Monday, March 30, 2015

Compare and contrast

In December last year, we learned that (now former) National MP was being investigated by police on unspecified assault charges. It's been suggested that the National Party knew about this well before the 2014 election, yet allowed him to stand and almost made him a Minister. The Prime Minister has only admitted knowing about it since "early December", but even then his actions are revealing: faced with an MP under a legal cloud, accused of serious crimes, he tried to keep the whole thing secret, and when the news inevitably leaked, he refused to demand that Sabin resign as chair of the Law and Order Committee (which would be reviewing the agency investigating him), saying he was "comfortable" with him remaining. It was only when Sabin resigned from Parliament that Key began to express doubts about his former MP. His strategy was to cover-up, then back his MP to the hilt regardless of what he was accused of, because his vote was vital to passing National's agenda.

Compare this with the situation in Queensland. Over there, State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk discovered over the weekend that one of her MPs had deceived both her and the electorate by failing to disclose a past criminal history. She leads a government with a majority of a single vote, so losing this MP would lead to it falling. But rather than doing what Key did and relying on coverup, stonewalling and shamelessness, she instead immediately ejected him from her party and advised him to resign from Parliament:

The Palaszczuk Government is in crisis after the Premier was forced to sack one of her MPs for failing to disclose his criminal history to the party - bringing her two-month old minority administration to the brink.

Ms Palaszczuk ordered the state executive to expel Cook MP Billy Gordon from the party on Sunday after discovering he had been "dishonest" with her.

She also advised Mr Gordon to resign from parliament, which would leave Labor in danger of falling one seat short of a parliamentary majority - Labor won 44 seats, including Cook, while the LNP claimed victory in 42. Independent MP Peter Wellington committed his support to Labor, giving Ms Palaszczuk the majority in the 89-seat parliament she needed to lead.

But if the LNP win any potential by-election and secure the support of the two Katter MPs, the balance of power could tip back to the previous government.

This is what integrity looks like. And comparing these two situations, its clear that John Key has none.