The Sunday Star Times and NZ Herald have been carrying stories about allegations that National MP Mike Sabin is being investigated for assault. At present, the stories carry no detail, making it impossible to tell whether the complaints are historic or whether it’s a family violence complaint.
Nonetheless, in politics, nothing is secret. According to Cameron Slater, the allegations have been doing the rounds for about a month. He describes the allegations as “almost too horrible for words” and predicts a by-election in Sabin’s Northland electorate. (Of course, any allegation made by Slater should perhaps come with questions regarding veracity and whether he’s being paid to assassinate Sabin’s character. If Sabin does end up resigning, it might pay to look closely at whichever candidate Slater lends his support to…)
In the SST and over at The Standard, questions are being asked about when John Key knew about the allegations. The insinuation appears to be that if the allegations where known to Key prior to the election, he should have told the electorate. I’m in two minds about that, largely because we still have no detail about the allegations.
On the one hand, an allegation is just that, and we’re all entitled to the presumption of innocence. The matter is in the hands of Police, who will make a call as to whether there is sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution. If Sabin is charged, there’ll then be enormous pressure for him to resign, which is only to be expected. If he’s convicted, he’ll definitely be toast.
On the other hand, if the allegations end up being especially serious, well… It can certainly be argued that the public have a right to know about certain allegations when they’re choosing their elected representative for the next three years.
The big issue for me at this stage is not whether Key knew about the allegations before the election. Instead, it’s whether he knew about the allegations before Sabin was appointed chair of the Law and Order select committee. It would seem wholly inappropriate for someone under criminal investigation to be made chair. He should step down from the role, and he should step down now.