Gilmore returning to Parliament - Key

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 16:08 06/05/2013
Fairfax NZ

Shamed National MP Aaron Gilmore has been told to front up to media and his colleagues.

Aaron Gilmore
IAIN MCGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ
UNRESPONSIVE: MP Aaron Gilmore was not prepared to speak with reporters today over his actions at a hotel.

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Disgraced MP Aaron Gilmore has dodged reporters in Christchurch after a storm of controversy over how he treated a waiter at a Hanmer Springs hotel.

Gilmore was photographed outside the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) headquarters by a Fairfax Media photographer today after he had been on a bus tour of the city with other MPs, however, he refused to front reporters for interviews.

Asked to comment on his behaviour at the Heritage Hanmer Springs nine days ago, Gilmore replied "absolutely not".

He said he would say more at a National Party caucus meeting tomorrow, where he was expected to face some tough questions over the incident after he was refused more wine by a waiter.

A source told The Press Gilmore whistled and clicked for waiter attention, called another waiter a ‘‘dickhead’’ after he refused to serve him more wine, and made the comment: "Do you know who I am? I'm an important MP."

His behaviour prompted his embarrassed lawyer friend, Andrew Riches, to leave the waiter an apology note.

Gilmore denied further allegations from Riches that he also threatened to have Prime Minister John Key's office intervene to have the waiter sacked.

Key said he had accepted Gilmore's apology.

A source told The Press today that the apology to the hotel was emailed and was "half-hearted".

It also said he wanted to "move on" from the incident, the source said.

LOW RANKING FOR GILMORE

Prime Minister John Key says his party has been forced to bring shamed MP Aaron Gilmore back to Parliament, but has given him a lowly ranking because he hadn't performed well.

Key's office has been made aware of further allegations about the MP's conduct, and over the weekend the MP's tenants claimed he had attempted to use his status to bully them.

Key said he wouldn't get into every "rumour and accusation", but signalled his opinion of the list MP.

"He's practically 59th of 59 MPs and he has no portfolio responsibility," Key said.

"He was lowly ranked after the 2011 election. So we made it clear, effectively through the list ranking in 2011, that we felt he hadn't performed well enough.

"Now we polled a massive number [at the last election] and he came back in. You can't alter that list. Once he's on that list they are there, and that's the way it works."

Gilmore returned two months ago when Lockwood Smith left Parliament to become New Zealand's High Commissioner in London.

Asked this morning if he saw Gilmore in Cabinet, Key gave a blunt: "No".

"He's got a lot of things to learn," Key added.

"I'm sure actually he's got a contribution to make - underneath it all, he's a bright guy with ability. But he's just letting himself down terribly."

The caucus does have the power to dump him, but risks Gilmore remaining in Parliament as an independent MP, which happened with former NZ First MP Brendan Horan earlier this year.

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Key said Gilmore would be expected to front up to "disappointed" National MPs and the media at Parliament tomorrow.

"He started with actually what was not the most fulsome apology but there has been a few more since then and they have been more fulsome," the prime minister said.

Key said Gilmore had had time to reflect and realise how serious his actions were.

"Whatever the version of events, he's behaved badly... he will be pretty contrite tomorrow," he said, adding National MPs treated people "well and with respect,".

"You don't get respect because you are here [at Parliament], you have to earn it," he said.

- The Dominion Post

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