Privileges complaints laid

Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, July 8th, 2009 - 12 comments
Categories: corruption, Parliament - Tags:

A number of poor performing ministers like Paula Bennett, Kate Wilkinson, Anne Tolley, Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia, Rodney Hide, Pansy Wong, and Key himself, have tried to extradite themselves from sticky situations in the House by lying. It was only a matter of time until one of them lied so blatantly that a privileges complaint was laid.

Nick Smith was always a top candidate for a complaint. His handling of ACC has been ideological, error-ridden, and over-blown. The compliant itself is on an, arguably, minor matter – the claim is that Smith misled the House when he said faulty official advice was the reason he announced redundancies at ACC to the House before the staff were notified, whereas the official advice Smith had seen clearly says the staff hadn’t been advised. Basically, he lied to the House about the official advice he had received to cover his earlier breach of protocol.


I'm this close to being fired

Smith, who at last report had 400 unread reports on his desk, is clearly not coping with the pressures of office well. He made a total hash of the attack on ACC earlier this year derailing National’s plans for radical reform. He is clearly committed to the environment at a personal level but has led a weakening of environmental protections in government. It’s unlikely he will be able to champion a meaningful ETS against stronger characters like Joyce even if he wants to. Frankly, he’s a liability for National because you never know when he’ll crack.

I don’t know if the complaint will get far though. Speaker Lockwood Smith may well nix it. The same with the second compliant – against Chris Finlayson who told the House the Buckle St Memorial Park was in the “planning stages” when Treasury budget papers said is was “cancelled”. Finlayson says Treasury got it wrong.

Still, Labour’s strategy here is to highlight how ministers are playing fast and loose with the facts in an effort to gloss over the unpalatable truths of their government’s performance. They’re doing what a good Opposition does. Keeping the pressure on ministers and bringing their misbehaviour to light.

12 comments on “Privileges complaints laid”

  1. Pat 1

    I can’t help but think that Labour should be saving their powder for a decent issue.

    The complaints seem so pedantic that Labour risks appearing like the petulant child complaining about a sibling (the usual response from the parent being “Go away and stop being such a tattle-tale”).

  2. Whilst Nick Smith may be somewhat of a liability for National in some respects, I certainly shudder to think who might replace him as Minister for the Environment or Minister for Climate Change Issues if he was to go at some point in the future.

  3. Maynard J 3

    Pat, in this case Smith basically told the House people were being made redundant from ACC before they had themselves been told. He then lied to cover this mistake up. Not a good gig.

    Are you expecting far worse though? 🙂 if these complaints can prevent lies and damaging cock-ups then good on Labour. You seem to be advocating they play politics instead…

    • Pat 3.1

      No I’m questioning whether they are issues that acheive anything politically for Labour. The thing about the PC complaint against Peters was that it had legs politically, and dominated political discussions among the public at a critical time.

      Labour could probably make a dozen PC complaints in the next few years similar to these two, but does that diffuse the impact of the one good one that comes along?

      • ghostwhowalks 3.1.1

        Well there is a cover up on the Worth issue ( and that has legs) and a series of lies told.
        It all adds up.
        And while they are small in themselves, Smith has been involved in two court cases where the Judges didn’t think him ‘credible’.
        Which is judgespeak for liar.

        With a conviction for interfering with a court case. Smith has to be one of the least credible of Nationals ministers ( and a senior one to boot)

        Plus all it takes is a single lie to parliament to have to resign, Clark had asked for resignations of her ministers for lying to journalists.

        Off course key will be ‘relaxed’ about it all. Which will become an albatross after 3 years

      • Ron 3.1.2

        Pat has a point.
        I think it’s interesting because NACT got endless mileage out of petty issues (remember Rodney’s taxi chits) and downright lies ( e.g. sea bed and foreshore) because their constituency will latch on to anything to bitch about and give it mileage. The whole “bloody government” complaint was huge by the time NACT rolled the last government.

        Whereas I think Labour’s is more interested in actual issues.
        Labour will only get traction on these “minor” digs (and they are a legitimate political tool) when the general constituency has had a bit more of the downside of life under the Tories and starts to get bitchy again.

        The media response is interesting. With the exception of the Worth thing most media outlets are letting most of the gummint’s slips slide whereas they were like a dog at a smelly old bone every time Labour slipped up in the last term.

    • ghostwhowalks 3.2

      Playing politics ?
      Are you mad suggesting they let it go.
      Parliament is ALL about politics.
      If hes too stupid to tell the truth he shouldn’t even be there.

      Notice no one saying its all made up, just that they dont want to know.

  4. Phil Lyth 4


    Are you saying that you understand that an MP has just made a complaint of breach of privilege? Are you breaking the news (in which case be a bit more specific)? Or are you commenting on something already in the public domain?

    I may well have missed something but I try to keep up with the play.

    • Maynard J 4.1

      This is public stuff – I believe there was an article on Stuff and NZH yesterday (not sure about off-line). Grant Robertson made the complaint based upon what Smith was told, according to ACC, and what he told the house he knew.

      Edit: here is the link: OnStuff.

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