The Judith Collins defamation action is starting to look like a cross between the Teapot tapes and the McLibel trial. The Minister has finally filed the legal proceedings against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little who, for their part, both seem determined to milk it for all it’s worth – see the two items by Danya Levy: MPs laugh off Collins' lawsuit and Little tells Collins to send in the 'thugs'. Clearly Little and Mallard sense that this legal action can only embarrass the Minister and her Government, and are set on turning the process into a circus with their hijinks, bluster, and jovial disregard for the matter.
Graeme Edgeler writes in his blogpost, Sanctuary!, that being ‘served’ your legal papers is a rather quaint, bizarre and ‘fun’ part of the whole procedure, so who can blame the Labour MPs for enjoying the theatrics. But he takes issue with the notion that MPs cannot be served defamation proceedings while in the Parliamentary complex due to parliamentary privilege. Instead Edgeler suggests that ‘unless they’re planning on being unfindable for next couple of years, it might be better to get it over with. If the case is as likely as they claim to prove embarrassing for the Minister, one might wonder why they don’t want to bring it on’. Furthermore, as Adam Bennett reports in Little out to embarrass Collins over court action, ‘should the pair avoid being served in person several times, lawyers could apply for a court order allowing the papers to be simply taped to their front doors’. [Read more below]
So why are the Labour MPs so blasé about Collins’ action and why is the Minister so determined to go down such a politically dangerous path? Andrew Little has explained that ‘A defamation proceedings is about her reputation and about what Trevor and I have said, not about our reputation. She has more to lose than any of us if she goes to trial’. This is nicely expanded upon in a blogpost on the Standard: Pride cometh. The key point is this: ‘She’s waited until close to the Budget so that the story would be quickly overshadowed and then forgotten. You see, Collins had foolishly got herself between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, having promised to sue, she had to follow through or be taunted forever and be seen as conceding she leaked Pullar’s name. On the other, there’s no way she would win a suit and her leadership aspirations would take a big hit from losing, which would be seen as de facto proof she leaked Pullar’s name’. Also on the issue, see Danyl Mclauchlan’s satire: They write letters.
Other important or interesting political items today include:
- With the issue of gay marriage emerging onto the political arena in New Zealand (and globally), it’s worth having a look at where MPs stand on the issue. When I interviewed politicians during last year’s election campaign, I asked them about same-sex marriage and their responses can be viewed (with summaries) in the blogpost, NZ politicians on gay marriage (on the record).
- There’s a fascinating court trial on at the moment that has the potential to seriously embarrass the Labour Party – see: Michael Field’s Tycoon boasted of his MP mates. The story has many parallels with the BanksDotcom scandal, and again raises significant questions about the relationship between politicians and the financial elite. Meanwhile, the latest chapter in the BanksDotcom saga is reported by Duncan Garner: Has Banks breached the cabinet manual?.
- Issues of immigration haven’t been so politically charged in the last few years, but is this about to change? Certainly Winston Peters is back pushing the issue – see Patrick Gower’s Winston: take away Dom Rd's Asian takeaways and Claire Trevett’s Peters: Signs show immigration rules useless. Coming after the Crafar farm controversy, John Moore ponders whether ‘such views are currently being promoted by the left in alliance with Maori nationalists, rather than by a populist right’ as part of a ‘global rise of xenophobic, nativist and nationalistic responses to ‘globalization’ – see his blog post: Language chauvinism, Maori nationalism and the demonisation of the ‘other’ in New Zealand.
- The Government’s role in the provision of social housing deserves scrutiny and its decision to backtrack on it’s Hobsonville Point development is gaining increasing attention – see Kate Shuttleworth’s Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan, and Close Up’s 10-minute item Government cancels low cost housing scheme - video. Phil Heatley has, however, announced ‘An extra 153 affordable houses will be built in Auckland under a $25.3 million deal to provide homes for people with low incomes, disabilities or social needs’ – see: Newswire’s $25.3 million deal for low income housing.
- After all is said and done, it seems that not much has really changed at Mfat, although certain reputations have been badly damaged – see: Tracy Watkins’ Allen wants to see through Mfat changes and Kate Chapman and Tracy Watkins’ Mfat restructure causes 'irreparable damage'.
- The rebuild of Christchurch has the political potential to both boost or badly damage the National Government, and Vernon Small reports today that there are signs of growing dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of the situation – see: Negativity on quake response grows.
- For a different angle on Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, see Morgan Godfery’s Colin Craig on Maori. Godfery delves into Craig’s approach to Maori issues and is pleasantly surprised by his (somewhat contradictory) findings.
- The VUW Institute of Policy Studies has just published the latest issue of Policy Quarterly, which you can access online here. Of particular interest is an article by Prof Jack Nagel: Evaluating Democracy in New Zealand under MMP (PDF). The latest edition also includes academic analysis of issues such as the use of parliamentary urgency, local government reform, and the funding of tertiary education.
- The issue of David Shearer’s performance and visibility as Labour leader is examined in an excellent item from last night’s Campbell Live – watch Whena Owen’s An analysis of David Shearer – video. Shearer has responded strongly today to criticism – watch him on TV3’s Firstline: Shearer responds to Labour criticism – video.
- What's the connection between Justin Bieber and Winston Peters? It’s not entirely clear – but New Zealand First is strangely promoting the teenage popstar on it’s website under construction, as reported by Toby Manhire.
- Finally, Gordon Campbell says that the ‘striking similarities between the Helen Clark and John Key Governments continue to unfold’ – see: A case of history repeating itself?.
Below are the internet links to all the NZ politics material from the last 24 hours that are either informative, insightful, interesting or influential. This list and the links are taken from a fuller document, NZ Politics Daily, which is emailed out, Monday to Friday, to various researchers, academics, journalists, MPs and so forth. The document is purely for research purposes only, and if you would like to be on the subscription list, please email: email@example.com
Collins defamation suit
Danya Levy (Stuff): MPs laugh off Collins' lawsuit
Danya Levy (Stuff): Little tells Collins to send in the 'thugs'
Adam Bennett (Herald): Little out to embarrass Collins over court action
Graeme Edgeler (Legal Beagle): Sanctuary!
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Mallard and Little defamation suit filed in court
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): They write letters
The Standard: Pride cometh
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): The Sadness and Disgrace of the Hobsonville Point Retreat
Michael Field (Stuff): Tycoon boasted of his MP mates
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The Bill Liu trial
The Jackal: Shane Jones for the chop?
Duncan Garner (TV3): Has Banks breached the cabinet manual?
Immigration and nationalism
Brian Rudman (Herald): Migrants' signs have breathed new life into depressed areas
Patrick Gower (TV3): Winston: take away Dom Rd's Asian takeaways
John Moore (liberation): Language chauvinism, Maori nationalism and the demonisation of the ‘other’ in New Zealand
Claire Trevett (Herald): Peters: Signs show immigration rules useless
Katie Bradford-Crozier (Newstalk ZB): PM dismisses Peters' ethnic remarks
John Braddock (WSW): New Zealand “Not for Sale” campaign promotes anti-Chinese sentiment
Dita de Boni (Idealog): This land is my land, this land is (not) your land
Claire Trevett (Herald): Revised diplomacy trim just start of wider cuts'
Kate Chapman and Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Mfat restructure causes 'irreparable damage'
Newswire: Damage done at MFAT – Labour
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): MFAT scales back redundancies
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Allen wants to see through Mfat changes
Stephen Franks: Fiji, MFAT and our piffling Parliament
Vernon Small (Stuff): Negativity on quake response grows
Kurt Bayer (Herald): Chch councillors in dark over 'Mr Fix-it'
Jarrod Booker (Herald): Halt on demolition angers minister
Jarrod Booker (Herald): Key shares quake boy's pain at loss
Charley Mann (Stuff): Boy's letter wins PM's visit
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): The Christchurch Problem for National
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the government’s use of Breakfast TV to announce immigration policy
John Drinnan (TV3): TV3 exit set to leave a big hole
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Media's job is to question the PM
Bill Ralston: Gotcha! Journalism
Peter Cresswell (Not PC): Key Derangement Syndrome
Peter Aranyi (The Paepae): John Key’s media whack-a-mole ‘tactical’ — Gavin Ellis
fearfactsexposed: Key attacks media for doing its job
Paul Cassidy (Herald): Smile, you're on candid camera
Tova O’Brien (TV3): Low decile schools to suffer from reforms – teachers
Newswire: Teacher performance pay plan under fire
Peter Lyons (Herald): Merit pay? Bring it on and show me the money
John Lewis and Rebecca Fox (ODT): Too early to discern effects of Budget
Jim Hopkins (Herald): How many marks out of 10, then?
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Performance based pay not the norm
Nelson Mail: Editorial – Another classroom battle on the way
Groping to Bethleham: The costs of producing education
Budget and economy
Newswire: Where’s the money coming from, Bill?
Hannah Lynch (NBR): Smokes, booze and property tax prime Budget targets
Adam Hollingworth (TV3): Greece causes NZ Budget woes
Newswire: Wage gap grows $1 a month – Labour
David Farrar (Herald): Fear over Greece just the beginning
Dita De Boni (Herald): The question is: Who cares?
Teuila Fuatai (Herald): Alarm over proposal to shut schools for disabled
Bryce Edwards (liberation): NZ politicians on gay marriage (on the record)
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): A case of history repeating itself?
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Colin Craig on Maori (and I'm on Twitter)
Whena Owen (TV3): An analysis of David Shearer
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): New Wiggles Line-up Announced
Martin Johnston (Herald): Whooping cough at peak of epidemic
Graeme Edgeler (Legal Beagle): MPs' Pay
NZ Parliament: Have your say on the MMP review
Michael Berry (Stuff): Climate change mining ruling challenge
Eloise Gibson (Stuff): Consumer laws get retooled
Toby Manhire (Listener): NZ First reveal their new force: Justin Bieber
Megan Miller (Stuff):Beer bong 'tomfoolery' no biggie, say pollsters
Peter Aranyi (The Paepae): I’d double-check if they told me what day it was