Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David Garrett should resign

If David Garrett had a shred of integrity, a grain of honour, he would immediately resign from the New Zealand Parliament. He doesn’t, and he won’t.

The Act Party MP has frequently brought the entire Parliament into disrepute through his antics, but he became the butt of jokes when it was revealed that the Party’s “law and order” spokesperson had a conviction for assault in Tonga. He claims it was based on perjured evidence; apparently Garrett’s unaware that prisons are filled with “innocent” convicts—at least, that’s what they claim, too.

But it wasn’t turning his party from joke to utter farce that sealed his political doom, nor the irony of him advocating a “three strikes” law against serious offenders when he himself had undisclosed “strikes”. Today’s revelations are far more serious.

The Act Party’s “law and order” spokesperson created a false identity in the 1980s using the name of a dead child to illegally obtain a false passport. He referred to it in Parliament as “a harmless prank”, but it’s generally known by its more technical name: Passport fraud.

He was arrested and charged after police investigated the Israeli spy agency Mosad obtaining false New Zealand passports also using the names of dead children. Garrett was discharged without conviction in 2005 and given permanent name suppression—especially ironic, given his party’s crusade against name suppression.

The following year, Tim Selwyn was convicted of the same crime and was sentenced to seventeen months in jail for that and other charges. David Garrett got nothing—it’s good to be a rich white man.

Act Party leader Rodney Hide knew about Garrett’s assault conviction and his passport fraud, but said nothing. Indeed, he encouraged Garrett to run in 2008, anyway. By failing to disclose the crimes, Garrett and Hide are guilty of deceiving the New Zealand electorate.

Garrett also deliberately lied to New Zealand yesterday. Asked point blank about any other convictions, Garrett mentioned only speeding offences. Tonight Hide tried to deflect criticism of Act by admitting on TVNZ’s “Close Up” programme that he, too had a conviction: For public drunkenness—because being drunk is clearly the same as stealing an identity.

At least Garrett’s rightwing buddy Garth McVicar of the “Sensible” Sentencing Trust thinks it’s all okay. He said Garret should be given a second change—ironic, since McVicar often says giving ordinary criminals a second chance is “PC gone mad”. Act, of course, campaigns for a “zero tolerance” policy for crime—unless it’s committed by a rich, white, male Act Party member, of course.

Garrett is a disgrace to the New Zealand Parliament and he should resign, but he won’t. However, if he stays, he’ll help ensure that the Act Party is gone from Parliament after the next election, and that would be the best possible result.

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