The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

Where does ‘privacy’ start and ‘transparency’ stop for an MP? Time for a ‘Code of Conduct’ for NZ MPs?

24 March 2011

www.nbr.co.nz/article/hughes-stripped-responsibilities-amid-controversy-nn-89073

Hughes stripped of responsibilities amid controversy

Labour MP Darren Hughes has been stripped of his responsibilities amid controversy sparked by a complaint to police from an 18-year-old male student.

Labour leader Phil Goff today said he had asked Mr Hughes to stand down from his roles as education spokesman and chief whip, pending the outcome of the police inquiry, and Mr Hughes agreed.

“There is now a public controversy around the complaint. I believe that that makes it impossible for Darren Hughes to do his job,” Mr Goff said.

Mr Hughes, 32, was one of Labour’s rising stars and was only recently promoted to the roles.

Mr Goff today defended his decision not to go public about the complaint when he first became aware of it two weeks ago.

“Firstly it would not help the police inquiry that was taking place because there would be a storm of controversy around it. Secondly it would not help Darren Hughes himself, who was innocent until proven guilty. And thirdly it would not help the complainant.

“I think that was the right judgment to make.”

Mr Goff yesterday sent Mr Hughes on two weeks leave and would not comment on the substance of the complaint.

Police yesterday said the alleged incident happened in an inner-city Wellington suburb early in the morning of March 2 but would not reveal the substance of the complaint.

Sexual rumours are swirling around Parliament and it has been reported that Mr Hughes was drinking at two bars with a group of students, including the complainant, after a debate at Victoria University. The alleged incident happened later at Mr Hughes’ home.

Mr Hughes yesterday identified himself as the subject of the complaint, saying he didn’t want speculation to surround his colleagues.

He said he was confident that legal processes would “lead to the right outcome”.

_______________________________________________________________________

MY COMMENT:

Further to the pivotal matter of the presumption of innocence before being PROVEN guilty, is the contradiction between an individual’s lawful right to privacy, in matters concerning their ‘private life’, and the public’s right to ‘transparency’ regarding those elected to public office:

1) ‘Privacy’ vs ‘transparency’:

Individuals are lawfully entitled to privacy, regarding their private lives.

Individuals who obtain public office, are expected to fulfill their public duties in an ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ manner.

Where is the line drawn, when an individual becomes an MP?

Does an MP have NO right to privacy, in ALL matters concerning his or her private life?

Where does ‘privacy’ start and ‘transparency’ stop for an MP?

Arguably, the line demarcating where public office stops and private life begins, is somewhat blurry, and fraught for MPs?

Isn’t it high time for an enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for MPs, to help give some guidance on this troubled matter?

Obviously, action or behaviour proven to be criminal, is totally unacceptable, and
the full weight of the law should be brought to bear down heavily upon any transgressors.

However, what about ‘conduct’ or behaviour’ of MPs which is arguably ‘inappropriate’ as opposed to ‘criminal’?

Again – where are the ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ guidelines
for the ‘conduct’ of MPs?

One might hope that those elected to public office in the ‘highest court in the land’, would have generous helpings of ‘commonsense’ to assist them in such judgment calls.

However – it would appear that given the number of MPs who have been ‘demoted’ or forced to leave, because of conduct effectively deemed ‘inappropriate’ – that leaving arbitrary guidelines inside the heads of our elected representatives, is not good enough, and is simply not working.

It is clearly time for NZ to have a legally enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for our MPs – with clear guidelines, and sanctions for breaches thereof.

In my view – this issue deserves intelligent and considered debate.

Penny Bright
Effective Public Watchdog
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

Penny Bright | Thursday, March 24, 2011 – 5:49pm

Comments and questions 

3

WTF here we have a young man with stars in his eyes arrives in Wellington a first year student with a very nice girlfriend .He is a very good debater who is Labour orientated.After a few drinks in town after the debate he is invited to a house in Haitaitai to continue the social evening .Whatever happened from that has now become highly controversial.OMG.

Anonymous | Thursday, March 24, 2011 – 3:33pm

If Hughes was one of Labour’s ‘Rising Stars’ then National ought to have a reign to rival Queen Victoria’s

You only need to look at him to quickly realise he is a no hoper.

Imagine sending him anywhere near anything important around the world – it would be an embarrassment.

TOM | Thursday, March 24, 2011 – 4:32pm

______________________________________________________________________________

Further to the pivotal matter of the presumption of innocence before being PROVEN guilty, is the contradiction between an individual’s lawful right to privacy, in matters concerning their ‘private life’, and the public’s right to ‘transparency’ regarding those elected to public office:

1) ‘Privacy’ vs ‘transparency’:

Individuals are lawfully entitled to privacy, regarding their private lives.

Individuals who obtain public office, are expected to fulfill their public duties in an ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ manner.

Where is the line drawn, when an individual becomes an MP?

Does an MP have NO right to privacy, in ALL matters concerning his or her private life?

Where does ‘privacy’ start and ‘transparency’ stop for an MP?

Arguably, the line demarcating where public office stops and private life begins, is somewhat blurry, and fraught for MPs?

Isn’t it high time for an enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for MPs, to help give some guidance on this troubled matter?

Obviously, action or behaviour proven to be criminal, is totally unacceptable, and
the full weight of the law should be brought to bear down heavily upon any transgressors.

However, what about ‘conduct’ or behaviour’ of MPs which is arguably ‘inappropriate’ as opposed to ‘criminal’?

Again – where are the ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ guidelines
for the ‘conduct’ of MPs?

One might hope that those elected to public office in the ‘highest court in the land’, would have generous helpings of ‘commonsense’ to assist them in such judgment calls.

However – it would appear that given the number of MPs who have been ‘demoted’ or forced to leave, because of conduct effectively deemed ‘inappropriate’ – that leaving arbitrary guidelines inside the heads of our elected representatives, is not good enough, and is simply not working.

It is clearly time for NZ to have a legally enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for our MPs – with clear guidelines, and sanctions for breaches thereof.

In my view – this issue deserves intelligent and considered debate.

Penny Bright
Effective Public Watchdog
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

Penny Bright | Thursday, March 24, 2011 – 5:49pm
Advertisements

March 24, 2011 - Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Human rights

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: