Parliamentary Service

Obviously David Carter hasn’t been to S&M’s on a Wednesday night

David Carter has ‘cleared’ Denis O’Rourke in his investigation into the relationship that isn’t a relationship because Denis O’Rourke specifically decided it wasn’t a relationship.

No matter how you look at it a Master/Slave relationship is still a relationship. What is obvious though is that David Carter has never been to Scotty & Mal’s bar on a Wednesday night, because if he had then he would never have made the ruling he has.

Parliament’s Speaker David Carter says he has had to accept that New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke is not in a relationship with his taxpayer funded employee and housemate Stephen James.

NZ First’s justice spokesman Mr O’Rourke was the subject of a complaint to Mr Carter by Queenstown man David Simpson who claimed Mr O’Rourke and his out of parliament assistant Mr James were in a long term relationship. Parliamentary rules forbid MPs from employing their spouses. ? Read more »

So what’s the fuss about NZ First Denis O’Rourke’s living arrangements?

First, let’s let Adam Bennett give the overview

A New Zealand First MP is the subject of a complaint to Parliament’s Speaker over the employment of a person who lives at the same property.

…?raised questions about the nature of the relationship between MP Denis O’Rourke and Stephen James, whom Mr O’Rourke employed after the 2011 election. MPs are not allowed to employ their partner, husband or wife in or outside Parliament.

So let’s?break this down. ? The property concerned is here

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A Whaleoil Ground Crew member has been sent?on?location to confirm the situation and reports ? Read more »

Rodney Hide on a dodgy union rorts and National’s lack of courage in taking on the unions

Rodney Hide discusses the dodgy union rort going on in the PSA:

For years government departments have been running a scam for the unions. The amounts involved total in the millions. The scam diverts your tax dollars away from their proper purpose to the union movement. The scam thereby indirectly assists Labour. It’s shonky.

The latest Government outfit engaging in the scam is Parliamentary Service. This is surprising. Parliamentary Service employs MPs’ staff and the many legions of people who make Parliament work. That includes MPs’ electorate agents, their office staff, the librarians, the cleaners and the messengers. To ensure a sound democracy and proper government the Parliamentary Service must be scrupulously fair and even-handed.

And here’s where it has fallen down. Badly.

The service has just settled a new Employment Agreement for all MPs’ support staff. The deal involves a kick-back for joining a union. There’s no other word for it. Staff who are members of the union receive a one-off payment of $1000. Non-union members receive a one-off payment of $500. The result is a $500 bonus for joining the union.

The two unions involved are the Public Service Association (PSA) and the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU). The $500 bonus more than pays the annual membership fee.

Parliamentary Service dresses up the union bonus as reflecting “the significant input of union members to the process of developing and agreeing the terms and the agreement itself”. But that’s phooey. The payment’s purpose is to pump union membership and fatten union bank accounts.

These unions are highly politicised and the Service and Food Workers Union directly affiliates to the Labour Party and pays levies for the privilege. The union even had a vote in choosing David Cunliffe as the new Labour leader.

The union’s webpage runs the banner, “Let’s Change the Government!”? Read more »

Surely they saw this coming?

Gerry Brownlee has said what was bleeding obvious from the moment the media started a campaign for special rights and privileges over and above anyone else.

These are the unintended consequences that Stephen Franks blogged about the other day.

Press Gallery chairwoman and Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett told the committee the Parliamentary Service had no authority to hand over swipe card information – which could be used to track Ms Vance’s movements around the parliamentary complex – or logs of which numbers she called from her office phone.

As well as asking Parliament to recognise the central role of the news media in a healthy democracy the Press Gallery has asked that, where in future Parliamentary Service was asked for information it holds on any accredited political reporter, it referred the request to the Speaker for further consideration and consultation with the reporter, their employer and the Press Gallery.

But Mr Brownlee said he found it “slightly ironic” the gallery was asking for that protection when Ms Vance had published details of a report that at the time was “clearly not in the public arena and not at that point for public consumption”.

“What is the difference here?”? Read more »

John Edwards writes on Fairfax’s Privacy whinge

Fairfax has rushed off to the Privacy Commissioner. Think for a minute how absolutely hilarious it is for a media organisation that plies its trade rummaging in the privacy of other people to now rush off to the Privacy Commissioner because someone allegedly abused their privacy. My sides are hurting from laughing at the irony of it all.

However what are their and Peter Dunne’s legal chances with all of this?

John Edwards suggests not much chance at all.

Without any power to compel the production of information, David Henry needed to rely on the cooperation of other parties. ?In order to cooperate in the absence of any legal obligation to disclose, Ministers, Parliamentary Service and others needed some authority to hand over information to the inquiry.

If an agency that is subject to the Privacy Act voluntarily hands over personal information, they need to be satisfied that doing so is consistent with the purposes of collection, is authorised by the individual concerned, or is necessary for the maintenance of the law (or one or two other exceptions).

The Parliamentary Service held copies of emails, and of security card records of both Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance. All of that is personal information. But the Privacy Act does not apply to the Parliamentary Service (except in a limited sense, relating ?personal information about employees). Therefore, however you feel about what they should have done, giving all the information to the inquiry, even emails, could not be a breach of the Privacy Act, so no remedy for Dunne/Vance. There might be ?a Privileges Committee inquiry, changes to procedures, or even to Standing Orders, but in respect of the Parliamentary Service, no one gets to claim a cent. ? Read more »

Not just the Greens, Shearer breaking the law too

It’s not just the Greens that are breaking the law… so is Labour/Shearer…

Shearer-IllegalAdvertising Read more »

Why Ethics in Government Matters

National are spinning the message voters don?t care about Pansy Wong?s travel scandal, or minor things like this. They are right on the smaller issue of the travel scandal, but wrong about how this matters.

John Key talked extensively through 2008 about mood and feeling and how important that was to change a government. This mood and feeling does not come about by accident, unless the opposition is useless and cant smack up the government.

What changes momentum rapidly is a view that a government is unethical. It is a mood swing that is hard to reverse, and a good opposition bashes away with seemingly small scandals that build this mood.

National may think that guys like Hodgson are total arseholes going on about stuff that doesn?t matter. This is insular thinking that will bite National, as there will come a time when there are enough scandals to make the swinging voter think National are unethical, and they might as well give someone else a chance. The next lot will suffer from the same process, essentially because politicians are stupid and do dumb things.

Richard Worth, Pansy Wong and Phil Heatley have all eroded a little of National?s credibility. So will the next scandal, and the one after that. Then comes the tipping point when voters think it is time for change.

In line with that I see that?the?Law Commission has recommended and John Key has agreed that an?independent?body should be set up to administer MPs salaries, perks and entitlements.

Prime Minister John Key has moved to give the Remuneration Authority more control over setting MPs’ perks and entitlements after a further call for an end to the days of MPs having control over their own entitlements.

Mr Key announced the government would introduce a law change to give the Remuneration Authority control over setting MPs’ entitlements beyond the base salary.

This will go some way to alleviating the fox in charge of the hen-house arrangement that currently exists. Predictably, since he is totally out of touch and too full of his own importance, Lockwood Smith hasn’t taken kindly to the loss of control.

The report says Parliament’s Speaker, Lockwood Smith, has “real reservations” about an independent body setting MPs’ entitlements.

“He is particularly concerned that an independent body would not understand the needs of Parliament,” it says.

“His strong preference would be to continue to use the mechanism of the Speaker’s Directions which are flexible, easy to amend and draw on the experience of the Speaker.”

Sir Geoffrey said the report carefully reflected Dr Smith’s view “but we don’t agree with it”.

Sometimes I despair at Lockwood’s pomposity, talking about the “needs of Parliament” like they are “special needs”. Given some MPs are indeed challenged maybe he is a little bit right on that. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a man i seldom have any time for, though, has another little surprise for Lockwood Smith.

The commission also says the Parliamentary Service, which makes payments to MPs, should be opened to the Official Information Act (OIA).

This has been previously rejected as well, although parties have started voluntarily issuing details of their MPs’ expenses.

“While the move to greater transparency is commendable, and provides more information about the total spending of MPs, in some respects the disclosure still lacks transparency,” it says.

“The figures do not distinguish between domestic and international flights, or separately identify travel paid for an MP’s spouse or partner and dependant children…clearly, a voluntary regime is not the same as a statutory requirement.”

What a splendid idea. Pity Lockwood Smith didn’t listen to me in?the?Koru Club a couple of months back when I suggested that if he wanted to become a great Speaker he would do exactly that. He didn’t listen and now he won’t be a great Speaker. Now it is Sir Geoffrey Palmer that will take the kudos and the credit for the suggestion of opening up Parliamentary Services to the OIA.

These are all steps in?the?right direction, even though old troughers like Lockwood Smith have?opposed?them tooth and nail. The bring greater clarity and greater transparency to parliament. But none yet have taken up the suggestion to have an?Independent?Commission Against?Corruption. This would be the ultimate?step?in cleaning up parliament of troughers and rorters. it is a step that needs to be taken. here in New Zealand we have the Speaker handling an inquiry into rorts like Chris Carter, three suits Clayton Cosgrove, Richard Worth, Pansy Wong and Phil Heatley. In Australia they have the ICAC.

The Labor MP for Drummoyne, Angela D’Amore, has been sacked as a parliamentary secretary, but the Premier is refusing to call for her resignation from Parliament after the corruption watchdog found she acted corruptly in falsely claiming thousands of dollars in entitlements for two staff members.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is also recommending that the Director of Public Prosecutions consider bringing charges against Ms D’Amore, who served as parliamentary secretary to the minister for police and the minister for environment, for two offences of misconduct in public office.

The commission found Ms D’Amore and a staff member Agatha La Manna “engaged in corrupt conduct by falsely claiming sitting day relief payments”.

It recommends “action be taken against Ms La Manna as a public official with a view to dismissing, dispensing with or otherwise terminating her services”.

There is a huge difference between how our parliament handles rorters and how Australia handles them. We seriously needs such a commission here, and we need its purview to be over Parliament and all local bodies and the state sector. I’d relish an ICAC looking into Len?Brown’s?appointments processes for CCO?boards. ?If John Key can move that which was previously under the control of parliament and the Speaker to an?independent?body then why not this step? If the Law Commission can see merit in opening up Parliamentary Services to the OIA then why not an ICAC?

Clarity, transparency and sunlight will give us a much better?democracy.

And we have a winner

The Herald have tracked down the trougher who scammed an extra $9000 of travel that he wasn’t entitled to. It is Alec Neill.

Like all troughers he is squealing, like the greedy little piggy he is, over rule changes.

Mr Neill said Parliamentary Service decided in 2002 his two part-terms were the equivalent of a full term so he qualified for the 60 per cent rebate. But this May he was told there was a review of all travel concessions and he did not qualify.

“They’re now taking the high-handed approach that I wasn’t there for three full terms. From my point of view Parliamentary Service made a correct, commonsense decision and now some new broom has chosen to make his mark and change the rules.

“I’m somewhat frustrated by that but I can’t see what I can do about it.”

He said he rarely used the rebates, spending $9000 over eight years mainly on trips to Australia to see his grandchildren. He said Parliamentary Service had not asked for the money back and he did not believe it should.

“What piddles me off is you can’t just go and start a new career or international job because you’re next on the list. That happened to me twice. To find out eight years later that some smart alec has changed the rules and stopped my concessions is somewhat disappointing.”

Oh how pathetic. All woe is me and crying a river. The entitle-itis is quite advanced in this specimen. He should be paying it back, even though it was a mistake he had it in the first place.

Gee wouldn’t it be nice if every grandparent was subsidised to go see the grand-kids. What a fuckwit! He should have just STFU and paid it back and stayed on the down low.

I think he might find out that the “smart alec” he is so upset with is The Speaker.

Watch this!

Watch this video. It is the whole secret video that has been suppressed by legal action since 2004. The allegations contained in this video are explosive. It was sent to me on DVD in an unmarked brown envelope postmarked from Henderson. I do not know who sent it, though I have verified it is authentic and additional footage supplied shows it to be authentic. This video was removed from the TVNZ newsroom and was in an unknown location until Rodney Hide raised the details in parliament. Then TVNZ miraculously “found” the tapes sitting in a lawyers office.

If true then justice in respect of the select committee inquiry into the Scampi Quota allocations has seriously been perverted. Not only that you have to ask why the person who insisted on the inquiry in the first place then changed his tune during  the inquiry.

People have been beaten up and in an attempt to stop you seeing the video. I will probably get a hiding now for publishing it, but I have published it because it is very much in the public interest to do so. It appears that a parliamentary select committee has been compromised through bribery, corruption and perjury. This goes to the heart of our democracy. I am going to need legal representation after showing this  video to the world.

More important though is why has the government remained so silent on this. Under the “no surprises” doctrine, surely the Finance Minister and the Broadcasting Minister at the time must have been alerted to the explosive contents of this video, and at the time it was filmed we know that the TVNZ board was leaking like the proverbial collander to the Prime minister herself. Further the ongoing ramifications of wealthy business interests and politicians maintaining legal proceedings with huge sums attached in order to suppress this information strikes the foundations of NZ politics.

Now the information is in the public domain thanks to WOBH, where sunlight is the best disinfectant, we need to urgently look at establishing an Independent Commission against Corruption and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Scampi Allocation and subsequent perjury allegations contained in this video. Remember we are not talking about a lowly backbencher or associate minister getting some tiling done here, we are talking about New Zealand’s face around the world, our government representative, the Foreign Minister and/or the Prime Minister.

Watch the Video

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