Friday, June 14, 2013

We can't help but wonder...

We've blogged about the appalling judgment shown by five Labour MP's rocking up to Sky City's corporate box at Eden Park last Saturday night.

There's nothing wrong with accepting corporate hospitality per se, provided that it is declared. But surely, MP's such as Phil Goff, Annette King and Clayton Cosgrove can see the potential conflict of interest here, especially when the Sky City convention centre legislation is before the House.

But we can't help but wonder about the role of Kris Faafoi in all of this. Mr Faafoi came into Parliament after a narrow win in the Mana by-election in November 2010. His profile on the Labour Party website reads thus (with our emphasis added):

Kris lives in Wellington and was elected Member of Parliament for Mana in November 2010.
The Mana electorate covers from Linden in the south through to Porirua, Pukerua Bay, Paekakariki, Raumati and a section of Paraparaumu to the North.
Before his election he was Chief Press Secretary to Labour Leader Phil Goff.
Kris joined the Labour Party media team in January 2008 following a decade working in journalism.
He spent most of that time working for Television New Zealand and covered the 2005 and 2008 General Elections as a member of the Press Gallery. He studied journalism at the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch.

It seems that two-and-a-half years in Parliament have robbed Kris Faafoi of all his old journalistic instincts. As Phil Goff's chief presser, his most important job was to stop his boss walking into any minefields. And as a member of the Press Gallery, he would have been only too aware of the old adage that in politics, perception is everything. Mr Faafoi should have asked himself "How would I have handled this, as a journalist?". I'm sure that he knows the answer to that; he would have broadcast it gleefully.

So Kris Faafoi may have actually been the worst offender here, we reckon. As a relatively junior back-bench MP, invitations to corporate boxes probably don't come along every day. But surely, he journalistic training and instincts should have kicked in.

In the meantime, David Shearer is angry at Messrs Goff, Cosgrove and Faafoi, and Mrs King. Mr Shearer told Marcus Lush that "I don't baby-sit my MP's". Perhaps he should, in which case this horrible mess for Labour may have been averted. 

And Lush skewered Mr Shearer when he tried the "this is MP's meeting people" argument. Lush replied "It's not a chance to meet people. This is a gift, and it's them looking like they're loving the baubles of power." And he's dead right, but of course these weren't any old baubles; they were baubles that will come back to haunt Labour whenever SkyCity and the party's opposition to the convention centre deal is mentioned.   


Quintin Hogg said...

How can you meet the people when you are in a private box?

The "people" are downstairs in the stands.

And private boxes aren't places that people call into on an ad hoc basis to say hi.

I've been invited up to the private boxes from time to time (not often enough in my view). To gain access at eden park to the private boxes you use a separate entry with security. You have to get past security by showing your invitation or ticket. Merely saying you are the leader of the opposition won't get you far.
It seems to me that Mr Shearer must have had an invitation and he was playing down his own acceptance of an invitation by saying he "dropped in."

Keeping Stock said...

Shearer has said that he was a guest of the NZRU in its box. If it is in the same area as that of SkyCity, his statement might be credible, but if it was on a different floor or even stand, then you're bang on QH.

And I share your pain at the infrequency of invitations!

Sponge said...

KS - You ask

"How would I have handled this, as a journalist?". I'm sure that he knows the answer to that; he would have broadcast it gleefully."

I am pretty certain that he would have gleefully broadcast it if it was some Nats being total hypocrites but if is was his Labour? Silence wold be my guess.

Keeping Stock said...

Good point Sponge. Mind you, Fa'afoi is only a recent convert to Labour, so who knows...

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