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Rodney Hide In Danger Of Following Winston Peters

Chris Ford
Chris Ford
Rodney Hide

The Perkbuster General just can't get enough! If the UK, mainland America and Canada weren't enough for Rodney Hide and his partner Louise Crome, they just had to go to Hawaii - and largely (again) at the taxpayer's expense!

While Rodney is to be congratulated for repaying the $10,000 we coughed up for the Hawaii trip, his reputation continues to sink with every new spending revelation. Effectively, Hide is in danger of following Winston Peters (who was caught out during the Owen Glenn affair) down the hypocrisy track. Like Peters (who used to sternly denounce the influence of big business on politics), Hide has made a name for himself as the parliamentary perk buster who named and shamed a succession of MPs from across all parties who misused their parliamentary entitlements.  Remember Jonathan Hunt and the taxi chit scandal that Hide exposed? Aaaah, the good old days!

Ironically enough, Rodney Hide came to public notice because he made his maiden (first speech) in Parliament on the topic. Not only that but he preceded one Tuku Morgan, the then New Zealand First MP whose first speech to Parliament on the same night as Rodney's was carried live on network television. While waiting for Tuku to speak, the media were transfixed by Hide's denunciation of lavish parliamentary entitlements. Tuku (at that time) was attracting a huge amount of public interest due to his purchase of, amongst other things, a $69 pair of silk boxer shorts with taxpayer money given to Aotearoa Television. And a pair of boxer shorts from one of Auckland's priciest menswear boutiques at that.

From thereonin, Rodney gained a reputation as Act's populist 'bovver boy' who balanced out the party's other MPs who were very serious about promoting their vision of a free market utopia. All this meant that up until recently, Hide never let a good public relations opportunity pass him by with his appearance on TVNZ's Dancing with the Stars making him a popular contestant. While his dancing style left the judges reaching for their zero score cards, the traditional kiwi attitude of 'loving a tryer' came into play and helped soften his public image and that of his party's.

Now Act, with Hide holding the electorally crucial seat of Epsom, looks in danger of following New Zealand First out of Parliament at the next election. Personally speaking, that would be a blessing (even if National were to win a second term) as the malign influence of the neoclassical right would be gone from Parliament. It is now clear that the party is in a catch-22 situation where many ordinary party members and activists maybe feeling angry at Hide but yet they can't remove him from the leadership as he is still the best electoral weapon that they have. But all this will count for nothing if the Perkbuster General continues to get busted.

Perhaps Rodney Hide should think of the fate that befell his nemesis, Winston Peters, last year. After doing that, he should then front up to the public and tell us whether he's clocked up any more air miles at our expense.


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