10 May 2013

Gilmore emails appear to threaten Treasury official

6:05 pm on 10 May 2013

Papers released from beleagured National MP Aaron Gilmore's former employer show he appeared to use his position as a threat to an official he was in dispute with.

The backbench list MP is refusing to resign following a boozy incident at Hanmer Springs hotel and the loss of support from Prime Minister John Key this week.

Aaron Gilmore.

Aaron Gilmore. Photo: RNZ

Mr Gilmore has been under pressure after it was claimed he had threatened to have a barman at a Hanmer Springs hotel restaurant sacked after being refused more alcohol on 27 April.

The Christchurch MP denies he made the threat, but has apologised for acting rudely and arrogantly. Mr Key has handed the matter over to National Party president Peter Goodfellow.

Emails released under the Official Information Act from the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment show an exchange in which it appears Aaron Gilmore threatened a Treasury official's career prospects.

The emails detail a dispute about a document Mr Gilmore was working on. In one, he notes his experience as an MP and the fact he is going to be a goverment MP again.

Mr Gilmore accuses the official of trying to undermine him and says given that he is going back to Parliament, he would be happy to talk about this at some stage.

In another email, Mr Gilmore accuses the official of bullying and witholding information, and that he is "sure this sort of thing will come back to haunt you if you want your career to reach its potential".

The ministry said it did not extend Aaron Gilmore's contract because of his inapproriate behaviour.

John Key says he learned on Friday that his chief of staff was given a heads-up that Mr Gilmore's contract wasn't being renewed because due to his behaviour.

National in 'difficult position'

A specialist in politics says Aaron Gilmore has put the National Party in a very difficult position, as they can't get rid of him.

Otago University politics lecturer Bryce Edwards says the party is trying to force Mr Gilmore out by appealing to him emotionally and applying pressure, but he says the MP has a very thick skin.

Mr Edwards told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday the next step is to suspend Mr Gilmore from the caucus, as was done with Maurice Williamson in 2003, which would in effect shut him down.

Mr Edwards said Mr Gilmore is more likely to be kept in the fold of the party rather than become a rogue MP.

He said people should not be surprised that MPs such as Mr Gilmore are making it on to the party list, as there is a dearth of quality candidates right now and parties need to look at their selection processes to attract better candidates.

Wrong man for job, says Boag

Former National Party president Michelle Boag says Aaron Gilmore does not have the right temperament for Parliament.

Ms Boag told Morning Report the best Mr Gilmore can do is rehabilitate himself so he can at least get a different job after the next election in 2014, as he would be unlikely to find another one right now.

If the issue is dragged out and continued to distract the party, Ms Boag said the public would lose patience with it.