Thursday, October 21, 2004

More on Tamihere

The Herald has a summary of the case for and against John Tamihere. It leaves out the bonus authorised at a meeting which seemingly did not occur, but other than that it's fairly complete.

People have asked why we need an inquiry when it is quite clear that Tamihere lied about refusing to accept a golden handshake? The answer is that it's for the other allegations - tax evasion, fraud, failing to declare gifts given to him as a Minister. There's no question that he mislead the public, and (more importantly), no question that he has embarassed the PM. The latter alone is a sacking offence.

What the inquiry is really for is to determine whether Tamihere has to quit Parliament as well as Cabinet; and if he only has to go from Cabinet, how long he must stay out. It's quite possible for him to come back from misleading the public over a golden handshake (though I'd expect him to spend a while in the sin bin for that). It's far less likely that he will be able to return if he is tainted by the perception of fraud and corruption.

Meanwhile, the government's tactic of trying to muddy the waters about whether Tamihere received a golden handshake (by calling it an "ex-gratia payment", for example) is truly pathetic. He got paid a large bonus on leaving. It wasn't to get rid of him - the parting was amicable - but it was still a golden handshake. They wouldn't accept this sort of semantic quibbling if they were on the other side of the house, and we should not accept it from them.