Sunday, April 23, 2023

Andrea Vance: Why Labour is starting to look a little grubby

It’s usually the third term before the rot sets in.

Labour is displaying early symptoms of third term-itis, a kind of arrogance and complacency that can be fatal to future electoral success.

The longer they spend in office, the more a government start to look a little grubby. And there is nothing dirtier than money in politics.

Stuart Nash emailed two donors about a confidential cabinet discussion. They were commercial property owners who had an interest in the decision.

His office then refused to disclose this information – a breach of official information laws, in which the then-prime minister’s office was complicit.

It was his fourth strike, and Nash was out. Donations from the forestry industry, which he went on to regulate as minister, were already controversial – but there was never any suggestion of impropriety.

He had a parting shot, quoting Theodore Roosevelt. “It is not the critic who counts...the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

Using the words of the former US president, Nash appeared to be taking issue with “those cold and timid souls” in the media, who had pointed out his breaches of Cabinet standards.

To draw heat out of the scandal, PM Chris Hipkins changed the narrative by pretending to fix a problem that was never really there.

With Trumpian-level gaslighting, he promised “transparency and vigilance” around lobbyists and their relationships with politicians.

The real issue of influence in politics comes from the fact that we have a fundraising regime that sells access to the highest bidder – and outdated, compromised freedom of information laws that allow politicians (and their officials) to cover it up.

I can promise you – ministers are much more likely to pick up the phone to a donor, than scratch the back of a colleague-turned-shill begging a favour.

But sure. Take away the swipe cards that allow a handful of professional schmoozers to sip burnt coffee in Parliament’s cafe. That’ll fix it.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know “a review” is code for “make it go away until the public forget about it.”

Still, once government starts to go off, the smell lingers in the nostrils.

It soon emerged another minister had broken Cabinet manual rules. Kiri Allan criticised Radio NZ's treatment of Māori reporters and urged the public broadcaster to examine its culture during a farewell event for her fiancée, outgoing RNZ broadcaster Māni Dunlop.

The legislation that establishes editorial independence of the public broadcaster stipulates that no minister can give it direction in that way. The Cabinet manual makes it clear “ministers must conduct themselves at all times in the knowledge that their role is a public one”.

Allan sincerely apologised, and PM Hipkins took no further action.

On Friday, it emerged Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon gave about $10,000 (in cash and in kind through a rent subsidy) to Allan ahead of the 2020 election. (He also gave $1000 to National's East Coast electorate.)

Ex-Gisborne mayor Foon was appointed in July 2019, by the Labour Government – but not Allan, who was then a backbencher. However, she is now Justice Minister, and holds the power of appointment.

Foon’s position is now probably untenable. As a former politician he should have identified that his donations were inappropriate while he held a supposedly apolitical role, charged with holding the Government to account.

MPs should not be taking money from state servants, and Allan should never have accepted the donation. It must immediately be repaid.

It compromises the neutrality of the public service in the eyes of the public. But that will worry Labour less than the damage it does to its own image.

This drip feed of mini-scandals have common threads. They paint a picture of a cosy elite bound by mutual back-scratching, most of which happens within the limits of the law, but that don’t quite pass the voters’ sniff test...The full article is published HERE

Andrea Vance is a senior journalist at Stuff, with more than 20 years’ experience in reporting.


DeeM said...

I try not to get too excited when Stuff journos question this Labour government.
Because they usually make up for it with yet another woke, far-Left article that explains why Stuff are not far from being stuffed. And Andrea is well known for it.

Still, I'm grateful for small mercies and any degree of criticism by our MSM has to be celebrated. So well done, Andrea...for now!

Anonymous said...

Where have you been Andrea? Labour - money, lies and corruption have been it's MO for ages. Have you forgotten the Ginny Andersen electoral office scam? Of course that pales to insignificant relative to the silence/ whitewash over Mahuta's sister's Chair appointment to Te Puna, and her husband's and relatives appointment to consultancy roles that all reek of nepotism. Then there was the Sharma bullying affair, but the three biggest lies have to have been around the extent of Medsafe's endorsement of the Covid vaccine; that, the Treaty requires co-governance and a "tweak" to democracy; and that, Three Waters is going to save us all money. "Grubby" is too kind a word and, as for "rot", go on - pick a topic - Housing, Health, Education, Policing, Immigration, Economy/Cost of Living - is there anything where there isn't a major problem?

Ken S said...

Trevor Mallard?d Nanaia Mahuta? And Vance has the gall to say that Labour is STARTING to look a little grubby. Pathetic beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

Marxist shill.

Anonymous said...

Please don't repost Ms Vance's work on this blog. She's an absolute disgrace with no credibility. A broken clock might be right twice a day, but you will drive the rest your audience away.