Ross has been rogue for some time

GRAHAME COX/STUFF
National MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Newsroom  reports that Jami-Lee Ross was always going to be a problem for the party. It was just a question of when. quote.

A small number of power players in the National Party will be kicking themselves for not having acted before last year’s election on complaints received against MP Jami-Lee Ross for erratic and bullying behaviour.

The man who was by then their chief whip was the subject of detailed representations to officials who run the party nationally and in Auckland about his crude political methods around his home electorate of Botany, including verbal threats and intimidation. end quote.

Ministers have been sacked for less, even in the current government. Well, eventually… quote.

One person affected told Newsroom it was clear then that if National Party officials had “acted earlier on what was clearly very serious complaints (intimidation and bullying), they may not be facing this debacle now”.

In the way of these things, National eyed the general election in September and managed to sweep things under the blue carpet. Ross stood and was re-elected and once Simon Bridges became leader he even moved onto the party’s front bench. end quote.

The thing is that Ross was seen as an up and coming in National, and was believed to be future minister material. To oust the member for Botany at the last election would have looked very odd indeed. quote.

Today, (at the time of writing) the National caucus debates whether to suspend Ross after a Category 5 political hurricane struck the party yesterday.

He stands accused of leaking the parliamentary expenses of his leader, Bridges, and of unspecified counts of other, concerning conduct. One source says there are several separate allegations in the ‘other’ pile, including disloyalty and one to which the word ‘inappropriate’ can be attached. end quote.

Add to that his claim that he ‘recorded’ his leader saying things that were inappropriate, and Ross is in serious trouble. quote.

The pre-election crisis over Ross stemmed from his bare-knuckles campaigning for his wife Lucy Schwaner to be chair of the Howick Local Board of the Auckland Council. Many on the Howick board are National Party types but the party doesn’t stand candidates directly.

Those who questioned Schwaner’s suitability to be chair, and who were caught up in her eventual defeat and immediate resignation from her just-elected board seat, felt the force of Ross’ political manoeuvrings. Two report the MP threatening to “go to war” with them and their families over the issue.

People reported being told to fall in line or else, were singled out and criticised privately and publicly – with one being subsequently issued a trespass notice by Ross’ electorate chair before a National Party event. end quote.

Not good behaviour from a local MP. He should have had one eye on his own political future, as well as that of his wife. quote.

The local board chair David Collings contacted National’s general manager Greg Hamilton first in October 2016, about Ross’ intimidation and bullying. Complaints over their wellbeing were also made by members to the Auckland Council into last year. Eventually some had a private meeting with the National president, Goodfellow, and regional chair, Andrew Hunt, because the situation was relentless.

Their repeated appeals for the MP to be reined in produced an unsatisfactory result but they were clear the party knew what they were dealing with in terms of Ross.

The latest crisis at the national level has patterns that seem familiar to those who complained.

Collings told Newsroom: “If National Party officials had listened and nipped it in the bud and acted earlier on what was clearly very serious complaints (intimidation and bullying), they may not be facing this debacle now.”

He said, from personal experience: “Jami-Lee is like moving fireworks, it was just a matter of time before he was going to ignite and go rogue.” end quote.

A terrible shame for a young man with what looked like a brilliant political future. quote.

As National MPs tried to keep up with the Bridges-Ross fallout yesterday it was clear the open disloyalty had tended to unify the caucus, for now, behind Bridges.

Other MPs surveyed by Newsroom were less willing to speak publicly. One, asked if she had any personal issues with Ross or if she had ever had to complain about his behaviour said “no comment” and hung up.

Another said Ross had acted “like the Emperor Nero trying to be Emperor before finally burning the house down”.

The MP said Ross had been disloyal and had intimidated people — but “people who were weaker than him”.

He had fewer qualifications for the senior benches than others, had not got his way at times, and started to behave erratically.

One MP thought whatever motion was put up at the meeting today could be unanimous and more issues with Ross’ conduct would come out as the caucus members were now all “sharing feelings about Jami”.

Even if he stays, suspended by National but as an MP, Ross would have to have National Party sanction to stand again as its candidate and that option appeared to evaporate about noon yesterday. end quote.

God, what a mess. But one thing is clear: Jami-Lee Ross has no future in politics and that is a terrible shame.

 


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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