Monday, March 20, 2006

David Parker's resignation

When I first read about Investigate's allegations about David Parker, my reaction was that they had documented some wrong-doing but I had no idea whether this was a serious breach or a mere technicality. Thus I expected to see four months of governmental denial that an offense had taken place followed by a declaration that there was a prima facie case to answer but no prosecution.

My initial reaction seemed confirmed by Helen Clark's denial that there was a need for investigation on the grounds that the accusation came from Investigate magazine. So I am shocked to hear that Parker has admitted error and resigned as Attorney-General. After brazening out David Benson-Pope even after he lied to Parliament and his colleagues, I was expecting the government to put up a tougher fight like have Steve Maharey insist that because Russell Hislop wasn't present at the shareholder meetings, there was no animosity and so the shareholders' decision was unanimous.

Both Parker and Clark are portraying this as an error that harmed nobody. Ordinarily I would accept their assertions pending the delayed audit of the company but past experience with this government (namely David Benson-Pope) leaves me with the gut feeling that there is something bigger. If there is, Parker can forget about escaping with a discharge without conviction (which seems to be his reason for staying on) and be expelled from Parliament.

The Attorney-General portfolio has reverted to an overworked Michael Cullen but he now has an additional burden. When he was last Attorney-General he had Russell Fairbrother as PPS to assist him for Cullen has no legal qualifications. But Fairbrother was sent back to the backbenches after the last election for losing the seat of Napier and there are hardly any other lawyers on the government benches, with the exception of Winston Peters and Margaret Wilson.