What the National Party president and board knew

Written By: - Date published: 6:40 am, June 26th, 2017 - 20 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, bill english, national - Tags: , , , , ,

Newsroom has published another piece of investigative journalism by Melanie Reid on the Barclay affair, this time looking at what the National Party president and board knew.

The National Party President Peter Goodfellow and the board allowed Todd Barclay to be selected as a candidate for the upcoming election despite knowing that he was clearly unsuitable to be an MP.

Very detailed written accounts of the now disgraced MP’s behaviour had been provided to the board and the candidate selection committee before they allowed his nomination to go forward.

The board and the select committee knew:

– Barclay had already broken National Party rules by releasing the name of a challenging candidate.
– Had breached the rules by speaking to the media between the close of nomination and the close of the pre-selection process.
– Had spoken to his electoral office staff about employment matters that breached a confidentiality agreement.
– That Barclay didn’t declare that police had asked him to be interviewed over the taping of conversations of staffer Glenys Dickson on his candidate nomination form.
– Had got staff in his Gore electorate office to canvass delegates to support his reselection when it was outside their contractual obligations and a misuse of taxpayer money.
– There were issues around a $5000 loan that Barclay had been given by the party for campaigning. At this point the loan had not been repaid or disclosed in the campaign donation register.

The information was contained in a letter handed to National Party President Peter Goodfellow at 10.45 am at the pre-selection meeting in the Balclutha sports complex on December 9, 2016.

National Party sources say they saw Goodfellow open the letter, read it and then put it in his jacket pocket.

The letter warned that if the media learned more about what Barclay had been up to it would prove very embarrassing for the National Party and particularly Bill English who knew about the unlawful recording of conversations. The letter also said that Barclay had tried to denigrate English for his own means but didn’t say how.

Worried that the board was doing nothing, National Party members from Gore sent further letters to Goodfellow and the board on December 21, 2016, January 24, 2017, January 30, 2017.

The article then looks at the last ten months and what happened in the Clutha Southland electorate during the candidate selection process. Local National Party members and office holders tried to get the issues addressed but were repeatedly ignored. Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie eventually resigned because he didn’t want to be involved in a cover-up.

Prior to this, in February 2016, former Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie had spoken at length to the Southern Regional chair Rachel Bird and National Party board member Kate Hazlett.

Davie was confident Barclay had acted illegally because the former local MP, Bill English, who was then Deputy Prime Minister texted him on February 21, 2016 saying:

He left a dictaphone running that picked up all conversations in the office Just the office end of phone conversations. The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach.

Stuart Davie did deal with it as he should have. As well as going to the regional chairperson he turned to the Southern electorate National Party Board member Kate Hazlett.

Hazlett responded by telling him “he should not stand again for the electorate chair as he clearly didn’t support Todd”.

Davie told Newsroom that he resigned a few days after this conversation because he knew Barclay was lying when he denied the secret recordings and he didn’t want to be part of any cover-up.

Full details in the article including the involvement of board member Glenda Hughes.

More good work by Melanie Reid and Newsroom. I’m impressed by Davie in addition to Dickson, as well as the other locals who decided to do the right thing. It takes courage to stand up like that in a small conservative community, and both Davie and Dickson have talked about the abuse and harassment that followed as well as the pressure that was applied from seniors within the organisation.

We’re not looking at not just the mistakes of one MP. The seriousness of the lying and covering up by the Prime Minister is now complemented by a level of corruption throughout the party hierarchy. None of this is particularly surprising given National’s involvement in Dirty Politics, but it’s still shocking to the many of us who believe that the government of NZ should be honest, law-abiding and competent.

One thing that remains unexplained is why the National Party would take such risks over a junior and relatively new MP. Perhaps it was hubris and complacency after 8 years of getting away with the abuse of power, or perhaps there are still things we don’t know about what was so important about Todd Barclay.

It’s time to change the government, and as Gareth Hughes said in parliament last week, it’s time to clean up the government as well.

20 comments on “What the National Party president and board knew”

  1. garibaldi 1

    Strange that it should be this that is the gift that keeps on giving after all the transgressions in shonkeys time. Having said that, it is a delight to see the Natz unwinding at long last. Well done Melanie.

  2. Keith 2

    I think to get rid of Barclay after a plethora of other Nats who either left “voluntarily ” or been shown the door, would have been just too much to bear at that time.

    But I suspect the real reason connects nicely with his former life as a tobacco lobbyist. Like others of that ilk in their Dirty Politics department, from that particularly seedy, hard right of the National Party, I have to wonder if other forces were at work that kept this poisonous little creep there, inside what appears to be deep divisions with the Nats.

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 2.1

      The USA is a classic example of what politics is like when corporate donations have converted politicians into lobbyists for their “previous” and often also future employers. We must make sure Aotearoa does not go down that path any further.

  3. Barklay was a big investment for the National Party, imo. He was being tutored by Lusk et al, supported by English and Key and the rest of that crew. Barclay was to be Prime Minister when the time came and much resource had already been invested, hence the inability to act swiftly enough to cauterize the wound he made with his behaviour. This “loss” is far greater than we are yet picking – not just a lowly backbencher at all – interesting to see how long-term National’s succession planning has become. Watch yer babies!

    • weka 3.1

      That makes a lot of sense. People are saying youth has nothing to do with it, but if you compare Barclay to others of his ilk (neoliberal RWers), I think his inexperience combined with the arrogance/entitlement is a factor. I can imagine Key being like that when he was in his 20s but he never got caught or was in different situations where it didn’t matter, and there is no way he would make those mistakes now.

      Also millennial culture and that arrogance are probably a really bad mix. BE at least remembers what old school conservatism is. There’s a point in the original interview with Dickson where I went ‘that’s the point where she decided to stand up’. You just don’t treat your own people like that, and the old school people know that.

      • Gristle 3.1.1

        Inexperience should not be used as an excuse for Todd. To work in PR for any tobacco company shows that he was willing support the death and injury that smoking causes.

        Todd is Todd’s focus: Everybody else can go screw themself.

        • weka

          I’m not excusing him, I’m pointing to contributory factors. I know that I made mistakes in my 20s that I wouldn’t make now, because I’ve had more experience and time to figure shit out. I make different mistakes now, lol. Someone has pointed out that part of the issue for Barclay was that he was given too much power without enough supervision and mentoring. That seems fair. Again it’s not an excuse (the lot of them deserve everything they get), it’s just an observation about the dynamics.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      Mothers look out for Rumpelstiltskin National, he promises a lot, you just have to sell him your soul and your babies and he will take you all to another place, away from the ordinary throng.

    • Ross 3.3

      I dont agree, Robert. I suspect that National thought and still think that Barclay is a loose cannon and possibly has info on other Nat MPs including Key that would be very embarrassing for National if Barclay decided to sing like a canary. He may have threatened such disclosure. I imagine some Nats are holding their breath that he doesnt squeal.(I think in Reid’s latest article there is a reference to Barclay having a big mouth.)

      • Ross 3.3.1

        Correction the article reports on Barclay allegedly denigrating English which, if true, would be a worry for senior Nats. Is Barclay going to go quietly? I expect he has a cushy job lined up as long as he keeps his trap shut.

  4. ianmac 4

    “They” will say that all selection/branch committees have a few disagreements and spats but that is Democracy. We in National are no different from the goings on in Labour or the Greens.
    Well done Melanie Reid.

  5. gsays 5

    Excellent journalism, well done Melanie Reid.
    Thanks weka or the synopsis. I agree with you about the integrity and courage shown by Glenys Dickson and Stuart Davie.

    The source for this is well placed.

    There are so many damaging tangents:
    Police ’10 month investigation’ being reopened with no new information,
    Glenda Hughes bullying,
    dodgy candidate selection ‘stacking’,
    PM allowing junior MP to lie like a flat fish for over a year,
    There are tapes, there might not be tapes, I was offered to hear tapes,
    The top of the national party board being aware of the whole affair…

  6. Bearded Git 6

    I’m into my tenth bag of popcorn……

  7. Whispering Kate 7

    And meanwhile ol’ Teflon Jon is once again sliding out of this debacle – why isn’t he being flushed out and questioned – wasn’t he the one who signed off the money out of the sludge fund to silence the disgruntled employee in the Gore office.

  8. Is the Barclay affair the reason Key departed – very likely.

    • tc 8.1

      One of many that if journalism was applied wouldn’t be great look for national.

      Imagine if they’d pursued lusk/eade etc after DP was released or did some digging on SCF, ian fletchers appointment, law changes which add up to tax havens, warner bros, blind trusts etc etc.

      newsroom comes from weldons destruction of mediawonks dwindling journalistic capability so the karma is strong.

  9. Heather Grimwood 9

    2014 ‘meet the candidates’ meetings clearly showed who/what Todd Barclay was.
    Undoubtedly those in the Catlins assessed well. Some others were sadly not well attended.
    I suggest voters should return to the earlier practice of attending such opportunities.

  10. mosa 10

    Melanie Reid has restored my faith in journalism and Nicky Hagar off course.

    Mr key bailed at ” the right time ” there is probably a lot more at work here ……….. a hell of a lot more !

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