New Zealand politics goes nuclear

What a day! A senior opposition MP has alleged that the leader of the opposition is corrupt, for concealing large political donations and then threatening to bring trumped up sexual harassment allegations against him. He says he has recorded evidence if the leader instructing him to break a large donation into smaller chunks to evade camoaign finance disclosure rules. Evidence he’ll be taking to the police tomorrow.

Simon Bridges, the leader in question then announced the party has expelled the MP from the party, and that he is ’ lying, leaking and lashing out.’.

Meanwhile the deputy Prime Minister sees the media scrum and then whips out his phone to play the theme from Kelly’s Heroes- 'Burning Bridges. The deputy leader if the opposition then tries to say the national Party remains united by invoking Zoolander with a hashtag promoting BlueSteel.

There’s a fine summary if the days events here. https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/16-10-2018/jami-lee-ross-accuses-bridges-of-corruption-the-national-implosion-explained/.

…you missed the boat with the thread title. I would have gone with “Simon Burns his Bridges.” :smiley:

But what a fricken disaster. I’ve been alternating between laughing and crying for most of the day. The latest: Paula Bennett going on the record to say that Ross isn’t being accused of sexual harassment, but of inappropriate behaviour for a married MP. How absolutely pathetic.

The thing is: this was entirely an “own goal.” The initial leak that started all of this was a trivial thing that would have been out of the news-cycle in a couple of days. Instead Bridges insisted on an enquiry.

And Trevor Mallard gave Bridges the opportunity to end it. Mallard is a seasoned veteran of politics. He could see where this was going. He essentially said to Bridges: “I’m ending the enquiry. Just listen to me, walk away now and it will all blow over, and that will be the end of it.” But Bridges couldn’t do it. He couldn’t believe somebody from “the other side” was doing him a favour. I genuinely believed he thought the leak came from the office of the Speaker and couldn’t let it go. Now look what happened. This entire mess is entirely his own fault.

I’ve had a visceral dislike of Bridges ever since watching this interview with John Campbell. A terrible person IMHO. I hope he never gets into power again.

Wow!!! You kiwis are in trouble!!!

Or, to be a little more precise, “Wow, I wish we could all have troubles like yours.” :slight_smile:

Now, me…I know absolutely nothing about New Zealand.
Zero. Zilch.
(Well, I might know a few things: it was the place where bungy jumping was invented as a sport. And it has a bunch of sheep.)

But seriously…I am deeply impressed by that link:

This implies that New Zealanders actually expect their politicians to be non-corrupt. Amazing!!

And the whole issue is about a secret donation of only $100,000. That’s negligible pocket change to most politicians in America or Europe.
Nobody would make an issue over it.

So …Let’s all move to New Zealand!

I don’t think they want us. We’ve touched it and gotten it all over us.

To be clear, the two principle opponents in this are members of the same party?

Pretty much. I noticed the statement “corrupt politician” was made outside of Parliament so the MP in question likely is not protected by any parliamentary privilege.

Bit like ducks, all serenity viewed from the top like Arden taking her lil one into the UN Assembly to win the Global Aw How Cute gong, (and all hale to her) whilst under the water it’s thrashing around and political business as usual.

It’s interesting that American Congressthings can get censured for insults said while in Congress, but have free reign to insult when outside its halls.

I think they also have free range Hobbits and Orcs.

From the title, I thought perhaps a Kiwi politician had expressed some interest in revisiting New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policies.

…yep.

To set the scene:

The National Party (centre right) had been the government since 2008, but at the 2017 elections (despite getting more votes than rival parties) they lost power because the opposing parties formed a coalition. (Lead by the Labour Party (centre left), NZ First (Nationalist, conservative), with the NZ Greens supporting the coalition on confidence and supply)

The (then) leader of the National Party resigned. Simon Bridges got the nod to lead the party. A few months ago some of Simon Bridges expense information got leaked. It wasn’t a big deal: that sort of information got leaked all the time, and that particular information was due to be made public in a few days time anyway.

But for Bridges it was still unacceptable. The leak had to have come from either the Speakers office, Ministerial Services, or somebody from National. From (leaked!) private conversations it appeared clear that Bridges thought the leak had come from the Speakers office, and not from his own party, so he demanded an enquiry.

So the Speaker of the House (the Hon Trevor Mallard) okayed an enquiry to go ahead.

This is where things get more complicated.

A cite for anyone who may get confused with my version:

After consideration of the text, and with consultation with the police, the Speaker calls off the enquiry, satisfied that the leaker was from the National Party, leaving the National Party to sort out their own internal problem. This bit is important: because the what the Speaker did was give the Bridges and the National Party an opportunity end to the story. All Bridges had to do was accept the finding, say a few words at a press conference, and the story was dead. Over. This was a gift for Bridges from the Speaker. Trevor Mallard is one of those veteran politicians who has been in politics for decades, who knows how the game is played. He knows when a scandal is brewing, and he knows how to end it.

But Bridges had to burn his bridges.

Bridges continued to think that the leak had come from the Speakers office and decided to set up his own enquiry instead. And so he did.

Then something odd happened.

Of course the media wanted to know if the stand down was related to the leak enquiry. Bridges had this to say:

And this.

Bridges got harshly criticized for his use of the word “embarrassing.” And everybody started to speculate that Ross was the leak.

At the same time the Speaker decided to conduct his own secret enquiry. The goal was to protect the integrity of the Speakers office. And a few days ago the secret enquiry released its findings and the Speakers office and ministerial services were in the clear.

All road pointed to National.

At this point Bridges doesn’t have an escape route. He has to publish the report: and it was likely the report would point to somebody in his own party. And the report did exactly that.

And so the real meltdown began. Bridges released the report, Ross spent an hour accusing Bridges of illegal activity, and the rest is readily googable.

A real big mess. A mess entirely of Bridges making, one that he could have avoided at several different junctures, but he couldn’t let things go until it was all too late.

So, what’s the procedure for a party to change its leadership? Is that likely to happen? And if it does, would the expelled member be likely to be reinstated?

…we live in the era of Trump: and Bridges (IMHO) is definitely a leader who has taken many cues from the American President. (Although the most likely to win in in the case of a leadership coup, Judith Collins, is even more in the Trumpian.) So is he likely to go? Who the fuck knows. The world is very unpredictable at the moment. In a normal world Bridges would have been gone already. In today’s world: some have said that this make Bridges even stronger.

The procedure is here: sorry I don’t have the time to dig-too-deep.

https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/National_party_rules_0.pdf

As for Ross: we just passed what has been dubbed “waka-jumping” legislation. (Waka is a canoe: the legislation alludes to the process of “jumping ship.”)

So if Ross is expelled, he’s gone from Parliament and a by-election is held. Ross can stand for parliament and get re-elected as an independent (or stand for another party.). But my understanding is he can’t just be reinstated.

Great summary Banquet Bear but you undersell Collins. She was well versed in the dark arts of politics when Trump was still a realityqqqx1 TV star.

Todayg Ross took his evidence to the police (and held a press conference outside). Bridges came to the Hawke’s Bay A&P show (basically a county fair) and bonded over tractors.

Gotta love it when bosses can’t calculate in their planning the effect of pissed off underlings.

Watch Winston’s gleeful summary in the House yesterday.

Not in the UK. Undisclosed payments to MPs get them into a lot of trouble (once discovered, of course - and they usually are in the end), and election expenditure is subject to limits - certainly less than that for an individual constituency election.

It gets worse - the tapes strongly suggest the $100,000 was to put a Chinese candidate high up on the party list - to join this guy in the National caucus:

A donation of that size to a candidate or party would be illegal in the US as well.

I can’t say whether illegal donations usually get discovered or not, since by definition I have no way to know what hasn’t been discovered.

And now there are reports that Jami-Lee Ross has been involuntarily detained for mental health treatment.