Sep 12, 2008

Beyond Doubt

Even stonger views from The Press. This is three Editorials today PM. Surely you must act

The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, continues to obfuscate and dither over whether to sack the suspended Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, says The Press in an editorial.
She said earlier this week she would wait for the outcome of the appearance of Owen Glenn, the expatriate billionaire benefactor of New Zealand First, and Peters before Parliament's privileges committee. Now, despite the compelling evidence presented by Glenn which Peters abysmally failed to rebut, Clark continues to suggest there is enough there to cause her to have doubts. This is nonsense. Clark is failing to act not because there is any real doubt any more, but out of political calculation, because she may need Peters in future. In doing so, she badly compromises her own reputation for political integrity.
Clark has obscured the matter by talking continually of the need to follow "due process" and the rules of "natural justice" as though the matter were some sort of court trial. It is not. The privileges committee hearing is an inquiry by politicians and although there are rules to be followed, they are not the rules applying to a trial. In any event, those rules do not apply when it comes to the Prime Minister, or anyone else for that matter, making up their minds.
Glenn arrived of his own volition at the privileges committee and produced not only testimony but also affidavits and evidence that supported his version of what went on between him and Peters over Glenn's $100,000 gift. In particular, he gave a clear, itemised narration of the conversations he had with Peters and details of how the gift was made, and he backed it with telephone records and a sworn statement from an independent witness. Given the opportunity to produce his best evidence to rebut this damning account, Peters could some up with nothing substantial in return. Rather, he produced flat denials and irrelevancies. Indeed, this has been his tactic throughout to flatly deny things until forced by incontrovertible evidence to admit them.
Having worked hard before his appearance to confuse the issue by suggesting that Glenn might somehow have misremembered events or got muddled, Labour continues, by pointing to minor discrepancies or errors, to try to generate a smokescreen around his evidence and cast doubt on it. But unless there is some dramatic new evidence that has not yet been revealed, no honest, objective observer who saw and heard Glenn this week, and watched Peters' reply, can any longer doubt the matter.
The New Zealand First party itself has shown, by the evidence that has now emerged of inaccurate election donation returns not just once but in election after election, that it too apparently believes it does not have to play by the same rules as everyone else. This has happened so often that it is hard escape the belief that it is a deliberate tactic designed, for electoral advantage, to bamboozle the party's supporters about the source of its income.
The rhetoric of parts of Peters' privileges committee evidence, suggesting a malign conspiracy against him, was clearly a warm-up for what is likely to be the theme of his election campaign. It must be hoped that voters have the sense to see through it and ensure that we have had the last of him in government and of New Zealand First in Parliament.