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A fish rots from the head down

Written By: - Date published: 1:50 pm, September 25th, 2012 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, john key - Tags: , , , ,

There is something well and truly stinky wafting from the 9th floor of the beehive.

I think the rot set in with Key’s TranzRail lies, and was well and truly established after Bill English’s housing rort. When the Nats were allowed to get away with these scott free, Key knew he could ride out anything. So he does. But now the warnings are coming thick and fast. From John Armstrong:

The farce grows with every day

If ridicule is the price of preserving the Government’s thin majority, however, John Key will continue to wear it – even if less than willingly.

Key is fairly confident of the direction in which the Banks donations scandal is heading: nowhere. He is gambling on his fig-leaf defence of his refusal to boot Banks from his ministry outlasting the capacity of Opposition parties to keep the story alive.

…Planet Key would be a place where prime ministers would not have to defend the indefensible.

And more directly from Tapu Misa:

Politicians think it’s fine to lie

… Are we headed in the same direction [as America], where lying to the public is no longer as politically damaging as it once was? The Prime Minister seems to be banking on it.

… Banks lied to reporters; he misrepresented the truth and misled the public on more than one occasion. All while a minister of the Key Government. One would have thought this would constitute a fatal failure to “behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards”, as the Cabinet Manual requires. But, no, says John Key. Whether or not Banks lied to the public is a matter of opinion, rather than of verifiable evidence. …

Key’s Banksian contortion is cynical and insulting – perhaps we’ll be too apathetic and stupid to notice.

… and Bryan Gould:

Banks affair should ring alarm bells

… There are two aspects of the case that worry me but which have attracted little attention so far. First, we are told, in Kim Dotcom’s sworn evidence, that he was asked by John Banks for anonymous donations because that would allow him to “help” Dotcom more effectively. This seems perilously close to an overt proposition that the mayoral candidate was willing to use his power, if elected, to offer differential “help” to a particular interest, and that this exercise would be aided if the financial help being solicited could be kept secret.

I am surprised that so few seem to have grasped the unacceptable nature of this proposed arrangement. The sale of favours by politicians should be anathema to any system of fair and open democracy.

The second issue is a mystery at the heart of the Prime Minister’s continued defence of his ministerial colleague. Whatever one may think of John Banks, there will be surprise that the Prime Minister has maintained such indifference to the compelling evidence that his minister was less than truthful in his treatment of supposedly “anonymous” donations.

Key’s arrogant disdain for ethical standards is clear.

Now we have the latest example, the GCSB spying scandal, a story which is breaking so fast, in so many directions, that I can’t even begin to keep up with it. Key is the Minister in charge, but (as usual) is denying all knowledge and all responsibility for the illegal spying – despite the fact that Bill English signed off on an agreement for the NZ taxpayer to pick up the bill if Dotcom sues.

Key says that the spying – illegal because Dotcom is legally a resident – was a “mistake”:

“If the people were New Zealand residents or citizens and met the test of requiring a warrant I would have to sign that warrant,” he said”. “But it was not believed any of those individuals met that category.”

Somehow the GCSB spooks managed to miss a $500,000 fireworks display that Dotcom threw to celebrate his residency? Yeah right:

Prime Minister John Key is defending granting Kim Dotcom New Zealand residency after a split in his Cabinet…

For New Year’s Eve 2010, Dotcom shouted Auckland $500,000 worth of fireworks. There was plenty to celebrate – he’d just been granted New Zealand residency.

Key is in trouble. John Armstrong again:

PM needs to come clean on bugging

A genuine mistake? Or a deliberate flouting of the law?

The fact that a true Nat fan like Armstrong has to ask that question shows how low Key has fallen.

John Key was at pains yesterday to stress that the unlawful eavesdropping by the GCSB on Kim Dotcom was in the category of error rather than conspiracy. And a very isolated error at that.

Well, the Prime Minister would try to downplay this rather large embarrassment, wouldn’t he? Especially given he is the responsible minister. Or is supposed to be.

Yesterday he was taking no responsibility for the illegal bugging on the basis that he was not informed of the operation until a week ago.

However – contrary to Key’s assurances – this is not the first time the GCSB’s exercising of its powers has recently come under question.

Key is the Minister responsible and this fiasco is on his watch. Bomber Bradbury sets out some questions that need answers. A fish rots from the head down. There is something well and truly stinky wafting from the 9th floor of the beehive.

51 comments on “A fish rots from the head down”

  1. vto 1

    Right, that’s it. Fuck the State. Fuck the police, the ird, winz doc, fuck the lot of ’em. No more playing by the rules. From now on it is only ever a mistake that is made, nothing intentional, and when it comes to any defence in any court we can simply stand behind the precedents being set by the highest court in the land (yeah right) – just opinion, can’t recall, etc.


    • r0b 1.1

      Don’t give up yet. There is still a mechanism to change the government, and it is worth putting your efforts in to that…

      • vto 1.1.1

        Yes I know r0b. But ffs it seems to me that the problem is the system and how do you change that? I have seen for donkeys that the system / the state / government has been steadily concentrating more power into its own hands. It is still an expanding bubble of power and control. It has a way to go yet. Sure, change the govt but the system remains open to abuse by humans and their flawed nature. What is the solution? Well I have always said that the power should be devolved away from large organisations like govts and spread throughout the populace.

        Give the power back to the people!

        • r0b

          There are problems in the system for sure – many of which I think would be fixed by a complete ban on donations, and state funding of political parties.

          But there also a bunch of problems that it seems to me are always worse under Nats than under Labour.

        • lefty

          The only way to get change is to stop obeying the rules.

          As long as the majority of us follow the laws and conventions put in place and owned by the ruling class we will continue to be treated like serfs.

          Parliamentary democracy is a great idea but has been totally bought and paid for by the rich, so the rest of us have to find other ways to rule ourselves.

          The rule of law is a brilliant concept but it depends on who is making and administering the laws as to whether or not we live in a just society.

          Ordinary people need to start breaking any law they want to at any time they feel like it for a while.

          All workers who can afford it need to stock up with food then just stay home for a while.

          We all need to stop paying our mortgages and any other bills.

          We need to flood the talkbacks and letters to the editors with hundreds of people calling for change.

          We need to refuse to turn up to vote at elections.

          We need to treat bosses with the same overt contempt they treat workers.

          We need to stop being reasonable and fair in an unreasonable and unfair world.

          It wouldn’t actually take long and the likes of Key, Shearer, Peters and Norman would disappear up their own arses, never to be seen again.

          And politicians of the future would know to behave themselves or get the same treatment.

          Ah well – its good to dream now and then.

          • Colonial Viper

            Nonviolent civil disruption and disobedience eh.

            • SpaceMonkey

              Meaningful change comes from grass-roots… perhaps the best way to change the system is from the inside – a coordinated “cultural hacking” of government ministeries and departments. Transparency should be the first goal… then at least we start to get a picture of the size of the problem.

    • Pete 1.2

      I know public servants. I’ve been in the public service myself. Most of them, I’d hazard, are frustrated that they can’t give people the help they need and are cowed from speaking out based on the Public Service Code of Conduct. When they do make mistakes (show me a private sector org that hasn’t made one), they catch an unreasonable amount of crap both from the politicians who view them with as much disdain as something you’d find on the bottom of your shoe, and the public at large who demand perfection. The ones who are good at what they do, you never hear about. It’s a tough gig.

      Edit: Of course those in positions of power, the cops, intelligence services etc merit extra scrutiny, but some poor fellow maintaining walking tracks or working at a museum doesn’t deserve that kind of ire.

  2. Macro 2

    So it’s just a “mistake” – and that makes it alright?
    I wonder if the bank robber, or the murderer could use the same defence? “It was just a mistake your honour!” Nah didn’t think so.
    Key’s lack of ethical fibre brings into doubt his fitness for the task of the leader of the Nation.
    The GCSB has wide ranging powers of surveillance. It is paramount for the security of our nation that they use these powers ethically and responsibly and within the law that has been proscribed. They know the law that pertains to their operation and to willingly go beyond that is an overwhelming abuse of their power and those responsible must be called to account. Key is the minister responsible and he must be held to account as well.

  3. burt 3

    Convenience before principles…. think we have had this discussion before rOb, but this time we agree – must be the blue team acting offensive, damn shame you don’t have one position on this sort of shit but hey – lets put that behind us till next time you are defending the same from the red team.

    Nail em rOb – blog this stuff hard out and get people talking about it – ignore the self serving idiots who make excuses for their team because it’s convenient to look the other way so the self serving munters can stay in power.

    • r0b 3.1

      It matters whether accusations are true, or not, don’t you think?

      Just as a matter of interest, who do you support politically these days Burt? Still backing ACT? It’s always easy to say what we’re against, eh, but what do you stand for?


      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Five hours later and still not a peep?

      • burt 3.1.2

        It matters whether accusations are true, or not, don’t you think?

        Apparently not… The Chief Electoral Office (Davvid Henry) warned Labour (in writing) that the pledge card spending would be treated as electioneering before the election… yet they still said “move on” with retrospective validations when the AG said they broke the law. Remember the AG made a bad call… You supported that convenience rOb – so apparently the accusations being true or not have piss all to do with partisan supporters.

        ACT – forget it. Dead burger. I don’t support National or Labour – how many times do I need to tell you this – it’s also not relevant to this discussion with regard to me, I’ve not defended my team while being outraged over similar circumstances when it was the other team.

        • felix

          And yet I don’t see you here railing against Key and National late into the night like you did when Labour was in power.

          I don’t see you making it your life’s work to change the govt.

          I guess you don’t see the situations as being as similar as you say.

          • burt


            This bit;

            Nail em rOb – blog this stuff hard out and get people talking about it

            That’s a call to action … surely you haven’t wasted your entire time on this blog not understanding how promoting discussion on certain topics equals exposing them…. what are you here for felix ?

            • felix

              Is that it, burt? A nod of support for someone else to pursue the matter, but no interest in jumping up and down yourself? Like you did for years when Labour were in govt?

              I mean to say, if you:

              A) believe the situations to be comparable (which you certainly seem to), and
              B) are genuinely “non-partisan” about it all (which you always insist you are)

              then I can’t see any reason why your reactions now versus then should be so different.

              • burt

                Let me guess felix; if National shoot down a court case against Key using the power of parliament you and I will go hard out at logger heads for years with you saying it’s OK because they are just doing what they always did while I get progressively septic about it… But you want that now – before it’s happened…. Is that what’s going on here felix?

                • felix

                  Why would I do that, burt?

                  You’re the one saying the situations are comparable – aren’t you?

                  Perhaps it would help if you were to state your position on that clearly, without analogy or irony.

        • lprent

          That old chestnut again.

          http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/itunes-yes/ from 2006 a year after the 2005 election. The election was in October from memory.

          Lewis agreed that Labour was warned last September by the chief electoral officer David Henry that the pledge card would be considered electoral spending.

          “And we continued to contest that, saying we know this is normal spending that we’d done in 2002, 1990 and 1996. It wasn’t seeking votes as such, it was putting out information.”

          So why would David Henry think the situation had changed?

          “I don’t know – you’d have to ask David Henry that.”

          For that matter how was it different from the pledge card tha National did using the same mechanisms in 2002.

          As far as I am awar I have never seen an explanation from David Henry to say what changed. He warned Labour after the cards and the campaign were effectively in operation and right before the election on something that was established practice.

          Quite simply I think he was wrong on both his retrospective interpretation of the law and his timing. The timing to me appeared more designed to interfere in the political and electoral outcomes than anything else. The time to lay down general rules about what and was not permissible for established techniques was the year before an election. Not to make stuff up on the hoof during the election campaign.

          In the end, parliament had to legislate to fix his cockup. He’d effectively said that every major party down to wieners like Act had been breaking electoral law all the way back into the 1990s, thereby invalidating the interpretations of all of the previous people in his position and casting aspersions on all of the elections in which that parliamentary money had been used for publicity campaigns of various kinds.

          In my opinion, someone should have pulled David Henry into the supreme court to validate his position against thee relevant legislation. but instead they were too gutless. From memory all of the parties in parliament then voted for legislation to clarify what the rules were and to leave less room for a future electoral commissioner to interprete parliaments legislation the way that they chose to do.

          • burt


            They were too gutless indeed to haul Henry into court, they didn’t have the balls to take the hit if he was right. So.. how sure are we of the integrity of our political parties – not so much. One thing we do know, they don’t like being pulled into court !

            Now, lets talk about how likely it is that the striking resemblance’s between Key & Banks v Clark & Peters ( or Banks & DotCom v Peters & Owen Glenn for that matter) could be played out to the satisfaction of the opposition party supporters rather than at the pleasure of the governing parties.

            No sugar coating of Labour’s position is required here lprent, what IMHO is required is that we the voters and tax payers should be able to expect the highest ethical standards from our representatives.

            Drag this out, call it dotcome-gate or some other catch name and live it up. Just don’t be surprised if you need to throw your last leader under the bus to get any real traction. You can’t have it both ways and be credible all at the same time. All you end up with is a battle of arguing circumstances, technicalities and timing of events 7 years ago with it still happening around you.

            • RedLogix

              Well then in the interests of moral consistency burt, can hear from you advocating the same consequences for Key and Banks that you were insisting five years ago had to be applied to the Clark govt?

              • burt

                Yep, watch this space…. So how about you RedLogix – in the interests of moral consistency are you calling for us to move on giving Key a free pass on this ? Perhaps have Banks excused his deeds as others were doing it too…

                • Redlogix

                  Nope … you are the one making the direct equivalence between the two issues. You spent the best part of five years demanding that the Helen Clark govt should fall over it.

                  Therefore I’m waiting for YOU to spend the next year or two at least, hollering blue murder over this Banksie/Dotcom affair.

                  Fair’s fair burt … retrospectively that is.

                  • burt


                    What I’m really saying at this time is;

                    Key is fairly confident of the direction in which the Banks donations scandal is heading: nowhere. He is gambling on his fig-leaf defence of his refusal to boot Banks from his ministry outlasting the capacity of Opposition parties to keep the story alive.

                    …outlasting the capacity of Opposition parties to keep the story alive.

                    This is the key to it, I don’t have an opposition party blog. I’ll get going when this takes a turn even remotely close to the bollox you defended from your team RedLogix. Be sure of that.

                    But if you lot want to keep this going you might need to face the fact that what you defended in your team, the level of ethics and the total lack of accountability under the law, is going to bite you in the ass. Like I said to lprent;

                    Just don’t be surprised if you need to throw your last leader under the bus to get any real traction.

                    Is “taking a minister at his word” acceptable when it’s bloody obvious to all watching the minister is full of BS. ?

                    Is using a “we always did it this way” justification acceptable ?

                    Should the voices of senior government officials calling “foul” be tested in court or should they be denigrated for making bad calls while we all move on ?

                    This is where Labour and it’s supporters have no high ground – so, having been a good soldier for your team how do you feel knowing that behaviour is probably exactly what will give National a free ride on this BS self serving behaviour ?

                  • burt

                    RedLogix ( and felix )

                    There is a tacit “you won” in that over my belly aching with Labour’s behaviour.

                    You and your team got away with shit as abhorrent as National are up to now.

                    However I’m still claiming a moral victory on standing on the right side of a principle. We are on the same side this time, is that telling you enough to stop thinking you should be telling me how I should respond to this and when.

                    • Redlogix

                      I’ll get going when this takes a turn even remotely close to the bollox you defended from your team RedLogix.

                      In other words you are still ‘tacitly’ defending Key and Banks. Oh well so much for the bluster.

  4. Arthur 4

    One aspect of this affair which does not seem to get any coverage is the way that Mr Sensible continues to prop up the whole rotten edifice. I seem to remember he has in the past mentioned integrity.

  5. infused 5

    Bomber, really…

  6. Dr Terry 6

    I hate to admit this, but I doubt anything above will trouble smug old Key at all, let alone his large number of blinded devotees (who probably get a kick out of his misdeeds!) What does he have to do to earn the displeasure of his disciples? There is little worse that he could do really, but never fear, he will find a way!
    Tapu worries that she might be “too apathetic and stupid to notice”. In fact, Tapu HAS NOTICED very, very clearly. We have to think of all those silly sheep, excluding her, who bleat Key to his victories.
    Gould says, on Banks and Key (how tiring this topic has become, but Key will depend on that) he is “surpised that so few seem to have grasped the unacceptable . . . ” Well, this is New Zealand Bryan, how come anything surprises you anymore?
    Gould continues, “there will be surprise that the PM has maintained such indifference . . . ” Bryan, does anything at all surprise you about Key’s behaviour? Most of his faithful are positively endorsing it!!
    And, of course, Key on Dotcom, “the spying was a MISTAKE”. Even the most stout English Tory would be staggered by that understatement! As Armstrong (this time agreeable) asserts, “Key is the Minister responsible . . . ” Remember the famous words of Harry Truman, “the buck stops here” (sitting at his desk). I suspect that what we are seeing much of the time is a “passing of the buck”.
    But how many truly care a damn?

    • karol 6.1

      Yeah, Dr Terry. And I just watched the TV3 news team repeating the government line that Key “knows NUTTINK” and everyone else kept the truth from him. This, in spite of the massive stretch of credibility – it was all the fault of the police getting their facts wrong, and GCSB & English not keeping Key informed.


      • ianmac 6.1.1

        I thought that segment on Campbell Live ended abruptly. JC said when talking about all those who knew, “Remember this because I want to come back to it in a moment.” But didn’t. Something more is brewing there I reckon. I at least, will watch this space.

      • mike 6.1.2

        “Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) wrongly told GCSB agents the pair were foreigners….

        The documents state “GCSB sought assurance that all the persons of interest were foreign nationals. OFCANZ gave that assurance”.

        The advice on the immigration status of Dotcom and Van der Kolk was “incorrect.””


        Bit confused here. So either the GCSB incompetently asked OFCANZ the wrong question, (they are foreign nationals, GCSB should have asked about their residency status), or OFCANZ gave incorrect information, (in a big deal international operation), about their residency status even though Dotcom had been an NZ resident for more than 12 months. Neither is credible.

        Oh yeah and Bill English decided that it wasn’t worth mentioning this FBI/GSCB mission on NZ soil to the PM. Right. The key word in ‘plausible deniability’ is plausible.

        John Key is telling journalists to “be careful” and is talking about Tom Clancy plots. Who said ‘never believe anything until it’s officially denied’? John Key’s Transrail eyes say ‘cover-up’.


  7. jack 7

    I see a pattern with Key.. When there is anything that exposes his own lies, he immediately has to start an investigation. That way he doesn’t have to answer the hard questions. Or, like Bank’s police report, will not purposely read it. I think the teflon is wearing off fast with Key and those in doubt are going to start running fast.

    • mike e 7.1

      Jack you see it in the herald stuff and here the tide has definitely turned against nACTional with right wingers bagging Banks Keys lack of integrity!

  8. illuminatedtiger 8

    Is it too early yet to say he should probably resign?

    • mike e 8.1

      He’ll want a cup of tea first who with Colin Craig ,Winston Peters!
      Who will he throw to the wolves to get Craig a safe seat!

    • Tracey 8.2

      If he doesnt think Banks needs to resign, he wont be resigning while he has a useful stooge in English.

      Is English a knowing stooge? Or will he be furious behind the scenes for having to take this one for the PM??

  9. Adrian 9

    Watch English. He has been shafted by Key before and pay back time can’t be far away. The complicating factor is that in any other administration anywhere in the world, except for a few obvious places, what English allegedly did would see him down the road in an instant.

    • felix 9.1

      I think English would make an excellent National Party Leader and would easily win many elections as PM.

      For the sake of the party, all National supporters should get behind him and back a winner.

      • mike e 9.1.1

        They could get Michelle Boag to run the campaign!

      • Dv 9.1.2

        >English would make an excellent National Party Leader

        already been there in 2001?

        • felix

          And the sooner he’s back in the driver’s seat the better for National.

          The party has been slowly losing its way under the post-modernist, anything-can-mean-anything, populist leadership of Key, and the base are starting to feel it. The shine has come off the golden child.

          English represents an opportunity for the party to return to its roots, to its traditional values. Back to an earlier time, a simpler time, a time when National knew what it stood for and knew what it was.

  10. JonL 10

    “I see a pattern with Key.. When there is anything that exposes his own lies, he immediately has to start an investigation.”
    He’s a sociopath, that’s why! It’s always someone else’s fault!

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    2 weeks ago
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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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    4 days ago
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    5 days ago
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  • New Zealand to host virtual APEC in 2021
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    6 days ago
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