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‘The dog ate my homework’: More on Genter’s letter – did she mislead Parliament and related observations

13/08/2019

Now this matter has been gathering steam for a while, but a post by David Farrar at Kiwiblog caused me to look again at the issue. Mr Farrar referenced a NZ Herald article by Georgina Campbell

The Chief Ombudsman has launched an investigation into Julie Anne Genter’s refusal to release the letter she penned over a $6.4b Wellington transport project.

This investigation is overdue. I doubt whether anyone believes anything that Genter has said so far except of course the cultists in the Green Party see Letters to the Editor – NZ Herald – On Julie Anne Genter . Plus as I posted here she is doing damage to ‘Brand Ardern’. Quite possibly her major sin, at least in the eyes of some.

The Associate Transport Minister will also be looking to spruce up her stationery to avoid confusion over whether she’s corresponding in her ministerial capacity or as a transport spokesperson for the Green Party.

More on that remark later

The letter Genter sent to Transport Minister Phil Twyford in March this year regarding Let’s Get Wellington Moving has landed in the House again this week.

I posted about her refusal to disclose a few days ago – Genter Under Fire – What is she hiding?

The revelation that emerged last week was one which has not, I think, really received the attention it deserves – probably due to the media being engaged on deflection duties regarding Labour’s latest sex scandal and thus an urgent need for baby stories

The biggest, and somewhat confusing, revelation to come out of Question Time today was when Genter confirmed the letter was written in her capacity as Transport spokesperson for the Green Party .

Here is the video of Genter in the House on 6th August

As Ms Campbell noted

For days she’s been answering questions in the House about the letter in her capacity as the Associate Transport Minister. Not to mention previous answers to written parliamentary questions in that capacity too.

Today she said the letter “highlighted the Green Party’s position on aspects of the transport project”.

That is a key disclosure in all her previous answers about this matter she has responded as the Associate Minister  today, she  changed tack and said she wrote to Twyford as Green Transport spokesperson.

She cannot have it both ways.

Now if she previously answered as the Associate Minister was she misleading the House then or was she misleading the House when she answered National MP Chris Bishop on the 6th August.

More plainly put – has she told the truth about any of this?

Then we get to the question of letterhead, you will recall I parked an earlier reference to this.

Again I refer to Ms Campbell

The water was further muddied when National’s Transport spokesman Chris Bishop asked whether or not the letter was sent on ministerial letterhead.

“As it happens I had only one type of letterhead but that is something I will be changing”, Genter eventually conceded.

So she hummed and hawed but then said she only had one type of letterhead.

Now David Farrar in his Kiwiblog post claims that Genter was, shall we put it kindly, in error when she said that, viz:

Firstly that is incorrect. All MPs have unlimited supplies of standard parliamentary letterhead which they can use when corresponding as an MP.

Genter both used ministerial letterhead but also signed it as Associate Transport Minister. Yet she refuses to accept any accountability for this.

Farrar went further with this comment:

Contrast that to Nick Smith. Nick Smith in 2012 resigned as as a Minister. Why? Because he had written a letter of support for a friend in her ACC claim. And he wrote it on his ministerial letterhead, instead of his parliamentary letterhead. That mistake was enough to have him lose all his portfolios.

Genter has no integrity as she dodges and dives.

That excuse by Genter is akin to ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse proffered by many schoolchildren in the past – indeed that is more believable, especially as she apparently signed the letter in her ministerial capacity.

Genter dodged Bishop’s push for her to read the first three paragraphs of the secret letter.

That phrasing from Campbell, makes me think that Bishop may have a copy of the letter, especially as Genter is quoted as saying in response:-

“It is in the public interest for the three parties of Government to be able to have free and frank discussions before decisions are made. This is particularly the case in an MMP government where all parties need to be able to have free discussions and a relationship of trust and confidence and in a timely manner.”

This goes, in my view some way to corroborating allegations that she threatened to resign

Plus in my view this quote from Ardern confirms this opinion expressed by Matthew Hooton in his most recent NZ Herald column

Genter now demands to keep secret her letter about the $6.4b funding package on the grounds that it would not be in the public interest for anyone else to see it.

She claims she wrote as one ordinary MP to another on an interparty matter. If that rule takes hold, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and his associate David Parker could claim all their correspondence about next year’s Budget is just two Labour MPs communicating about their reelection plans.

Speaking to media, Campbell reported:

Bishop said Genter needed to get her story straight.

“The minister can’t on the one hand say she’s a minister for the purposes of the public interest defence in the Parliament, but then on the other hand say that she wrote it as the Green Party Transport spokesperson albeit that she now admits she wrote it on ministerial letterhead.”

Fair call. Hopefully Bishop has the goods to deliver a coup de grace

Genter said if the Chief Ombudsman recommended that she release the letter, then she would do so.

Really, or maybe the dog will have a very large meal or Genter’s shredder will be running hot, given Genter’s actions to date I am not convinced. Perhaps she will issue the letter but with redactions thus making the release irrelevant

Some concluding thoughts:

  • Has Genter any credibility?
  • Is Genter telling the truth?
  • Did Genter mislead parliament?
  • After Genter’s performance would you trust the Greens?

 

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