"The intersection of vanity and personal wealth" that popped up as Act's No.5 was the Sensible Sentencing Trust's contribution to democracy, David Garrett.
During the 2008 election campaign I posted on Act's bizarre decision to hold their No.5 list slot open. I thought it was a strange gimmick, but:
It is not a bad strategy for a party in desperate times. They need the dough, but that alone won't trump a competent campaigner at No.5 instead of just a No.5 who has enough money to hire a competent campaigner. [...] Act's best strategy would be to put a real fighter at No.5 - not a super-rich candidate, not a celebrity, but a brawling, canny and ambitious person who would chuck the kitchen sink into being an MP.
I meant a political brawler - not an actual street brawler. And by canny I meant politically savvy, not criminally inspired by the novels of Frederick Forsyth. If that is the level the candidate qualification is set at and they wanted someone like that as an MP - indeed "head-hunted" - then they might as well have asked someone like me: at least there would have been no hypocrisy about permanent name suppression, the clean slate law and the rest of the harsh moralising baggage the SST has dragged onto the Act omnibus. But was he really head-hunted, or was it a result of an opportunistic and desperate confluence of circumstances more akin to panic than to a plan?
Someone representing an active and powerful lobby group that fits into Act's new law and order rhetoric, like the SST, was a good pick... on paper. They would bring a lot of muscle: a mailing list, media play and money. But looking back at this weird decision in light of last week's revelations it looks as though it was because the leadership and board may have been dithering on whether Garrett's court appearance would come to light and whether that should exclude him from the spot. Maybe. Maybe they had an alternative donor/candidate to consider who later pulled out? Maybe. Maybe Kenneth Wang - who chucked his toys out of the cot (over his list placement, apparently) and then stood against them in Botany - is the person who caused the vacancy and can thus be credited with the opportunity handed to the SST and their man, Garrett. Maybe.
There's still some loose strings that Rodney hasn't snipped off yet and the only way to find out would be to examine the timeline. So long as Rodney can say - hand on heart - that he never knew about the permanent name suppression then the crisis is salvageable and the Leader will remain largely immune from the full ravages of the hypocrisy infection. The problem is that as long as Garrett is still nursing his pride and refusing to resign as an MP questions will continue to be asked and Mallard and co. will be asking them.
Maybe Garrett wants a valedictory instead of leaving his personal statement about his offending as his last words in Hansard. If that is the case then Rodney will want him to do that today. Garrett should want to do this today. The House has an interest in hearing the reason for a resignation of one of their members from the member himself. It is not as if Garrett has achieved nothing for half a term as a backbencher and he may want those positives on the record before he goes. That should be done at the first available opportunity, ie. today.