Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

David Garrett’s lewdness, and the incredible Christine Rankin

June 22nd, 2009

Rodney Hide’s excuses for the lewd comment by his Act party colleague David Garrett – that he is new to Parliament, that he may be slow to realize that he is not still working on an oil rig etc etc. – are bizarre, and a bit desperate. Reportedly, Garrett made such comments on more than one occasion, and in more than one context – both inside the Act Party office, and elsewhere in the parliamentary complex. Apparently, the comments had to do with Garrett linking a female staffer (employed by Parliamentary Services) filling a drink bottle from a water cooler, and oral sex.

One reason why Hide’s excuse for Garrett is so lame is that Garrett has more than once paraded his expertise in employment law before the House. During the debate on the 90 day employment probation period – which limits the rights of new employees to take a personal grievance case, in situations that can include sexual harassment – Garrett said:

It is actually not very easy to sack somebody for improper reasons such as pregnancy, sexual harassment, or racial grounds, and hide it as a poor performance issue. It is very difficult. I can say that because I have been doing employment law for 15 years, since the Employment Contracts Act came in and employment law became a specialty.

Given that background, Garrett can hardly plead ignorance. The oil rig defence is particularly feeble, given that Garrett has been practicing law since, for close on two decades – with some of that being in employment law, and some of it involving work for law and order campaigners, the Sensible Sentencing Trust. It may also be recalled that Garrett was the one parliamentarian who did not rise to applaud Helen Clark after her farewell speech on leaving Parliament. Throughout, Garrett has been a strong advocate of Act’s ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out’ policy which seeks to impose harsh penalties on people guilty of multiple offences. In June 2008, Garrett reportedly turned up drunk to a TVNZ current affairs show taping, during which he linked homosexuality to paedophilia. If Garrett cannot control his own behaviour, what is doing in Parliament promoting laws that aim to set strict boundary lines and punitive repercussions for everyone else? His role in the Act Party may be to make Rodney Hide look benign by comparison, but Garrett is fast becoming the poster child for everything that is ugly and closeted about his party’s social attitudes.

It has been a rough 48 hours for the friends of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Last week, Prime Minister John Key noted at his press conference that the Families Commission had come out in support of the current law on child discipline – which will soon have its public support tested in a citizens initiated referendum, starting in July. As Key also observed last week, the Families Commission reaches its decisions by consensus, and so he would not expect Rankin to continue to campaign against the current law. Surprise, surprise : Rankin initially agreed to front the “No” campaign against the law, during the upcoming referendum period. As Green MP Sue Bradford says,
Rankin’s decision to do so was ‘quite incredible’.

Already, Rankin seems to be back-tracking, and she will not now be fronting the ‘No’ campaign launch at least. Any back-pedaling though, seems only in response to the public backlash, and it is as yet unclear whether Rankin is sundering all of her public ties with the law’s opponents. If not, she will need to explain how she can continue to receive payment – as a commissioner, she receives $565 a day for up to 100 days a year – for being part of an organization whose collectively-reached decisions she appears willing to oppose. It is hard to see how her continued presence in the job would not impede the work of the Commission, by fostering dissent between herself and other commissioners.

Rankin owed it to Key not to raise even the prospect of her publicly undermining the Families Commission’s stance on this issue. Key needs to require Rankin to stand down from her Families Commission post, at least until the referendum is over. The political equation is simple. The longer that Rankin stays in the job, the more Key is going to seem foolish and indecisive.

Gordon Campbell adds: Family First director Bob McCroskie has since indicated that his initial release that Christine Rankin would launch the ‘No’ campaign was an error. To date, Ms Rankin has refused to comment on the referendum.

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    1. 7 Responses to “David Garrett’s lewdness, and the incredible Christine Rankin”

    2. By Nargaret on Jun 22, 2009 | Reply

      I think it is no surprise that the parties who support the present government shown their total disregard for woman in general. David Garrett and Richard Worth are only displaying this governments inclinations. Excluding Crusher Collins the only females they have are only there to make National look like it has a bit of compassion. Equal pay and Womans affairs have both been scrapped, John Key and co. clearly show they do not want Woman in business. When men sit around the a business table theimportant question is “will it make money” Woman ask, “how will this decision affect society”. A question they do not want asked. Its all about money.

    3. By Dan on Jun 22, 2009 | Reply

      Thanks Nargaret, for that ridiculous generalisation. Truly, the way to defeat bigotry and sexism is with more bigotry and sexism!

    4. By stuart munro on Jun 23, 2009 | Reply

      What a truly talented bunch of people we have in Parliament. Don’t they make you feel proud?

    5. By Robert Miles on Jun 23, 2009 | Reply

      THe David Garrett, crudity, narrow mindedness and fanaticism on three striking repeat offenders brings into question Act candidate selection measurers. Garrett was squeezed in at number five at the last moment after a few weeks of Act membership. And how did Heather Roy getup to number 9 in 1999, no 7 in 2002 and No 2 in 2005 did she have any genuine Act support or was it just a pay of for family connections and dirty deeds done cheap. Acccording to the Act constitution, ballots for candidates are purely indicative and may be ignored. I note Nargaret ( Margaret?) comments. we can look forward to crusher Collins as PM in ten years time, she was the third roll of MIchelle Boags selection dice. And that broad alumini of Canterbury Law School will certainly diliver the Act ticket and the end of liberal social economic NZ.

    6. By Wayne McIndoe on Jun 24, 2009 | Reply

      Garrett is an embarassment. The likes of he and Melissa Lee are a downside of the MMP list system, where someone can enter parliament not having to be accountable to the citizens of an electorate, or a grassroots electorate committee. Garrett is the type of MP which creates disrespect for Parliament in the eyes of the public

    7. By Pete on Jun 26, 2009 | Reply

      David Garrett has started a petition: Should lewd cracks as part of good parliamentary relations be a political offence in New Zealand?

      Christine Rankin: Should an interview as part of good Clayton’s campaigning result in credibility suspence in New Zealand?

      Trevor Mallard: Should a smack as part of good parliamentary correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

      Addicts of NZ: Should some smack as part of good psychological correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

    8. By Pete on Jun 26, 2009 | Reply

      Richard Worth: Should a text as part of good promiscuous coercion be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

      Rodney Hide: Should a referendum as part of good public consultation be reasonable in Auckland?

      Rodney Hide: Would referendums as part of all council decision making be a financial success in New Zealand?

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