Monday, June 10, 2013

An abuse of privilege

Labour has laid a complaint of breach of Privilege against former Revenue Minister Peter Dunne. While I regard misleading a select committee as a very serious business, in this case the questioning of Dunne on an subject unrelated to the business of the committee was an abuse of the committee (a point noted by the committee chair at the time). Seeking to bring a privilege claim for his answers to such an abuse of the committee is simply an abuse of privilege - and of power.

Not that Labour cares about any of this - they're simply trying to put more pressure on Dunne to force him to resign rather than reveal his emails, thus building their narrative about unstable government. And they're not concerned by the damage this does to our constitutional norms or our democratic culture. Its another example of how beltway politicians put the game before the stakes.

(As for the substance, Andrew Geddis tackles it here. My only addition is that the question is first and foremost one for the select committee, and they'd be well within their rights to simply kick it on the grounds that the committee wasn't misled by answers to an unrelated and abusive line of questioning).