Labour using paliamentary funds to lie and deceive whilst running a polling company out of parliament

Labour, perhaps the biggest troughers known to man have been caught well and truly with their pants down by the Herald on Sunday, essentially running a polling scam out of Rick Barker’s office using funding from Phil Goff’s leaders budget under the control of senior MPs and former Ministers, Rick Barker and Darren Hughes.

The Labour leadership is embroiled in a murky polling operation run by a senior MP who has instructed volunteers to deliberately deceive people about their identities and the reason for their calls.

The polls were being run from Parliamentary offices by former Cabinet minister Rick Barker, who has admitted instructing staff to use false names and claim they were calling from a company that no longer exists.

Labour Party president Andrew Little last night said all polling was out of Phil Goff’s Leader’s Budget. Little said he knew nothing about the operation. “It would concern me very deeply,” he said.

Details of the polling emerged after a volunteer involved approached the Herald on Sunday claiming the practice was “unethical”.

Andrew Little has dropped his leader right in it by essentially speaking for him and telling us all that the taxpayer is funding Labour’s polling scam. Even better, it is a Green party member who has dobbed on this blatent abuse of taxpayer funds.

The volunteer, who is a Green Party member, said it was run by Barker and, when the volunteer participated, took place in Barker’s office at Parliament on October 14.

The volunteer said Barker instructed all the helpers, including a Parliamentary staffer, to say they worked for a non-existent company called “Data Research”, and to not disclose that they were really working for the Labour Party.Barker also told staff members they could make up names to use when calling members of the public.

Even worse, when initially approached by the HoS about his scam Rick Barker denied he knew anything about it, then called back to “clarify” his position, clearly the act of a guilty party. Darren Hughes has also tried to defend the indefensible.

Barker, when questioned, initially said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. When provided with details, including dates, Barker said he would call back.

Two hours later, Barker rang and admitted he had encouraged the use of false names by callers. He said he did so to make people feel more comfortable cold-calling.

“I told them: ‘You could use another name, if it makes it easier for you to make phone calls. For example, I could be Bill’.”

Labour whip Darren Hughes, who sits on the party’s leadership council, said he was aware of the polling. He said Barker had spearheaded three polls.

But Hughes defended the use of false names and for callers to not identify that they were representing the Labour Party.

“The name of Data Research was used to get as close to a scientific result as you could, to not influence results because of the way that people feel about a particular party.”

He said the use of false names in polling was common: “I’m sure that half the people try to sell us things on telemarketing aren’t giving us their real names.”

Hughes said the polling was legitimate use of Parliamentary resources because the results were used to understand what the public was thinking and to formulate policy.

The Labour Party once ran a business called Data Research as a polling company but the Companies Office Register says it was struck off in 1997.

So, lets just get this straight, using parliamentary funds from the leaders office, running a polling company out of parliamentary offices, using false names, using the name of defunct company, denying it all existed then saying the equivalent of? “Oh that polling”. Sounds like straight out fraud to me. Barker and Hughes are both List MP’s they should go immediately. This is simply unconscionable and reprehensible behaviour for those two.

Phil Goff also has failed to front. I think his demise must be imminent, with his mis-handling of the Richard Worth scandal, the non-management of the real leader of the Labour party Trevor “Putin” Mallard, the the ongoing debavle that is Chris Carter, it certainly looks like Goff’s days are numbered as leader.

A spokesman for Goff said the leader of the opposition was not available to answer questions, but he had consulted members of the leadership council and been told the method of polling carried out by Barker was a mistake. “It won’t happen again.”

Bryce Edwards, a politics lecturer at the University of Otago, said that the episode appeared to show a misuse of Parliamentary resources: “I would say that any phone polling at Parliament would fall foul of the rules.”

“This is very clearly partisan political activity, and pretty hard to sell as a legitimate use of Parliamentary resources.”

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said the details of Barker’s polling operation raised serious questions and could breach the Privacy Act.

And all of the above shows precisely why the parliamentary Services should be immediately opned up and included in the OIA jurisdiction so that rorting and troughing of this most despicable kind can’t happen again.

Goff, Barker and Hughes should go, a new leaser should step up and then they can have the fun of having the tizard effect come into play as well.