Key under pressure over Sabin

Prime Minister John Key is facing increasing questions about his handling of the Mike Sabin affair after the Northland MP’s resignation a month after reports he was being investigated by the police.

Mr Sabin announced he had resigned yesterday, citing personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament. He would not make any further comments.

It is understood some within National learned Mr Sabin was dealing with issues before the election but he had already been selected as a candidate and it was too late to change.

The real problem is that Sabin thought his situation was survivable. ?He played his “issues” down to National and his missus and promised it would all go away. ? In essence, he sold Key and his colleagues a load of hot air. ?

Labour’s Andrew Little and NZ First leader Winston Peters both questioned Mr Key’s handling of the matter, including his repeated refusals to say whether he knew before the election or before he appointed Mr Sabin chair of the law and order select committee.

Mr Little questioned whether Mr Key should have removed Mr Sabin earlier as chairman of that committee to protect the integrity of Parliament.

Mr Peters said Mr Key clearly thought he could ride out any trouble but he owed the public an explanation.

Mr Key said yesterday his office was told on Thursday Mr Sabin intended to resign. He said Mr Sabin was not asked to step down.

“Mr Sabin reached that conclusion himself on the back of personal and family reasons he is pursuing.

“He’s obviously made the best decision for himself and his family.”

It’s a decision that should have been made between the election and Christmas, and once again John Key is seen as not dealing with the problem children in a way that he should.

As Sabin has resigned the details will remain out of the public view, a stroke of late luck for Key as information to beat him with will dry up.

Mr Key would not comment on when he first learned Mr Sabin had issues to deal with, including whether it was before the election. He would not express confidence in Mr Sabin’s character but said Mr Sabin had made a substantial contribution to the caucus and was well regarded as an electorate MP.

After the election, Mr Sabin was made chairman of the law and order select committee over more senior MPs – a sign he could have been on the way to the ministerial benches.

It is this action by Key that’s the most concerning. ?It shows a dreadful lack of judgement. ?Sadly, you’re not allowed to know why. ?Another dirty job under the carpet. ? Nothing to see here, moving on.

One other side to third term-itis is the discovery and exposure of MPs that haven’t being behaving. ?When Key first started, he was turfing people out for so much as blinking the wrong way. ?Now, he tends to keep hedging until his hand is forced.

Some issues you can’t actually ask David Farrar to provide an answer to, and you need to show true leadership.


– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald