Bennett: who pays? [UPDATED]
Paula Bennett told to cough.
I ask again - as I have asked since the beginning - who pays? Either Bennett has to pay herself and admit that what she did was wrong - or the Cabinet that backed her has to pay. Her colleagues let her get away with it at the time - that was wrong. Will she get a whip around from them for letting it get this far? Are they going to share the blame?
UPDATE | Friday 10:15AM
The Minister thinks her integrity is being questioned?
...I wanted a transparent process, because I felt that my integrity was being questioned.
What integrity? There's not a question about her integrity and there's not a question about her being wrong. What she did was wrong - that's not questioned - the only one that's questioning it is her. It's like she just doesn't get it.
She's slowly snookering herself.
As soon as legal action is threatened the Minister has to tell Cabinet and they decide whether she has to pay personally or whether all the bills will end up coming out of the Crown's coffers. If anyone has to cough - it has to be her. Not the taxpayer.
She purported to authorise - as the Social Welfare Minister - the publication of these private files by the media. J Edgar Hoover without the subtlety... though probably similar wardrobes.
She's unrepentant and unable to concede, on the one hand, but having said (in parliament I think it was) that she would only say sorry if she was made to. That's an interesting strategy. Continuing to breach confidentiality - after having insisted on it from her opposite - even more so. Is that appropriate behaviour in a fair process? She is playing politics, and playing it poorly.
It is very sad that her senior colleagues didn't step in immediately to sort it out at the time - when I suggested they do so - because let's be clear about what this case is all about: Paula Bennett is maintaining that a Minister can authorise the publication of personal, private and confidential files of political opponents held within their department (and can use state servants to do so).
That's so clearly not on. Not by any reading of the cabinet manual, not by any reading of any statute and not by any precedent known. What do her senior colleagues think of that, on reflection? Is that the standard of a Cabinet Minister? Certainly not in a Westminster system.
Would the Speaker let documents be tabled in parliament that were confidential and private that identified individuals like the information released by her in this case? I don't think Lockwood would put up with those antics. Could you imagine trying to pull a stunt like that in the House!
Yes, what she did was very wrong - and she can't claim a colour of right because it was essentially malicious.
Maintaining an intransigent position is doing more damage to her integrity than the eventual form of official rebuke. If she can just admit to it she can settle and move on. But Bennett is still hanging in there not realising that $15k was yesterday's offer. It might be $30k tomorrow - and all on her own tick if Cabinet back away.
What if the complainant said that the $15k would not go to her but go to charity, and she wants Bennett to match it with another $15k? If Cabinet want to back her that's another $15k. Now we're up to $45k. Does she see how this game works? The price for trying to take us back to the Muldoon $50k days of bullying and misuse of power by politicians against whomsoever they deem "the enemy" must be substantial in order to discourage any further misuse. At the time of writing she still thinks it is OK to act like J $55k Edgar $60k Hoover $65k. She really ought to take the earliest possible exit from this type of game.
UPDATE | Friday 7PM