Editorial: A horror week for NZ First's rookie MP

By Scott Inglis


This week must surely be a week that Brendan Horan wished had never happened.

In the flash of a few news stories, the rookie Tauranga NZ First list MP has been propelled from the cooler, outer reaches of national politics into the roaring inferno in the middle that threatens to roast politicians.

Forensic accountants have been called in to investigate Mr Horan's mother's estate after allegations from the MP's brother, Mana Ormsby, that about $85,000 is missing from bank accounts.

Mr Ormsby alleges the bank statements showed a large number of withdrawals from TABs and from ATM machines near Mr Horan's office in Mount Maunganui, Auckland and Hamilton. They also allegedly show numerous payments at takeaways and video shops.

Mr Horan's mother, Olwen Horan, 87, of Mount Maunganui, died in early August. Earlier she signed a codicil to her will, after becoming concerned that money was missing from her accounts.

The MP has denied wrongdoing and earlier this week refused to step down. But his leader, political veteran Winston Peters, subsequently sent him home to sort out the mess and has refused to express confidence in Mr Horan.

Mr Horan should have stood himself down immediately until the matter was resolved.

His leader has done the right thing and has so far handled this matter well. He has fronted the media rather than trying to ignore the issue. And by only sending Mr Horan home rather than taking stronger action, he is leaving himself room should these allegations amount to nothing.

I have no problem with Mr Horan being on pay. He can easily work from home and is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.

But I do not agree with statements from Mr Horan that this is a private family matter.

Politicians cease to have privacy when they run for Parliament and any serious allegation is a matter of public interest.

MPs are bankrolled by taxpayers and therefore are accountable to the public. People must have confidence in MPs and it is critical these allegations are investigated and resolved promptly.

Mr Horan has been in the media spotlight a few times since entering Parliament, speaking out more recently over issues such as Rena, rotting railway sleepers, KiwiRail and foreign ownership of land.

But will his efforts to make it in politics come horribly undone?

If he is found to have done nothing wrong, then he should return to Parliament and put this behind him and those who have raised this issue must themselves face serious questions.

But if he is guilty of serious wrongdoing, then his political career has to be over.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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