Should he have known?

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David Cunliffe is being criticised because he had contact with a prominent New Zealander given permanent name suppression after pleading guilty to performing an indecent act.

Our political leaders meet dozens, if not hundreds of people every week. Nevertheless, we expect them to not only remember every single person they spoke to and what they spoke about, but also know whether those people have been charged with criminal offences.

It’s not clear from the news reports whether Cunliffe met the man in person, or had contact via some other means. For all we know it may have been a one-minute phone conversation in which Cunliffe said “you need to talk to so-and-so, I’ll get my assistant to arrange a meeting.”

Cunliffe’s defence appears to be that he didn’t know the person he had contact with was also the prominent New Zealander accused of performing an indecent act. In other words, the suppression order actually worked.

But this is unacceptable. Surely someone on Cunliffe’s staff must carry around with them a dossier containing the names and details of all persons whose names have been suppressed, so that their boss can be prepared at all times. And then, when some person rings him up or goes to shake his hand, Cunliffe would say “hold on there a moment, I can’t talk to you until the secret sex creep list has been checked. Just hold that thought.”

Then Cunliffe would consult the dossier, together with his assistant, before agreeing to talk.

“Now the good news is that it appears you’re not on our list of highly secretive perverts, rapists, molesters and general nasty types, but before I talk to you would you mind just signing this declaration confirming that you’re not any sort of sex fiend? Thank you Archbishop.”

The other way to get around this whole name suppression problem would be to give the Labour Party leadership to a being with magical powers. A wizard, witch or sorcerer would be able to summon up deep magic and see into the very souls of those they were about to speak to, thus avoid embarrassing meetings with sex offenders and other undesirables. And why not have some super-human being as leader? The current requirements of the job are certainly more than any mortal person can fulfil.