The peculiar thing about this Maurice Williamson scandal, is that he intends to stand again in the Pakuranga electorate. Obviously, Williamson thinks his actions while not of the standard required of a Minister, are acceptable as an electorate MP. I’m not sure how he justifies the difference in standard, but obviously he doesn’t see any moral failing on his part. In tendering his resignation but publicising his intention to stand for re-election, he appears to only acknowledge that he has pissed off his party, for now.
Lets look at the moral failing here. Who in their right mind would call the Police on behalf of a person accused of assault on his wife and her mother if they weren’t intent on exercising some influence over the building of the case against the accused. And why even raise the consideration that the accused in that case was a highly valued investor, if you weren’t intent on having the Police cut him some slack?
I can appreciate that what Williamson might have been doing was…no actually, I can’t. There is no justification here that warranted making that phone call to the NZ Police full stop.
Sure, Williamson didn’t explicitly ask the Police to grant any leniency in that case, and thankfully the Police treated the accused the same way as they would treat others accused in like circumstances, and continued with prosecution. But Williamson sure did imply that some ‘special’ consideration be given to the defendant based on his economic contributions to NZ.
I think Jono Natusch encapsulates the wrong in Williamson’s actions well:
Let’s get this straight. A Minister who rubber stamped Mr Liu’s citizenship against official advice (with Mr Liu then donating $22,000 to the National party via his company, Roncon Pacific Hotel Management), calls police when Mr Liu is arrested, and let’s it drop into the conversation that somebody needed to review the matter because “Mr Liu is investing a lot of money in New Zealand”.
That’s a hell of a statement to make if you’re “in no way looking to interfere with the process”.
The problem as I see it is that it doesn’t matter if Williamson was acting as a Minister or as an MP because there is never any justification for either to intervene in the criminal matters of any person prior to a case being heard in Court. From a legal standpoint, there might be exemptions where Ministers are entitled to intervene, but this is not one of those exceptions. It is for a judge to decide what is relevant evidence in an assault/domestic violence case, not for a Minister or MP to impute that evidence. Williamson acted outside his remit of power in proceeding to act representatively on behalf of the accused by making that call to the Police. Did Williamson even stop to think about the victims in this case and that there might be women in his electorate who are also victims of domestic violence, whom he re-victimised through his actions in respect of the accused ? Obviously not.
This is not the behaviour of Minister and it most certainly is not the behaviour of an MP.
How can any person think that someone’s economic contributions in any way create immunity or allow some respite when accused of assault? Williamson makes it clear that protecting women from violence is not only subordinate to the needs of ‘highly valued’ investors but that he considers the degree of investment by an accused to be a mitigating factor in these cases!
There are of course those who think that Williamson has done nothing wrong. I find that deplorable. The general argument is that there was nothing questionable suggested in the phone calls so he shouldn’t have been forced to resign. But this ignores that there was no actual need for the phone call in the first place. The accused surely had a Lawyer to represent his interests, so there could be no other reason for Williamson to make the call, unless he thought his position of power had some influence in the building of the case against the accused.
Williamson is unfit to stand for re-election in either the Pakuranga electorate or elsewhere.