I’ve ignored requests from Nat MPs to be facebook friends. But we do have some friends in common who thought this was classic.
Posts Tagged ‘Melissa Lee’
All members of parliament should read it – but especially Ministers who own parts of NZ based companies that benefit from their decisions.
Someone should read it to Melissa Lee who continues to vote on Radio New Zealand legislation both in the house and worse still in select committee despite having a direct conflict when competing for NZ on Air funding.
The Standard has new material which shows that Melissa Lee lied even more than we knew earlier. Will be interesting to see if her mentor John Key continues to back her or whether he has the backbone to sack her.
I bet he will do neither but will be relaxed as he does.
Nats Auckland list might have a winnable spot with Worth gone, Blue, Mapp and now probably Lee going.
And isn’t it a pity that Tim Ellis is banned. Watching him trying to defend this one would have been entertaining.
Thanks to The Standard for reminding me of one of Key’s lies in the House this week. He said:-
“Maybe that reflects badly on NZ On Air, which thinks that the way that it should respond to these things is by leaking them to the Labour Party, without having the courtesy of sending the letter in the first place to Melissa Lee.”
I was one of the Labour people to whom the letter was sent. I didn’t give it to the media. It came with material, partly of a personal nature, from within Melissa Lee’s company. It included information that would not be available to NZ on Air.
In normal circumstances I would refer the matter to the Speaker but he has now repeatedly ruled that Minister’s obligation to tell the truth finishes with their primary answer and does not apply to supplementary answers.
At least Lee only took three months to agree to pay back the money received as a result of false declarations over several years – English has not yet agreed to repay over a decade of money received on the basis he resided in Dipton.
What is it with these Nats. Years of false declarations and they think an offer to pay back part of the money (Bill) and all of it (Melissa) means they can expect to be forgiven. And no doubt they are going to tell us again today what careful custodians they are of the public purse. They are just not credible.
Now is when we see if Key has backbone. It is a big test for him.
Interesting lead on TV3 tonight. D Garner has NZ on Air document which he suggests shows Melissa Lee is still being questioned about her returns for her Asia Down Under programmes. The issue of whether she used NZ on Air money to make ads for the National Party in 2008 came up during the Mt Albert by-election. Lee was given the all-clear the day before the Mt Albert by-election. Now it is suggested NZ on Air is still after explanations why money was for unmade programmes was not returned. Broadcasting Minister Jonathan “Maestro” Coleman reportedly knew about the issue in August but has said nothing. Should add a dimension to questions on broadcasting in the House this week.
The debating chamber is like a sporting field. Teams come together, work out a plan, perform with passion and express themselves in search of a positive result.
But some days, certain teams (you know who I refer to) don’t perform, lack passion and conviction, and roll over – waiting for the final whistle.
Today was one of those days for a number of National MPs in the House.
After fiery debate by Hon George Hawkins, Ross Robertson, Phil Twyford, Su’a William Sio and Carol Beaumont etc on the Auckland Super City Bill, the Labour Ethnic Caucus, led by Hon Chris Carter, introduced a SOP looking to establish an Asian Advisory Board as part of the Super City.
With Asians making up 13 per cent of Auckland‘s population, making it the largest demographic after European and Maori, it is vital that this group is given a say on the future of Auckland.
This idea was backed up by a Royal Commission report, recommending the creation of advisory panels for the Pacific and ethnic or Asian communities. However the bill, as drafted, does not include any Asian representation.
Along with my ethnic Caucus colleagues, Chris Carter, Ashraf Choudhary and Rajen Prasad, we urged the National Asian MPs to put politics aside and do what is right for the over 200,000 hard-working Asians that call Auckland home.
In stark contrast to the passion displayed by the Labour MPs, National Asian MPs Pansy Wong and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (where was Melissa Lee?) remained silent with their eyes locked to the floor, counting down for the final whistle from the Speaker.
I hope, for the future of Auckland, and the projected 400,000 Asians who will reside in the region within 7 years, that Nationals Asian MPs recognise the importance of an Asian voice on the Super City.
How did it all go so wrong for the Nats. Their pollster David Farrar was calling the possibility of a narrow win for the Nats just before the selections. So what happened.
- Key forced an outsider on the local activists.
- Their local organisation was never that good but it wasn’t involved in the campaign as it had been for the general election. You can’t win if your few activists don’t vote for you.
- Lee started making mistakes right from the start.
- She wasn’t well supported. Jonathan Coleman doesn’t have the political experience or the street smarts to mind a candidate on a daily basis.
- Coleman gave up on Lee
- Key gave up on Lee.
- The Nats tried to turn it into a referendum on Goff – and then got hammered.
- We got a very good candidate – and the others who put their names in worked hard for David.
- The organisation worked well – better and better as the campaign went on.
- There was an amazing number of young people involved (say under 30 or 25) mainly from Auckland Uni and AUT including a minibus load who came up from Wgtn for the week before the event. That experience and the willingness of electorates to toss a few hundies at the minibus bodes well for the future.
- ICT usage hit new high.
- Key’s mishandling of motorway issue.
- Key’s handing the supercity issue to Hide.
- The budget – a bit of a slow burner but there is bitterness at the lies told about tax cuts in December and late in the campaign more awareness of the cuts – some of which have gone down badly including those for gifted kids and night classes both areas valued by Nat supporters.
But remember it was just a by-election, great result but don’t read too much into it. Key did badly but he might learn from it.
I was impressed to see that Melissa Lee did the gracious thing last night and went to the Labour Party’s temporary HQ in Mt Albert to congratulate David Shearer on his win. It was clearly a tough night for her but she handled herself with humility. The past few weeks can’t have been easy, given that the National Party seemed to effectively cut her adrift when things started to go wrong. It was telling that the only Minister present with her last night was Jonathan Coleman, who several TV commentators remarked “nobody has ever heard of”.
Where was John Key? He picked the date for the by-election, he picked National’s candidate and yet as the results came in, he was nowhere to be seen. Could it be that our PM only likes to be associated with things that are happy, shiny and new? There seems to be a clear trend emerging that when something gets tough, John Key just walks away and washes his hands of it.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I tend to admire people who front up and show some humility in the face of defeat. Key is the National Party Leader – he should have stood beside his candidate and accepted his share of the blame. I think Melissa Lee would be right to feel she was hung out to dry last night.
Just stupid. Can two days pass without her cocking up?
Remember she is John Key’s handpicked candidate.
Both lack judgement.
There has now been an explanation that the car was legally parked and that Lee was just making a phone call. So post withdrawn or whatever kawa is.
NZ on Air claim to have investigated Melissa Lee. There are a few unanswered questions:-
- Did they interview the staff member who made the allegations especially in relation to Lee’s standover approach during the editing of the election special?
- Did they establish how many staff members were required to work on the National Party video?
- Did they interview those staff members?
- Did they establish whether the staff members worked during paid hours or outside of that time as volunteers?
- Did they establish who owned the copyright to the stock footage used in the video?
- Why was it not made clear that Lee’s company relied completely on taxpayer funding – the company had no other funding source?
I’ve been reflecting on the last couple of weeks in politics – Melissa Lee, Christine Rankin especially and wondering if it is possible for a government in New Zealand to use up so much political capital accidently or whether there is a possibility of some sort of weird plan.
We have the budget coming up this week. It is an enormous opportunity for the government. For the first time since 1984, when our diplomats had been using post credit cards to draw down foreign denominated loans,there are no rules. Key and English have a blank canvas and enough political credit given the scale of their win and the economic crisis to do almost anything.
What we don’t know is whether they have the guts to invest some of their massive political capital in the sort of change that could ensure not only they win the next election but also become the natural party of government for the next couple of decades.
But they have to be bold. They have to have real vision. They won’t do it with a few places for tourists to ride bikes and other changes at the margin. Every now and again I see glimpses of that from Key – but this is the test. There won’t be another budget with such an opportunity.
I write this safe in the knowledge that the budget is in bed. Nothing I write can change it.
And more importantly that is the case for the government as well. And what I can’t work out is whether their massive and extraordinarily highly paid political pr team has for the last three weeks been focusing on a massive effort to sell a radical budget, whether Lee and Rankin are crude old fashioned deliberate diversions or whether the old “if in doubt its a cock-up” theory prevails.
John Key chose Melissa Lee. I could never understand why. Her maiden speech was intellectually incoherant – it was an enormous untaken opportunity. It was a sign of lack of political savvy. She was a shiny star but with no substance. A real contrast with just about all of the Labour maiden speeches and several of her National colleagues.
Mt Albert was the wrong electorate to use her Korean ethnicity as an electoral plus. It was a selection certain to cause local upset.
And she has performed in a way that was predictable. I don’t need to catelogue her mistakes but not many people who have watched her in parliament are surprised.
So why did John Key chose her?
Similarly with Christine Rankin. The Cabinet was divided. McCully has made it clear to Trans tasman he was away. John Key ended up backing Bennett against all her more experienced colleagues. It was a decision that didn’t make sense. National owed Rankin nothing. No one voted National because she appeared at their rallies. In fact the reverse could be true. Her support was as valuable as that given by Cardinal Tamaki to English and the Brethren to Brash.
Joyce appears to be running the government pr machine these days. He is good. We saw that through they way he built the Nats from their 2002 train wreck.
So what is he up to? Maybe the budget is massive. Maybe they took more risks than they intended and the last couple of weeks have been a bit of insurance so Lee and Bennett can take the blame if the budget doesn’t work?
Whatever the future of the government and of John Key could well be at stake.
John Carter is emerging as the new Mr Fixit for the National Party. Fresh from saving Gerry Brownlee’s bacon he has now been assigned to mind Melissa Lee. An even bigger task.
As someone whose career has had some ups and downs myself it is great to see.
John was nearly dropped as a candidate in 1996 after his Hone phone call with John Banks in 1995. Last year he was, along with Williamson and Worth told that it was likely that he would be pushed to make way for the younger talent in Key’s reshuffle later this year.
Now it is likely that not only will he make Cabinet but he will lead the House from the front bench. Just goes to show there is room for a battler even in the Nats. Street savvey is just as important as the ability to flit from cloud to cloud.
I actually feel kind off sorry for Melissa Lee. Her tongue-tied memory loss on TV3 last night has probably happened to every MP – it has certainly happened to me and everyone I’ve spoken to about it.
Yes Melissa has repeatedly buckled under pressure but my question is where is her support? On the item last night we saw John Carter walking across the road with her but during her painful interview he could be seen way off on the other side of the street yakking with, I think, Jacqui Dean. Jonathan Coleman is supposed to be her minder but where was he and how much effort is he putting in to making sure Melissa is well briefed?
No doubt senior National MPs will distance themselves from Melissa but they really have to blame themselves for her inadequacies as well.
There is no NZ First candidate in Mt Albert. The poor old chemist won’t have anyone to vote for. Even Future United is running Judy Turner from Whakatane. Really is turning into a classic two horse FPP race. Voters understand that a vote for Norman might let Lee win. It will either be Shearer or Lee and the more the voters see of them the better Shearer looks.
Is this a sign NZ First has died?
I am just home from a successful launch of the David Shearer for Mt Albert byelection campaign. It started with an outdoor rally at the Rocket Park. It was great: funny hats, balloons, and all the fun of the fair. Good rousing speeches from David, and Phil Goff. I thought for a minute David had brought back from Baghdad the endearing Middle Eastern habit of firing guns into the air at these kinds of events, but then realised people were letting off party crackers.
The whole mob then piled into a noisy red motorcade and tootled off around the electorate stopping at high traffics spots like Kingsland and the PaknSave to wave placards and hoot and holler. One of the highlights was when Melissa Lee pulled up to the Pt Chev lights in her fancy Melissa Lee-branded campaign car and found herself surrounded by dozens of placard waving jubilant Labour campaigners chanting “”Bring back Ravi!”
We’ve now been debating the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill since about 4pm on Wednesday. Interesting to note that none of the wannabe Mt Albert MPs have had anything to say on the Bill. I’ve sat through most of the debate and haven’t heard a peep from Melissa Lee, John Boscawen or Russell Norman. These guys are already MPs, so they have the right to speak and vote on these proposals which will have a significant impact on the electorate that they want to represent. Why should the voters of Mt Albert elect an MP who isn’t interested in defending their interests?
There’s been a lot written on Melissa Lee’s week from hell and the Chrisitne Rankin appointment but worthy of more investigation is how National left their star Mt Albert candidate and their fresh Westie Minister like fish flopping about on the rocks all week.
I’ve taken a few risks over my political life and every now and again got into trouble – sometimes big and sometimes not – sometimes public and sometimes not – sometimes fair and sometimes not.
But there was always a team that got around me. There was generally public support and more importantly support privately and personally. No matter how grumpy Helen, Michael, H2 or even Lange were with me they always ended our full and frank discussions with how to move forward together.
I suppose it is a bit like a sports team. When someone cocks up the measure of the strength of the team is the abilty to rally around support the individual and move move forward together. When they are abandoned then the team not just the individual is in trouble. The exception is when the indivdual is just cut loose – or dropped from the team. But that has to be public and clinical.
Remember, Melissa Lee was handpicked by Prime Minister John Key to stand in Mt Albert and don’t be fooled by the rhetoric, National harbour real ambitions of winning Mt Albert, Helen Clark’s former stronghold. At least they did until this week.
First up was a failure to prepare Lee for her appearance on TVNZ’s Q+A where she took the wrong tone and approach. She attacked Labour’s plans for a tunnel without having a view of her own and followed it up by continually interupting David Shearer. She also had a dig at David’s love of surfing. No one told her an announcement on the Waterview tunnel was just days away. Surely that would have been a nugget for her to use. Curious when part of her platform was that as a sitting MP she had the ear of government.
Come Monday, and still no one had bothered to let Lee know there was an announcement just 24 hours away so Lee declared she wanted a motorway bulldozed through Mt Albert. This forced Key to tell New Zealand his rising star was out of the loop on the decision. Strange.
On Tuesday, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce announced the amount the Nats were prepared to provide for the project. This killed the tunnel stone dead. When asked if he had briefed Lee on developments, Joyce replied “not yet”. This simply reinforced the impression she was out of the loop. Campbell Live then revealed concerns about Melissa Lee’s actions as a journalist before the last election including the allegation that taxpayer-funded staff and equipment were used to help produce a National campaign video, which doesn’t seem to be accounted for as an election expense returns.
By Wednesday, and the clanger of all clangers. Where was National’s support for her? Was anyone helping work out a legitimate line for her to use in what was always going to be a feisty meeting about Waterview? Instead, she was left exposed and under pressure, and we all know where that got her.
Along rolls Thursday morning, and with the fall out the only course of action was to apologise and shut the story down. Unfortunately, no one from National told Lee that before she went on radio to defend her comments, explain them, and kind of apologise but not really. Head office didn’t get an apology out of her until mid-afternoon. Far too late. By then though, the 9th floor spin doctors are running a mile from her campaign with a “nothing to do with us” line.
Now it’s Friday, and there’s spin that she’s struggled because she’s not used to campaigning, that by-elections are pressured environments, and that she hasn’t stood for an electorate seat before. Hang on, Key and National knew all about this when they pushed aside the loyal former candidate Ravi Musuku for Lee and quietly talked up her chances. Key has to take responsibility for a) choosing her and b) failing to support her properly. This is a serious gaffe.
Then there is the Christine Rankin lead ballon. Paula Bennett was warned at cabinet committee by several experienced colleagues that the proposal was a mistake but in this case Key backed her on the basis of incomplete information. Again now there is no one in the big team of very highly paid taxpayer funded press secretaries who is prepared back Bennett’s judgement or the process she followed.
In fact it is worse because at least one Minister has made their opposition clear and leaked that Turia sat mum while it went through the cabinet committee.
No wonder Key was so keen to call a press conference on his telephone call with Obama. But then the dopey twit accused me of giving TV3 the National Party Asian video produced by Melissa Lee. I first saw it on TV3 early this week. I presume they got it from YouTube. Thats where the Nats posted it. For a supposed young technosavey bright new PM the cracks are showing.
I can remember some bad weeks in government and might blog in morning about this week but thought others would like to share the view of some of our most experienced journalists:
Colin Espiner, Political Editor, the Press:
This is, without a doubt, National’s worst week in government. And it’s only Thursday. [link]
Duncan Garner, Political Editor TV3:
Melissa Lee has lost the Mt Albert by-election. She has been a walking, talking disaster all week. [link]
Audrey Young, Political Editor, New Zealand Herald:
Dear oh dear oh dear. Can things get any worse for National this week? There have been so many cock-ups it’s hard to know where to start. [link]
Tim Watkins, TVNZ Q+A producer:
A week that began badly has only gotten worse. [link]