Bennett: who pays?
Paula Bennett is a ghastly, patronising bully. Anyone reading her cry-baby press statement issued this morning would have been left agog:Agog at her hypocrisy:Bennett breaches someone's privacy in a malicious and deliberate piece of politics and now she's claiming that a TV3 story saying she sought a hush-money deal with the complainant "has generated a significant amount of comment and contact to her office from upset members of the public."
Now some information on her has been leaked it's upsetting her. She is simply awful. She used the media to persecute two people and now the guns are pointing in the other direction the hypocrite says she will "considering her legal options" and is demanding apologies! Hypocrite. We are supposed to believe her!? We are supposed to believe that a payment to resolve the dispute has not been discussed? We are supposed to believe that a payment solution to the most controversial privacy breach of last year - and one that has gone on now for seven months - has not been discussed? Bennett's assertions lack any credibility.
In all of this however it seems I'm still the only one asking the question: who pays?From that post:
The problem is for Bennett that if you look through these rules she appears to have broken them, and has quite probably opened herself up for legal action. And if this eventuated, or even "threatened" (as the manual says at 4.39), then it becomes a headache for the whole Cabinet - one they must make a call on. Either they back her or they don't. If they get her to sign some sort of a waiver beforehand saying that she will take full personal financial responsibility for any potential court case coming out of this it may be a way of heading it off, but even that would indicate they are backing away from her position. In any case they must reaffirm the status quo ante that at all personal confidential information is safe, because at the moment with Bennett, it is not.
How messy could this get?
She did what she did in bad faith - that's the crux and is why she will lose the case. She has admitted on TV and in the House that she was "playing political football" and the only reasonable understanding of why she did what she did in releasing the personal information the way she did was because she knew she would never get any sort of consent for it from the individuals concerned.
The effects of her action may also meet the grounds for seeking damages: it held the individuals up for public scorn and derision, it was done deliberately, and yes, it was done maliciously, or using her terminology to teach them "a lesson." It was designed to humiliate the individuals concerned. That's malice. It has had an impact on the victims - a heavily negative one - as it was designed to. And because the reason and motivation for the disclosure was wrong she has also, therefore, misused her staff in both gaining the information and in getting advice on it (she changed her original stance to admit that she sought and received advice, which now makes things worse not better for her). She's gone on the public record to confirm all the central facts that together ought to be enough to get her red carded. If the Nats had any operational radar they would opt for a self-administered yellow card before that point, but they aren't thinking straight. Do they need to have their minds focussed?
In addition to this it was also discriminatory in nature because this rule supposedly "implicitly"(?) applies only to one class of personal information - that of beneficiaries. The courts would love to get their teeth into this. Anyone who listened to the Chief Justice tear strips off the the Solicitor-General in the Zaoui case a few years back will appreciate how an issue of abuse of power might go down on appeal. The Nats could be only a pro bono QC away from getting a direct kick to their collective Cabinet balls.
Is Dame Paula Bennett really that much of an asset to be protected? She's broken every rule in the book, patronisingly bragged about being a Cabinet Minister as if that were a justification in itself for her actions - and now she risks tainting the whole Cabinet if this thing goes to court. She's putting the PM and her more sensible senior colleagues on the spot. She's putting her associate, Tariana Turia - and by extension also the Maori Party deal - under huge pressure. That makes her a liability.
All of those things I said about the situation in August last year are coming to a head. So I ask again: what is Cabinet's position on her actions? Will they pay - or will she?