Clifton On Mallard

Jane Clifton summarizes Trevor Mallard’s dodgy ticket selling behaviour. This is the best summary of the whole Trademe Trev saga.

And what did the David Shearer led Labour party do about said incident and their inept MP?

They sent him off on a troughing trip to play with the new kids in Commonwealth…let’s hope the office walls are a whole lot thicker than in the Labour offices.

The dearth of political salesmanship here is staggering. But then again, in Trevor Mallard’s Trade Me outings, we have in microcosm an example of how big, and utterly inexplicable, politicians’ blind spots can be. And how ingeniously they can contrive to make their pratfalls even more self-injurious.

Joining the annals of petty but telling scandals that are never forgotten – Tuku’s undies, Rodney’s junkets, Shane’s grubby movies and Chris Carter’s “They’re only picking on me because I’m gay” – ­Trevor’s profiteering on concert ticket sales has every possible ingredient for immortality. He made about 70% profit, against Ticketek rules. But wait, there’s more, he: a) sold them to impecunious students; b) told a lower bidder his offer was “cheeky”; c) happily admitted he does this regularly; d) used parliamentary computers and his electorate office to do it; e) handed the envelope to the students in the street, saying to passers-by, “This is not what it looks like”; f) expressed annoyance at the public fuss, saying he’d now have to change his Trade Me identity (“Pisses me off!”); g) slagged off the students in the social media, saying that’d teach him to deal with kids from Newlands; and h) – my personal favourite – said he didn’t know how to do a Buy Nowand “didn’t read the fine print” on the tickets.

Fine print? Trevor is to the head of a pin what the Occupy movement is to Aotea Square. He uses up hours of parliamentary time each year with point-of-order hair-splitting, making even Winston’s way with semantics seem sloppy. He is also a cyber-ninja, seldom out of the social media – someone to whom Buy Now ought to be as natural as breathing.

In fairness, Trade Me’s allure can make canny barrow boys out of the mildest-mannered amateur salesperson and Trevor, a hyper-competitive alpha male, succumbed in a way that was probably inevitable. And you have to wonder at the students’ epiphany – happy to connive at the immoral profiteering, until they discovered it was a Labour MP clipping the ticket.

But even when it comes to petty sinning that “everybody” does, MPs just can’t. What’s more, when you’re on $170,000 a year on the public purse, you can’t afford to be seen nickel-and-diming it. Nor is there any privacy on a public website. And if you’re a habitual scrapper with a history of lobbing dirty bombs at opponents, you need to be especially careful, making this a most bewildering fall from grace for such an experienced, thorough and tough political operator. Still, it does at least go to show that someone in Parliament knows how to make a sale.

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