Let that be a lesson to you all

by Jake Quinn

Phillip Field may well avoid prison time, but a string of convictions will not look very good on his CV. As you may have heard, New Zealand’s first pacific island MP has been found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of accepting bribes in return for immigration services. He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 obstruction of justice charges.

John Armstrong writes: “Apart from slapping Field across the wrist for making “errors of judgment”, Labour instead held its nose and stuck by him for fear of alienating its large Pacific Island vote. Labour was wary of provoking him into holding a by-election in his Mangere seat. Crucially, he also held a casting vote in Parliament .”

Crucial indeed. One did get the feeling that had Labour had more than a one seat majority (when all of its other ducks were in a row) they might have been quicker to distance themselves from what rapidly became a large stinking political carcass.

The important lesson to be learned from this whole saga is that parliamentarians in this country simply cannot get away with behaving the way elected officials do in some of our neighbouring small island states. Our democracy is better than that, our democracy isn’t a farce in place merely to please the international community that we heavily rely on for aid. Fortunately, that’s not how we roll. Lets keep it that way.

Meanwhile, these bloggers are having a little war of words over precisely what Helen Clark said and when, in regard to her defence of Field when the allegations first arose. Farrar says Clark said “the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful” rOb, on the other hand, says what Clark really said was: “I think the only thing he is probably guilty of is trying to be helpful to someone”. Right, glad we’ve cleared that one up.

Semantics aside, Clark (and Labour) paid a hefty price for the failed Ingram inquiry which together with Winston Peter’s foray into the fringes of legitimacy quickly eroded any chance “this one’s about trust” had of contributing to victory in the 2008 election (the way “don’t put it all at risk” did in 2005). So was framing the 2008 election ‘about trust’ really that wise after the year’s events? Perhaps not.