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


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  • Benoni

    Sabin reigning is a non issue as is Key’s handling of it. No one gives a stuff about it except those with a morbidly excessive interest in politics. In short, it is a beltway issue only.

    • Aucky

      I agree Benoni. We have two years ahead of us before the 2017 campaign is anywhere near starting and there will be a truckload of bigger issues than this one for all political parties to deal with before then. Who remembers Aaron Gilmore? By 2017 it Joe Public will be saying Mike who, what was that name again……..?

      The public showed their disdain for dirty politics last September. JK has fired Sabin. Nothing to see here.

      • Nechtan

        Maybe, maybe not. Depending on what charges Sabin is facing/convicted off (if any), the opposition assisted by a complaint MSM will milk it for all its worth. The whole what did the PM know and when, etc? Perceptions do count, remember what happened to Judith?

        • Aucky

          ……and in a few months time Joe Public will be saying ‘Judith who?’.

          • JAFA Gazza

            Nope they wont. Dollars to doughnuts she will be signing KDC’s extradition papers.

    • JAFA Gazza

      Sorry. You are wrong. This will NOT blow over as anothe beltway issue because the MSM and the left will wring every drop of blood out of it. To prove Key is incompetent. To prove he has no control over his MPs. To show that National supporters elect wife beaters (or whatever the NON charge was).

      That is exactly WHY Key needs to get on top of this. He needs to corral his MP’s and re-assess their fit for purpose. Cut off the left attack before they see a sign of a fight.

  • sandalwood789

    Meh….. whoop-de-do, *who cares* what Key did?
    Sabin is *gone*.
    End of story.

    This is just a storm in a teacup – yet another MSM beat-up.

    • Actually, it isn’t.

      • chrisgale

        Questions will have to be about due process, what JK knew, and then what he did. Sabin was not in cabinet — where a National Leader can dump you without reason (Labour elects their cabinet, another reason not to ever vote for them) but MPs are a broader picture.

        And I think JK is gun shy about such issues after last year and listening to the back room boys a bit too much (Memo to Nicky Hagar — Cam ain’t in the back room. His Dad was, He is not one of the National Party senior team).

        The Opposition have to be very careful as well. Because if they drop the standards too far, there will be blood on the floor, and fair amount will be green, red and black: all parties have their MPs who have skeletons.

        No knowledge of what Sabin is up against. He has resigned — perhaps a bit late, but that will blow over. The issues of what constitutes a right and proper person will not.

  • Forrest Ranger

    Maybe, just maybe, Key was not in a position legally to do anything about it. Maybe he thought (or was advised) that letting matters take their course in to the courts and the resulting blanket suppression orders (assuming it is the same case?) was the correct approach. Had he acted sooner in sacking or suspending Sabin he might have had egg on his face had the matter not got to court?
    He needs to play a straight bat in parliament in a couple of weeks to the inevitable (pointless) questions from the opposition on the issue. He can quite rightly say that the matter is before the courts and he has nothing to add. Whatever he knew in advance of last Friday is irrelevant.

  • The Whinging Pom

    I think we need to be careful about acting on rumours alone.

    If Key were to give someone the chop purely on the basis of allegations then the left could have a field day putting up false accusation after false accusation. What’s needed is for the truth to come out, and if that’s damning for the PM to act swiftly and decisively.

    It seems that the MSM believes that every recidivist scumbag in the country has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty (and often, when proven to be guilty, deserving of our utmost sympathy because they didn’t get enough breast as a baby), whilst politicians, especially on the Right, should be thrown to the lions on the back of any bit of tittle tattle going round the beltway.

    • Realpolitik says he must go. The charges are unsurvivable politically. Trust me I know.

      There is no guessing with anything I say in the post above.

      One day some of you will realise that John Key does not possess the infallibility that Popes once enjoyed.

      • The Whinging Pom

        I understand what you’re saying, and I assumed that the extent to which you’ve blogged about this issue over the last couple of months meant that you knew the smoke did in fact indicate there was a fire somewhere.

        But as a principle I think that justice has to be seen to be done, and this means not throwing people to the mob until that process has been completed.

        On the other hand, of course, you’d hope that an MP who’d done something that was going to damage his/her party would have both the savvy and the integrity to fall on his/her own sword before being asked/forced to do so.

      • JAFA Gazza

        Agree. Key needs to reign in any issues that will tarnish the Party or the Message. If there is impropriety the he needs to be seen to act as a leader. If it is rumour – or an in situ investigation he should have the cojones to stand someone down until the issue is resolved through the judicial process.

        As the old saying goes….there’s no smoke without fire. It’s just that smoke is more visible and more toxic than fire.

        • Albert Lane

          reign, rain, rein……

      • Frederik

        Cam, on a scale of one to ten – with ten being catastrophic – how bad do you expect this is for Key?

  • JAFA Gazza

    Key needs to man up and grow some Cojone’s on matters such as this. If ANY MP is involved in a legal incident that shows a possibility that it could reflect badly on them or the National Party — he needs to jump in and act. I have a contract that says that I am forbidden to bring the company into any area of disrespect or potential defamation through my acts – whether in private or public.
    And THATis a private commercial organisation. I think being an elected member of parliament would mean that you would be so much further under the microscope in terms of your activities. If you dont like the scrutiny and assessment of your activities dont run for PUBLIC office.

    Key should have stood him down if there was a slightest issue and let the justice system run its course.

    I am a National supporter – but Key is starting to get on my tits with shows of inadequacy such as this. Dodging the bullet is never a good plan for survival.

    • friardo

      In general dodging a bullet if there is one coming at you is the ONLY plan for survival. Clearly Key sees whatever issue there is with Sabin as a private matter and isn’t commenting. Hell’s teeth, he sent Collins on her way (wrongly as it turned out) and copped flack for that now he’s copping flack for not jumping the gun. Still, he’s timed it well with the Greens issues in the news headlines.
      Sabin is likely to be way in the past in a week.

      • JAFA Gazza

        Dodging a bullet when it comes at you is both a disasterous attempt of survival as it is a public display of desperation. Chances are very slim tat it will work in situ — but as a “strategy” then you are well buggered. He definitely mishandled the JC affair – and te Williamson one…and was – in my opinion – outflanked with the Sabin depth of issue.

        Like I said – he needs to grow some Cojone’s. He needs to pull his MP’s together in a “come to Jesus” moment and lay down the law. If you f**k up yu will be toast. No room for this in a third term….thats what the MSM and Lefties will be hanging on…Key will be under the scrutiny microscope more than ever because of the “third term arrogance”…

        He needs to nail it and sort it a la H Clarke style. Without burying nw talent of course.

        • Sally

          Their next caucus is on Tuesday and that would be good time to lay down the law. MPs must realise that they must be honourable in all facets of their lives. At the same a call to the executive might not go amiss. Sort out the ratbags within.

          • JAFA Gazza

            Voice of reason. Well said.

      • Goldie

        Key could sack Collins because she is a member of the executive.
        Key could not sack Sabine because (a) he is an electorate MP, and (b) Sabine’s appointment to the select committees is a parliamentary appointment by the Business Committee.

        • friardo

          I didn’t say sack anyone, being sent on one’s way is done by a vast variety of means. However it’s good to be apprised of the written rules, so thanks for that, even if such rules are frequently of academic interest.

  • Jaffa

    And if John Key knew about skeletons in the “journalists” cupboard, should he make that public, too?

    In the Public Interest of course!

  • Cadwallader

    I can’t see that JK has put a foot wrong. If he acted with haste each time there was a hint of a problem with his MPs he would damage his party. If Sabin kept this largely to himself then what should JK have done? Acted hysterically?

    • Agree, all a bit of a yawn.

    • Pete Smith

      well, if I was key I would not have said that he ( sabin) can remain on the law and order select committee, sorry, thats not acceptable.
      Key needs to tidy up his ranks, here we are in the 3rd term after a host of scandals has taken a toll on the party. A little credibility would not go a miss.
      Key knew about this before the election, you can’t tell me key didn’t know the details, it simply does not work like that

  • Andrew Gibson

    Don’t really see this as a huge issue for Key; unless there’s some secret recording of the PM saying “let’s cover this up” he’s probably doing what any competent manager might do.

    Everyone is entitled to due process and at least some loyalty as they work through what they are to going to do; in this case giving Sabin himself the chance to do the right thing?

    The same thing happened with Labour’s Daryll Hughes fiasco I think.

    • Nechtan

      The Huges incident was very quickly buried by Phil Goff, and Darren sent off shore. Different kettle of fish.

      • Wallace Westland

        Why? Because it happened to a male?

    • HSV325

      If Angry Andrew starts having a pop at Key, Key should remind him of the Hughes incident and the big cover up.

    • Pahtrisha

      But ‘competent manager’ is not what a servant leader should be. A good leader will surround themselves with ‘competent managers’, but New Zealand is not an organization, it is a nation and it is time Key understood that difference. The leader of a Social Democracy must be a ‘servant leader’. The good of the country must be considered ahead of their personal popularity at all times. Perhaps when Key announces New Zealand Inc’s IPO he can begin to act like a ‘manager’ and not a ‘leader’. Based on Key’s incumbency, I would suspect that time is close at hand.

      Anyone who enters the political arena must understand they will be held accountable. If they don’t like that, they need to stay out of politics. It is simple. Sabin should not have become a national level politician.

      • Andrew Gibson

        I agree that sometimes Key forgets he can’t do as he pleases, as in his previous business career.

        But surely a balance is required; how do you decide what is for the “good of the nation” ?

        For example that might require Key to be popular, lest the left seize control of the treasury benches.

  • Sharky75

    I agree that the Sabin issue is not a good look. I would also make the general comment that a lot of us who are National supporters / “on the right” are finding a lot of current “National” policies and new announcements are getting increasingly hard to swallow. The fact none of the Clark policies have been overturned (except tinkering on employment law I think), I personally think WFF and Interest Free student loans are terrible economic policies, even though I have personally benefited enormously from both, means it gets harder and harder to view National as “on the right” and John Key as a “on the right” National leader. I guess we just have to keep reminding ourselves at how horrible the alternative is.

  • JAFA Gazza

    Key said himself that he would not allow third term arrogance to get in the way of prgress.

    And that is good. But it is also a petard that the left will try to hoist him from at any opportunity.

    The reality is this. Key needs to be SEEN as a leader. He needs to rifle through his MP’s and get them on board and singing from the same hymn sheet. He needs to “whip” them into a collective bond and ensure there are no snakes in the wood pile.

    If he lets his MP’s – eleceted or List….become ridiculed through rumour or vindictive accusation, he needs to step in HARD.

    If you are an elected official – your llife and your actions are under total scrutiny. But you chose this. So suck it up and realise the “non your party” and MSM will be looking at firing bullets at you at any chance.

    Key should immediately stand down ANYONE who has an investigation underway – or defend them against “rumours”. Meandering doesnt cut it i’m afraid and it will just start to show he is incapable of making hard decisions.

    That is Mana fro heaven for the left. Grow some John, I’m a big supporter, but you have to start sorting your house out.

    • Goldie

      Key cannot stand down a chair of a select committee. Membership of select committees is determined by the Business Committee, and the PM is never a member of that.

  • sandalwood789

    Next weekend the Sevens will be on in Wellington.
    In a couple of weeks or so the country will be following the cricket World Cup here.

    I think the average Joe Bloggs in the street will be a lot more interested in those things than in what Key did or didn’t do to some nobody that they’ve barely heard of and who is no longer in parliament.

    Sure – the MSM will wring the story out for the next few weeks but that’s just “background noise” for the vast majority of people.

    • island time

      Correct…I would rather hear what the Government will do in this term to start reducing our debt levels.

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Uncle Key is panicking because Andrew Little is gaining mass support….yeah right….

  • peterwn

    If John was briefed under the ‘no surprises’ policy, then he needs to stay completely quiet on the matter unless or until things unfold. Granted that Helen Clark as Prime Minister said she could leak ‘by definition’ but she was quite wrong.

    • Wallace Westland

      Helen Clark was a full fledged jackbooted swastika armband wearing Nazi with the scruples of a sewer rat.
      No one by definition should ever aspire to her example.

      • pak

        Hope you doing O.K. Wallace – not like you to be so restrained …

        • Wallace Westland

          Nearly spat my coffee out lol

  • LovetoTeach

    Name suppression is there not only to protect the alleged offender, but also to protect the privacy of the alleged victims. I feel really uncomfortable about the focus the media are giving this case. Is people’s curiosity (right to know…right to be nosy more like) more important than the privacy of the people who have bravely pressed charges? And if I was the wife of an MP whose family had made allegations against him, would I want the PM talking about it? No, I wouldn’t. Let’s not play the political point scoring game over something like this.

    • Pahtrisha

      To some extent, families should be off limits. A good leader, which Key is not, would know how to balance the victims rights against the rights of the voters and the nation as a whole. It is not about ‘curiosity’ at all – the people have the right to know when a public officer, an elected politician breaks the law or acts in a way unbecoming his/her office. Once someone enters the political arena, they lose some of their privacy rights. If privacy is important to people they should a) refrain from entering politics or standing for any public office or b) refrain from marrying such a person.

      • LovetoTeach

        They lose some of their privacy rights and along with them their family. However, in matters like this the alleged victims right to privacy should outweigh the public “right to know” UNTIL the case has been through the courts.

        If you were Key – what exactly would you have done in this instance? What would you have said when questioned?
        What information would you have volunteered? (without questioning)

  • Sailor Sam

    As I have said before to varous people, Joh Key is not leader.
    Theonly type of leader is the pro-active one, the one who makes things happen and leads from the front.
    Jonh Key is the re-active type of lreader, he reacts to surroundings and circumstances, he lets events dictate his behaviour.
    In other words, not aleader at all.
    John Key’s strength in money dealings was his ability to spot a trend before his fellow money dealers.
    Since going into parliament, that strength has dissipated to the point of just being a reactionary.

    • KQ

      Hear hear

    • Pahtrisha

      He is a skilled trader and that requires the ability to react decisively. Reaction is what he knows best and he has honed the skill to such an extent that responses are automatic and vapid. He has been described as a master of derivatives trading and I am sure he was…he needs to return to this trade, he has no idea how to lead, especialy lead a nation.

  • anniem

    Tank you Albert Gale, grammar and spelling don’t matter TOO much on blog comments but knowing the difference between certain words,( eg rein, reign, rain,) is always a good idea.