I concluded last week that Prime Minister John Key would have to do some explaining.

He didn't. He has refused. He's not saying whether police briefed him or other ministers about their investigation of MP Mike Sabin.

That's it. Move along. Nothing to see. To hell with Parliament. To hell with ministerial accountability.

The date of any briefing is explosive. It's certainly not nitpicking. Sabin chaired the law and order select committee, which oversees the police. He was hopelessly conflicted. So, too, was our Parliament and justice system.


How could the chairman be holding police to account when he himself was under police investigation?

We deserve to know who was responsible for such dreadful judgment and management.

Was it police? The Prime Minister? The police minister? Who? And for how long did they know yet take no action?

The Prime Minister refuses to answer the question of whether he was briefed, by whom and on what date. So does former Police Minister Anne Tolley.

Morning Report's Susie Ferguson gave her the opportunity to deny receiving a briefing. She wouldn't: "I am not prepared to make any comment whatsoever," she testily declared before hanging up.

Our leaders certainly are hot and bothered by an issue they tell us we are not interested in. Well, I am interested. And I am upset.

It's distressing to see Parliament treated with such disrespect and a disrespect that continues through blanket refusals to answer straightforward questions.

The worst was Police Minister Michael Woodhouse. Labour's MP Kelvin Davis set down an oral question asking him in Parliament on what date he was briefed.


The reply was breathtaking in its arrogance: "It is not appropriate nor in the public interest for me to discuss details relating to whether I may have received or provided details on a specific police matter."

His reply to all supplementaries was equally breathtaking: "I refer to my primary answer and I have nothing further to add."

But it nags, doesn't it? The questions that Government ministers won't answer are precisely the ones that should be. And how can it be in the public interest not to be told the date of a briefing? Nothing other than political embarrassment can hang on that.

I fear ministers are confusing public interest with their own interest. It's easy to see why.

To tell us who was briefed, and on what date, would be to tell us who was responsible for such an appalling and unacceptable undermining of Parliament.

But that's how accountability works. Sure, it's in ministers' interest to duck and weave. But that is not the public interest.

And, yes, Sabin is gone. But a problem lingers: on what date were relevant ministers briefed about the police investigation - and why did they take no action?

It's very uncomfortable. That's all the more reason why we need answers.

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