Why would Michelle Boag, who has spent years constructing herself as a respected media commentator and consultant, risk it all by sending a list to Hamish Walker?
Reading between the lines, the truth is plain to see. Struck by the preponderance of foreign names on the list of those in quarantine, which she claims was sent by virtue of her acting position of CE of the Auckland Helicopter Rescue Trust, she pondered ways to use it politically. She may have consulted others on this, or not.
Hamish Walker was her chosen secret weapon. She sent this list to him, with a comment something like: “look what’s coming your way”, relating to the potential use of Queenstown hotels for quarantine purposes. I am sure she told him the list was absolutely confidential.
It was later revealed that Boag did not get access to the list through the helicopter people, which raises further questions about where it did come from. The Inquiry will no doubt reveal the source.
Walker, thus enabled by such a senior figure, releases his famous statement that Queenstown is about to be overrun by foreigners. Boag’s purpose is therefore fulfilled while she herself remains absolutely aloof from the discourse. This is about a bad boy MP, not a respected ex-President of the Party.
Walker, who thought he was the chosen one in all this, was badly stung by the media reporting claims of racism. Completely misunderstanding the notion that Mr Singh or Ms Kim can be New Zealanders (how could he be so out of touch?), he releases Boag’s list to ’prove’ that current people in quarantine are not New Zealanders.
He does not prove this, but what he does is spark an Inquiry. Knowing that she will be found out, Boag seeks to cauterize the wound by ‘fessing up before she is found out. Although this will undoubtedly prove ruinous to her career, she hopes to minimise the damage.
In her press release, Boag apologises to her erstwhile employer. She has a lot more apologising to do. She has ended Walker’s career (although he must also be responsible for his choices) and has knocked a few points off National’s eventual election tally. It is a scandal and a disaster for National.
Everything National is doing currently is falling apart, making them look unfit to govern. Ten weeks out, it looks like a rout.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.