Here is some free advice for Labour. Leave the persecution of Peter Dunne to Winston Peters to handle.
The hounding of United Future's sole MP is fast resembling an old-fashioned witch-hunt.
The rationale for Peters' pursuit of Dunne is obvious - the weakening of National's grip on power by forcing out the MP whose vote gives National a majority without having to rely on the Maori Party.
But the means are beginning to sully the ends. Yesterday's chaotic scenes in Parliament - which included Trevor Mallard's walkout along with the subsequent exit in similar protest of NZ First's full complement of MPs - was the result of fury with Speaker David Carter's decision to allow Dunne to keep the extra taxpayer-provided funding that he gets as the leader of a parliamentary party even though that party currently does not have the requisite 500 fully paid-up members needed to qualify.
Sure, Carter might have got it wrong in allowing Dunne to keep the money. Equally, the Speaker might be seen as only being fair in giving Dunne a "reasonable opportunity" to put the matter right. Whatever, it all fails to add up to the sort of constitutional outrage which supposedly justified senior Labour MPs shouting "corruption".
The net result is that Labour looks like it is very much party to Peters' campaign to force Dunne out.
Peters has already done enough to put Dunne's standing as an MP in question if the inquiry being conducted by former senior public servant David Henry finds that Dunne was the likely source of the leak of the highly sensitive Kitteridge report on the Government Communication Security Bureau to the media.
There is another telling reason for Labour to keep its distance from Peters. Would Labour be complaining about the Speaker's ruling were the political boot on the other foot and Labour needed Dunne's support?
Of course not. The public can spot such hypocrisy from miles away. And it does not like it.
Now, if Labour WANTS to look like NZ First by another name, who are we to stop them? But we reckon that Trevor Mallard, David Parker, Chris Hipkins and David Clark need to watch a replay of yesterday's proceeding of the House and reflect on whether their behaviour actually contributed to the disorder. And Clare Curran could do well to reflect on some of her social media utterances; cries of "corruption" are beneath her.
We are not qualified to comment on whether or not David Carter's decision on Peter Dunne/United Future was the correct one. But Graeme Edgeler, who knows infinitely more about these matters blogs thus:
Last Friday, the Electoral Commission announced that it had cancelled the registration of the United Future Party.
My immediate thought was that that was unfortunate, because I had wanted a relaxing night, and didn’t want to have to write a long post railing against the continued funding of Peter Dunne for Parliamentary funding purposes.
In the end, I didn’t. I had a quick look at the Speaker’s Directions, and the Standing Orders. They weren’t very clear, and didn’t seem addressed to the issue in hand, but I concluded that they probably turned on the situation in place at the election and would thus allow continued funding, and decided that a post railing about how someone was probably entitled to funding would be rather boring and went on with my night.
So it is quite possible that Carter's decision yesterday was the right one, although Edgeler argues against the imposition of a grace period for United Future. But that leaves Labour, NZ First and to a lesser extent the Greens (who have done their protesting in the media rather than in the House) looking a bit sheepish. Their objections yesterday were clearly political, and we venture to suggest that with emotions running high, good judgment went out the window.
Here's hoping that a relaxing weekend away from the corridors of power might give everyone better perspective on this whole scenario. It did not reflect well on any of the combatants.