Horan defends calls to TAB

Brendan HoranCalls from the parliamentary-funded cellphone of former NZ First list MP Brendan Horan included 11 to an Auckland TAB number in the space of four days, according to phone records seen by the NZ Herald.

But Mr Horan, who returned to Parliament this morning in defiance of party leader Winston Peters' call for him to resign his place says he was entitled to call whoever he liked with that phone, and he denied allegations he has a gambling problem.

Mr Peters expelled Mr Horan from the NZ First caucus yesterday after receiving information which left him "with no confidence in Mr Horan's ability to continue as a member of Parliament".

That information related to allegations by his half brother Mana Ormsby that Mr Horan misappropriated money from his mother prior to her death in August this year, partly to fuel a gambling habit.

The Herald has seen a single page of Mr Horan's parliamentary cellphone records which include 11 calls to an Auckland TAB number between April 3 and April 7 this year.

But Mr Horan this afternoon told the Herald there was no restriction on parliamentary phones; "You can call who you want to call."

While Mr Horan has acknowledged he does bet on horses he said claims his gambling was out control were untrue.

"There are all sorts of wild allegations being bandied about. I'm not prepared to have to stand here and defend every allegation that comes along. I do not have a gambling problem. It's a simple as that."

"This is just a witch hunt. I've been accused of everything. I'm surprised December 25 is still on the calendar."

After telling the Herald last night he would return to Parliament, Mr Horan this morning attended a closed session of the Maori Affairs select committee.

The Herald understands Mr Horan was barred from his former NZ First office this morning.

Following talks with the Clerk of Parliament and Speaker Lockwood Smith he was shown to a new office in the old parliament building.

It is thought he also discussed seating arrangements in the House, and staffing and funding.

Questions in the House and speaking slots in some debates are awarded on the basis of proportionality, and New Zealand First can expect to lose some of its entitlements. Taxpayer funding for the party will also be affected.

Mr Horan told the Herald his plan was "to try and be as effective an MP as possible now I'm an independent MP and my values haven't changed".



Options for MMP MP evictions

If we assume that the material that Winston Peters has been provided with is at such a level that indicates that Mr Horan was acting dishonestly, then Mr Horan should not only be evicted from NZ First as a list MP, but also evicted from Parliament.  The issue however is that of the evidence that has been provided.  If evidence is concocted then a person could end up being unjustifiably evicted and so I suggest that in instances like this, an MP should be forced to stand down until a court case is heard that can establish whether the MP was guilty of a criminal offence. 

If they are found guilty, then no question, they should be evicted from Parliament and under no circumstances be allowed to become an independent MP.  If however, they are found not guilty the option is to return to Parliament either as an independent, or as a party member if the party wants them back.  When you look at the quality of the MPs that have been evicted from their parties over the years, NZ is not exactly missing anyone of gigantic skills.

How is this democracy?

This man is not in parliment because he was voted in - he is there because some people (ones I'll never understand, but people none the less) voted for NZ First. The seat he occupies belongs to NZ First, not Brendan Horan.

Yet another flaw of the MMP system. 

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