Patrick Gower on the week in politics - January 31, 2013
By 3 News online staff
Prime Minister John Key has been under fire from Opposition parties this week about his choice of Speaker and his stance on affordable housing.
And now Judith Collins, his Justice Minister, is also under renewed attack for her handling of David Bain's compensation claim, and Education Minister Hekia Parata has angered many with her comments on "karma".
3 News political editor Patrick Gower spoke on Firstline this morning to give his take on the week in politics.
ON DAVID BAIN
David Bain has filed a claim seeking a judicial review of the Justice Minister Judith Collins' handling of a report into his compensation claim.
"I'd say you can start with a pretty hefty bill for the taxpayer on this," says Mr Gower.
"Remember, we've already spent $400,000 on the Binnie report… Collins ended up throwing it out and spending another $100,000 on the Fisher review… so this judicial review obviously won't come cheap.
"The Crown will have to fight David Bain yet again, so we can see that legal bill mounting.
"Now remember Bain is probably in line for – if he was to be judged for compensation – they say the mark's around about $1 million. The legal bill will probably match that before we even has a decision, because Collins still has to pay for another report, which may yet be delayed because of this legal action. So a sense of déjà vu, with the Government once again in court over one of its major decisions, a bit like the asset sales last year."
READ MORE: Karam: Govt using Bain as a 'pawn'
ON HEKIA PARATA
When asked about payroll problems in the Ministry of Education which resulted in staff being paid a day late, Education Minister Hekia Parata said it was "karma".
"Calling it karma I'm sure won't win her any more friends in the Ministry of Education," says Mr Gower.
"But I'm sure that the golden handshake that Lesley Longstone, the former chief executve is going to get, I don't know if Hekia Parata would call that karma or where that fits into her definition.
Ms Parata was questioned about Ms Longstone in Parliament yesterday, but the National Party redirected the question to another MP.
"She is obviously being hugely protected in Parliament, with them not letting essentially a simple question go to her in the House."
ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Labour Party leader David Shearer has promised $300,000 homes in Auckland since announcing Labour's KiwiBuild policy in November.
"It's got quite a lot of momentum," says Mr Gower.
"This is really the breakthrough policy by Labour – I haven't seen any of their others get this sort of popularity.
"It really has caught the Government by surprise, in some senses. I don't quite like the way that David Shearer jumps around whether his $300,000 house is $350,000, or three bedrooms, or terraced or an apartment… I don't like the way there aren't those details there. That leaves the policy vulnerable and open to question.
"But at the moment it's working for Labour."
ON THE NEW SPEAKER
Prime Minister John Key says Speaker-to-be David Carter does want the job, despite claims to the contrary.
But Mr Gower says he simply doesn't want the job.
"There's always been the old tradition that the Speaker is a reluctant job, back from the days back in Westminster when the king would chop their head off, but Carter is truly a reluctant Speaker, pushed into the job so John Key could make a space in the Cabinet.
He says there could be some kind of "stunt" or contest for the role, which is being voted upon today.
READ MORE: Carter wants Speaker job, Key insists