What’s up with the doc? He gave grumblers good advice on roading issue but now is saying sorry

Dr Shane Reti – fine feller, until now – got himself into a bit of a jam this week and had the good sense to seek Alf’s advice.

He proceeded to take the advice and denied bullying a Northland group who have been protesting about dusty roads.

Actually, he had done what Alf would have done and had given the group of protesters very good advice by telling them to put their grumbling on hold until after the by-election or risk not getting the roads sealed.

Inevitably he has found out the hard way that when you are dealing with protest groups they may well try to put what you said to their advantage.

Sure enough, Stuff has reported:

In a phone call to Alex Wright, the spokeswoman for the Pipiwai residents group, Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti told her to “hold her breath” until after the crucial Northland by-election on March 28.

He said he was close to getting the Government to agree to sealing the roads, which the group says are a health hazard with dust clouds thrown kicked up by passing logging trucks.

In the call, recorded by Wright, he said he would know soon about the sealing, and “a threat on the table” – an apparent reference to emails outlining plans to blockade a road – had not helped.

He had tried to “bring the leverage everyone else was bringing”.

Stuff has linked this to National’s promise of up to $69 million to replace 10 one-lane bridges in the electorate.

So did Reti:

“I was hopeful that before the bridges . . . that you guys were the announcement,” Reti told Wright.

“You weren’t, but that’s how close this was moving along.

“In this next two and a half weeks, the more threatening the emails are, almost certainly my approach will come to an end. I’ll almost guarantee it.

“If the next two and half weeks is so critically important to have that tone then go ahead and do it. No problem. And we will see what the consequence is.”

NZ First leader Winston Peters, who is reported to be leading our Mark Osborne in early polls, described Reti’s call as “a desperate form of political blackmail – there’s no other word for it”.


Accordingly Alf urged Reti to deny bullying.

He obliged:

Reti on Wednesday told reporters he was not trying to bully the group but help them “get over the line”.

Labour trouble-makers have been exploiting the situation by tabling in Parliament a letter from Alex Wright to the MP after the conversation.

Alf was confident Reti could and should just sit tight after delivering a denial.

He was confident the rookie MP would listen to him, because in his maiden speech he had said: 

But Mr Speaker, what I most learnt from this, my first career, was to be a good listener. When you partner with people and guide them through the peaks and troughs of their life you get to be a good listener.

And you know Mr Speaker, there is a parallel with serving constituents, and it is this:

What people want Mr Speaker is:

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

But he must have been listening too much to too many people because the bugger went further and apologised.

An apology from a Nat?

Good grief. What next?

But it’s there in black and white:

 “If they interpret it that way [bullying] I am sorry for that and apologise for that,” he said.

He was trying to tell them they were making good progress and “don’t be distracted by a by-election”.

Alf can only say he is dismayed.

Saying sorry is something craven lefties and greenies do. They say sorry because usually they are a sorrowful bunch with much to be sorry about.

We Nats should be made of sterner stuff.

The matter will be raised at our next caucus meeting.


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