Collins’ Bennett problem

Written By: - Date published: 12:13 pm, August 16th, 2012 - 22 comments
Categories: Judith Collins, law - Tags: , ,

I look forward to Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little calling Paula Bennett as a witness in their defamation suit with Judith Collins. Bennett openly admits doing what Collins has sued Mallard and Little for accusing her of doing: using ministerial powers to leak the private details of a political opponent. Bennett even says she’ll do it again. She obviously doesn’t see doing it as hurting her reputation.

Defamation is publishing a statement that hurts someone’s reputation in the eyes of the public (and the statement isn’t true, honest opinion, or privileged). So, if Bennett’s case proves that it doesn’t hurt the reputation of a minister to be known to have abused her ministerial powers to leak the private details of a political opponent, it can’t be defamatory to accuse Collins of doing exactly the same thing.

It will be hilarious to see Bennett insisting that she was right to do what Collins says it is defamatory to be accused of, that she would do it again, that’s shes proud of her actions and the public support her.

(of course, Collins suit will fail on honest opinion and Lange v Atkinson privilege anyway)

22 comments on “Collins’ Bennett problem”

  1. Chris

    Couple of things – first Paula Bennett and Judith Collins are different people, just because something doesn’t hurt Paula Bennett’s reputation doesn’t automatically mean being accused of that thing isn’t hurtful to Judith Collins’ reputation.

    Secondly how does honest opinion apply in this situation?

  2. DJ

    Not too sure how you got from “She obviously doesn’t see doing it as hurting her reputation.”

    to “So, if Bennett’s case proves that it doesn’t hurt the reputation ..”

    Pretty loose conclusion to draw.

    • Hayden

      It could be inferred from Bennett’s and English’s statements yesterday that it’s Government policy to release private information about people who publicly criticise the Government, therefore it’s difficult to successfully argue that being accused of executing that policy is defamatory. Just a possibility…

      It’s interesting to note the difference in the wider public’s reactions to each of the leaks: a number of people thought they had the right to know about beneficiaries’ income, but I don’t remember anyone arguing the same about Bronwyn Pullar, also a beneficiary, albeit of a different kind.

      • Chris

        Yeah I found that a bit strange as well – the only explanation I can come up with is the general public is not on the benefit so don’t mind people’s benefit information being leaked. Whereas everyone is on ACC and don’t want their own details leaked.

  3. Dr Terry

    It will not “hurt”her reputation so much as “Confirm”her reputation (presuming that she has any “reputation” to speak of!)

    • Murray Olsen

      Exactly. How can she prove that her reputation of being heartless, ruthless and spiteful was damaged by anything that Mallard (puke) or Little could do? A politician suing for damaged reputation is a total oxymoron.

  4. Treetop

    One of these ministers is a bully, the other one cannot see that the core of the problem is the sick culture at ACC and that her personal diversion is a hindrance to cleaning up a toxic government department.

  5. Both Ministers are considered bullys.
    But, I would not like to get into a shit fight with either of them.

  6. Anne

    Bennett hasn’t done too well thus far at Question time. The speaker described her behaviour in the House as like that of a three year old, which caused her to laugh out loud as though he was saying it as a joke. Trouble was he responded by telling her it wasn’t a joke.

    • Carol

      Yes, Anne. Methinks the Minister was a little rattled – also jumping up to answer a question before the Speaker had given her the nod to answer it.

      • mike

        Where can I witness this feast for the senses?

        • Carol

          Don’t know about a video of it (question time will be repeated on the Parliament channel on freeview 6pm tonight, fr those that get it).

          But here’s a transcript:

          Mr SPEAKER: Order! …
          —[Interruption] Order! I say to the Minister do not interject. I have had enough of this today and there will not—the Minister is showing no more discipline, or less discipline, than a 3-year-old child. It will cease. I am serious.

          Jacinda Ardern: Does she agree that today 20 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty?

          Mr SPEAKER: The Hon—[Interruption] Order! I have not even called the Minister. Can I encourage the Minister to settle down.

        • Anne

          Google NZ Parliament
          Click on to ‘Watch Parliament.’
          Click on to ‘high’ or ‘low’ resolution whichever is preferable.

          Question Time (2pm – approx.3:15pm each sitting day) is replayed between 6pm and 7:30pm for those who can’t watch or miss the afternoon session.

          oops: Carol has already answered. Still some idea what to do in future…

          • mike

            Much thanks Carol and Anne.

            Of course I’m guessing no one will ask her what I really wish they would:

            “Would the Minister for Demonizing Beneficiaries please explain how it is that she thinks she can get away with giving the Human Rights Commission her trademark hair flick?”


            Although I guess I already know the answer, she knows her boss won’t do a thing about it ‘cept smile and wave.

        • deuto

          The Parliament video archives on In the House are now really up to date and the videos of Question Time today are already available – here is a link. Click on it and then choose the question(s) you want to view eg Question 4 is the one where Bennett was told she was acting like a three year old at about 4.58 mins in but it is worth watching the whole video as it was ‘lively’. Her performance was slightly more restrained on question 11. Questions 2,5 and 7 are also worth watching.

          • Carol

            I thought questions 10 & 11 were important, with Sue Moroney & Jan Logie highlighting NAct’s abysmal record on issues impacting strongly on a lot of women.

            • deuto

              I agree, Carol. Have a lot of time for Sue M and also increasingly Jan. In fact, there are more and more good (Opposition) women in the House, many of whom are first timers such as Genter. Have also seen NZF’s Asenati Lole-Taylor in action several times recently – no holding back there!

    • Carol

      And a Minister on the back foot is getting a bit of cut-through into the MSM:

      Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said it was not a priority to measure New Zealand’s poverty line.

      Labour spokeswoman from children Jacinda Ardern said child poverty would not be resolved if the Government would not acknowledge the scale of the problem.

      “Given Ms Bennett’s frivolous treatment of what is a hugely serious issue, the public have every right to question her commitment to it.”

      “The message is clear. Either Paula Bennett doesn’t want to admit to the scale of the problem, or she is afraid of exposing her government’s lack of progress in fixing it.”

      Meanwhile, Brent Edwards on RNZ has just delivered a report on Bennett’s telling off by the Speaker today.

      Parliament’s Speaker Lockwood Smith has given the social development minister a severe telling off as she tried to answer questions on poverty on Thursday afternoon.

      • mike

        “”There is no actual poverty line,” she said.”

        (Line? What line? I can’t see any line? Can you see a line?)

        “”Children move in and out of poverty on a daily basis,” said Ms Bennett”

        (If only these damn kids would make up their minds, then yeah sure, I’d do some stats on them.)

        Two very unflattering photos on that Herald article too. Good job.

  7. tracey

    Its a joke… All those people who derided the last pm for thinking she knew best seem hypocritically quiet right now.

  8. just saying

    I’ve searched the usual places including Scoop which publishes press releases from all the parties unaltered, and I can find no press release from Labour condemning Bennet’s illegal actions in relation to Fuller. I think it’s fair to assume that because a beneficary was injured (and all other beneficaries threatened with the same if they publicly criticise the government) the Labour Party has deemed that she is therefore officially sub-human, as are all beneficaries, and they will continue to refuse to oppose even illegal actions from the government harming such persons.

    I can’t even summon up contempt and anger right at the moment. I just feeling like crying at where we’ve come to, and what it means for our collective future.