issues for 3 years if it meant fixing the system.

        That brief glimpse of Utopia was brought to you by Valium — fueling delusions since the 1950s

    • Anthony Karinski 7.3

      I think one of the minor parties could gain traction on this issue. (Maori, Greens or Act).

      First they need to repent and come clean on all their own past and present excesses and apologise. Then say how they will change legislation to prevent any future largesses and that their support to any future government is dependent on them adopting their policy. Then viciously drag all the dirty laundry of all the other parties out to air.

      I think voters will appreciate the honesty and courage of exposing yourself and it leaves your political opponents with no ammunition when you shine the light on their dirty deeds. They will just look corrupt and weak for not having had the guts to do it themselves. And what are they going to do? Throw back all the allegations about you that you already made public yourself?

      • Rex Widerstrom 7.3.1

        Gee that sounds familiar…

        Ah yes, NZ First circa 1993 – 95. The only reason I joined. And then they set about busily creating their own pile of filthy lucre laundry.

        *sob*

  8. ghostwhowalks 8

    Whats the bet the National MPs had taxpayer funded flights and accommodation in Christchurch for the party conference.

    Plus even Ministers would be claiming the invoices under the MPs allowances ( which aren’t open to the official information act ) rather than Ministers travel which is open to scrutiny for each trip

  9. Tim Ellis 9

    I don’t know what the bet is on that ghostwhowalks. Perhaps about as likely as Labour doing the same to get its people to its conference. Are you prepare to wager that National MPs are claiming for travel expenses that Labour don’t?

    • Quoth the Raven 9.1

      We know they claimed travel expenses for party political work last time they were in. Michael Laws admitted it in his article.

  10. no leftie 10

    Then: Helen Clark says…”the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful”

    Now: Jury says “guilty of 26 of 35 bribery, corruption perverting the course of justice charges”

  11. Adolf Fiinkensein 11

    Fellers, you really really need to do a full page on Taito Philip Field, don’t you think?

    I’d say Cunliffe, O’connor and King might be shitting bricks this afternoon.

    Cat got your tongues?

  12. Mark M 12

    Accountability ?

    Taito Phillip Feild refer the following link
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/08/fields_guilt_and_labours_shame.html

  13. graham 13

    the whole story is crap and labour knows it .not a noise at red alert.as i have said before if the rules are changed all mps will sell any wellington flats or homes and buy investment property in chch or auckland instead big deal.ministers will still live in flash ministers house so what .now key didnt lie in parliament . remember in this country that you are innocent untill proven guilty .the end of the day is since this will hurt all mps labour national green jim etc it wont hurt john key
    all you lefties look at the polls

  14. Swampy 14

    Worth was eventually kicked out of cabinet (the behaviours referred to being contributory to this) and pressured to resign from Parliament as he eventually did. When was the last time any Labour minister or MP resigned from Parliament.

    Dalziel was sacked because she lied, not because of the release of information. (Not because she was accused of lying as you claim)

    Clark obviously used Bunkle’s situation to get rid of her from Cabinet just as she did to Dover Samuels (who was also cleared of allegations but not reinstated)

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