8 May 2013

PM's support for Gilmore gone

10:31 pm on 8 May 2013

National list MP Aaron Gilmore has lost the support of Prime Minister John Key after the release of texts about an incident at a Hanmer hotel.

On Wednesday, the Christchurch backbench MP again denied that he threatened to use his influence with the Prime Minister's office to have a waiter sacked after he was refused more wine at the Heritage Hanmer Springs restaurant on 27 April.

The release of the text conversation between Mr Gilmore and his dinner companion, Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches, on Wednesday is the final straw for Mr Key.

In the texts Mr Riches released, Mr Gilmore does not dispute the lawyer's two remarks that the MP threatened the waiter's employment.

Mr Key said the text conversation can't be reconciled with the version of events Mr Gilmore gave him and suggests that he should go.

He said he has not asked the MP to quit. "But I mean given the pressure he's been under and the questions he's been unable to answer in the media, I would have thought it's self-explanatory for him to come forward, if that's what he wants to do."

Mr Key said he can't remove Aaron Gilmore from Parliament and sacking him from caucus is a drawn-out matter. However, he is suggesting that Mr Gilmore will be removed from the party list before the 2014 general election.

The Prime Minister has referred the matter to National Party president Andrew Goodfellow, but said Mr Gilmore needs to change his behaviour and drinking habits.

Aaron Gilmore held a press conference at Parliament on Tuesday, saying his behaviour during an exchange with the hotel staff member was inappropriate. But the MP is standing by those comments and on Wednesday said his text conversation differs from the one released.

Party 'extremely disappointed'

National Party president Peter Goodfellow says Aaron Gilmore has a long way to come back.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Goodfellow said the party is extremely disappointed in Mr Gilmore and that he needs to reflect thoroughly on his future as an MP.

Mr Goodfellow said there are always consequences in politics and that National's List Ranking Committee will determine who will be on the party list for 2014 general election sometime next year.

A former president of the party says Aaron Gilmore has had his 15 minutes of fame and should step down. Michelle Boag said Mr Gilmore clearly has an attitude issue, describing him as a very low-rated backbencher who is pretty irrelevant, and John Key is clearly washing his hands of him.

Aaron Gilmore was a list MP from the 2008 election until the 2011 election. In February this year he returned to Parliament after the resignation of Speaker Lockwood Smith, who is now New Zealand's High Commissioner in London.

Text conversation released by lawyer

Andrew Riches (AR): What's all this group stuff? You directly threatened to have the guy Fired and said the prime ministers office would be contacting his employer the next day. The girls were gone by that stage and I was just standing there. Stop trying to imply we did something.

Aaron Gilmore (AG): FFS the batman claims the group were racist and that I was escorted from the hotel.

AR: What's the batman

AG: Barman

AR: What? That's ridiculous, we were lovely to him. I also never recall you calling anyone a dickhead.

2/5/2013 10:51am

AR: I didn't write that note because I thought we were boisterous, I wrote it because you told the guy he was being fired, said the pm would be involved and I didn't want the poor guy to worry about his job

AG: I know. They are trying to make it seem bigger than that. Its bulls***. Ive taken the blame and apologised. Just say nothing.

2/05/2013 1:41pm

AR: You didn't take the blame. You blamed the rest of your group when the girls weren't even in the same room.

AG: I did the f***tard said I was not the only one drink and I was carried out of the bar. I said that I was rude but he claims others were too. It's not worth the argument.

AR: Well the herald just called ad informed me they have heard you mentioned the prime ministers office ad threatened to get them involved.