Let’s hear it for Damien: the National Party coffers have done nicely from his giving officials the fingers

It’s not often Alf feels the urge to acclaim the decisions of Labour politicians.

He is happy to make an exception in the case of one decision made by West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor, the Immigration Minister who over-rode the advice of his officials to allow Chinese businessman Donghua Liu into New Zealand.

Firstly, Liu’s subsequent brush with the law triggered events that led to Maurice Williamson’s forced resignation in recent days after it emerged he called high-level police officers about an investigation into Liu.

This is bad news for Maurice, who happens to be one of Alf’s mates.

But – ahem, let’s confess to a bit of self-interest here – his resignation has created a ministerial vacancy.

And your long-serving, hard-working member for Eketahuna North reckons he’s in with a chance of picking up some of the portfolios (plus the perks that go with them).

Secondly, the National Party war-chest has been enlarged by O’Connor’s decision to let Liu reside here.

As we have been reminded here, Williamson also lobbied for Liu when Liu sought to become a New Zealand citizen. Nathan Guy, the immigration minister in the chair on that occasion, subsequently approved Liu’s citizenship (and yes, he too did so against official advice).

But – as with O’Connor – it was a good call.

Liu has since reportedly donated $22,000 to the National Party.

True, the money comes from a bloke who was arrested in December last year following a domestic violence incident with his partner and her mother at Auckland’s Boulwvard Hotel, which Liu owns.

He pleaded guilty to the two charges on April 1 and was released on bail.

But the money hasn’t done anything naughty and will be put to good use.

O’Connor can’t actually remember ignoring official advice and paving the way for a National Party donor to come here with pots of spending stuff.

Mr O’Connor said today that when he was Immigration Minister he dealt with about 4500 cases a year officials had turned down, and overturned many of them. He could not recall the Liu case at all.

He has no regrets.

“In all those cases you make your decision based on the information in front of you and move on. Because there are so many of them, it’s only the exceptional ones you recall and quite frankly this wasn’t one of them.”

The story on the Herald website goes on to record O’Connor’s view that Williamson crossed the line when he rang police about the Liu case.

“It’s not protocol, it’s not proper. I think every politician is aware of the sensitivity around it and respects that The Prime Minister has made the judgment on this one and I don’t think he’s wrong.”

But it’s hardly newsworthy to hear this judgement from a Labour MP. Everybody thinks dear old Maruice crossed the line, except perhaps the hapless but wealthy Mr Liu.

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