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Act Says Garrett Did Not Make Threat

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
David Garrett
David Garrett

By Maggie Tait and Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, Aug 7 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide says his MP David Garrett did not threaten a Labour MP.

Labour alleged Mr Garrett suggested he and Labour's Clayton Cosgrove "take this outside" during an argument in a closed session of Parliament's law and order select committee.

However, Mr Hide says he said "let's just leave that outside", meaning "let's get on with the work."

Labour has complained to Speaker Lockwood Smith who will decide whether the issue needs to go to the privileges committee or not.

Mr Hide told NZPA he was angry and accused Labour of making up allegations, laying complaints that would fail in order to get media attention; and abusing the process by making public details of a closed session of a parliamentary committee.

He said Labour leader Phil Goff had set a bad example by putting out partial stories to grab headlines.

"If they thought they had a case against David Garrett, and the allegation is a serious one, they would have done it properly, put it to the Speaker and shut up," he said.

"If someone had threatened another MP in a way that was a breach of privilege it would be very serious indeed, and be sent off to the privileges committee to be handled properly. You wouldn't be running off to the media."

If the Speaker decided there was no case to answer Labour should apologise, Mr Hide said.

Mr Hide did not think the proceedings were recorded.

The issue was highlighted yesterday when another member of the law and order select committee, Carmel Sepuloni, tried to table in Parliament a complaint she made to Dr Smith about the incident. She was refused permission.

NZPA reported last week an incident where Mr Garrett told prison officers, who had criticised private prisons to the committee, that they had damaged their job prospects. Both Labour and National members assured the prison officers they had the right to speak their mind before a parliamentary select committee and not fear repercussions.

Mr Cosgrove lodged a complaint about that incident also.

Asked about the incident today, Prime Minister John Key said he had only seen media reports about the allegation.

Speaking from Cairns where he attended the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' meeting, Mr Key said if Mr Garrett had told Mr Cosgrove let's "take this outside" then that would be unparliamentary behaviour.

"As a broader comment there's no place for violence in the New Zealand Parliament, of even the suggestion of violence and I think if that was the case Parliament should take a very hard line," he said.

"We're the lawmakers and frankly we're meant to be role models to, particularly young, New Zealanders."

"In the end the management of the people in the ACT party is the responsibility of Rodney Hide and certainly from what I've seen in the past is he's taken that responsibility seriously and acted promptly where he's had information."


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