John Armstrong 's Opinion

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: The difference between Taurima and Henry

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Shane Taurima. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Shane Taurima. Photo / Paul Estcourt

What about Paul Henry? Inevitably questions are being asked - especially by some in a smarting Labour Party - as to what difference in political terms there is between Shane Taurima, who has been forced to resign his management position at TVNZ, and Henry, who unsuccessfully stood for Parliament for National in 1999 but yet has been given his own late-night programme on TV3.

Well, quite a lot actually.

For starters, Henry is but one example of someone starting or resuming a career in broadcasting after a dalliance with politics. You can go back to Brian Edwards who stood for Labour in 1972 but lost narrowly, and Pam Corkery who also briefly hosted a late night TV show, in her case after leaving Parliament.

Labour's John Tamihere became a talkback jock after losing his seat. John Banks has regularly interchanged political and broadcasting roles, even to the point of holding both at once.

However, all were hired because of their larger-than-life personalities rather than their politics which they were anyway totally upfront about.

Along with Corkery, Henry has shown no inclination to return to politics.

Taurima stood down from his TVNZ role while he sought nomination as the Labour candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year. After failing to win selection, he returned to work at TVNZ where he was head of the Maori and Pacific unit.

Given his management role in news and current affairs, TVNZ's senior management should have sought assurances he had no intentions of standing for Parliament again.

TVNZ was aware, however, that Taurima was considering standing in another Maori seat at this year's election. At that point, Taurima should have been confronted with two choices: either sever your political affiliations or quit TVNZ.

It is worth noting that when Henry has attracted controversy - for example, making disparaging remarks about singer Susan Boyle, the Governor-General and female facial hair - it has been as about as far away from politics as you can get.

The crucial difference between the pair, however, is that Henry has not been using the back rooms at TV3 to set up a clandestine branch of the National Party.

The use of TVNZ's meeting rooms and company email to discuss ways of boosting Labour's vote in the Maori seats was a major lapse in judgment on Taurima's part, the reason he had to go, and something, that for all his irreverence, Henry will not be seeking to match.

- NZ Herald

John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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