The Sunday Star Times has followed last week’s story about Mike Sabin with a further revelation that the police inquiry into his behaviour has been ongoing for four months, since before the election. And scrutiny is now on what John Key knew. After all he appointed Sabin to be chair of the Law and Order committee while the investigation was under way. Surely he knew what was happening after all senior National Party figures were told about what was happening. His office were told about media enquiries into Sabin and the first thing you think he would have been given is a full briefing. And if he was not then you have to wonder why not.
National MP Mike Sabin is being called on to stand down as chairman of Parliament’s Law and Order Select Committee while police investigate an assault allegation against him.
The calls come as Prime Minister John Key’s handling of the situation comes under scrutiny, particularly whether Key knew of the police inquiry before appointing Sabin in October. Sabin also sits on the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.
National Party officials were aware before September’s general election that Sabin was possibly being investigated by police.
Key’s office was also, pre-election, informed of media inquiries about Sabin.
Winston Peters has provided a carefully measured statement.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says that if the National Government knew of the police inquiry before appointing Sabin then that was “inexplicable and inexcusable”, but if the Prime Minister was not aware of the police inquiry it was excusable and explicable.
Peters says that irrespective of when details of the police inquiry were known to Key, Sabin should now be stood down.
“I am not judging the outcome (of the police inquiry) – all I am saying is it is not a proper position to be holding whilst that is going on.”
“And the Prime Minister should have said to him (Sabin) a long time ago that it is time to stand aside.”
It will be interesting to see the details of the investigation once completed and if Sabin has exercised his right to silence. Last term he prepared a private member’s bill proposing that an adverse inference could be drawn if a person exercising a right to silence in certain circumstances such as when the complainant was a child or mentally impaired. It appears that the bill has not been renewed and is not on the current list of private members bills. It was in the list of bills in the ballot in 2013. A further bill that he proposed would have made parents of young people in trouble liable to be subject to bail conditions, even though they had committed no offence themselves. This bill has also disappeared.
He is someone on the more rabid right of the spectrum. In his maiden speech he talked about how “… years of socialist ideology, welfarism – which has evolved to provide perverse incentives to opt out and the insidious encroachment of government on the minds and lives of citizens has seen the notion of personal responsibility pilloried like it were the ramblings of capitalist zealots.” His role within caucus was important, throwing out red meat to its supporters to persuade them that National really is tough on beneficiaries as well as crime.
The focus will now be on John Key and on how he responds. When did he first know about the investigation into Sabin and if not immediately it came to light then why not?