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The Standard

Key lied – The smoking gun?

Written By: - Date published: 2:26 pm, August 21st, 2014 - 163 comments
Categories: accountability, john key - Tags: , ,

In the face of documentary evidence that the head of the SIS briefed the Prime Minister on the OIA release of the Goff document, Key (and others) are now claiming that “the Prime Minister” really means “the Prime Minister’s Office” and that Key himself was not informed. [Update:] We are required to believe that a “discussion with the Prime Minister” doesn’t mean what it says.

A prior discussion certainly took place – Key’s own words on Q+A Sunday July 24 2011:

JOHN Phil Goff was briefed, yeah, that’s right. I personally didn’t brief him, but my understanding from the director of SIS, Warren Tucker, is that he was briefed and he was shown the same note and report that I saw.

Timeline here.

Documentary evidence

July 24: John Key says the SIS briefed Phil Goff about the behaviour of Israeli nationals in Christchurch. Mr Goff contacts SIS director Dr Warren Tucker to say he had not been briefed.
July 25: Mr Goff and Dr Tucker meet to discuss the matter.
July 26: Cameron Slater asks the SIS about the issue.

Did Key and Tucker discuss a future OIA release of the document at their first meeting?

Update: And there it is, Key on 8th August 2011:

“What happened is Warren Tucker didn’t come to me, he went to his legal adviser and his legal advisers told him this is the process they have to follow and when he was going through that process it was at that point he told me he’d release it because he has to tell me that under the no-surprises doctrine.”

163 comments on “Key lied – The smoking gun?”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Thanks R0b. That clears that up then. Now can someone explain how Key AND Tucker are claiming that they did not discuss the Goff briefing?

    • Enough is Enough 1.1

      They aren’t claiming that.

      They are claiming that Key was not personally briefed on information being released to Slater?

      I don’t believe that to be true but lets not confuse the two issues.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        I believe it. He initiated the release and made sure Slater had the inside info. The last thing he wants after that is his office passing on Tucker’s messages.

        • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1

          You believe Key wasn’t personally briefed? You have more faith in the compulsive liar than me.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1

            He gave the orders: the only briefing he wants after that is if his orders can’t be obeyed. Plausible deniability.

            PS: I have faith in his experience of constructing false narratives.

            • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1.1.1

              After reading Blue’s timeline below, I am now think I agree with you.

  2. Karen 2

    john Key’s office is now saying he took a holiday in Hawaii after his USA trip and didn’t get back until 31 July. Only it seems he was on Q & A on 24/7. Another lie?

    • vto 2.1

      ha ha, like a child who just wont let it go

    • Enough is Enough 2.2

      Guyon Espiner interviewed his from America. He was with him

    • mickysavage 2.3

      I can’t access the video but it may have been that this was filmed in the US. But there is no indication when Key was briefed by Tucker and this is the relevant date, not the date he was interviewed. I think this is another attempted diversion.

      • toad 2.3.1

        Yep, the interview was definitely done in Washington DC, but that doesn’t let Key off the hook.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3.1.1

          Did Bill English sign off the release as acting PM? Once is a mistake. Twice is coincidence. What’s three times again? Oh, yeah, that’s right, enemy action.

          PS: a practiced and experienced liar like the Prime Minister knows how to wash his hands.

  3. Kaplan 3

    Tucker actually says in his letter that it was under the ‘no surprises policy’. What is the point of that policy if the PM was not told or informed.
    John Key is lying. There is no longer any doubt of that.

    • fambo 3.1

      It’s not the question of “doubt” it’s the question of pinning it on him. The Greens have the right idea by forcing the police and other bodies to investigate all these improprieties. The police will be slow to act but once the legal machinery is turning, it can be very hard to stop.

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        Maybe Mr Key could phone the police, ask in a friendly way how long will it take for the investigation into his actions and by the way what is the name rank and number of the investigating officer and does he have hopes of further promotion. Just asking you know but do you know who I am?

    • Anne 3.2

      It comes under the plausible deniability strategy that has underlined the activities of the occupants of the Prime Minister’s Office since the present incumbent moved in. That is only tell me what I have to know, and don’t tell me anything that might cause problems at a later date.

      The black ops department head, Jason Ede would know that John Key was aware of what was happening but by not telling him explicitly ‘how’ it was happening… Key could then deny all knowledge in the event something leaks into the public arena.

      Helen Clark had no black ops. department, and she also had her finger on everything that was going on. That is the mark of a good prime-minister.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.3

      Kaplan, re: no surprises, it’s designed to avoid surprises. Why would Key be surprised when the SIS did something he personally initiated?

      Under “no surprises”, his office would only have informed him if Tucker wouldn’t follow orders.

    • disturbed 3.4

      Fambo,

      That was what stuck us, Key as head of SIS was not kept informed nor was any other of his delegated minder whom he still refuses to say who he/she was, could be Collins?

  4. Enough is Enough 4

    Forgive me if I am wrong but the issue isn’t whether Key was aware Goff had been briefed. The issue is whether Key was aware secret documents were declassified and fast-tracked to Slater, who used them to discredit Phil Goff.

    They are two different things aren’t they?

    1.Were Key and Goff both briefed about the Israeli spy saga?

    2.Was Key briefed about official documents being released by the SIS to Cameron Slater.

    Number 2 is the issue. Not number 1.

    • r0b 4.1

      I suppose it is possible that Key and Tucker discussed the issue, and that Tucker later decided to release OIA documents after discussions with “the Prime Minister” that really means “the Prime Minister’s office” and that no one told Key. But it stretches my belief well past breaking point.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1

        Why? Key initiated the process, gave the orders. He only needed to hear from his enablers if Tucker refused the order.

      • Enough is Enough 4.1.2

        I agree r0b. The whole thing stretches belief, but they are different issues and I don’t think it is the smoking gun.

        The documentary evidence you refer to is about the OIA request. The “Prime Ministers” briefing is solely about that information release, so the timeline you have given does not in itself land the killer blow.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.2.1

          Who gave Slater the heads-up?

          It doesn’t stretch belief if Key set the whole thing in motion in the first place. The last thing he wants after that is briefings. Plausible deniability.

          • Enough is Enough 4.1.2.1.1

            Key and his office probably gave Slater the heads up.

            But we still need the smoking gun to sink him.

        • r0b 4.1.2.2

          You are right, they are separate issues, Key still has wriggle room – if we suspend belief past the point of no return.

          • Enough is Enough 4.1.2.2.1

            I stopped believing Key after the third time I heard him speak.

            He is a compulsive liar.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.2.2.2

            He has none. I suspect more will come out in the next Whaledump.

            Key initiates the release to Slater. He tells his office to handle the SIS. He either briefs Slater directly or has Ede or Collins do it.

            That makes all his statements truthy and explains all the facts including Tucker’s version.

            • Tracey 4.1.2.2.2.1

              If key was implicatedby whaledumps material it would have been in hagers book.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                😆 Key gives his covert instructions by telephone or face-to-face. There is no paper trail except by (albeit obvious) inference. Ede and Tucker and Collins are fucked.

                • Enough is Enough

                  Key is clever. Very clever. If there was anything directly on him it would have come out in the book.

                  He is not going to sign an email authorising something dodgy.

                  Have you watched how Tony Soprano gave orders to his gang of criminals. That is how Key operates. His finger prints will never be found.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    It doesn’t matter – the more he wriggles the more he reveals his character – the spell is broken either way.

    • Conclica 4.2

      You are correct ‘Enough is Enough’. It took me a minute to realize this as well.

      I’m afraid this transcript doesn’t prove anything.

      I still think John Key is up to his ears in his own BS though.

    • mickysavage 4.3

      Fair question EiE. The problem with the issue is that letters that say Key met with Tucker apparently mean that Tucker met with someone else and Key’s refusal to acknowledge that he knows anything is extremely frustrating. So yes he is saying he knew about the Goff briefing but not necessarily about the decision to release the info to Slater.

      The timing is critical.

      A Standard post at the time (http://thestandard.org.nz/its-who-you-know/) suggests the decision to release to Slater was made on July 28 and the letter was dated on August 52. The only reason for the delay in issuing the letter was the need to run it past Key’s office. So where was Key on August 52 and who signed the letter?

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Musing on the pattern and structure of our Prime Minister’s lies, it occurs to me that he says “I don’t know the details of that” a lot.

    Leaders aren’t expected to know the minutiae. Perhaps someone can ask him to give us a broad picture of how it all works. How does he direct his enablers, have they strict rules around plausible deniability, that sort of thing.

    • Tracey 5.1

      he would know this stuff, if he were working for nz. It is becoming more and more apparent tgat he and ms collins dont do much in their portfolios, too busy plotting

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        That depends on his style of leadership. The highest form of leadership is when all the troops understand the way, because then the leader doesn’t need to take action.

  6. appleboy 6

    Another day and no right wingers popping up – wonder why they are so quiet….surely the can’t be accepting the inescapable fact that their leader is a liar and at very strong risk of losing this election….he he he

  7. Blue 7

    Best guess on how this all went down:

    Key and Tucker had exactly the same goal: to ensure that documents proving Goff had been briefed made their way into the public domain. Tucker was pissed at Goff for publicly saying he didn’t do his job and Key wanted to make Goff look bad and take the heat off himself. The two would have understood each other perfectly, and colluded to make it happen.

    They had the documents, but they couldn’t just release them. They needed someone to OIA them. Problem: even if someone made a request, they couldn’t grant it. Solution: get as much information out there in public as possible, then declassify the papers.

    Key goes on Q&A and tells everyone Goff was briefed and references the specific documents he is said to have seen. This means the SIS has an excuse to release them, because their existence has been made public. The bait is out there. At least one OIA request is made from the media.

    Second problem: The SIS would not be keen to release stuff that could prejudice national security. The only thing they wanted to release were the specific set of notes intended for Goff in March 2011. Proper journos don’t do it like that. They would request everything to make sure they had the whole story, not just part of it.

    So, someone slips a tip to Slater about how to phrase his OIA to make sure he gets only what the PM and Tucker want out there. Tucker gets on that request straight away. He tells the PM (or his ‘office’) what he is going to release and whoever has been tipping Slater off keeps him informed of progress so he’s ready to go as soon as the documents are released. The last thing the PM and Tucker want is for the story to go cold before they’ve had a chance to kick Goff.

    • Red Rosa 7.1

      Brilliant. Best explanation so far of this tangled mess of deliberate obfuscation. A leaf from the Nixon book.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1

        Nah, if Tucker wanted to do Goff he’d use the Herald, not that vicious bloodsack Slater.

    • Enough is Enough 7.2

      Yep – I agree this is the timeline,

      How do we nail the bastards to it though?

    • One thing that confuses me is that if Warren Tucker briefed someone other than John Key about this – and apparently other – OIA requests then does that mean that it is legitimate for anyone the PM suggests to be briefed about secret intelligence service business?

      Seems a bit sloppy to me given the security aspect of all of this.

      Is this usual practice?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.3.1

        Yes. Whenever there’s a rat to be fucked, post-Nixon ratfuckers know to keep their hands clean. Is Jason Ede a standup guy, though?

  8. tricledrown 8

    Rhianna and Eminem’s
    Love the way you lie!
    On the first part of our story
    The future seemed so bright (brighter future)
    Then this thing turned so evil
    I don’t know why I’m still surprised
    Even angels have their wicked schemes
    And you had to take it to knew extremes!
    I love the way you lie
    New National party song about how John key Has Abused power and the trust New Zealand put in him !

  9. DirtyDeedsNZ 9

    Tucker says he “discussed” and told the PM about the OIA but now claims that by PM he meant he told PM’s office.

    Yet at the same time Tucker has claimed to have “discussed” and “briefed” Phil Goff on the Israeli situation. Which to this day Goff states he never was briefed.

    Can we assume from this that Mr Tucker may have only told Goff’s office…. and in therefore lied about the whole thing.

  10. Bert 10

    Apple boy because they are all banned.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      I guess they could always try and advance their narratives on WhaleOil. No, wait…

      Sob sob sob.

  11. Tigger 11

    Why on earth is the Ombudsman jumping into this mess? Totally inappropriate. She’s just politicised herself. Bev is no fool, this is extraordinary and has happened for a reason – bet she’s spoken to someone to ensure no email trail. But the end result is that she’s gotten involved in party politics and she’s now stained.

    • Tracey 11.1

      because when your OIA is refused you can go the ombudsmen to look at the decision. That is what felix m did.

  12. freedom 12

    Selwyn Manning has put up a very interesting post over at TDB
    fair warning, for whatever reason, the site has been crashing a lot the last hour
    so you might have to be patient,
    will do some screenshots and post them soon
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/08/21/governments-own-guidelines-show-john-key-would-have-been-informed-of-sis-release-to-whaleoil/

    • freedom 12.1

      for those having trouble accessing the site here are some screengrabs
      and as it is quite a long post I split it into three double page spreads
      page 1+2 http://i.imgur.com/gmSl7Lt.png
      page 3+4 http://i.imgur.com/HLki20q.png
      page 5+6 http://i.imgur.com/kddZeoc.png

      • Tracey 12.1.1

        thanks freedom

        I have recently documented my trouble get info about a statement made by the minister of finance. Far from taking 20 days, they have asked for an extension. I am not asking forclassified information.

    • Anne 12.2

      @ freedom
      Selwyn Manning was interviewed on The Panel this afternoon. I’m picking the site is overloaded as a result of the media coverage Manning has had today.

      It’s interesting that Manning was the only other person to promptly receive his OIA request to the SIS. It arrived about a week or so after he sent it. He was astounded. He now suspects the motivation was to make it look like a balanced decision – a blogger from the right and the left gets the same information.

      That strongly smacks of political interference from… someone in the PM’s Office instructing Tucker to process Slater’s request in double-quick time. Tucker acquiesced and then justified it by letting Manning have it too.

      He should have refused to send it to Slater and with the benefit of hindsight I bet he’s wishing he had…

      • karol 12.2.1

        It seems strange to me that the response to Manning, mentioned Salter’s OIA request. Is it normal to do that?

        And Manning (as on the Panel today) said he didn’t know why Tucker thought he knew about Slater’s OIS request.

        Or had Slater already published a post on it by the time Manning’s OIA response was sent to him by Tucker?

  13. Plan B 13

    It is time for Bill English to once again ‘step up and captain the team’ for the good of the party and the good of the country. Factions within National are fighting, that is where the emails and the leaks and the orchestration is coming from. National need a leader that can hold them together at this difficult time. One that says enough is enough. We are witnessing a fight to the death from factions within National. This will not be over on the 20th of Sept it will go on and on until either the right or left of National are victorious. It will not be pretty and actually leading the country will come second to winning the war.

  14. Bob 14

    So let me get this straight, John Key wasn’t emailed around the brief and couldn’t have had a meeting about the brief, so at best he was called and given an overview without reading it himself.
    He is then on Q&A where Guyon Espiner asks him about an SIS brief and two days after this was on Q&A (which is on free to air TV) Slater puts in an OIA to view the brief which had been discussed on free to air television, all while Key is still out of the country.
    Yip, smoking gun alright, you should write a book Anthony, you already have the credibility of some other authors for drawing long bow conclusions!

    • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1

      Is that the narrative you people are going to stick to? Cameron Slater’s prescience and good fortune to find exactly the right form of words for his OIA request?

      What if he refutes you by boasting about it to Aaron and Judith? Panicky panic much? Choke on it.

      • Bob 14.1.1

        Unfounded smears with piss poor links portrayed as smoking guns, is that the narrative you people are going to stick to? Also, what people am I supposed to be? I have no links to anyone in politics and I am not part of any political party so I am interested in what you are attempting to link me to, similar to the way you are trying to draw long bows with Key I guess!

        “Cameron Slater’s prescience and good fortune to find exactly the right form of words for his OIA request?” Perhaps, but there is no clear lines of where he got the details from, so why not ask him? Or do you prefer to just keep making shit up until something turns out to be true?

        “What if he refutes you by boasting about it to Aaron and Judith?” What if he refutes you here? http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/08/two-biggest-lies-hagers-book/ Would you listen to that? Or only when it is illegally hacked and printed in a context that fits the narrative of the author?

        “Panicky panic much? Choke on it.” I’m not panicking at all, I have nothing to lose or gain from this whole saga, but I just think coming to wild conclusions based on evidence that refutes your claims sounds more like ‘dirty politics’ than a smoking gun!

        • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.1.1

          Slater will say “if that’s what John Key said, then that’s what happened”, and please, clutch at your faith. I am human enough to enjoy schadenfreude.

          Another whaledump coming tomorrow. Nom nom nom, don’t forget to wear your brown lipstick.

        • Tracey 14.1.1.2

          If you have nothing to gain or lose why are you being so blinkered about this?

          • Bob 14.1.1.2.1

            I’m not being blinkered, I have called for Jason Ede and Judith Collins to be sacked (I admit it took a while for Collins), but I believe a person is innocent until proven guilty, and there is nothing at all in anything that has been released that ties Key to any of this. Innuendo doesn’t help the situation on either side!

            Speaking of blinkered though, I don’t recall you calling Cunliffe a liar when he says he doesn’t talk to bloggers! Strong talk for a man with such close ties to Lynn. It doesn’t matter whether he shares dirt with Lynn or not (which Lynn has stated a number of times he does not), this is no worse than half of the Key’s lies on BLiP’s list.

            [lprent: You’re kidding right? I think that I have talked to Cunliffe by any means more than 5 or 6 times over the last 6 years. They were all at Labour events that both he and I happened to be at. At best they were fragments of conversations. I don’t have time for much conversation and neither does he.

            The longest time was the last list selection meeting 3 (?) months back when I borrowed his iPad to find out why he’d had so much trouble reading The Standard over the last year. His staff were moaning about it because he didn’t get to read some of our posts. Turned out to be a problem with the “webapp” part of the mobile theme. I turned it off at the server. But even then I don’t think we said more than 5 minutes of actual time speaking. ]

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.1.2.1.1

              [citation needed]

              When did Cunliffe say he doesn’t talk to bloggers, Bob? He’s posted here, remember.

                • freedom

                  Bob, reading your own links may help your comprehension and communication skills
                  “by saying he rarely talks to bloggers,”

                  Graham tried spinning that line last night but was smart enough not to post any links that snuffed out his baseless message

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    What does “rarely” mean?

                    It mean never, eh. It means he doesn’t talk to them.*

                    *Experience of this comment may vary if you’re a fuckwit.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Rarely? That means “doesn’t”, on Planet Bob.

                  Bob is crippled by blind loyalty, or complicit. Let’s be charitable and assume poor Bob is handicapped.

              • freedom

                You won’t get a single sniff of a citation from him OAB.
                Bob’s just pushing the same rubbish that Graham was trying on last night. They both know they are completely misrepresenting what Cunliffe has actually been saying and simply do not care if what they say is accurate, as long as they stay on message.

            • Tracey 14.1.1.2.1.2

              Do you accept that tucker meant prime ministers office when he said he had discussed it with the prime minister?

              If, yes why do you think he used the term prime ministers office once, but prime minister four times, when you take the two leters together.

              Do you accept that “discussed” and ” advised” could be by phone to, say, Hawaii.

              n

              • Bob

                Yes, they could mean that, as I stated in my first post, but there is no proof of that and the first reference in the letter is to the “Office of the Prime Minster” so you could equally assume that this is the reference point for the remainder of the letter.

                • Tracey

                  Bob

                  There were three questions, and two letters.

                  Please clarify which letter you are referring to, and which of mymy questions you were addressing. It would then be great if you could answer all of them, and explain the use of prime minister in both letters.

                  TIA

                  • Bob

                    “Do you accept that tucker meant prime ministers office when he said he had discussed it with the prime minister?” Yes

                    “If, yes why do you think he used the term prime ministers office once, but prime minister four times, when you take the two leters together.” The first reference in the letter is to the “Office of the Prime Minster” so you could assume that this is the reference point for the remainder of the letter

                    “Do you accept that “discussed” and ” advised” could be by phone to, say, Hawaii.” Yes, they could mean that as I stated in my first post, but there is no proof of that (or smoking gun as Anthony put it)

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sure, Tucker decided, all on his own, to brief Slater and not the rest of the MSM. Yes, sirree. Why don’t you believe me?

                      Blind loyalty is a good quality in a dog. Are you a dog, Bob?

                    • Tracey

                      Xand the ombudsmen letter where only PM is used, and what did you teach your children “me” means!?!

                      Your interpretation mkes it clear you have a horse in this race.

            • Bob 14.1.1.2.1.3

              Thank you for clarifying Lynn

        • mike 14.1.1.3

          The comments on this blog are pathetic. They are talking about one of the best leaders NZ has ever had. He has led a team that have kept our economy functional during the GFC and through the Christchurch earthquakes. However in spite of low unemployment numbers, the economic achievements they have made plus the fact that confirmation of his version of events has been made by Tucker, people on this blog and the labour party refer to John Key as a liar.

          This is a guy that works for the country for nothing (donates all his salary to charity) and is accused of the most dishonest things by the left. On other blogs today on this site the National Party election ad is criticised for not mentioning people who are “excluded” from the economic success of the government.

          These people are generally excluded by their own life choices -usually bad. I know, I have been there – coming from nothing or less to now being one of John Key’s so called rich mates. I am now a high nett worth individual, have never met John Key, have never taken any taxpayer funding in any shape or form and have managed to become one of the so called privledged. So how is National looking after me? By creating a buoyant economy so that I make profit and employ people.

          Of course jobs are not what the left want. Instead they want a transfer of wealth from people like me to them in return for nothing. Why don’t the left join the party get of their arses do some hard work, make some sacrifices instead whinging and bleating and expecting more and more.

          I have a small business in NZ that employs 7 people. Through natural attrition we have ended up with only 1 kiwi on the staff. The work is unsociable hours, the money is good but kiwis dont want to do it. Meantime new immigrants have filled 6 of the 7 positions, are getting on with building a decent life style for them and their families and in a couple of instances buying houses.

          Without personal abuse which seems standard on this blog (pardon the pun) try and answer the points I have made.

          [lprent: You can’t demand how other people will answer you. The moderators deal with other peoples behaviour when required. There is a pretty loose policy centered around the concept of “robust debate” which permits quite a lot of pointed comments that may be quite abusive if the write feels it is called for.

          However there is a very inflexible policy about trying to tell us how to run our blog. Read the policy for the types of things that are acceptable and unacceptable behaviour on this site. But generally attacking the site, its authors, trying to demand are things that you should not do, and being a dumbarse astroturfer or troll are not permitted. Most other things are.

          This is your warning. Do it again and I will have to ban you. As advice, before you start jerking off in someone elses space, read the rules of that space. ]

          • Bill 14.1.1.3.1

            Christ Bob! Where were you when Mussolini needed your type?

          • Tracey 14.1.1.3.2

            Thanks for the fairy tale mike. I enjoyed the chuckle.

          • Hami Shearlie 14.1.1.3.3

            John Key said he gave a “portion” of his salary to charity – A portion could be 90 percent of it, it could be $5.00 – He never said that he gave it ALL to charity that I can ever remember – Any other readers ever heard him say he gave it ALL to charity??

          • Puddleglum 14.1.1.3.4

            Hi mike,

            You say that John Key is “one of the best leaders NZ has ever had“. What evidence do you have for this? Can you please describe the coherent vision of a future New Zealand that he has provided?

            Can you also please describe the important fiscal and economic steps John Key or his government took to avert what I assume you otherwise believe would have been complete economic disaster as a result of the GFC?

            I ask this because I think it’s conventionally accepted by all concerned that New Zealand was in a fortunate position heading into the GFC – it had a lot of public borrowing ‘headroom’ for the government; its banking system was largely unaffected by the international liquidity problems; its main trading partner (Australia) was doing well too (its banks were fine) partly because it was hitched to one of the economies (China) that continued to grow during this period at good rates. China’s economy was also starting to pump up commodity prices.

            None of this, of course, was down to the efforts of the Key government.

            A more revealing question is what a government would have had to have done to make a mess of this – in relative terms – fortunate set of circumstances?

            A further relevant question is what a government should have done to take advantage of this relatively (to other countries) strong position in order to re-position the NZ economy?

            To my eyes, National has done very little to realign the fundamentals of the economy. The criticism of its economic performance is that it has ridden commodity prices and the rebuild of Christchurch while doing very little else of value. Also, it took a ‘hands off’ approach to unemployment, simply waiting for its inevitable down-tracking as the low-level recovery began. That led to unnecessary harm and dislocation of families, individuals and communities – as unemployment and financial stress always does.

            This was not a startling performance, certainly not enough to crown John Key as one of the best leaders the country has ever had. Surely you must see that that statement of yours is unfounded emotional hyperbole? I can see that, for whatever reason, you are fond of John Key but please don’t let that overwhelm your judgment.

            You then say that “these people are excluded by their own life choices“. My response to that is basically that it is based on a very simplistic understanding of the research about how human lives develop and how experiences affect those developmental processes. I’ve also argued (on my own blog) that it is unwise to compare outcomes and assume that ‘choices’ that lead to normatively ‘bad’ outcomes therefore arise from ‘bad’ choices and that, vice versa, ‘choices’ that lead to normatively ‘good’ outcomes must therefore have been caused by ‘good choices’. [Edit: Of course I mean that it is unwise to believe that the choices’ that led to good outcomes must have been ‘good’ choices and vice versa – sorry about the confused wording there.]

            Given starting points and developmental experiences a person who ends up in what, socially, is labelled a ‘bad’ outcome (unsuccessful) may well have made – under the circumstances, far better decisions than someone who, by comparison, has ended up with what, socially, are labelled as ‘good’ outcomes.

            Put simply, I’ve known some very successful middle-aged people who I know for a fact made appalling decisions when they were young but they were saved from the consequences of those decisions by their educated, well-connected, influential families. I’ve also known some economically disadvantaged people who’ve made, in the circumstances, far fewer and less extreme ‘bad’ decisions but the consequences have impacted their lives immensely, partly because they had no resources, family or well-positioned friends to save them from those consequences.

            So, all in all, while I appreciate the undoubted genuineness of your beliefs I think they are too simplistic and, because of that, can – through the political process and voting behaviour – cause the lives of many of those who have been at the sharp end of life from birth to be harsher and harder still.

            There will always be ‘rags to riches’ exceptions, of course, but if you look closely at the lives of those exceptions I can almost guarantee that you will find some fortunate quirk of life that has helped such a person succeed when many of their fellows have continued to struggle.

            We like to think that life outcomes are a result of individual effort and choices.

            In its simplistic form it is no doubt a comforting belief (it sounds morally fair, for example) but, I think, it is an incorrect, unreflective and simply false way to understand people and their lives.

            It completely glosses the reality of the human world and how different people’s lives get lived.

            • TeWhareWhero 14.1.1.3.4.1

              Thanks PG – hope Mike appreciates your considered response.

            • Bob 14.1.1.3.4.2

              Puddleglum – I can’t speak for Mike, but one of the major positives this Government did was tax cuts at the start of the GFC, although I admit they did this by mistake, they were offering tax cuts before the depths of the recession were known. The other country to do the same thing was Sweden and they were equally successful through the GFC
              http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/7779228/swedens-secret-recipe/
              http://www.businessinsider.com.au/sweden-anders-borg-2012-4

              They invested in high speed internet connections to help the IT industry (like Xero) flourish and have made sure Schools were the first ones to take advantage.

              They invested in Tourism (movie industry, partnership with Air NZ, increased global advertising, Cricket World Cup) leading to last month welcoming the highest visitor numbers for 11 years.

              They continued Labour’s good work with building the relationship with China, increased trade with Malaysia and are working on the TPPA to continue to increase our global trade ties leading to trade surplus for the first time since the 1970’s.

              They minimised red tape within central government and working with local government so business could continue to try and grow in difficult financial conditions. They also put a stop to the back office bloating in central government and started moving this back to the front lines.

              They worked with Police to both get on top of NZ’s meth epidemic (when was the last time you heard a ‘P’ story in the News?), and brought non-violent crimes down to near record lows.

              They significantly shortened the hospital waiting list times and extended free health care to under 13’s.

              They brought in breakfast in schools.

              They saw off 3 (soon to be 4) opposition leaders not to mention countless manufactured crisis (see what I did there) and pointless Green’s inquiries.

              All of this on the back of a Global financial crisis and the biggest natural disaster in the history of this country.

              They have been far from perfect over this time (Novapay, Judith Collins, Aaron Gilmore ignoring the asset sales referendum etc), but overall, for those of us that look at the big picture rather than left vs right, red vs blue, us vs them types, they have been a solid B to B+ government.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Commodity boom. Population growth. Christchurch rebuild. Serendipity.

                Hospital waiting lists are shorter oh too funny did you believe that? Nothing about how if your list position is too far away you aren’t counted then? One born every minute.

                I’m not sure “the news” is a great arbiter of methamphetamine abuse, although I seem to recall something about legal highs…

                Can’t really be bothered unpicking more of your manifest spin, Bob, although it looks organised enough for me to suspect you of duplicity rather than gullibility.

                • Roy

                  Hospital waiting lists are shorter because a lot of people have been dropped clean off them. Same with declining numbers claiming benefits. Unbelievable that Bob doesn’t understand that.

            • Mike 14.1.1.3.4.3

              Puddleglum I think you make some very good points. My perspective is that any Government that incentivises people to make their own decisions and uses the welfare system as a safety net and not a hammock is on the right track. I accept your comments that my views are simplistic but actually believe that the solution to many of NZs problems are actually quite simplistic. I think we have a fantastic lifestyle available in NZ, I also accept that many people are not getting the benefit of it. I have no doubt that the current Government gets stuff wrong and get caught up in the politics of it all. However an important issue for me is that we have an inspirational leader who sets an example by his rags to riches story which people can use as inspiration. John Key leaves the rest for dead in the inspirational stakes..I think this is why his popularity ratings are so high.

              I have been very lucky to have parents who taught me that “it’s up to you”. I have endeavoured to pass this on to my kids and so far its working ok. I do not believe that anyone in NZ with the right attitude & motivation cannot get ahead. If I can do it I think anyone can. I think this attitude is now in short supply in NZ.

              I think the general “left” attitude in NZ is on the wrong track. It’s never going to help to fix problems by doing more of the same.The left seems to me, are always asking or demanding much more of the same system that they claim has caused the problems we have. Doesn’t make sense, surely the answer is to change something. In the 1980s NZ under Muldoon was on a downward spiral to oblivion and a low living standard until 1984 when Lange’s Government got in and made some radical changes that took away much of the priviledge that some sectors had. I was in business at the time making plenty under Muldoon’s totalitarian regime so when Labour started to rejig the system it was hard times, but we could see it was setting NZ up for a better future. If we had a visionary party like that again I would vote for it as I did for Lange, no matter who they were.

              At the end of the day I think everyone genuinely wants the same outcome we are just disagreeing over the best way to get there.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                :roll:

                [citations needed]

                Judith Collins just wants good outcomes for everyone. Perhaps everyone really is as gullible as Mike.

                Ratfuckers are a vital part of providing good outcomes for everybody, aren’t they Mike?

                I’m starting to doubt my charitable assumption that you’re merely gullible, Mike.

              • Hi mike,

                Thanks for the response.

                One of the reasons I said that the views you expressed were ‘simplistic’ is because I have a different view, I think, of the role of an economy in society.

                I don’t think that ‘inspirational’ stories of success are necessarily things to be emulated. The reason for that is that, today, ‘success’ is increasingly understood on only one dimension – earning large amounts of money and gaining high status (celebrity, fame, and other gratuitous goals).

                Those who ‘succeed’ in this way I believe are actually demonstrating a very warped and deformed understanding of what life is about. Life has many dimensions – it involves relationships, personal morality (i.e., character), contributions to the general good as well as gaining material success. Today’s world – especially since the social and economic engineering of the Douglas and Richardson ‘reforms’ – has increasingly emphasised just such material success and, increasingly, at any cost. Our workplaces, our families, our education and daily routines have been re-organised (re-engineered) to fit this very narrow prescription.

                I believe that our society should primarily be organised in a way that allows ordinary people to flourish in multiple ways. That means that we should not just organise ourselves to reward those who strive solely for material success (and fame, celebrity, status, etc.) but also to reward those whose main goals are to be good people focused on raising a family, helping their friends, being honest and genuine (rather than operating strategically to advance their material success), pursuing interests and to do all the other ordinary things that make this world a truly human one.

                Increasingly, these ‘other dimensions’ are becoming the exclusive preserve of the more advantaged in our society and are less and less available to ordinary people (who just feel incredibly pressured or, simply, desperate). Many people are barely holding their lives and their families together.

                I really believe that once (or if) we reorganise our society so that individuals, families and communities can have significantly more stability, certainty and security then many of the ‘symptoms’ you are concerned about (e.g., large numbers of people requiring ad hoc welfare support) will start to decrease. Personally – and you may find this paradoxical – I believe that we will get more innovation, creativity and vitality by providing more basic levels of what I call ‘social security’.

                As a society we need to provide, as of universal right, an education system a health system and a range of grassroots support services (e.g., extensive parental leave, free home help for ill, disabled and infirm, etc.). They should be available to everyone, not just ‘the targeted’ or ‘those most in need’. We are all ‘in need’ of these things – that should be the starting point not the ‘aspirational’ risky life outcome of people in New Zealand. Every policy should incrementally be aimed at advancing towards that goal (I accept it can’t be done overnight).

                Yet most policies (except a couple in election year – e.g., free doctors’ visits for under 13 year olds) that National has proposed are aimed at chipping away at those systems and services. That is, they are walking away from the kind of society that, so far as I can see from the relevant literature, is likely to provide the conditions in which the vast majority flourish and prosper.

                I think the pendulum has swung so far towards organising ourselves purely for ‘success’ (at any cost) that those who do not have that as their sole goal in their own lives become cast off, treated as relatively worthless and then ground down over time into desperation.

                Put simply, I think that the kinds of policies pursued since the 1980s – and that continue to be pushed by National, in particular – have ensured more than previously that ‘nice guys finish last’. (‘Nice guys’ being my shorthand for well-rounded people who pursue a range of life outcomes, maintain a web of quality relationships, cooperate with and assist others at their own expense and generally live ordinary lives.)

                That’s what I find so disturbing.

                I’ll make it personal.

                I’m from Christchurch and almost exactly the same age as John Key (in fact one of his closest friends was a a classmate of mine). I was raised by unskilled, working class parents and lived most of my life as a child (age 9 to 20) in a state house (in a ‘purely’ state house area rather than the ‘pepper shaker’ state housing that Key came from). I learnt, however, a different lesson from that environment than did Key.

                He appears to have learnt the lesson that he needed to show the world that he could ‘escape’ that world and get to the top of any pile and that that ‘aspiration’ to escape that world was the most important goal anyone could have. Then he has turned around and basically said “If I can do it anyone can”.

                The lesson I learnt from growing up in the complexities of a low income, disadvantaged area was different. In my street the cop cars were ever present (the Harris gang lived in our street before moving to Halswell Road). Nevertheless, the people living in that street were doing their best to live simple, ordinary lives. But they were up against it. Each child that grew up there was – metaphorically – playing Russian Roulette with life. So many things just torpedoed the simple efforts of the parents and families there.

                The lesson I learnt from that experience was not that everyone should be encouraged to ‘escape’ that world – after all, it was a way of living that people were also attached to even though it had its hardships and disadvantages. Like most people they just wanted to raise families, have jobs and live without having to strategise their way to great wealth.

                In contrast to the lesson Key learnt, the lesson I took from my childhood experiences was that New Zealand should be a society for everyone and, especially, for people who simply wanted to live decent lives even if in modest circumstances.

                In other words, rather than thinking that the kind of world I grew up in should be made even harder and left to disintegrate in order to encourage people to ‘leave’ it I came to the conclusion that that world should be made more humane. It should be improved.

                New Zealand, that is, should not be structured economically and socially with only one end in mind – economic activity – and with only one kind of personality likely to ‘succeed’; the ambitious. The point is not to escape hardship, individual by individual, but to make fewer environments of hardship in our society.

                The world I desire is not one of thrusting rowing eights with perfectly formed muscular bodies sliding over a featureless surface in a world empty of humanity but, rather, one in which ordinary people can live lives that work, lives that enable them to raise a family, to enjoy themselves and each other.

                This focus on ‘achievement’, ‘aspiration’ and ‘ambition’ I find extraordinarily hollow – like a big, fancily wrapped present with nothing but alluring packaging.

                In moral terms I think it’s a ‘con’ and it diverts us all from what matters.

                What I see and hear from National and the (big) business world is a kind of rhetoric and set of values – and matching policies – that suggest to me that our society is being incrementally turned into a seriously deformed society.

                It’s as if someone had every part of their body shrunken in size radically to make way for the hyperphagic growth of only one limb.

                I want to do what I can to provide for a more balanced development of our country – and a more balanced development of each individual within it.

                • Stephen McGrath

                  Well spoken. People ,Families, Clean Water ,and Freedom to live a well rounded ,creative and productive life are attributes to be valued.

          • Mike 14.1.1.3.5

            The first thing is I didnt demand the way people answer my post. I suggested they try and do it without personal abuse. If you think that is “wanking in someone elses space” obviously you are as blinkered and one track minded as most of the people who post here. Look through some of the posts you allow.

            The second thing is the comments on this blog are often toxic and personally offensive to people. E.G calling John Key a liar. So you can hardly call yourself consistent with your moderation.

            Thirdly if you want to ban me – your call I couldn’t care less. At least Whale Oil which runs a tight moderation policy allows dissenting views. I have posted many times there taking Cameron Slater to task for some of his unreasonable language and he still posts it.

            However it’s your blog and you are free to do what you like – of course after 20th September you will probably be looking for a job.

            • Paul 14.1.1.3.5.1

              Have you ever seen blip’s list?
              There seems to be plenty of evidence that Key is economical with the truth.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.1.3.5.2

              :roll:

              Mike, since you haven’t met John Key, your opinion of his honesty is moot. Among political observers who have met him, opinions look to me to be shifting.

              It’s mildly amusing that you assume Lprent will be “looking for a job” after Sept 20th, although I’m starting to tire of watching such low hanging nuts having their wings clipped.

              Your dissenting views sound exactly like the chorous of parrots. Citations needed, etc etc.

          • Blue 14.1.1.3.6

            “They are talking about one of the best leaders NZ has ever had.” – Nope. Only wants to be PM while it’s easy. Has clearly stated that the moment it gets hard he’s out. Governs by obsessive opinion polling and focus groups. Refuses to take responsibility for anything. Not a leader at all.

            “He has led a team that have kept our economy functional during the GFC and through the Christchurch earthquakes.” – Well, the economy has not collapsed, so I’ll give you that one.

            “low unemployment numbers” – Nope. Currently 5.6% vs 4.2% back in 2008.

            “the economic achievements they have made” – Nope. Low growth, over-reliance on Chch rebuild and dairy. Astronomical debt levels – $85 billion and counting.

            “confirmation of his version of events has been made by Tucker” – His co-conspirator backs him up, what a surprise.

            “people on this blog and the labour party refer to John Key as a liar.” Yep. Because he lies a lot.

            “This is a guy that works for the country for nothing (donates all his salary to charity)” – Nope.

            “is accused of the most dishonest things by the left.” Yep. See above.

            “These people are generally excluded by their own life choices -usually bad.” – Nope. Bad things do happen to good people. Illness, divorce, natural disasters, accidents etc. do not discriminate.

            “Of course jobs are not what the left want.” – Wrong. Labour has set a goal to get unemployment down to 4% in their first term.

            “Instead they want a transfer of wealth from people like me to them in return for nothing.” – Nope. NZ is one of the lowest taxed nations in the OECD. And that’s before you even take tax evasion into account.

            “Without personal abuse which seems standard on this blog (pardon the pun) try and answer the points I have made.” – Fuck you. Just on principle 😀

          • BLiP 14.1.1.3.7

            . . . ([John Key]donates all his salary to charity) . . .

            DOX or GTFO.

      • Bob 14.1.2

        Smoking Gun that Duncan Garner is more involved in Dirty Politics than Cameron Slater! http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10392394/In-the-swing-of-things
        This interview from the morning Nick Hagers book was being released (prior to the release):

        “What is the relationship then? Is Slater a friend?

        “No. He’s definitely not a friend. I’ve been at a National Party event when he’s been there. If I text him, or if he would send me a text, it might be once a month or once every two months. I read WhaleOil.”

        How does that compare to your contact with other political journalists?

        “Duncan Garner I would talk to way more often. Or someone like David Farrar, because he’s our pollster. With Cam, if I text him it would be because he had some really random blog. I might send him a text and say ‘Is that really real?’, or ‘Who’s the person who’s really behind that?’ It would be curiosity.”

        Have you given Slater story tips?

        “I don’t do stuff with him, believe it or not. I don’t leak because I don’t need to. Look, ministers might feed things, and other people might feed things, but I just don’t do that. If I want to do something I just say, ‘I’m doing it.’ “

        • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.2.1

          Sure. I’m picking the next political dump will be Collins, and then Key either sacks her and loses Oravida and the election, or keeps her on and loses the election, and then we move onto the industrial stuff. Hager says he’s seen invoices from Fonterra, for example.

          Nom nom nom. Eat up.

          PS: I must be drunk: Oravida will cut Key and Collins off and see what they can salvage from the next government.

        • Tracey 14.1.2.2

          Jason? Is that you Jason?

        • McFlock 14.1.2.3

          The interview you just linked to took place “hours before” the DP book launch:

          . If I text him, or if he would send me a text, it might be once a month or once every two months.

          In the TV3 lobby interview after the launch (10m 15s):

          [reporter] But you’re in regular contact with him,
          [key] no that’s-
          [reporter] you’re photographed with him,
          [key] no –
          [reporter] I mean you’ve told us about that
          [key] yep and so what happens is I’ve probably spoken to him once every two or three months maybe? Text him very occasionally if he’s had a particular thing that I haven’t understood it and want to understand the story. I mean it’s very infrequent

          Lol.
          a text a month – 12/year
          A conversation every 2 months = six a year.
          Total = 18 contacts a year, or every 3 weeks.
          A text every 2 months = 6 a year.
          A conversation every 3 months = 4 a year.
          Total = 10 contacts a year or once evey 5 weeks or so.

          A text or a chat every 3-5 weeks looks like pretty regular contact.

          • Bob 14.1.2.3.1

            Nice selective quotes! Have you been reading Hager recently? Looks just like his work.

            How about this: “”No. He’s definitely not a friend. I’ve been at a National Party event when he’s been there. If I text him, or if he would send me a text, it might be once a month or once every two months. I read WhaleOil.”

            How does that compare to your contact with other political journalists?

            “Duncan Garner I would talk to way more often.Or someone like David Farrar, because he’s our pollster”

            So he doesn’t consider it regular contact as he has far more regular contact with a number of other media personalities and as he said in the initial interview “I might send him a text and say ‘Is that really real?’, or ‘Who’s the person who’s really behind that?’ It would be curiosity”, which backs up his second interview, is that so hard to understand?

            • Tracey 14.1.2.3.1.1

              why on earth would a prime minister read WO and text or phone its owner to find out more about something out of interest.

              You know everything stated as written by cameron slater has often been written by someone else?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.2.3.1.2

              Earth to Bob: my opinion of this matter relies upon the established fact that John Key is a practiced and experienced liar, as per the US security services assessment of him as a “natural politician”.

              Your opinion of this matter relies upon the sad fantasy that John Key is honest. He isn’t. Grow up.

            • McFlock 14.1.2.3.1.3

              You talk about selective quoting? The question in the TV3 interview is not about whether they’re mates. You reckon Key’s in regular contact with someone whom he doesn’t regard as a “friend”. No problem there. The question was about the National party and Key choosing to associate with someone who calls ChCh quake victims “scum”.

              And apparently he chooses to do that every few weeks. Not because they’re friends, though. He wants to maintain regular contact with someone like that for some other reason. Oh, not for dirty tricks, either. So not for friendship, and not for muckraking, but something else.

              That’s a ponderable, and no mistake.

  15. Not a PS Staffer 15

    Key says he was overseas in Hawaii at that tinme in July.

    Key is asking us to believe that that the head of the SIS never phones him!!

    Keep it up John!

    • Tracey 15.1

      maybe they skyped

    • freedom 15.2

      Maybe the phones were down?
      Look at the trouble McCully had getting emails in New York.

    • Not a PS Staffer 15.3

      Does this souind like a man who writes very confusing briefings to his boss?

      Warren Tucker,CNZM(born 18 August 1950) is a retired New Zealand intelligence officer. He was the director of the Security Intelligence Service from 2006–2014.
      Tucker was originally an officer in the New Zealand Army, holding the rank of Major. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Canterbury, and later joined the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand’s primary signals intelligence agency. He became head of communications security in 1982, and in 1983, he was appointed Director of Policy and Plans. From 1984 to 1989, he was the GCSB’s liaison officer to the NSA in Washington. On his return, he became Director of Operations (effectively deputy director of the GCSB), and in 1996, he became the Intelligence Co-ordinator in the office of the Prime Minister. He became the third director of the GCSB in 1999, replacing Ray Parker. In 2006, it was announced that he would succeed Richard Woods as director of another New Zealand intelligence agency, the Security Intelligence Service, on 1 November.
      On 1 November 2010, Tucker was reappointed for a further two-year term as Director. He retired in May 2014 with Rebecca Kitteridge taking over his role.

      from Wiki

      • Tracey 15.3.1

        it seems unlikely he doesnt know the difference between prime minister and prime ministers office, so just alternates them randomly.

        He does sound like someone who might go under the bus for his liar in chief

        • One Anonymous Bloke 15.3.1.1

          Born to understand the need to follow orders, well versed in the use of spies. Old enough to know better.

  16. cogito 16

    On holiday?

    So NZers are expected to believe that the PM of NZ is in the clear because he was on holiday? There’s not a manager/CEO in the country who would get away with that.

  17. StarSpangledBallet 17

    It would seem that Goff has goofed twice. Almost as bad as Collins. Will David Cunliffe take any action on his incompetence? Hmm probably not given that Goff is still head and shoulders above the rest of the Labour caucus. Now what does that say?!

    • Anne 17.1

      Don’t these rwnjs have weird pseudonyms.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.2

      “Goofed” equals maliciously breached employee privacy, and illegally diverted taxpayer resources for private profit. No, wait, it turns out Judith Collins’ and Phil Goff’s actions aren’t morally equivalent after all.

      And it’s one, two, three,
      Personal responsibility,
      Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn,
      Next stop is Hawaii.

    • tricledrown 17.3

      banned blogger working under new psuedo probably from Hawaii all dancing on a pin head.

    • tricledrown 17.4

      The israeli spies were looking after the country while johnny was on holidays!
      aye Star Strangled Ballot rigger!

  18. One Anonymous Bloke 18

    Speaking of smoking guns, what’s this with Bhatnagar and Slater discussing the choice between a gong and a directorship? Lusk’s indiscreet flailing already has National Party MPs “trading on their time in Parliament”.

    The National Party is a rort.

  19. Dont worry. Be happy 19

    So no phones on Planet Key along with the “no toilets”. No email, no Skype, nada. And no calendars either as Key got back to NZ before the OIA went out…just has no way of remembering/realising what day it was. And lets us not forget in all of this….a nest of Israeli spies may have been discovered in CHCH after the Feb eathquake and an Israeli search and rescue team was arrested inside the Red Zone. Spooky eh?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 19.1

      Fuck off. The HAARP cabal causes earthquakes. Not even Buzz Aldrin’s people will do business with the Israelis. They were observers at best.*

      *interpretations of this comment may vary according to the lampoon scale.

    • ianmac 19.2

      Oh. You beat me to it Don’t Worry. Post it anyway.
      Is there no way for our PM to be in touch for important discussions when he is out of the country:
      Phone, email, Skype? Even if it was to discuss a very sensitive political matter with the Head of SIS?
      When Key says he could not have had such a discussion because he was on holiday? Really!!!

  20. The justification for Tucker using the phrase ‘Prime Minister’ as an abbreviation of ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ is that there was an agreement over the ‘no surprises’ policy that briefing the ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ would be taken, by John Key, as a briefing of the ‘Prime Minister’.

    If that’s the case, then in a formal, institutional (constitutional?) sense – and taking Tucker’s terminology at the value that he gives to it – then John Key, as the current officeholder of the ‘Prime Ministership’ and ‘Minister of the Security Services’ – did, indeed, approve the declassification and release of these papers to Cameron Slater – irrespective of whether or not the person John Key was personally involved at the time. That’s the formal reading based on the agreement between Tucker and Key over the ‘no surprises’ policy.

    It is interesting to reflect on Kate Wilkinson’s and John Key’s words when she resigned as Minister of Labour:

    “The Pike River Mine tragedy of 19 November 2010 happened on my watch as Minister of Labour,” Ms Wilkinson said in a statement released this afternoon.

    “While reports from the former Department of Labour did not advise me of concerns about their ability to administer the health and safety legislation, 29 men lost their lives in this tragedy.

    “I feel it is the right and honourable thing to do.”

    At a press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister John Key emphasized that Ms Wilkinson was not to blame for the Pike River disaster.

    “But what is true that over the course of the last 20 years is that the Department of Labour has changed its processes…. and changed the way they have a functioning inspectorate.

    So in the end, while none of her actions make her responsible, the department has to accept its responsibility… and she has done the honourable thing.”

    He added: “I believe she was a good minister. I have not seen any evidence that she was advised that there was an issue [at Pike River].”

    So both Wilkinson and Key agreed that (a) Wilkinson had not been personally advised that there were any issues but, nevertheless, (b) the right and honourable thing was for her to take responsibility for the shortcomings of the Ministry of Labour and resign. Key thought this very honourable. Will he hold himself to the standards that Kate Wilkinson set?

    Of course, no-one has died as a result of the release of the SIS papers but given that this case was the release of potentially politically embarrassing intelligence papers during an election campaign (the heart of our representative democratic process) it remains a significant breach of past policy and serious lapse of judgment.

    Just as in the case of Kate Wilkinson, surely – as John Key said – it would be the “honourable” and right thing to do for John Key in his office as the Prime Minister and the Minister of the intelligence services to accept responsibility for this declassification of and release of intelligence papers in a politically sensitive environment to a right wing blogger and resign.

    For me there’s actually an important distinction between the ‘office of the Prime Minister’ (the institution of the Prime Ministership in Cabinet and government) and the ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ (the rooms full of people doing who knows what on the 9th Floor of the Beehive).

    Tucker’s use of ‘Prime Minister’ (as apparently shorthand for ‘Prime Minister’s Office’) suggests that Tucker was actually referencing the ‘office of the Prime Minister’ and all the responsibilities, duties, functions and powers that that entails. That’s because the ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ is simply a mechanism for enacting the ‘office of the Prime Minister’ to which Tucker must be referring in order to justify that he has met the ‘no surprises’ policy – he has, as it were, ‘informed the Prime Minister’.)

    Irrespective, then, of whether or not the person John Key ever heard about, read about or otherwise sensorially engaged with the release of the SIS papers to Cameron Slater it remains formally true that Key had responsibility for their release and was formally aware of that release (through the arrangements he had established with Tucker over how such awareness was to be conveyed to the ‘Prime Minister’ under the ‘no surprises’ policy). Whether or not he was personally aware becomes irrelevant.

    That is, even if John Key never saw or discussed their release – like Kate Wilkinson – he is responsible and – as in Kate Wilkinson’s case – he surely must agree that it would be the honourable and right thing to do, given the importance of the ‘office of the Prime Minister’, to resign.

    If you follow my argument, Tucker and Key have essentially confirmed that ‘the office of the Prime Minister’ was responsible for allowing those papers to be declassified and released to Cameron Slater.

    That leaves a smoking gun very much still in the hands of the ‘Prime Minister’. The Prime Minister denied he had been informed yet, through the very mechanisms that Key and Tucker established, the Prime Minister was informed and did not object to the release.

    Key can’t have his cake and eat it too. He can’t be Prime Minister one moment and ordinary John Key the next simply to avoid ministerial responsibility.

    Ministerial responsibility applies to the Prime Minister as much as to any other Minister.

    • felix 20.1

      Key can’t have his cake and eat it too. He can’t be Prime Minister one moment and ordinary John Key the next simply to avoid ministerial responsibility.

      This is precisely the linguistic legal fiction that Mr John Key relies on at all times to avoid all responsibility.

      I have for some time been wishing someone would follow up his answers with “Are you speaking as the Prime Minister right now, or as a private citizen, or as the Leader of the National Party, or in some other capacity?”

      • Tracey 20.1.1

        Key has made such a mockery of “leadership” and “highest ethical standards” that we are now all supposed to believe “me” means something contrary to the bleeding obvious.

        He lied for six years and got away with it. He cannot get away with pretending “me” the personal pronoun is somehow third person plural and means someone other than him?!?

        Is this perata and key explaining to kids what “me” means on planet key

        http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11312794

    • One Anonymous Bloke 20.2

      Puddleglum, responsibility only applies inasmuch as there is the power to enforce penalties for the breach. The constitutional issues that arise in New Zealand from having a lying Prime Minister cannot be resolved by any constitutional means other than a general election.

      At least, that’s how I see it.

      That being so, in what sense can this lying Prime Minister be held “responsible”? What “penalty” does he face?

      • Puddleglum 20.2.1

        The word ‘responsibility’ in the phrase ‘Ministerial responsibility’ is quite straightforward and operates irrespective of the ability to enforce a penalty after a lapse in such responsibility.

        You might be right that the institutional mechanisms for forcing him to resign are not available.

        My main effort is simply to see things clearly. Why?

        At the moment it looks to me that the main practical mechanism for trying to impose a ‘penalty’ is through the fourth estate. Should the vast majority of political journalists, at the very least, come to see the issue as a formal case of a Minister not accepting responsibility for actions taken in his Ministry – despite precedents (Wilkinson) for accepting Ministerial responsibility under this government – then they could repeatedly communicate that conclusion in their writings and in their questions to the Prime Minister.

        Words such as ‘untenable’ written and spoken often enough by senior political journalists across the media would carry quite some weight. General conformity processes then would ensure that significant numbers of people would adopt that same verdict.

        The election then just becomes the sentencing phase of the process.

    • Alistair Connor 20.3

      That’s not actually a good analogy, because in the Wilkinson case, it appears the Labour Department was dysfunctional, and the information about Pike River never reached her office.
      In Key’s case, there is no doubt at all that his office was informed; therefore the person in his office who was briefed either 1) informed Key and he’s literally lying, 2) didn’t inform Key and that’s a colossal error of judgement 3) didn’t inform Key because he was under instructions not to do so.

      In all three cases, Key is guilty, because (I agree with Puddleglum) he was formally informed.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 20.3.1

        So what? We care. How many tank divisions do we have? Is there anything we can do about it other than vote?

        Key is treacherous. Does that amount to criminality?

      • Puddleglum 20.3.2

        Hi Alistair Connor

        As you say, the difference is that Key’s department (the SIS) actually did, formally, inform him in line with the ‘no surprises’ policy so he is even more culpable than was Wilkinson for the dysfunctional decision making in his Ministry.

  21. YahooNZ poll today

    “What do you think? Is John Key dodging responsibility over the ‘Dirty Politics’ saga?

    Yes, as leader he needs to take some responsibility
    49%(6585)

    No, he’s not directly involved so why should he?
    49%(6623)

    I don’t know
    2%(263)

    In light of the usual responses to these polls this is interesting.

  22. Alistair Connor 22

    Oh gee I just understood. It’s now been stated that when it’s written in official documents that the “PM was briefed” that means that his office was briefed. I have seen in the Herald that it was said that Phil Goff wasn’t briefed either, his office was briefed.

    So whoever is responsible for security matters in Goff’s office got briefed and (I’m guessing) didn’t think it important enough to brief Goff… But Goff, when caught out, instead of blaming a staffer, took the rap, because that’s what an honourable politician does. It was a horrible fumble, either by him or his office, but contrast this with Key’s office… they try to play the “plausible deniability” game, and that’s both dishonorable and dishonest. The SIS letters state that the PM was briefed, because that’s the convention : you brief the PM’s office, end of story. If the information was important and the PM didn’t get it, that’s the PM’s fault.

  23. dave 23

    when the leader of the opposition gets brief from the sis he/she is not aloud to admit or tell anyone or take notes and no eyewitnesses in other words its top secret phi l never lied about being briefed he wasn’t aloud to tell anyone whether he had or not .John key broke the rules phi l Goff was hang out dry for following the law key is corrupt he must go

  24. StarSpangledBallet 24

    So who to believe? A opposition MP who has already willingly or incompetently mislead the NZ public on issues related to this matter aka Phil Goff? A opposition leader floundering in the polls and desperate to grasp the baubles of power so he doesn’t have to lie about being PM on his CV? Or a popular PM backed up by two highly regarded senior civil servants appointed under the Clark government? Hmmm.

  25. Stephen 25

    Firstly, I apologise if this thought has already be canvassed; my excuse is that I am STILL feeling sick and ashamed after reading The Book; that I have allowed my country to come to this level of mean-spirited cruelty.
    However the point I want to get an answer to is this: why does it matter that Key’s office was briefed but not him directly? Shouldn’t he or one of his minions made sure he knew? And so far, in 47 years of being a lawyer, the excuse “oh, you probably told a staff lawyer working for me, but she didn’t tell me so I didn’t know – therefore I have no responsibility” doesn’t seem to have met with much success.
    “I was on holiday” (is it me, or is it odd that the PM with some responsibility for Tourism takes SO many long breaks in a foreign country? Or foreign to me, perhaps, but his native country?). So the Minister in Charge of SIS is away on hols and NOTHING gets through to him? Good thing no terrorist or Israeli agents popped over.
    What I mean is that shouldn’t his chief of staff thought this was sort of important and given his boss a call? If he knew and didn’t call shouldn’t he be dismissed? Of course I understand totally that it is likely that when the SIS popped over for the briefing only the janitor was working, so Tucker left the message with said janitor, and it would be anti-working man of me to blame the janitor for not realising the importance of the information. Now that I think if I am pretty sure that this is what must have happened.
    But if we pay Mr Key to be the Minister in Charge of the SIS isn’t it his job to make sure that there is someone there when he is on hols, having a smashing time,eating loads of fruit cake and skulling lashings of ginger beer…Lets say something as important as, I don’t know, an eager Director of the SIS wanting to clear an OIA with odd speed – and this OIA will embarras the leader of the oppostion to bits; let’s say this was during an election (well not during otherwise the PM wouldn’t have been on holiday, surely, so close to an election perhaps? )
    Anyway, this is a Big Deal and will be all over the papers – should the chap taking the pay of the PM and the minister in charge of the spooks have some duty to make sure he gets to hear? Or is this placing too greater burden on him? Is it only plumbers, sparkies, bus drivers, lawyers, teachers – oh, everyone else – who have to make sure there is cover if you go away? Does the official left in charge (shall we call him Chief of Staff?) have any resonsibility?
    Or is “I didn’t get told we were being invaded/the dollor collpased/there was an earthquake oin a predominantly labour voting area” an excuse for inacivity? Or even “Look I may have been told, but they tell me a lot and I forget” – another good one. I mean, does this work for the Cief of Staff too now? By the way, I totally honour and respect both Mr Key and Ms Collins for not broadcasting the name address and telephone number of the official who got the information and decided to sit on it and not to tell the Minister – to expose those guilty of this wrongdoing would be awful – so much better to “out” an innocent man – as his innocene would be a total protection, his shield and buckler, and so he could never have come to harm in our fair world, thank God!
    The one bright spot; getting my granddaughters to role play; the dimmest one plays Mike Hosking, the brainiest one palys Helen Clark. (and we know which is more dim because of national testing thank god, we used to be so confused as to which of our daughters and grandaughters was particulary thick). Anyway we get the Helen one to say in an interview (this is where the dim one, wearing a curly Annie wig, shouts phrases like “You can’t really expect” and “Oh you can’t be serious” at regular intervals) while Helen explains that her staff were told about the GM crops but she wasn’t, that if she was she had forgotten…Then the granddaughter who got the short straw and has to paly John Armstrong shrieks “resign”! It’s a good game; the winner is the one who shouts the loudest and gets the most money for publishing an article claimig that breast feeding will result in increasing cancer rates in cows and the collpase of Fonterra salaries.

    • Puddleglum 25.1

      Yes, John Key is leading us all through a hall of distorting mirrors and he expects us to think it’s reality.

      It’s an intelligence test for New Zealand and Key is betting we will fail it.

      He won’t blink – even at the necessity of having to mouth absurdities. And that weird ‘talent’ is what he thinks will convince New Zealanders that he must be an honest guy. (Because why else would someone insist that something so odd was true?)

      Consider this: In the video when he said that ‘me’ meant ‘my office’ how come he didn’t phrase it like this: “I realise this will sound an unusual way to speak but the truth is that I actually meant ‘my office’ when I said ‘me'”?

      The answer to that question is that when you bluff you never concede anything. You deliberately provide no indication of self-doubt. By contrast, when you are telling the truth you have the space to see how what you are about to say will come across and so you prepare your ‘audience’ for what might otherwise sound incredulous.

      New Zealanders have not seen the likes of John Key before. He is a total mystery to them – yet they don’t realise it.

      • RedLogix 25.1.1

        New Zealanders have not seen the likes of John Key before. He is a total mystery to them – yet they don’t realise it.

        My gut wrenched a little reading that Puddleglum. If you’ve worked for a big global corporate or some other kind of large overseas entity – as did Key most of his working life – you will have encountered some of his tribe.

        They are so very good at gaining your trust, all the while calculating how to use you for their maximum advantage. Or discarding you.

  26. Tracey 26

    Remember president clinton looking stupid and evasive by saying

    It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

    Is Key’s waterloo going to be

    It depends on what the meaning of “me” is

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