Damn. Why did it have to be Peter Dunne?
Let there be no misunderstanding here. It’s not a matter of having much regard for Dunne. For starters, anyone who prefers to sport a bow tie rather than a proper tie (preferably with a Windsor knot) is apt to earn a place in Alf’s bad books for sartorial bad-taste reasons.
But the resignation of this fellow opens the one ministerial spot that is best given a wide berth. Revenue. Ugh!
Have you had a hard look at the sorts of things that come into the bailiwick of, and therefore must be absorbed by, the Minister of Revenue? It’s sheer tedium. Dunne was just the sort of bloke who could smile and say it’s a fun job.
Now he has no job and he has no party – at least, not a registered party – although the Herald described him (here) as United Future leader Peter Dunne when it reported he had resigned as a Minister after he was found to have withheld information from an inquiry into a leak of a GCSB report.
Prime Minister John Key has just released the report and said it showed that Mr Dunne had not met all the requests for information from the inquiry.
“I have met with Mr Dunne to discuss the matter. He has advised me that he remains unable to fully meet the inquiry’s requests and accordingly, he offered and I have accepted, his resignation as a Minister.”
The report from David Henry was into the leaking of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB, which – it might be recalled – became the stuff of headlines in the Fairfax press and a major distraction while The Boss was trying to show what a splendid job he was making of forging important economic ties between NZ and China.
The Henry report says Dunne had withheld information from the inquiry into the leak.
Dunno if Dunne indeed was the leak – he continues to deny it and has challenged Fairfax Media to confirm that.
But he is a drip, because he admits being unwise and lacking judgement:
“While I did not leak the report and challenge Fairfax to confirm that some of my actions after I received an advance copy of the report were extremely unwise and lacked the judgement reasonably expected of a minister in such circumstances”.
“I have acted extraordinarily unwisely, even stupidly, and I am now resigned to paying the price for that.”
He said he had no credible explanation for why he acted in that way.
He exposes himself as a bigger drip by denying there was anything inappropriate about the emails and maintaining if he did release them, they would show he had not leaked the report.
But – ha! – he is not willing to do that.
“Once we start saying private correspondence is public property we go down a very slippery slope.”
Alf and his mates accordingly have much to talk about in the Eketahuna Club tonight.
We will be musing on Henry’s report saying Dunne had left his office in Parliament for about an hour on the day of the leak, and on Dunne’s explanation he had left his office to meet a female journalist at lunchtime but was waylaid and did not make the appointment.
So why would he want to meet this journalist?
He said it was simply for a “catchup” after an overseas holiday and he had not intended to leak the report at the meeting.
If he has catchup lunches with every Press Gallery journalist, he will eventually get around to catching up with Barry Soper and they can talk about bow ties.
Trouble is, The Boss is disappointed with Dunne because he expected all his ministers to cooperate with the inquiry.
Cooperation would call for a full disclosure of the contents of 12 emails exchanged between the female journalist and Dunne on April 8 – the day before her article revealing the report’s findings appeared in the Dominion-Post.
It would further call for disclosure of 86 emails exchanged between the pair between March 27 and April 9, which is a fascinatingly large amount of email exchanging.
Mr Henry said he advised Mr Dunne he considered it necessary to to have access to the text of those messages for the purpose of his inquiry.
“Mr Dunne has declined to allow me to read those 86 emails.”
Dunne did shown him an edited version of 44 of those emails.
“That text shows that GCSB issues, including the Kitteridge report, were prominent in the email exchanges. Mr Dunne was to meet the reporter on the morning of Monday April 8 [the day the leak was believed to take place] but states he did not do so.”
But without Dunne’s permission, Henry was unable to investigate further because he had no powers of compulsion.
The Boss said he’d met with Dunne on Wednesday night after he’d seen Henry’s report and told him to to cough up the emails or resign.
He chose resignation.
Now Alf awaits a call from The Boss and an invitation to consider becoming Minister of Revenue.
He is going to say “Sorry, boss, but tax isn’t my thing”.
Hopefully one of the other Ministers will then be offered the revenue job, opening up a vacancy somewhere else in the ministerial team for the Member of Eketahuna North.
Something like Racing would be good.