In my post yesterday afternoon I mentioned that Labour MP Raymond Huo (he of various United Front affiliations and apparently regarded as close to the PRC Embassy) had an op-ed in yesterday’s Herald (strangely not apparently available on-line, although there is a photo of the article here). [UPDATE: Herald link working again.] As I noted, the article is welcome for Huo’s overdue indication that he will recuse himself from involvement in bits of the Justice Committee’s deliberations on the foreign interference aspects of the election inquiry “to avoid any perceived conflict of interest”. Huo chairs that committee.
But the centrepiece of Huo’s article is a creative reimagining of history in which he tries to pretend that he (and his colleagues) had never opposed hearing from Professor Anne-Marie Brady. There had never been any intention of blocking Brady, and they had just been waiting to consult the GCSB and the SIS before deciding whether to re-open submissions. The whole thing was, he claims, a beat-up by National’s Nick Smith.
I doubt anyone really believes him, probably not even the other Labour MPs he persuaded to vote for blocking Brady (not then recusing himself), but in case there is any doubt, here is his own tweet from 6 March
The clear implication is that it was simply Professor Brady’s fault that she had not got on and submitted earlier (even though the deadline was before Andrew Little extended the scope of the inquiry).
Here is his quote from the article he himself links to:
Justice committee chairman Labour MP Raymond Huo said the decision to decline Brady’s late request was purely procedural.
The closing date for submissions was over five months ago on 23 September 2018 and the date was widely publicised by committee staff in the usual way, he said in a statement.
The Committee had asked the Security Intelligence Service, the Government Communications and Security Bureau and the National Assessments Bureau to appear.
“As committee chair, I am satisfied that the correct procedure has been followed and that the agencies will keep the committee well informed about any issues of foreign interference that may arise,” Huo said in a statement.
No hint there of someone who really wanted to hear all the evidence, all perspectives.
And, at the time, Huo was backed by the Prime Minister’s office
A spokesman for Ardern echoed Huo’s comments, saying: “Our position would be that this is a procedural matter for the committee and that the various agencies presenting are well placed to provide information on foreign interference and the threat of it.”
At the time, even some cheerleaders for the see–no-evil hear-no-evil approach to the PRC came out and stated that they thought Huo had overreached. And, of course, a few hours later he was in full backdown mode, and is now trying to rewrite history to put himself in a less unfavourable light. He doesn’t seem to have considered that actually fessing up and saying “yes, I made a mistake, I regret it” would be more likely to generate a favourable response.
Huo concluded his op-ed noting that “robust debate, not stereotyping or sweeping generalisations, will help examine the real issues”. That is exactly what Professor Brady has been promoting, and what Raymond Huo (supported by his bosses and colleagues) seems, until now, to have been trying to avoid. (To his credit, he actually wrote an op-ed. National’s Jian Yang – he of the Communist Party membership, misrepresentations on official documents, and long service in the PLA military intelligence system – just refuses to face English language media, protected in doing so by Simon Bridges.)
UPDATE: A reader writes to share the text of a letter of protest sent to Labour members of the committee after the initial blocking, and to the Prime Minister, and news of one Labour MP’s decent response.