Oh dear. It seems Labour Leader David Shearer has fucked up big time. Here's the news from Patrick Gower:
David Shearer has corrected MPs Register of Pecuniary Interests after not disclosing United Nations bank account. Says it was mistake.
A "mistake"? Looking at the Standing Orders, bank accounts only need to be declared if they contain more than $50,000. Obviously, that's the sort of trifling sum people forget about all the time. Its a mistake anyone could have made...
OK, I'll can the sarcasm now. Shearer clearly knows the rules around bank accounts, because he already declares one (a term deposit with Westpac). So he can't claim ignorance as a defence. If he deliberately tried to deceive the New Zealand public about his assets, then he's morally unfit to be leader of the Labour Party, or an MP for that matter. But even if we accept his excuse, and ascribe it to sheer forgetfulness (something which I think the New Zealand public would find extremely difficult to believe), then he's too incompetent for the job.
Meanwhile, its worth pointing out: knowingly making a false return is Contempt of Parliament, and the argument that this was not knowing requires superhuman credulity. Will Parliament hold its own to account? Or will they once again collude in their cozy conspiracy of silence around these matters?
He's dead right. Remember back to just before the 2008 General Election, and Parliament voted by a margin of 62 votes to 56 to censure Rt Hon Winston Peters for "knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests". You can read the debate here, and see who voted for Peters, and who voted to censure him.
We're not suggesting at the moment that there is anything sinister in Mr Shearer's conduct, although forgetting every year since 2009 that you have at least $50,000 in an off-shore bank account could be indicative that Mr Shearer struggles with details. Then again, so does Shane Jones, reinstalled to Labour's front bench by David Shearer last week.
Perhaps Labour's slogan for 2014 is going to be "Don't sweat the small stuff"!