by Jim Cable

Barry Soper has put the boot into the Jacinda government a few times recently. But today, he’s done it with steel-capped boots! In a piece on the NZ Herald under the headline Police Parliament protest, mental health – Labour Government abusing its power he writes:

“What’s happening to democracy in this country, let alone the promised transparency of this Government?”

“Labour is abusing its absolute power and it seems those opposing it are powerless to do anything about it because majority rules.”

He goes on the chronicle a number of occasions where Labour-dominated select committees have blocked National from getting information from officials. Then, according to Soper, he details how Police Minister Poto Williams lied in alleging that National blocked Labour’s former Police spokesman Stuart Nash from meeting with the Police Commissioner.

Then he turns to something really serious:

And if featherbedding Andrew Coster isn’t bad enough, get a load of what they are doing when it comes to questions being asked about its $1.9 billion spend on mental health which has come under fire from the Government’s own Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

The majority of Labour MPs on the Health Select Committee have blocked National’s attempt to ask questions about the commission’s first damning report.

National’s mental health spokesman Matt Doocey says it’s bizarre. Not long ago they legislated to set up the commission, and now they’re blocking MPs to ask questions of it.

Labour MPs apparently didn’t think there were any questions to be asked given the commission’s report had been made public.

That’s not for them to decide, Doocey argues, given that National, Act and the Greens all wanted to quiz the experts.

And of course, he’s right.

This goes beyond simply controlling the message. Like they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Blocking National, ACT — and the Greens — from questioning the authors of a report on failures in the Mental Health system is an absolute disgrace. People are dying because they can’t access Mental Health services, but Labour MP’s on the select committee are more concerned with playing petty politics. As one who has battled mental health issues, I find Labour’s actions to be outrageous.

Kudos to Barry Soper for expressing his dissatisfaction so eloquently, even if he runs the risk of being frozen out of the PM’s media gatherings. It’s time someone senior called the Government out on its conduct.