The Christchurch Press
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.
May 22 in history
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