Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, October 16th, 2018 - 83 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, journalism, Judith Collins, labour, Media, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, trevor mallard, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: jami-lee ross, maggie barry
No doubt like everyone else’s feed my twitter yesterday was on fire. I am not sure I have ever witnessed a situation where a stand up by a major party leader has been sabotaged by an MP from his party using twitter.
But that is what happened yesterday.
And other National MPs are cross.
What a disloyal disgrace this flawed & isolated individual has become. Having now read the PWC report I personally believe the unpleasant & bullying pattern of behaviour of Jami Lee Ross has no place in an otherwise united National Caucus under our leader Simon Bridges. https://t.co/Y5xXzUtffr
— Maggie Barry MP (@maggiebarrynz) October 15, 2018
Judith thinks that Ross should have the book thrown at him. From Newshub:
Papakura MP Ms Collins has condemned Mr Ross’ actions – while also seeming to take a dig at Mr Bridges’ leadership in the same breath.
“What’s been said today on Twitter is pretty appalling,” she told NZME. “I would not put up with it if I was in his [Mr Bridges’] position.”
She reiterated to Newshub that she “wouldn’t put up with the behaviour at all”.
“My point to Jami-Lee Ross is put up or shut up.”
She said Mr Ross, who she believes to be the leaker, should have come forward sooner to spare every other member of the caucus being subjected to a needless breach of privacy.
The proof against Ross is not pristine. There is no smoking gun, no confession, no proof that he actually sent the texts to Bridges and the others. And the “proof” only relates to the subsequent texts, not the original leak.
In fact the one matter that troubles me is that the report is relying on communications from his phone. Yet there is no proof of a text being sent to Tova O’Brien or someone associated with her. So presumably a burner phone was used for this purpose but not for other purposes. How likely is that?
And some of the calls complained of were to Trevor Mallard. I am sure that he could comment on the nature of the discussions, if they were innocent. And he has released this statement:
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard today said “I note that Paragraph 37 (o) of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report indicates that Jami-Lee Ross communicated with me on the 23rd August.
Mr Ross only communicated with me following a call that I made to him in the mistaken understanding that he was to be my contact on the leak inquiry while Paula Bennett was on leave. In fact, the contact was the Leader of the Opposition’s Chief of Staff. Mr Ross was not able to take my initial call, and undertook to call me back. I accidentally cut him off and he called back a second time.
I informed the office of the Leader of the Opposition of my error in this matter a few minutes later. I was not approached by either PwC or John Billington QC at any stage.
The statement is either an innocent explanation of Mallard’s role or an example of evil political bastardry or both but it does blow a rather large hole in the inquiry’s conclusions.
I get the impression there is other evidence which results in the conclusion that has been reached. But it has not been released.
I presume that Bridges will escape his caucus meeting unscathed. But there is this problem.
When I started to become expendable, I confronted him with evidence that I had recorded him discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in. Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law.
— Jami-Lee Ross (@jamileeross) October 14, 2018
Like everyone else on political twitter I wondered what he was referring to. It is likely that he was referring to the leak to Newshub over the weekend where it was pointed out that Bridges had amended his electoral return to remove donations from some Exclusive Brethren sources.
As Newshub reported yesterday:
Another party insider revealed to Garner Mr Bridges’ election returns were handed in late after amendments were made. Two donations – one of $10,000, another of $14,000 – were initially recorded on Mr Bridges’ own return, but removed and placed on the National Party’s return instead.
The $10,000 donation came from ‘Cathedral Club’. Mr Bridges refused to talk about who that was. According to blog posts by National-aligned pollster David Farrar and far-right blogger Cameron Slater, Cathedral Club appears to be bimonthly dinner featuring speakers from the political world. Both men imply attendees aren’t meant to reveal the details of conversations that take place at such meetings.
The larger donation came from Cubro Ltd, which Mr Bridges said was a healthcare business in Tauranga. Garner revealed the owners are also members of the Exclusive Brethren, a religious sect who controversially spent more than $1 million of their own money trying to get National elected in 2005. Nicky Hager’s book The Hollow Men detailed how the National Party worked with the Brethren behind the scenes, while publicly denying it.
Mr Bridges said he didn’t know the company had Brethren links, even though he’s been to the company’s premises.
I wonder why Bridges decided to change his return? Is the EB link that embarrassing?
I also wondered if Ross was referring to the earlier Donghua Liu incident where Ross took one for the team and said that the Donghua Liu payment was a local donation and not a party donation. This is so that National did not have to disclose the donation at the time that Maurice Williamson had provided Liu with assistance relating to a police prosecution.
And one further comment, Jacinda Ardern’s response has been magnificent and in keeping with her mantra there should be more kindness in politics. She has kept out of commenting on National’s problems even though for a fair period of time Bridges was trying to blame Labour for what has happened. This is in stark contrast to what National would do. Remember Key’s political monotones on the inner workings of Labour?
All eyes today will be on Jami-Lee Ross’s twitter feed. And on the decisions reached at National’s caucus meeting this morning.
hey @NZNationalParty in the interests of being open etc do you think you can livestream your next caucus meeting?
— caffeine addict (@caffeine_addict) October 15, 2018