One News had the story tonight of Winston Peters's latest appearance before the Privileges Committee, and the "big scandal" of a staffer from the SFO having written anonymously to Ron Mark to urge him to vote against legislation disestablishing the SFO. At the end of the piece, they bailed up Michael Cullen for his view, and he refused to express confidence in the Serious Fraud Office. There's no video on the One News site yet, but I'll post it when it appears, but here's what the story says:
So does he still have confidence in the Serious Fraud Office?
"At this point I'd prefer not to comment on that," Cullen replies.
Now this should be big news. For not only is Michael Cullen our Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister; he is also the Attorney-General. That's a fairly big deal; in fact, on the Parliamentary website, it's the first on the list of his responsibilities. And what does the Attorney-General do? This from Wikipedia:
In New Zealand, the Attorney-General is the chief law officer and primary legal advisor of the New Zealand government. Historically, the post could be held either by a politician or by a senior jurist, but today, it is invariably held by a member of Parliament. The Attorney-General attends Cabinet, but the post is not the same as the Minister of Justice. The Attorney-General has departmental responsibility for the Crown Law Office, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and the Serious Fraud Office. By tradition, persons appointed to the position of Attorney-General have almost invariably been lawyers. Only two former Attorneys-General have not been lawyers, most recently Dr Michael Cullen who held the post in 2005, and again from 2006. Cullen's appointment was controversial at the time because of his non-legal background.
Hey! Back up the truck a little! "The Attorney-General has departmental responsibility for the Crown Law Office, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and the Serious Fraud Office."
So there we have it. The Attorney-General, Dr Michael Cullen will not express confidence in one of the departments he has Ministerial responsibility for. Could this have anything to do with the fact that the SFO is currently investigating the activities of his Labour First coalition party? Could it be the the SFO's investigation could be getting dangerously close to the Labour Party? Could it be time for a change of government?
UPDATE: One News now has the video up