Wednesday, July 19, 2006



Something is rotten in Mangere

I spent some time last night this morning reading the Ingram Report [PDF] into the allegations against Taito Phillip Field. The government is naturally focussing on the news that the original allegation - that Field had had a desperate Thai man do construction work on his house in Samoa in exchange for immigration assistance - turns out not to be supported by the evidence. Instead, Field had arranged to help the man by getting him out of the country so he could reapply legally for a permit, and he had then been employed without Field's initial knowledge by his family in Samoa. So, it really was all due to an abundance of kindness on Field's part. But even here, Field hardly comes out covered in glory; there were significant lapses of judgement in not stopping the work the moment he learned of it, and in not informing Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor (who Field had been lobbying on the man's behalf) of their new relationship. While not hanging offences, I think we should expect more responsible behaviour from Ministers, and this alone should mean that Field never again holds a Ministerial warrant.

More concerning are the other allegations, that Field had had large groups of Thai immigrants work on refurbishing his properties in return for immigration assistance. While the investigation was hampered by the refusal of many of those involved to speak with Ingram, he concludes that it may have occurred in the case of the house in Samoa, and definitely occurred in New Zealand. In at least two cases, a Thai man who had previously been assisted in gaining a work permit and permanent residency, appears to have painted houses for Field, and been significantly underpaid. The report speaks for itself here:

Despite the evidence to the contrary presented by Mr Field and others... I find a strong inference to be drawn that it was Mr Field who arranged, through the agency of Ms Thaivichit, for the painting exercise to be conducted by Mr Chaikhunpol. On the basis of [independent expert evidence], I find that Mr Chaikhunpol was significantly underpaid for the work. There is the further inference that it was out of a sense of gratitude or some sense of obligation in relation to the assistance which Mr Field had provided in Mr Chaikhunpol's immigration application that Mr Chaikhunpol undertook the painting of [address] in August 2005 at a price substantially below market rates.

(Emphasis added)

The above is pretty much duplicated word for word in relation to a second property, and Field seems to have benefited from the arrangement to the tune of several thousand dollars. While a legal case might not be able to be made for corruption - it depends on whether assisting someone in their dealings with a government department is considered to be an act done in the capacity of a Member of Parliament - there is no question that we expect far higher standards of propriety than this. Ministers and MPs must not simply avoid such quid pro quos, they must avoid even the appearance of them. Field has failed that test, and on that basis alone should resign from Parliament. In the meantime, I would hope that the police will undertake a proper investigation and get to the bottom of this matter. Unfortunately, I expect that they will treat questions of official corruption with the same seriousness they treat questions of electoral overspending - namely, none at all.

34 comments:

While not, in any way, wishing to defend Field's actions, I am looking forward to some commentator addressing the aspects of this which are about cultural differences.

In my (limited) experience there are cultures in which drivers around patronage, obligation, gifting and repayment are deeply engrained and involved with the maintenance of face and self respect.

If, as an MP or public servant, one has an interaction with a member of the public that leaves that person feeling obligated or needing to do something to preserve face, how should one react? If accepting a gift (of home grown vegetables for example) from a constituent allows the consituent to feel more comfortable about having sought and received help, isn't it better to accept it than to turn the person down and cause a further loss of face and loss of self respect?

And if a bag of tomatoes is ok, what about offering to paint a fence? Or organising a working bee? Or allowing the use of the person's holiday bach? Or a small amount of cash?

There is a line there somewhere, but where is it? And does it matter that my line, as a Pakeha, may be different from a Tongan or Vietnamese New Zealander?

I used to work in a public service team where it was absolutely imperative we did not accept gifts from our clients. We did, however, allow community groups to feed us (e.g. providing a lunch or morning tea on their premises) if we were working with them there. This was a conscious attempt to allow people to be comfortable by meeting their own standards of hospitality.

For us to visit with an organisation from 9-12 and then turn down an offer of a shared lunch in their lunch room risked causing offense not to mention leaving them feeling uncomfortable and like they had not treated us appropriately.

I'm sure this will get lost in the call for resignations and inquiries and sackings. But somewhere in here there is a real issue - we are a multicultural society and insisting on using my Pakeha line in all situations could leave many other NZers uncomfortable, and perhaps even uncomfortable requesting the support/advice they are entitled to.

Posted by Anita : 7/19/2006 12:18:00 PM

That's a really, really good comment. Cheers!

Posted by Anonymous : 7/19/2006 12:45:00 PM

Anita: there's some discussion of this near the end of the report, on pages 130 - 133. Ingram makes no finding against Field on this issue, primarily because the value of such gifts was below the declaration threshold and a lack of any concrete evidence of any impropriety (Field's office seems to have tried to refuse gifts, issued receipts when forced to accept them, and in one case of a large donation, passed it on to charity). He does however suggest the PM issue guidance to Ministers in the future. And I agree it's needed - these practices look corrupt, and certainly open the door to serious problems if allowed to spread.

At the very least, there needs to be total transparency: declaration of all but the most trivial "gifts", so the public can make up its own mind and decide for itself what is acceptable and what is not. And I would very much like to see such "gifts" refused, and if that cannot be done in a socially acceptable manner, donated anonymously to charity. MPs and Ministers simply cannot be allowed to even appear to profit from their positions in this way.

As for the broader question, problems arise not so much with mutual obligation between equals, but when obligations are owed to social superiors. And these seem to me to be just another way that people with power entrench their positions and lord it over those without (yeah, along with giving themselves silly hats and demanding that we call them "sir"). And on those grounds alone, I would very much like to see such practices stamped out. I'm realistic about the - this is a question of long-term social change and convincing people that they should not put up with shit from their "superiors" - and the chances - the Roman patronage system is still recognisably with us, after almost 3000 years - but I can always dream.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/19/2006 12:52:00 PM

Anita:

Good question. Now, let's approach that from a slightly different angle: What credibility does the New Zealand Government have to stand up anywhere in the South Pacific and criticise cronyism in the awarding of government contracts, lack of political accountability and transparency and outright corruption if we're not walking the talk at home? I'd also note that this Government is also remarkably unsympathetic to the "cultural differences" defence in any number of areas - from Japanese whalers to welfare cheats.

As Tony Blair found to his discomfort a few days ago, it's pretty hard to take the moral high ground with a slezebag like Vladimir Putin when he can just fire back a string of pointed references to 'Lord Cashpoint'. I can easily imagine there are a few dodgy characters in our backyard who won't take kindly to Clark, Goff or Peters pontificating on their *ahem* "errors of judgement".

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/19/2006 01:49:00 PM

Well Craig, Tony Blair is still in office, PTF is not, nor is he ever likely to hold a ministerial warrant again.

Analogies are nice, but in the end they only get you so far.

Posted by noddy : 7/19/2006 02:01:00 PM

I/S,

Sometimes the problem is that the exchanges of favours and gifts allows people to stay equals. Preventing reciprocity is uncomfortable because it creates imbalance.

To give a short example; I provide a referral for your daughter and she getsa job working in a company my friend owns. You give my partner a rose bush for her garden because you "just saw the perfect one at a friend's place". Our status as equals is now back in balance - neither of us owes the other anything - no-one need feel uncomfortable.

At one level asking your MP to sort out the bollocky mess Immigration has created is an entirely professional interaction - the MP is simply doing their job. At a different level I (and I suspect lots of other NZers) are likely to experience it as asking someone for a favour, I will try to build a friendly rapport while doing it, and I will be grateful that they spent their time helping me.

I wonder if one of the complicating factors in NZ is that we in general prefer to work on a personal/matey basis rather than a depersonalised/professional one. In my (private sector) job things are often phrased as personal favours/requests - even tho they are clearly a services being bought and paid for "Would you mind coming in first thing Friday so I can get this under way before the weekend?"

Does this friendly informality, which I feel is a truly enjoyable part of being Pakeha, make it harder for people from cultures where obligation and reciprocity are a bigger deal?

Posted by Anita : 7/19/2006 02:14:00 PM

Noddy:

Missing the point will get you nowhere at all - and Philip Field is still in Parliament, and as far as I'm aware, Clark has been very careful not to rule out his return to Cabinet.

Please answer the question: Do you think the New Zealand Government really has any credibility to be lecturing PI politicians on 'good governance' - or is this going to be another case of 'do what I say, don't say what I do" diplomacy? If the latter, I think there are plenty of folks out there who won't be following the script.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/19/2006 03:13:00 PM

Ingram has admitted the TORs prevent him getting to bottom of the matters.He should have either requested the TORs be amended so he could or resigned By not doing so he has presented a flawed report that has no credibility.
The PM is guilty of a conflict of interest in that she both appointed Ingram and set the TORs. Good governance demands that if you have an interest in the outcome ( she does) you dont appoint the investigator or set the TORs. Mind you given the parlous state of governance we endure this is par for the course
gd

Posted by Anonymous : 7/19/2006 04:10:00 PM

Anita has stated very nicely exactly what I wanted to say. National's baying for blood on this, betrays their ugly racist ignorance of the complex differences between their own priviledged white Anglo culture...and everyday life in South Auckland.

There is definitely room for debate on this matter, but so far all we are hearing is loud pontifications from the clowns.

Posted by Logix : 7/19/2006 06:23:00 PM

Logix:

Thankee massa, this um stupid darkie will remember his place and not question the white folks who know so much better.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/19/2006 08:56:00 PM

Craig,

Don't pull the "what does the stupid white boy know about other cultures" trip on me. Your skin colour no more qualifies you as a spokesperson for all things non-Pakeha, than mine makes me the source of knowledge about my own race.

Anita points out very neatly that notions of "reciprocity" and "obligation" can have quite different connotations in different cultures. Chinese for instance have very strong traditions about "inner and outer circles" that from a Western point of view can be indistinguishable from nepotism and flat-out corruption.

As NZ becomes more substantially a culturally diverse place, this kind of issue will occur again. But in Field's case there does not appear any evidence that Feild ever said to anyone "You do xxx work for me at no pay, and I will fix your immigration problems". That would be unquestionably a coercive and exploitative corruption.

What does appear to have happened has been more along the lines of "this man is helping me, therefore I want to help him in whatever small way I can". This is demonstrated by the fact that none of the immigrants in question have felt so aggrieved by their treatment, as to want to testify against Feild. Now is this such a hard thing to understand?

Posted by Logix : 7/19/2006 09:16:00 PM

Well that's nice Logix. Samoan culture also 'permits' giving children decent, bloody good hidings.

I s'pose if s 59 is repealed you'll also want allowance for this as a 'cultural' thing?

And I/S:

"Unfortunately, I expect that they will treat questions of official corruption with the same seriousness they treat questions of electoral overspending - namely, none at all."

True. But not the same seriousness they treat government protests, aye Tim!

Posted by Gooner : 7/19/2006 09:55:00 PM

Logix:

Well, perhaps you could contribute a little more to the debate than your banal and ignorant rhetoric. I'm so over white politicians and leftists playing the racist card when it's politically convenient, and I'm sorry if the truth hurts, but it's time you examined your own prejudices before projecting them on anyone else.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/19/2006 10:17:00 PM

Gooner,

And Western culture permits the waging of monstrous wars and the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that we point at each other as "mutual deterrence". And Western culture routinely dumps it's old folk in homes were they are neglected and abused. Great...so do we need a catalogue of all human failings to progress here? All cultures have their stronger and weaker points...it is just that most of us keenly condemn the weakness in others, while remaining obdurately blind to our own.

Posted by Logix : 7/19/2006 10:18:00 PM

Craig,

And I am so over right wing rightie pollies and media types taking an extra measure of delight in self-righteously bashing browns whenever they get the chance.

Within his own cultural lights Field has been out there working hard to help people who need help. He is first and foremost a Pacific man, not a Westminster one. Maintaining a clear balance between the two has proven harder to do than he probably imagined. The Westminster system has turned upon him and punished him. Yet large numbers of his Pacific people remain very supportive. What conclusion do you want to draw from that? That their judgement is to be discounted just because they are Pacific?

The only one of them who has complained was the Junior Cole, whose claims about the house purchase and sale that have now been confirmed by Ingram as without substance.

The outstanding questions from Ingram relates to a handful of Thai immigrants being happy to do work for Field at low rates in return for what they saw as the extra measure of generosity in both energy and time that Field was giving to them. (It is also worth bearing in mind that there are Asian tradepeople working all over South Auckland at very low rates...now that is a topic worth taking a look at....but there are too many whitie builders making a nice profit of that for the scab to be ripped off that one.)

Bear in mind too, that for these immigrants in a Thai context, any Government Official is likely to be someone to they would normally fear or avoid. To find someone like Field in a strange new country who was willing to assist them when few others would, would create in most people's minds a sense of wanting to give something in return. This is NOT a democracy threatening corruption scandal. Consider the scopes of past Royal Commissions...and consider the one Brash and Billy Bunter have called for....about who did a slap-up paint job on a couple of sodding old houses...and why?

Posted by Logix : 7/19/2006 10:51:00 PM

Logix:

I'd note that there is legislation and conventions around how MPs interact with constituents and lobbyists, regardless of race. They apply to all MPs regardless of race, creed, gender or party affiliation. Just as I can't find any 'cultural' exceptions in the copies of the State Sector Code of Conduct and the Parliamentary Services manual I was issued with when I worked (briefly) in an MP's office.

You obviously have a problem with that - I don't. And you can play the racist card all you like, because it's your credibility you're pimping.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/19/2006 11:04:00 PM

What is missing here is any sense of proportion. In their lusting to inflict damage on the Labour govt's majority National are turning what is a relatively minor error of judgement into some absurd spectre of corruption demanding that we spend millions of dollars funding an entirely pointless Royal Commission.

Ingram himself has said that greater powers may well have not yielded any more information. And if he had thought that was the case, he was always free to re-negotiate the TOR's and the nature of his powers. His failure to do so tells us that he did not think it worthwhile.

Instead we have some Thai painters doing some cheapo paint jobs on a couple of old houses. Technically a breach of your precious rules. But rules get breached frequently, but normally we apply a sense of proportion and rationality to our response.

I frequently walk my dog without a leash actually on her. Yes I am breaking a law. But the doddery old mutt is no threat to anything and responds instantly if I so much as glance at her. Personally I judge that the law can go whistle...in no sense would sitcking a leash on her add to anyone's safety. And it would be a pretty mad dog ranger who would be petty enough to ping me for it. Yet with a different dog, or in more frequented places I would obey the law and use the leash. Why? Because the context would be different. What I judge as acceptable in one context, I reject in another.

I judge on the information I have seen, that Feild's actions have technically breached some rules, but the degree of actual harm has been so minimal, and so understandable given the cultural context, that the demotion and humbling he has so far suffered is quite the appropriate punishment. But National calling for the man's political crucifixion is an ugly overreaction, motivated not by any high minded wish to "defend democracy"....but a good old fashioned lust for power.

Posted by Logix : 7/20/2006 12:32:00 AM

Logix wrote:
And if he had thought that was the case, he was always free to re-negotiate the TOR's and the nature of his powers. His failure to do so tells us that he did not think it worthwhile.

Really - Mr Ingrahm may tell us that he made a judgement that 1) the Prime Minister would have said no, and, 2) it would have created space for Field (or more precisely, Mai Chen) to claim that changing the TOR in mid-stream was a breech of natural justice.

Logix also wrote:
He is first and foremost a Pacific man, not a Westminster one.

What a load of neo-racist twaddle, Logix. I don't see why it's so hard for you to understand this, but the legislation and conventions of Parliamentary and civil service ethics aren't "my precious rules" they're the rule of law. But go back to sleep, Logix - and I'm my local MP, Wayne Mapp, wll be pleased by the new dispensation. After all, many of his constituents come from "cultural contexts" where it's the norm to use gifts and cash to *ahem* expedite matters. It would be grossly racist of him to refuse, after all.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/20/2006 07:51:00 AM

Oh, and while we're at it Logix - the judiciary and police force also operate under legislation, conventions and codes of conduct. Perhaps you'd care to tell us where they're too "petty" and culturally insensitive for non-white folks to bother with.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/20/2006 08:32:00 AM

Craig,

What you are saying amounts to the old line:

"All that is not permitted, is prohibited"

Or how about:

"The letter of the law, and not it's spirit"

I ask you directly. Do you think that from what we have seen that this matter justifies a Royal Commission? Really. By all means let the Priviledges Committee have a look at it if that will make everyone feel better, but what evidence are they likely to come up with that Ingram has not?

Posted by Logix : 7/20/2006 09:26:00 AM

Craig,

Actually I would have a problem with our government lecturing Pacific nations about how to govern well if were to take the position that the ideal for predominantly Pakeha NZ is also the ideal for every other country.

IMHO to provide good advice to other nations we need to:

* recognise that different cultural paradigms require slightly different governance approaches;

* acknowledge our imperfections and screw ups and discuss them openly so others can learn from them;

* openly discuss the pros and cons of different approaches and talk about why some work better in some cultures/countries/situations.

It also grates when people/the media/the right complain that a Runanga didn't use the same processes for governance/procurement/management that we would expect a Public Service entity to use. There are lots of ways Runanga (and other organisations) are and should be different.

Finally, this isn't to say that cultural differences should be accepted as an excuse for poor practices - merely a reminder that good/bad/acceptable/unacceptable are constructs are exist within a cultural context.

Posted by Anita : 7/20/2006 09:47:00 AM

Logix:

Well, I'm not sure about a full commission of inquiry, but I do think (as Russell Brown, who is hardly a friend of the National Party) that it's hardly an illegitimate call. Look, I know from your perspective anyone on the right is utterly incapable of actually holding a point of view without some bigoted secret agenda. Whatever. It will be a moot point if Margaret Wilson remembers that the Speaker of the House is "Parliament's (wo)man" not a creature of party or the Government of the day, and refers this to the privileges committee. Wait and see, I guess.

Oh, and for the record, Logix - did you have any issues with Ian Revell being referred to the Privileges Committee, and 'sacked' as deputy speaker, for disputing a $40 traffic ticket on Speaker's Office letterhead? I guess Ian should have complained that the whole process was a waste of time and tax-payers money, and the misuse of his position for personal advantage was just a "cultural" thing.

Anita:
Well, I think that's quite rational and worth discussion. After all, I don't think it was a bad thing that New Zealand decided folks with vaginas were competent to vote before the rest of the world.

What gets on my wick about the whole "cultural context" argument, is when it's opportunistically trotted out (as Logix seems to be doing) for partisan convenience. If folks want a multi-tier system of ethics in public life, based on ethnicity, then let's have that argument - but just be ready to be entirely consistent.

Sorry, but I actually like the idea of living in a country where the ethical probity of our legislators and civil servants is taken seriously - regardless of their ethnicity. And where we don't (quite) think the powerful are beyond all scrutiny and criticism.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/20/2006 11:17:00 AM

BTW, TZe Ming Mok has a very interesting perspective over at Public Address - much food for thought, though you really should bring your own lunch. :)

Posted by Anonymous : 7/20/2006 01:21:00 PM

Craig,

*nods* Universal (?) suffrage is a good example - different countries reached that point at different times and I think that's entirely reasonable. For NZ to say "it works for us so it'll work for you" would have been ridiculous. Discussing with other countries what was good about it, and what changes it had required/caused in our society was a far more sensible approach.

Similarly it would be daft for NZ to wander round telling Papua New Guinea/Cambodia/Austria that unless their Welfare/Education/Health guidelines recognise whangai situations they're No Good. It would, however, be sensible to talk to those countries about how we've solved our particular issues about the difference between legal and actual families, how we've recognised a practice that occurs within our communities, and whether there is anything we could offer them from our experience.

To get onto my soapbox for a moment... :)

One of the things that bugs me most about the rhetoric of some of the right (and even more sadly some of the left) is the misapprehension that treating everyone equally means treating them all the same. I believe we can have a single tier single system judicial/legislative system which recognises the difference between individuals.

We already recognise, for example, that the impact of imprisoning a solo parent with a 6 month old is different from imprisoning a 25 year old unemployed person with no dependants - and those distinctions are taken into account in deciding punishment for a crime. No-one worries about that because it's both blindingly obvious and relatively apolitical.

If we were to start talking about making sure that restitution and community service was culturally and ethnically appropriate for both the victim and the criminal I can imagine howls of outrage - people would start talking about being too PC, being soft on Maori, opportunities for rorts, two tier justice, and so on. But perhaps all we would be doing is trying to make the punishment and restitution equally hard and equally meaningful for all NZers - there are times when difference is in fact equality.

Posted by Anita : 7/20/2006 02:03:00 PM

Logix: What is missing here is any sense of proportion.

Indeed. Corruption is a serious issue, and something which we simply should not tolerate here. Field appears to have behaved corruptly, and I think it is well worth spending however much it takes to get to the bottom of it.

While National are leading the charge on this, and their motivations are primarily venal, this is not a left-versus-right issue. Corruption undermines justice, equality, and the rule of law for everybody. And that's not in anybody's interests.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/20/2006 02:49:00 PM

I/S,

One of the many things I don't understand about this situation is what is the right process for investigation corruption by an MP. Clearly the Ingram inquiry doesn't seem to have had enough teeth to do it.

What would have?

At one level I like the idea of investigating each piece separately (so involving DoL and IRD about the building work etc), but that shies away from addressing the real issues of corruption.

Does NZ just not have a mechanism for this?

Posted by Anita : 7/20/2006 04:31:00 PM

This is what I call corruption:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5193894.stm

"George W Bush personally stopped an inquiry into a controversial programme to monitor the phone calls and e-mails of Americans, a top official has said.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said internal investigators wanted to look at the role justice department lawyers had played in drafting the programme.

Mr Bush had refused them security clearance, Mr Gonzales told senators. "

Flat-out obstruction of justice, but we will not hear one peep of objection from the right-wing bloggers will we.

Craig mentions Ian Revell's episode. Again it boils down to a question of proportion, context and motivation. A potentially serious mistake was made, and a definite wrist-slapping was in order... but I would contend that for a first offence, dragging the matter through the Priviledges Committee was over the top. The proportion, context and motive were all pretty minor. There was no evidence that Revell's motive was especially venal, nor did his use of the incorrect letterhead appear to be an overly-calculated attempt to obstruct justice. In the circumstances I would have given him more benefit of the doubt.

Where there is no room for error, there is no room for trial either. Total information monitoring and ubiquitous rule enforcement is one of the terminal end-points of civilisation.

Posted by Logix : 7/20/2006 07:53:00 PM

Anita: Not really. Despite the excesses of our colonial politicians, their shonky deals and corrupt thefts from Maori, not to mention the spoils system we ran in the public service until 1910 or so, we've never really had real corruption in this country. I'd suggest the police - but there are two problems with that approach. Firstly, they will be perceived as lacking in independence (thanks in no small part to the National Party, who have carefully cultivated this perception with little regard for its long-term effects or how they will be crucified with it next time they're in office); and secondly, judging by the way they handled the investigation into electoral overspending, they just won't take it seriously ("corruption? Fuck that, give us some real crime"). Which isn't really a recipe for success...

Part of the problem with the Ingram inquiry is that he couldn't make people talk to him. That's a problem for the police as well, and there's just no way of escaping it (that little right to silence thing again). Added to that, the law incentivises both parties in a corrupt transaction to keep silent, because alleging that someone did X for you because you paid them is admitting that you committed a crime yourself (and one with fairly severe penalties). Not to mention the worries in this case that, if Field is alleged to have behaved corruptly, people's immigration status could be affected. So a lot of work is going to have to go in to assuring witnesses that this will not happen, and that it is safe for them to come forward - because here, we're primarily interested in the exploitative arsehole demanding bribes, not his victims.

Seperate departmental investigations of each allegation could be useful, but you'd have to worry about them interfering with one another. And ultimately, any evidence found is going to have to be assembled into a court case and a charge under the Crimes Act. Possibly some sort of Royal Comission could be useful, with powers to grant immunity to witnesses (but not MPs) - but ultimately it is all goign to have to go to the police.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/21/2006 12:44:00 AM

I/S,

A couple of thoughts:

1) Is paying/giving a bribe for something you should have received as-of-right illegal? So if Field, as an MP, should have helped the migrants anyway is it illegal for them to pay him to do so? Cos if not then they should be safe to give evidence.

I guess this means I'm inferring from the Ingram report and other discussions that Field did nothing illegal to futher the immigrants' cases, merely do what he, as an MP, should have done anyway.

2) The problem I see about using either the Police or DoL or IRD or whatever combination is that corruption of this kind is more of a pattern than an incident. Each incident is individually legal or illegal, the real problem is the picture as a whole.

Posted by Anita : 7/21/2006 09:42:00 AM

God this Craig chap is a ****, talk about playing the man instead of the ball.

"load of neo-racist twaddle, Logix. I don't see why it's so hard for you to understand this"

"go back to sleep, Logix"

"You obviously have a problem with that"

"you can play the racist card all you like, because it's your credibility you're pimping"

"your banal and ignorant rhetoric"

"it's time you examined your own prejudices before projecting them on anyone else"

"Noddy: Missing the point will get you nowhere at all"

Someone needs a Code of Conduct of his own, I reckon.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/21/2006 04:27:00 PM

Anita: 1) Yup. Its illegal for an MP or Minister to demand or accept (or someone to pay of offer to pay) anything for anything done or omitted in their capacity as an MP or Minister. So, even if its something they were goign to do anyway, paying them for it is a crime.

(This makes perfect sense, given the corrosive effects of corruption. Allow MPs to be paid for doing stuff they were goign to do anyway, and sooner or later they'll start not doing it unless they're paid, and dragging their feet if not paid enough. Which is precisely what we are tryign to avoid).

Field's lobbying of O'Connor wasn't in any way illegal. It's part of his job to make representations on behalf of his constituents. The potential illegality comes from demanding or accepting something in return.

2) An inquiry by the Privileges Committee or a Royal Commission would allow the big picture to be examined - but I think its vital that such an inquiry lead to prosecution if the allegations are upheld. The problem is that the former is inherently political (especially when the government's majority is on the line), while the government is already pre-emptively ruling out the latter on the grounds of expense. Personally, I think that it would be money well spent. This is as much about restoring faith in the political system as investigating Field now...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/21/2006 04:56:00 PM

Anonymous:

My personal "code of conduct" includes not posting comments to this or any other blog over the pseudonym of A. Nonymous. Your call, and I/S has decided to allow such comments on his blog as he's entitled to do, but it doesn't give you a lot of credibility with me on the subject of blog manners.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/22/2006 07:58:00 AM

Calling women "folks with vaginas" is creepy. Like somehow the vaginalness was an accessory or a growth.

Posted by muerk : 7/22/2006 07:49:00 PM

Muerk:

FFS.... If anyone cares to go back and read those words in context, they were part of an obviously sarcastic and dismissive allusion to the truly bizarre arguments against women's suffrage back in the day - and all too common today. On the "creepy" scale, I'm personally much more offended by the notion that voting drives woman insane, causes infertility and child abuse, or turns women into bob-throwing anarchists and *ahem* 'sexual inverts'.

Just a thought.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/23/2006 09:12:00 AM