Judith Collins

The Judith Collins defamation action is starting to look like a cross between the Teapot tapes and the McLibel trial.

The Minister has finally filed the legal proceedings against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little who, for their part, both seem determined to milk it for all it’s worth – see the two items by Danya Levy: MPs laugh off Collins' lawsuit and Little tells Collins to send in the 'thugs'.

Clearly Little and Mallard sense that this legal action can only embarrass the Minister and her Government, and are set on turning the process into a circus with their hijinks, bluster, and jovial disregard for the matter. 

Graeme Edgeler writes in his blogpost, Sanctuary!, that being "served" your legal papers is a rather quaint, bizarre and ‘fun’ part of the whole procedure, so who can blame the Labour MPs for enjoying the theatrics.
But he takes issue with the notion that MPs cannot be served defamation proceedings while in the Parliamentary complex due to parliamentary privilege.
Instead Edgeler suggests that "unless they’re planning on being unfindable for next couple of years, it might be better to get it over with".
"If the case is as likely as they claim to prove embarrassing for the Minister, one might wonder why they don’t want to bring it on."
Furthermore, as Adam Bennett reports in Little out to embarrass Collins over court action, "should the pair avoid being served in person several times, lawyers could apply for a court order allowing the papers to be simply taped to their front doors".
So why are the Labour MPs so blase about Collins’ action and why is the minister so determined to go down such a politically dangerous path?
Andrew Little has explained that "a defamation proceedings is about her reputation and about what Trevor and I have said, not about our reputation. 
She has more to lose than any of us if she goes to trial".
This is nicely expanded upon in a blogpost on the Standard: Pride cometh. The key point is this: "She’s waited until close to the Budget so that the story would be quickly overshadowed and then forgotten.
"You see, Collins had foolishly got herself between a rock and a hard place.
"On one hand, having promised to sue, she had to follow through or be taunted forever and be seen as conceding she leaked Pullar’s name.
"On the other, there’s no way she would win a suit and her leadership aspirations would take a big hit from losing, which would be seen as de facto proof she leaked Pullar’s name."
Also on the issue, see Danyl Mclauchlan’s satire: They write letters
Other important or interesting political items today include:
  • With the issue of gay marriage emerging onto the political arena in New Zealand (and globally), it’s worth having a look at where MPs stand on the issue. When I interviewed politicians during last year’s election campaign, I asked them about same-sex marriage and their responses can be viewed (with summaries) in the blogpost, NZ politicians on gay marriage (on the record).
  • There’s a fascinating court trial on at the moment that has the potential to seriously embarrass the Labour Party – see: Michael Field’s Tycoon boasted of his MP mates. The story has many parallels with the BanksDotcom scandal, and again raises significant questions about the relationship between politicians and the financial elite. Meanwhile, the latest chapter in the BanksDotcom saga is reported by Duncan Garner: Has Banks breached the cabinet manual?
  • The rebuild of Christchurch has the political potential to both boost or badly damage the National Government, and Vernon Small reports today that there are signs of growing dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of the situation – see: Negativity on quake response grows
  • For a different angle on Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, see Morgan Godfery’s Colin Craig on Maori. Godfery delves into Craig’s approach to Maori issues and is pleasantly surprised by his (somewhat contradictory) findings.
  • The VUW Institute of Policy Studies has just published the latest issue of Policy Quarterly, which you can access online here. Of particular interest is an article by Prof Jack Nagel: Evaluating Democracy in New Zealand under MMP (PDF). The latest edition also includes academic analysis of issues such as the use of parliamentary urgency, local government reform, and the funding of tertiary education.
  • What's the connection between Justin Bieber and Winston Peters? It’s not entirely clear – but New Zealand First is strangely promoting the teenage popstar on it’s website under construction, as reported by Toby Manhire
  • Finally, Gordon Campbell says that the ‘striking similarities between the Helen Clark and John Key Governments continue to unfold’ – see: A case of history repeating itself?
Bryce Edwards

Today’s content:
Collins defamation suit
Danya Levy (Stuff): MPs laugh off Collins' lawsuit
Graeme Edgeler (Legal Beagle): Sanctuary!
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): They write letters
The Standard: Pride cometh
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan
Politician-business relations
Michael Field (Stuff): Tycoon boasted of his MP mates
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The Bill Liu trial
Immigration and nationalism
Katie Bradford-Crozier (Newstalk ZB): PM dismisses Peters' ethnic remarks
Mfat cuts
Kate Chapman and Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Mfat restructure causes 'irreparable damage'
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): MFAT scales back redundancies
Christchurch rebuild
Vernon Small (Stuff): Negativity on quake response grows
Jarrod Booker (Herald): Halt on demolition angers minister
Jarrod Booker (Herald): Key shares quake boy's pain at loss
Charley Mann (Stuff): Boy's letter wins PM's visit
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): The Christchurch Problem for National
John Drinnan (TV3): TV3 exit set to leave a big hole
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Media's job is to question the PM
Bill Ralston: Gotcha! Journalism
Peter Cresswell (Not PC): Key Derangement Syndrome
Paul Cassidy (Herald): Smile, you're on candid camera
John Lewis and Rebecca Fox (ODT): Too early to discern effects of Budget
Jim Hopkins (Herald): How many marks out of 10, then?
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Performance based pay not the norm
Groping to Bethleham: The costs of producing education
Budget and economy
Adam Hollingworth (TV3): Greece causes NZ Budget woes
David Farrar (Herald): Fear over Greece just the beginning
Disability issues
Dita De Boni (Herald): The question is: Who cares?
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): A case of history repeating itself?
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Colin Craig on Maori (and I'm on Twitter)
Whena Owen (TV3): An analysis of David Shearer
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): New Wiggles Line-up Announced
Martin Johnston (Herald): Whooping cough at peak of epidemic
Graeme Edgeler (Legal Beagle): MPs' Pay
Eloise Gibson (Stuff): Consumer laws get retooled





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