It’s just not worth the risk

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 pm, April 5th, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: , ,

From Bill Ralston’s latest column on the Richard Worth scandal:

Key’s predecessor had no qualms about making ministers walk the plank if they failed to tell her everything.

Unless he wants to appear weak and risk further embarrassment to his Government, Key will have to throw the hapless Worth overboard.

Ralston’s right. Key should protect his brand and sack Worth.

It’s a particularly bad look to have repeatedly attacked the last govenment on the spurious ground of corruption while being perfectly comfortable tolerating the real thing in your own caucus.

A “bollocking” just doesn’t cut it. It’s an issue of leadership. Worth’s got to go.

23 comments on “It’s just not worth the risk”

  1. The Sprout 1

    Worth is toast.

  2. This is the first column by Ralston for some time that did not read like a National Party press release. Maybe it was written by entities within the National Party. No matter what I agree with the Sprout, Worth is toast.

    If he is not then questions about Key will have to be asked.

  3. Graeme 3

    It’s a particularly bad look to have repeatedly attacked the last govenment on the spurious ground of corruption

    Electoral Act 1993, section 214B, as at 10 September 2005:

    Every person who directly or indirectly pays or knowingly aids or abets any person in paying for or on account of any election expenses any sum in excess of the maximum amount prescribed by this section is,—

    (a) If the act is done with knowledge that the payment is in excess of the maximum amount prescribed by this section, guilty of a corrupt practice…

    ref: Govt legislation

    • Come on Graeme

      “Corrupt practice” under the Electoral Act is entirely different to the conventional meaning of “Corruption”.

      BTW were you referring to National’s GST problem?

      Or Labour’s use of Parliamentary Services funds for publicising policies to (gasp) publicise policies in accordance with previous practice, a sum which Labour members eventually paid for privately.

      • Graeme 3.1.1

        I wasn’t referring to either.

        I was referring to the overspending, not the mis-spending. For me, the use of Parliamentary funds was always a bit of a sideshow – I mentioned at the time that I thought Labour’s validating legislation was the appropriate thing for them to do (although National’s opposition was also appropriate).

        The real issue was the deliberate breach of the party vote spending limit (the mis-spending was all that was left after the police decided not to prosecute the overspending, which is why it got the coverage).

        It doesn’t matter who pays for party vote advertising. Labour could pay for it, Parliamentary Services could pay for it, someone could have robbed a bank – there is an election party vote spending limit. In 2005 Labour knowingly and deliberately spent more than that limit.

        They were warned about a week before the election that the pledgecard was an election advertisement and should be included as an election expense, they promised to, but kept spending.

        When Bob Clarkson was warned that some items of advertising he hadn’t thought were election expenses should be included in his spending limit he stopped spending, because to keep spending and go over the limit would be a corrupt practice. Labour should have followed his lead. They chose not to, because the stakes were high, and winning the election was more important to them than following election law.

        This has nothing to do with the auditor-general, or his (and the solicitor-general’s) debateable interpretation of the law. That was fuzzy, but the electoral law question was not. Even if the pledge card could lawfully be paid for by the Parliamentary Service it would still have to be included as an election expense – and this is something even Jack Hodder concurred with (he used it as an argument against the Auditor-General’s decision).

        • r0b

          I was referring to the overspending, not the mis-spending.

          Neither major party came out of that one looking too good. The police decided not to prosecute Labour for its (pledge card) overspend, or National for its advertising (GST) overspend. As far as I recall they weren’t even called to consider National’s $1.3 million overspend via the exclusive brethren third party campaign.

          • Graeme

            National’s GST overspend was a slightly different beast. It doesn’t excuse it, but they still spent less than Labour on broadcast advertising (putting lie to the Labour claim that they could tell National was overspending ebcause of the quantity of National broadcast ads). More importantly, it wasn’t found to be a deliberate breach, indeed, the police found that they didn’t have enough evidence to charge National, whereas, they had enough evidence to charge someone within Labour, but chose not to.

            I certainly think National should have been prosecuted, but their actions don’t fall within the corrupt practice category; being told you’re going to overspend, and then choosing to do so anyway is on a different plane.

            As for the Exclsuive Brethren, why do you believe that should have been attributed as a National Party expense? We know the Brethern approached them, we know National knew there was to be some sort of campaign involving quite a substantial sum of money (possibly up to $1.3m, I don’t believe that much was actually spent), we know National said, “well, we can’t have anything to do with that, approach the CEO to make sure your campaign is legal and won’t impinge on ours”, we know the CEO gave some advice on how to do that. We also know that the matters that the police considered over the Brethren were, first, an erroneous address, and second, that they published a pro-National leaflet without National’s permission. I’m failing to see a reason why this is a something the National Party should have included as an expense. If I write to Labour at the beginning of the election, tell them I’m going to fund a solid gold vote Labour billboard in Auckland which will cost $2.4m, even though I’m breaking the law, it doesn’t mean Labour, because they knew about it, can’t spend anything.

          • r0b

            National’s GST overspend was a slightly different beast.

            If you believe that it was accidental, yes.

            the police found that they didn’t have enough evidence to charge National, whereas, they had enough evidence to charge someone within Labour, but chose not to.

            The police found a prima facie case, but that: “there was insufficient evidence to indicate that an offence under s214b of the Electoral Act had been committed.” However I agree that Labour’s defence of its actions at that time seem weak.

            As for the Exclsuive Brethren, why do you believe that should have been attributed as a National Party expense?

            Under the law as it existed at that time the EB spend didn’t need to be attributed. The EB and National worked closely together to stay within the letter of the law while thoroughly violating the intent. (In the same way National laundered its donors list through anonymous trusts, careful to stay within the letter of the law while thoroughly violating the intent). In effect, National got a free $1.3 million boost to its advertising campaign. Don Brash lied about this repeatedly to try and conceal tactics that he knew to be wrong. Later, when it all came out, Don Brash was forced to resign. We can argue about it all we like, but history has already decided which party’s behaviour was “on a different plane.”

  4. ripp0 4

    what is then, guys, National or Key worthless…??

  5. Tigger 5

    Oh come on – Ralston has to criticise Key at some points to make himself look ‘unbiased’ and this is a safe critique – he’s attacking Worth essentially, not Key who can still claims he’s being ‘fair’ but will sack Worth for the next minute cock-up that Worth makes (which ought to be in 3, 2, 1…).

  6. John Dalley 6

    I note a news headline on the herald website tonight suggesting a Worth company has or had been investigated by the SFO. Unfortunately the page won’t open to read any further.
    Worth must be getting to the Burnt Toast variety about now. Any predictions towards him still having a job by the end of the week?

  7. Richard 7

    I still find it odd the there has been little media focus on the fact that a newly elected cabinet minister is taking time off for a private business trip to India, with the blessing of John Key. I would have thought a cabinet post is a full time position. It is certainly paid like one.

    • Tigger 7.1

      Thanks for posting this Richard because it’s struck me as odd too – we’re in the middle of the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, Worth is a new Minister and he’s off pursuing his own interests? Bit early to be taking a holiday isn’t it…? Then again, Key took a month out after only a month in the job. I know politicians are require to take leave at some point but who else on this site got to take weeks of leave after only months in their new job?

  8. BLiP 8

    I see that the near lone voice of reason at the NZ Fox New Herald, Brian Rudman, has managed to open a whole new can of worms in relation to the “worthy” Dr Dick.

  9. outofbed 9

    Talking of corruption, the odious Mr Chris Auchinvole the national MP for the West Coast has declared his “other forms of advertising on his electoral returns as $13928
    What a crock , this is a man who got resource consent from TDC to blitz the TDC with hoardings (you are only normal allowed twenty)
    I counted 42 between Richmond and Collingwood not “party vote National billboards but just with his mugshot on it.
    When you add the entire Westcoast Tasman electorate from Haast to Karemea he must have had in excess of 250 billboards through out his electorate. Plainly that would have to cost more then 13 grand
    The timber alone would be $30 per billboard.min
    To give you some idea of the cost, In the neighboring Nelson electorate
    Nick Smith had 15 billboards vandalized and he is quoted as saying that is was a $3000.00 replacement cost.
    which by my maths works out 200 bucks a pop.
    Something stinks I think
    Someone tell Damian

    • BLiP 9.1

      Doesn’t the National Party have some dubious system whereby someone owns the billboards and the candidates merely “rent” them ?

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      If you can prove that he had far more advertising than he says he did then you should probably talk to the police. Although I think it may be past the cut off date for taking action. Still, it would get in the papers.

  10. BLip – Yes Rudman has discovered even more skeletons lurking in the closet. Surely Key must act. It is the perception of conflict that is the problem and there are so many opportunities for conflict involved in Worth’s different arrangements that he must go. I want to know what is going on within the National Party that advice was not given to Worth on managing conflicts as soon as he was appointed minister or even back when he was elected to Parliament in the first place. Surely this would be easy to handle and staff could provide advice!

    • BLiP 10.1

      This clown Worth is a lawyer and former Chairman of a significant law firm, you don’t really believe he doesn’t know what a conflict of interest is, do you?

      Micky Savage got it in one when he said the tories believe they are born to rule and that the usual rules don’t apply to them.

      I don’t believe Key should sack Worth, however. Far better that he remain where he is so we can take pot shots and hold him up as an example of the people National have running the country. Why all-your-base would want to give Key such good advice I have no idea 😉

      • Tigger 10.1.1

        Why has he been ‘consulting’ for SG all this time anyway? Is being an MP a full time job or not?

  11. Well Key has made up his mind –
    Key won’t sack minister, despite fresh allegations
    What else will have to come out before he takes action? I think its gone a bit far already.

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