National MP Hamish Walker announces he won't stand for re-election in Southland as his leader says he wants him gone and the party's board meets to discuss his future

National MP Hamish Walker announces he won't stand for re-election in Southland as his leader says he wants him gone and the party's board meets to discuss his future
Hamish Walker

National MP Hamish Walker has announced he won’t be standing for re-election in the Southland electorate at the September 19 election.

He made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, as the National Party board was meeting to discuss his fate.

National Leader Todd Muller on Wednesday morning effectively said he wanted Walker gone. 

Walker on Tuesday admitted to giving media the personal details of 18 people with COVID-19 in quarantine.

He said he did so to expose the fact the information was supposedly being held insecurely.

However, reporters who received the information said Walker wanted them to see the names to justify his comment, criticised for being racist, that it was "absolutely disgraceful" that arrivals from "India, Pakistan and Korea" were going into managed isolation down south without the community being consulted.

Walker received the patients' details from former National Party President Michelle Boag, who said she received them in her capacity as the Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT), even though they were sent to her personal email address. 

However the Trust said Boag has never had access to any clinical or patient data held by it. 

"ARHT is an integral part of the health system and we are entrusted with information about our patients which is properly protected by protocols which only enable access to those who need this data to care for the patient. We have reviewed these protocols and are confident that none of this patient information has been subject to any privacy breach," its chair Simon Tompkins said.

Boag has resigned from her role with ARHT. She will also no longer be part of National Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye’s campaign for Auckland Central.

Walker and Boag came clean more than 24 hours after the State Services Commission announced it had appointed Michael Heron QC to investigate the leak.

Walker reportedly only told Muller he was the leaker at midday on Monday, after he and other National MPs had spent much of the weekend attacking the Government for its handling of border control.

Muller reportedly asked Walker to own up publicly. He then received a letter from Walker's lawyers asking the party not to out Walker, citing privacy concerns.  

Muller said: “There was a clear breach of trust, which goes against the values National holds as a party.

“The National Party Board will still meet today to discuss the selection of a new candidate.”

Muller has distanced himself from Boag, saying she didn't have anything to do with he and Kaye overthrowing Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett.

Walker said: “I wish to thank the people of Clutha-Southland who I have loved meeting, assisting and representing over the past two and a half years.

“I sincerely apologise for my actions.”

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said: "On behalf of the National Party Board of Directors, I would like to apologise for any distress caused to the individuals concerned as a result of the actions of one of our Members of Parliament."

Heron is expected to report back in three weeks' time. 

A spokesperson for the State Services Commission said costs would likely be recovered from the various parties involved. 

The media organisations that received the personal information chose to not share it. 

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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92 Comments

Muller showed the path to Jamie Lee Ross Party.

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I'm interested in seeing how direct Muller's involvement is with the investigation into the health leaks. Now is as good a time as ever for National to start looking for a new leader, this ones no good either.

TM is a good leader I expect he will run very close in sept

15
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Sept election will be a walk in the park for JA.
My guess is Crusher will be next in line for the job, she is smart for not taking up that role knowing they will lose the election.

And the book is out, with one more promised. Bring on the Crusher.

And what about the timing to bring out the book, it can be seen as a negative for Muller and National even though her target was Key.
I thought she looked a little glum last night when there was a shot of her with the front bench, she probably got a rollicking from Muller about the book release.

Yeah, they might as well go full noise crooked

The answer to dirty politics exposed is clearly...more dirty politics.

I think Collins too, perhaps with Luxon as deputy, with the change happening in Feb-March 2021.

Actual Luxon to roll poor man's Luxon?

Yep, Luxon to go next. Thankfully Muller will blow it all up, so he can walk in without having to use a knife.

If not him, then my call is that he won't be deputy. He aspires to be PM, and deputies often come with too much baggage for succession. Kind of like Labour have done with Grant Robertson, kept him at #3, so if/when he succeeds Jacinda, he's not tainted by being deputy during everything that's gone before (including potentially those things that led to Jacinda going)

Everyone expects Luxon to be a leader of National at some point, the problem is how he gets there. Since he'll only just be a newbie MP, moving into the leadership before the 2nd half of 2022 seems unlikely, so who's going to be leader in the meantime?

I guess they could stick it out with Muller, like they did with Simon. Really depends if Muller gets them a result starting with a 2 or not.

JA is all talk and teeth, if voters want to see action it's not JA who can deliver any

Was perfectly adequate for Key.

JA will be remembered for the year of non delivery

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Your comments *might* be respected more if you refrained from personal insult

It's the twitter troll in him.

You are joking of course?

He's correct, but possibly not in the way he thinks. 2020 will be remembered at least for COVID-19 and the varied responses to it. The failures of right wing dictators' responses (Duterte, Bolsonaro, Putin, Trump), for example. The comparative success in other countries.

Why mention her teeth? Just throwing in a pointless comment about her appearance to denigrate her however you can? It says a lot when someone uses another person's appearance to go after them. Decent people stick to the actual issues.

Because it's pretty much all he's got, which is not much.

sensible follows insensible. predictable as inevitable.

Xenophobia not data security the more likely reason for the Privacy Act breach.

'Xenophobia not data security the more likely reason'.... you could add simple dumbarse stupidity and attention deficit syndrome or just possibly the born to rule twat might have spotted a genuine irregularity of concern in the spreadsheet data. I'm keeping my mind open - slightly.

Apparently the irregularity is that the spreadsheet "didn't have a password".

If that is all he has then Walker has been monumentally stupid.... to state the obvious. I'm struggling to accept he could have been that dumb.

Imagine you have seen it before. So desperate to get a grip on the next rung on the monkey ladder, loses any grip on caution. Remember General Stillwell, Vinegar Joe, “the higher the monkey climbs the tree, the more you see his arse.”

Nothing worse than a troll politician that goes with the race card

Apart from having your personal data stored on an unsecured spreadsheet. No wonder the gun lobby have been up in arms about a gun register. I wonder if the gun register will go on a spread sheet too? Or perhaps the paper and crayons system?

Maybe wechat or tiktok?

Why, because they are liable to have their personal details outed by a right of centre party appointee of some board or other?

Perhaps a system could be set up so "some board or other" can't get anywhere near MOH personal medical information or how many guns you have at home?

"She asked for it!"

There is something in the party Koolaid in that electorate, this is the second young entitled kid in a row!

Benson Pope, Claire Curran, Dunedin south. Electorate themed incompetence Koolaid comes in red bottles as well.

Overly safe electorates! It's not as if the Nat MP for Southland will be facing any tricky questions from constituents, they could run a mouldy banana and win in a canter. Or even Todd Barclay.

First Todd Barclay in Clutha/Southland and now this clown. It seems when it’s a safe blue seat you can put any chump in to run and win. The people of that electorate have to be embarrassed with their recent representatives. They deserve better.

And ditto the adjacent seat of Invercargill occupied by Ms Dowie, soon to quit. Victim, willing or not, of another National fiasco redolent of skullduggery in high circles. Must be a bit cold down there, seem to be attracted to heat. And as President Truman succinctly quipped long ago, if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Still applies doesn’t it, well and truly.

Both not sophisticated enough to be aware they were being drawn into Machiavellian orbits. I detest the way Dowie became obliged to fall on her sword.

Dowie was re-selected by National to stand after all of last years embarrassment and only recently decided to chuck it in. Seems (from outside) like the party stood behind her, and it was her choice to retire. Where do you get the falling on the sword stuff?

Fair point. I've made assumptions which may not align with the facts. I just sensed, rightly or wrongly, that she was on the receiving end of more public and by inference media 'blame' judgement than Ross. I would like to have seen her tough the sneering out and carry on but easy for me to say that.

I detest the way Dowie played the badly treated woman victim despite being happy to have a lengthy affair with JLR - poor judgment (was having the affair ? or choosing JLR to be the affairee?) but then to be the martyr - get a grip.

Yes, they are about to get help. The recently formed Dunedin North Twattish MP Voter Support Group is opening a satellite office in Balclutha.

The locals choose the candidate - what does that say?

If only. List MPs get into parliament with voters having limited influence. Hence the one finger salute to the public attitude of some.

Yeah, and the electorate chose their representative. As I've seen said here before - you could put a sheep in a blue coat in there and they'd vote for it.. speaks volumes about the electorate

Same applies in numerous electorates across the country. Multiple plainly out of their depth coalition MPs demonstrate that sheep voting is not confined to Clutha.

National better take stock again and reshuffle, aye. All those from the Party who want to undermine, raise hands now and show yourself.

17
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National are toast. Dirty politics personified.
Publicly revealing folk so that society can (he hoped) vilify them during a pandemic.
Nazi tactics

Ignorance of history on display, Godwins law invoked.

Everything goes in cycles. Labour were crap for a couple of terms in opposition (actually, still kind of are) now it's the turn of the Nats.

No doubt Walker is an idiot and had to go.

I think we should acknowledge that the NZ media outlets he shared the information with chose not to publish it and raised the red flag. In many other countries I don't think the media would have taken the same principled approach.

Bit soon to call that one I suggest Andy. The media is claiming the moral high ground but there could be multiple less worthy reasons for them not pursuing this 'story' further.

Because they weighed it up and since the last election the countries moral direction has made a subtle shift and unlike the National party and a few others they aren't completely braindead stupid.

OK. A moral non biased or agenda driven media. Novel concept. Will try to wrap my head around that one.

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Redcows. That's an insightful comment and I can only agree. After 3 years in opposition, the National Party hasn't picked up on the shift to which you refer. The election of the patrician Muller is evidence if it was required. A party still reeking of privilege, entitlement, arrogance and elitism with an absolute disrespect for the NZ public. The hideous Boag considers it acceptable to share the health details of covid-19 patients. This is utterly despicable. I suspect another two terms in the wilderness may be required before they become electable.

Inevitable result, stupid move disclosing private information to media - bad timing for National to have questionable members with bad judgement just before an election where they are supposed to get elected primarily for having good judgement

Muller and co knew better and it is the right call to cut them out of govt

So he'll stay on until the election and then (as is customary) collect an MP's salary for another three months after that? Hard life, isn't it?

Barclay went missing as soon as possible. Still on salary. A real piece of work that one.

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Michelle Boag is way ahead of Hamish Walker in National's hierarchy by several pay grades. Others will definitely be involved here. Too many loose ends, too many things not quite stacking up. Such action as this isn't taken lightly or in some maverick fashion. Walker's the chump, the fall guy here. Watch this space.

Possibly in her twisted brain , she thought she was doing the party a favour. Pick the dumbest MP , already under fire for racist comments , and give him a list , which presumably contains non kiwi sounding names, to leak . Then Muller gets to take the high ground and fire him. Only walker got legal advice , and took her with him .

What is on that spreadsheet the anti democratic Labour don't want us to see.
We don't need names but the demographics might show something interesting.

It doesn't include nationalities.

The nationalities are already publicly available anyway: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-nov...

No nationalites lanthanide. It's "country returned from" Majority India. Half as many as that Australia. (and where before that?) And a few USA.
No China!
No ethnicity stated - could be anything.
No info as to citizen /resident /other

Actually 'last country returned from'. Might not be a significant difference but leaves the possibility open that they could have transited from elsewhere. I recall cases being reported of infected travellers from elsewhere such as Kenya and from memory Afghanistan but don't see those places on the current list.

Good spot middleman.
Democracy requires actual information so the folk can evaluate the decision of the government.

Yeah you're right.

If there is a faint scent of rat always keep an open mind that there could be one.

There is - but picking it out from the available candidates at the moment is difficult. Walker? Boag? Some other national party person?

Pretty obvious the content of interest was the surnames and the liklihood that they sounded sufficiently foreign ie they connoted Pakistani, Indian or Korean ethnicity (consistent with Walker's earlier xenophobic statements). Mean, nasty, dim, xenophobic tories.

Mo. Damn straight, next thing you know they'll be creating policy that discriminates against people with chinese sounding names.

Yes, good to see the PM come out so strongly against anyone doing that sort of thing.

Hamish Walker never mentioned ethnicities, as you well know. He only discussed Nationalities. Totally different. His story about only wanting to show the crap security in the Health Ministry will be shown to be true later.

Aren't they all kiwis?

Muller is handling it well, I'll give him that.

By learning about it at Monday lunchtime and not saying anything for 30 hours?

Yeah, sterling.

Because he had to take legal advice.

Compare his speed with Ardern's record of non-sacking of Curran and Clark. She should have sacked both of them, but avoided doing so.

What about Kurt Taogaga? Jacinda kicked him out the door pretty darn fast.

Yeah, Nah..

What about the guy who prepared a report based on racial profiling of Chinese surnames? Who is still part of her cabinet? Who doesn't seem to get sacked no matter how badly he stuffs things up? Who is in charge of our economic recovery? Who just got promoted on their party list?

Crocodile tears.

There wasn't really any choice but to do something like that.
National flatly refused to allow any statistics on the numbers of overseas property buyers were in the NZ market, if they had done we could have had a sensible debate about it at the time.
But of course the Nats had vested interests they wanted to protect.

Because he had to take legal advice.

I didn't specify what he should have done, just that he appears to have done nothing aside from "seek legal advice". He could have advised Mike Heron that he had information relevant to the investigation, but not provided any details.

He didn't.

Yeah, better to sack immediately and do the PG later. Walker left regretting he didn't do a Kris "I can't put anything in writing bro" Faafoi". What is Faafoi up to these days?

I think Hamish did enough writing last week.

Yeah, he should have been more cunning like Kris. What is Kris up to now? Is he back on TV?

Filming another season of What Now.

"a letter from Walker's lawyers asking the party not to out Walker, citing privacy concerns"

Privacy concerns??!!
Such blatant hypocrisy it's almost taking the piss.

That was my thought too.. the cheek of this muppet to cite privacy concerns about him being outed as the source of leaking private details.

What's with the bit from the trust stating Boag doesn't (or is not supposed to) have access to the patient lists. And didn't I read somewhere that Walker obtained the names before getting Boags list?
Glad there's a high level enquiry.

She's now saying she didnt get it form the trust , but form the ministry of health directly. see stuff.co.nz

Just saw that . Seems to me she has added to her story but is using the enquiry to hold back on some of it. Probably just my instinctive mistrust of her, or maybe little things like she didn't immediately say it was nothing to do with the trust .

Don't even think about Judith Collins doing anything. Like Michelle Boag, she has far too much bad baggage to be where she is, let alone further up the pecking order. The only people who put up with people like them are the ones who think the same . The vast majority of Kiwi voters will run a mile from either of them when they are reminded of their pasts coming up to the election.

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