The secret diary of ... David Cunliffe

Last updated 05:00 22/06/2014
Cunliffe
Fairfax NZ
CUNLIFFE ON LIU: If I did fall over him, I'd help him to his feet, and say to him, "How do you do? I'm David Cunliffe, the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. You look familiar. Are you Chinese?"

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MONDAY

I want to make it perfectly clear that I have never had any dealings with Donghua Liu.

I wouldn't know him if I fell over him. If I did fall over him, I'd help him to his feet, and say to him, "How do you do? I'm David Cunliffe, the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. You look familiar. Are you Chinese?"

I wouldn't hold it against him. I'm passionate about encouraging Chinese people to come to New Zealand and contribute to the economy and do things like serve bowls of hot noodles at night markets.

But if you've had one bowl of hot noodles, you've had them all, and that's when you're bound to wonder whether we actually need any more noodle stalls.

Of course I've heard of Mr Liu. Everyone's heard of Mr Liu. Maurice Williamson wrote a letter to the police on Mr Liu's behalf, and he was forced to resign. He did the right thing. It was the only option available to him. As a senior politician, he simply should not have tried to use his influence - especially for a man who has donated a great deal of money to the National Party.

After the election, when Labour takes the helm, we'll sit down with Mr Liu and explain to him that if he thinks he can buy favours, then he's got a lot to learn about life in New Zealand. The other thing I want to say about Mr Liu is that I don't much like the look on his face. It's always the same look. Perhaps that's something to do with the fact it's always the same photograph. In any case, it's an unpleasant face, and not one I'd forget in a hurry.

TUESDAY

I want to make it perfectly clear that my dealings with Donghua Liu were a long time ago. It was before email. It was before the fax machine. Remember the fax machine? The paper always ran out, and it made that horrible shrieking noise whenever you dialled a number. I'm passionate about noise pollution and I'll go on record now and say that a Labour Government won't tolerate a return to the fax machine.

The letter I wrote to immigration officials on Mr Liu's behalf in 2003 has nothing in common with the letter Maurice Williamson wrote to police on Mr Liu's behalf. Maurice Williamson was interfering. I was merely putting in a good word for a guy who always had a friendly, open smile.

He'd wave out whenever I saw him, and I'd say, "How's it, Mr Liu?" And he'd say, "Mate, call me Dong."

The Dong I knew had an insatiable appetite for New Zealand literature. He wanted Helen Clark's biography so badly that he paid $15,000 for it.

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WEDNESDAY

I walked into the kitchen at the Labour offices this morning, sniffed the air, and said, "I could swear I smell burnt toast." Grant Robertson looked at me, and said, "Me, too."

THURSDAY

The latest opinion poll has some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that Labour's support is down, and roughly 17 people in New Zealand would prefer it if I was Prime Minister.

The good news is that the poll was taken before the Liu fiasco.

FRIDAY

What a week.

I flew from Wellington to Auckland but then had to turn back again to sort out the Liu business.

I flew back home again today. I did a few chores around the house to take my mind off things, and then drove to the office after dark. I had a few things to catch up on.

I saw a light under the door from one of the back offices. It's where we keep our archives. I assumed it was one of our staff, but when I walked towards the door, the light went off. I walked in. A window was wide open.

I could swear I smelt something fishy.

Steve Braunias is a Metro staff writer.

- Sunday Star Times

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