National Party 'naïve' to believe withheld election campaign review won't be released to public, political commentator says

Source: 1News

The National Party is "naive" to believe a withheld review of last year’s election campaign, which saw its caucus nearly halved, will not enter the public domain, a political commentator says.

Current National MPs were not being given their own personal copies of the review to take away.

Lawyer and National Party member Liam Hehir told Q+A’s political panel it indicates the report “probably wasn’t written in a way that the party would want to see it released", which he called "probably a mistake".

"My understanding is that the report does go into some detail, naming names and so on and so forth, and that’s the type of thing any party wouldn’t want to have in the public domain."

Hehir said it is "kind of inevitable" that the report "does work its way to the public domain", though, noting that Labour's internal review was leaked to the media after the 2014 election "before it even hit Andrew Little's hands".

"I just think it’s a bit naïve to think that you would be able to keep it secret and if you are going to do a review like that, you need to write it in a way that you’re happy for it to get to the public."

He said failing to release the review has instead resulted in rumours circulating around its contents, and "because the report's secret and members don't know about it, they have no way of knowing if the rumours are true or not so I think it’s the worst of both worlds".

Former Labour Party MP and Community Law Centres of Aotearoa CEO Sue Moroney said it was a question of "what is the value of doing a review if some of the main actors and some of the main players actually don't know what the outcomes are".

"I think it is complicated for political parties. It's much more complicated than probably any other organisation reviewing its performance because of the public interest in the detail of that. It's quite a tricky thing to navigate."

Hehir said the report could suggest that National members should take a certain position on conscience issues.

“The National Party is not like Labour - it doesn’t have an inherent ideology. It’s town liberals, moneyed interests and provincial voters who tend to be more conservative.

“When the party is working really well, there's a 'live and let live' attitude within the party. When the party’s not working well, one of those two sort of elements is sort of trying to dominate the other.

"When you have a suspicion that one is trying to dominate the other, that’s when the party is never going to stop talking about itself … When the party’s always talking about itself, it stops talking about things New Zealanders care about."