Dunno who or which was the sorrier.
Rodney Hide, the self-proclaimed perk-buster who belatedly has realised the extent of the political capital he squandered on defending his travels with his paramour.
Or the spectacle of the aforementioned Rodney Hide expressing his apologies to the public of New Zealand.
Or Hone Harawira, for not saying sorry.
Or the Maori Party, for harbouring Hone.
In the Hide case, the pity is that Rodney’s hormones have been more powerful than his judgement (although Alf regards that awful yellow jacket as good reason for wondering if he ever had good judgement).
On the positive side, his public expressions of contrition show he has much better judgement than Horrible Harawira, who brags he doesn’t give a stuff about what the public think.
Rodney has more balls, too, come to think of it. It would not have been easy doing what he had to do (bearing in mind his massive ego and arrogance).
As the NZ Herald describes it –
The penitent enters his office, head bowed and without the usual greetings, as the cameras and notebooks silently wait.
Then Rodney Hide delivers an apology near perfect for its lack of qualification and attempts to lay blame elsewhere.
Prompting his appearance is a series of news headlines focusing on the “former perkbuster” and his taxpayer-financed travels with his partner to Europe, mainland United States and Hawaii.
So yesterday, after a week of defending himself, he spoke slowly of his shame at his “casual use” of taxpayers’ money to holiday in Hawaii and take his partner, Louise Crome, on a ministerial trip to Britain and the US.
“That was wrong.”
Alf is pleased to report to his taxpaying constituents that Hide said a cheque would be delivered to the taxpayer, paying back $11,952 for that second trip on top of the $10,000 he had already repaid for the Hawaiian holiday.
He pledged not to use his travel perk on international travel again, saying he would pay Ms Crome’s costs himself if he took her on official travel or on holiday.
Having commendably laid the blame at his own door, he said
he had been blinded by the “challenge, the hard work and the excitement” of his ministerial job, and had lost sight of his awareness that every dollar the Government spent came out of the pocket of a New Zealander.
He had somehow come to believe that what he had done was in the rules, so it was allowed. He was proud of the work he had done as a minister. He was not so proud of his recent behaviour.
Being a strong constituency man, Alf took special interest in Rodney’s special message for his Epsom constituents.
“I promised I would make them proud of me as their MP. I have let them down. I have made mistakes, I have shown poor judgment. For that I am sorry.”
He had initially thought he could justify putting Ms Crome’s costs on the taxpayer’s tab for his business trip to Britain, where the pair also attended her brother’s wedding.
“On reflecting on it, I realised I was totally wrong. I did need my partner to go on the trip, but I accept now that need was for me – not for the taxpayer.”
He seemed surprised it had taken so long for him to see it, saying that as soon as the furore had died down and he had stopped defending himself, he had realised he never should have done so in the first place.
Alf is bound to say he was surprised by the time it took for Rodney to realise the error of his ways, and how politically damaging it had been to bray about not wanting to be a martyr to his principles.
He was asked if his new vow never to take a holiday on the taxpayer made him a “martyr”, as he had claimed when trying to justify why he was using a perk he had once opposed so strongly.
“Not a martyr,” he said. “It makes me a person who recognised I was wrong. It’s a hard thing for anyone to admit they stuffed up. It’s
particularly hard for politicians.
“So what it makes me is a person who stuffed up and fell short, and I’m accepting responsibility for that and putting it right as much as I can.”
He did not try to pull others down with him. He had chosen to put himself up there as the perkbuster – other MPs had not taken the same stand, so they should not expect to be held to the same standard.
Oh, and let the record show that Hide apologised for claiming that John Key had done nothing as PM and had no ideas beyond building a cycleway.
In the afternoon, an abject Mr Hide also apologised to Mr Key for those comments, saying he had distracted attention away from “the important job his Government has in lifting New Zealand’s economic performance”.
He said the Prime Minister had entrusted him with an important job and had given “very generous support, especially over the last two weeks”.
Mr Hide said he needed to mend bridges, not only with Mr Key but also with his own principles and values.
And he hoped he would not always be judged by his slips.
“I always try to learn from something. And I have to tell you, I’ve learned a lot about myself.”
That’s more than you say for Horrible Harawira, the ethnocentric Maori Party tearaway – correction, the tearaway Maori Party racist – who apparently won’t say sorry without being ordered to do so.
Hone Harawira has escaped being expelled from the Maori Party, but is likely to be told to publicly apologise for the inflammatory words he used in an email and for visiting Paris instead of staying with an official delegation in Brussels.
The MP is also unlikely to be given any more official international travel assignments by his party this parliamentary term.
His final fate will not be known until after senior Maori Party figures go to Kaitaia this week to meet his electorate organisation.
Dunno what Harawira will be apologising for, if he ever does – short-changing taxpayers by taking time out to visit Paris with his missus, or for displaying a salty English-language vocabulary.
Or for being culturally offensive, when he said his first stop in Paris was the Louvre, “the museum made famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code…”
What planet does the bugger live on?
But the Maori Party are keen to keep him. Party president Whatarangi Winiata, explaining why Hawariwra is unlikely to be expelled, said
“There isn’t any doubt about his intellectual ability, it’s just his ability to express ideas well and his energy.
“I don’t think punishment is where we should focus. He has so much talent, and we have to shape the politician out of that.”
He has talent, sure enough – a talent for excoriating white people.
As for his ability to express his ideas, Alf gives him credit for communicating exactly what he thinks, as he did in the contentious e-mail to Buddy Mikaere, in which
he questioned whether Mikaere was buying into the white man bullshit” and said “white motherf***ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries.”
One good thing has come of this. The way is clear for Alf to talk about Harawira in similarly abusive style, because just as he foresaw –
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres has ruled out investigating the email, saying Mr Harawira was exercising his freedom of opinion.
Dunno how strong your language has to be before de Bres will throw the book at you, but perhaps it helps to know that
Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ’s Q+A programme yesterday that Mr Harawira’s email comments were offensive, and he believed there was “a tinge” of racism in them.
Fair to say, de Bres has called for an apology and suggested Harawira deliver it in Parliament.
Alf will be there to hear it. But he suspects he will have a long wait.