Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: January 5

National Party leader John Key and Act Party member John Banks during the infamous 'tea-tape' meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell
National Party leader John Key and Act Party member John Banks during the infamous 'tea-tape' meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell

My description of the Crown's attempt to recover nearly $14,000 in costs from photographer Bradley Ambrose as 'dangerous' and 'vindictive' (see Expert slams Govt 'attack' on media) has generated quite a bit of debate on the issue (although this may be due to a lack of other political news).

Andrew Geddis makes some interesting points in his post It's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.) disagreeing with me that seeking costs is unusual or politically motivated, but at the same time saying that the claim may well be turned down and, in fact, that the police are unlikely to lay charges against Ambrose.

Legal niceties aside, is it in National's interest to go into the New Year with this dragging on? Few seem to be in any doubt that it suits Winston Peters to continue, with Geddis reporting rumours that Peters will start the new year with a reading of the complete tea tape transcript in Parliament - something Geddis argues he would be legally entitled to do, although he is not so sure the media would be free to report on it.

The media in general take a dim view of the legal action. The Herald, not surprisingly given their direct involvement, says that the greater public interest involved in the case means that the Crown should pay its own costs see: Crown should pay its own tea tape bill and 'Tea-tape' costs bid is disturbing

This view is supported by the ODT which also questions whether the government wants to continue giving ammunition to Winston Peters this year see: Winston Peters: 'Tea-Gate' again. Of course Winston has already waded in, claiming that this legal dispute has nothing to do with the government, rather it is between the National Party and Ambrose (see RNZ: Winston Peters takes Attorney-General to task)

Fran O'Sullivan's advice to John Key is to drop the whole matter and withdraw his complaint, saying that their response to the saga has been a huge overreaction see: After the holiday, it'll be time to get busy

The Food Bill is one of those low profile pieces of legislation that can quickly turn into a political hand grenade. Despite having bi-partisan support (although Labour is hedging it's bets now - see Derek Cheng's Labour rethinking its backing for Food Bill) the bill has attracted some heated opposition (see Penny Wardle's Fears of new laws 'unwarranted') and the government will be desperately trying to avoid being seen to saddle playcentre cake stalls and co-op vege gardens with the same compliance costs as supermarkets. It is not just a matter of 'common sense' being applied though. As with much of this type of legislation, our government is constrained by the 'harmonisation' of regulations across national boundaries. This is the coal face of globalisation, one where large corporate interests and large economies call the shots.

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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