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Dirty Politics was in the public interest

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, October 30th, 2015 - 46 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, journalism, law - Tags: , , , ,

Today’s anonymous editorial in The Herald makes for interesting reading:

Dirty Politics passes public interest test

Blogger Cameron Slater and author Nicky Hager …

How I hate seeing these two compared in any way!

… have much in common, even beyond the emails one wrote and the other obtained, possibly illegally, now the Supreme Court has ruled computer files are property.

Both claim to be journalists, and both have found their work subject to the scrutiny of the High Court.

The difference being that Hager really is a journalist, one of the best we have.

Both have cited a clause of the Evidence Act as a shield to protect their sources. In both cases, the sources provided a tranche of emails on which the reporting was based.

Police have accepted Hager is a journalist. In Slater’s case, Justice Asher also found he was a journalist but focused on the work he produced.

He found a journalist’s protection of sources should “promote the free flow of information, a vital component of any democracy”, adding, “This factor would appear to have particular relevance where the facts and opinion that are the subject of the communications are of public interest and significance.” … There is no magic shield called journalism behind which journalists can hide their sources. The only shield available is that of justice, and a wider public interest, as highlighted by Justice Asher.

Slater’s was a defamation case. Hager’s is a criminal investigation. Justice Asher found Slater’s work – at least in relation to the case before the court – did not meet the test of public interest. Did Dirty Politics serve the “public interest”?

Putting aside political allegiances, the book did shine a light on aspects of the modern political world which had previously been in shadow. As a result, the public is better informed about the way our democracy operates. … since his book served a public interest, free speech should prevail.

The right conclusion in the end – Hager’s Dirty Politics served a genuine public interest, and should be legally protected as such.

46 comments on “Dirty Politics was in the public interest”

  1. Tracey 1

    self interest is enormously motivating. the herald can see that IT may be adversely affected if Haver is found to have been receiving stolen property… it reads like a concession made through gritted teeth hence it could, with a straight keyboard, compare slater and hager and find them similar.

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      And every other ‘tip off’ they get from others.

      Even say an email saying MBIE is spending heaps on donuts and a spa bath for CEO, that would be ‘property that belongs to others’, which they have illegally received.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        I have been thinking about the implications for publishing Leaked documents if Hager is convisted of receiving stolen property?

        It would mean the police would have to look at a complaint of a document taken without permission… IF governments dont lay such a complaint could we assume it was a deliberate act by the owner of the document?

    • billmurray 1.2

      I agree , the pox on both of them.

  2. Anne 2

    It might have been “the right conclusion in the end” but my goodness what went before is open to much debate.

    The attempt to equate Slater with Hager was beyond belief! In a technical sense they were partly correct, but in reality there couldn’t be two people so different.

    One is internationally recognised as a top-notch author and investigative journalist. The other is a grubby little muckraker who has contributed nothing to the overall illumination of the populace.

    One is an intelligent and honest person whose intentions are honourable. The other is a lying, cheating bastard who has no moral compass whatsoever.

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 2.1

      +100, Anne

    • Wainwright 2.2

      The Herald is desperate not to give Hager the mana of a journalist. That’s why they try to pretend he’s on the same level as Slater.

    • Tracey 2.3

      And whether you like Hager or not he doesn’t appear to be solely motivated by self interest, Slater appears almost entirely so motivated, based in part on the Dirty Politics revelations.

      Publishing something you didnt write on behalf of another but in your name, for example

    • North 2.4

      Anne……that is a seminal expression of the contrast between Hager and SlaterPorn. Thank you ! As a recently anointed pensioner applying the considerable wisdom implied by that status, it is not missed that one is a gentleman……the other an unsavoury thug.

      • Anne 2.4.1

        As a not quite so recently anointed pensioner, thank-you North for the compliment.

        I see the thug is now calling for the worshippers of Islam to be killed before (he claims) they kill us – the incitement of violence by those with a mob mentality such as his own. I recall a previous well known mob called “Rob’s Mob” which was the brain-child of his father, Slater Senior. However I don’t think they were exhorted to go around killing people.

    • billmurray 2.5

      You are wrong in your praise of Hager, he purposely helped John Key to get elected for his twenty pieces of silver.

  3. Northsider 3

    “…….the book did shine a light on aspects of the modern political world which had previously been in shadow.”
    The book was about how John Key and the National party operates: Herald trying to let the Nats off by saying it is a global phenomenon.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Imagine if the time, money and energy spent by National finding ways to get around the rules and avoid muck being linked to them was spent finding ways to enhance the lives of the most vulnerable of kiwis?

  4. ianmac 4

    “Political roundup: Libertarians against dirty politics -Bryce Edwards.”
    Not sure if this has already been noted. Bryce Edwards has put up a column:
    Activists of the left and right are united against what they see as dirty politics from the New Zealand Police and Westpac bank. The Police and Westpac are accused of breaching Nicky Hager’s privacy, in what many believe to be a concerted state campaign to undermine an investigative journalist who has been a thorn in the side of the government…..

    The commentary is pretty united that Hager/police/Westpac were wrong
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11537615

    • whateva next? 4.1

      well lets hope Key (who is steering this obviously) is driven by the populace vote, although he’s caught in his own trap now.

      • Gas Kranken 4.1.1

        As the book itself revealed we are talking about a Black Ops room operating out of the Prime Minister’s department charged with the task of employing an attack blogger to do the National Party’s dirty work while a large core of Key’s supporters perceive him as a bloody good bloke that they would love to have round for a barbie and a beer. He is the master web weaver and he has created a trap, a trap that he believes he has coated in 100% pure NZ butter and has continually slid out of whilst trying to clamp the steel jaws of that same trap around those who expose him. I believe he will be caught in the trap he has made for himself because eventually this contest will change from an electoral one to one of credibility and Key has consistently attacked Nicky’s credibility and just like the NZ defence force lost the case they fought against Jon Stephenson, Key will eventually lose his case against Nicky.

  5. David H 5

    This could be the thing that stirs the public interest

  6. Aaron 6

    I’m glad you posted this – I couldn’t get past the part where they put Slater and Nicky in the same sentence!

  7. On the fence 7

    As a right winger I agree with this post. It was in the publics interest to know the information put out in dirty politics. I don’t happen to agree everything in the book but I believe the Nz public are better informed as a result. Putting slater in the same category however is just plain fucked up. I don’t think at any time was he acting in the publics interest.

    In a final point however is it actually legally defined what “public interest” is/means? I find the term can be open to interpretation when you look at both ends of the political spectrum.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Thanks for this. Yes this ‘public interest’ idea can be quite tricky to pin down in the detail, but the wider picture is quite simple.

      It’s best understood when you ask “what purpose is being served here?” And while each end of the political spectrum will apply their preferred framework to it – the answer is usually not too hard to discern.

      The primary rationale for journalism is ‘the speaking of truth to power’. If you can fit inside that criterion I’d argue you’re on pretty safe ground to claim a public interest defense.

    • billmurray 7.2

      Your are about as much as a right -winger as my arse is on a bad day.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      I think you’ll find that the concept of Public Interest is very contextual. Different contexts will give a different answer but, IMO, it really comes down to a single question: Should the public know about this?

  8. BM 8

    Even though I can’t stand the prick according to Slater, Hager only published stuff which could have been damaging to National every thing else was left out.

    Because of that, Dirty politics wasn’t so much public interest journalism but more of a hit piece done by a well known left wing political activist.

    Therefore Hager maybe pushing it up hill if he’s relying on a public interest defense.

    • ian 8.1

      Either way- I will support him.

      Whatever you do- I will support him.

      I want to ‘know him’.

    • On the fence 8.2

      What does it matter that Hager only published information damaging to national? As a voter it allowed me to make a more informed choice when I voted. I found the timing of the book release odd and many thought that it was to damage nationals election chances. I’ve always believed it would have sold better during this time and a little bit of the above. But many righties would have cried foul regardless of the release date so again? Meh.

      Would I love to know if Hager had dirt on labour or someone else on the left? Yep. Do I suspect that labour have skeletons in their closet they want to hide? Yep. Do I think it was a little biased? Probably. Can I prove any of it? Not a snowballs chance in hell. But then again he has the right to free speech as well. Journalism aside he can say what he wants.

      I voted national on the last 2 elections but that doesn’t my opinion that Hager was within the publics interest releasing this material. It didn’t change my vote but it certainly made me think before I cast it.

      • Anne 8.2.1

        I voted national on the last 2 elections but that doesn’t [alter] my opinion that Hager was within the publics interest releasing this material. It didn’t change my vote but it certainly made me think before I cast it.

        And that was exactly what Hager was aiming to do. Get people thinking. He said so on numerous occasions.

        Good comment On the fence and I agree dirty politics is not just confined to National. They’re just very good at it and do it more often than the other parties.

      • Tracey 8.2.2

        If Labour had skeletons Slater would know by now and would have published them ll. He is not one to show restraint in that regard.

    • North 8.3

      Hager apparently did leave out some incendiary ‘dirty shit’ about some (right-wing) actors which came to him in the source material. Left it out on the principled basis that its publication was superfluous to the point.

      How typically SlaterPorn to “claim’ that Hager published only material adverse to the National Party. Which is to float that there was stuff adverse to others. Without having to verify that. The cynically advised allusion is thought to be enough.

    • McFlock 8.4

      lol
      because Hager only published information relating to the government, his actions must therefore not have been in the public interest.

      Do you need to warm up before bending over backwards like that, or is it some form of permanent deformity?

      • Tracey 8.4.1

        It’s incredible how many people still have not taken the time to find out what “public interest” actually means as a legal defence.

    • Gas Kranken 8.5

      So who makes up the Lefts black ops crew? And who do they use as their attack blogger and paid shill?

      • Whateva Next 8.5.1

        Key’s gang (including their black ops crew) are a sensitive lot, and would consider ANY form of questioning an smear attempt.

        Narcissistic Insult: Bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.

    • David H 8.6

      And if Nicky released everything he had, you would be calling him every kind of bastard under the sun for releasing the private details about the whaleslug.. Can’t haver it both ways. Which is what you want.

    • Tracey 8.7

      Again you misunderstand (as does Slater) what the definition of public interest is. he doesn’t have to publish everything but what he did publish was int he public interest. He had personal information that could have embarrassed Slater but DID NOT publish it because it was not in the public interest. Something Slater has been unable to control himself around.

      So no, Hager is NOT pushing it uphill on establishing “public interest” because it is directly related to the machinery of Government, of which National is integral and Labour is not.

      It’s like Slater, and you, have no memory of Corngate.

      • BM 8.7.1

        According to Slater he also had info that could have been embarrassing to the parties on the left, but he chose to leave that out.

        If he was doing public interest journalism he would have included Slaters dealings with the left wing parties as well,but since he didn’t it reads more like a political hit piece especially when you take into account the timing of when dirty politics was released.

        • Tracey 8.7.1.1

          Again you misunderstand (as does Slater) what the definition of public interest is. he doesn’t have to publish everything but what he did publish was int he public interest. He had personal information that could have embarrassed Slater but DID NOT publish it because it was not in the public interest. Something Slater has been unable to control himself around.

          So no, Hager is NOT pushing it uphill on establishing “public interest” because it is directly related to the machinery of Government, of which National is integral and Labour is not.

          It’s like Slater, and you, have no memory of Corngate.

  9. reason 9

    Basing an opinion on the statement ……”according to Slater” ……. leads most reasonable people to believe the opinion is shit

    Why would you take anything that super creep states as being genuine ? ….

    It all sound like excuses excuses from you …………. why not just admit you hate Hager and approve of nationals dirty politics if it enables them to ‘win’ ….. Cam slater the lost sole certainly does.

    Do you hate him because he’s made the opinions and beliefs you both share unpopular ???

  10. Tory 10

    Reason: Hager is a dick and Slater posts some interesting articles. Dirty Politics was Labours wet dream. Feeling better?

    • North 10.1

      Angry Tory.
      Frightened Of The Story.
      Consequently Roary.
      Ignoramus Tory !

    • Whateva Next 10.2

      As above Tory, Dirty Politics was a Narcissistic Insult to the Nats/Slater:

      Narcissistic Insult: Bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.
      You seem to be proving the point

  11. millsy 11

    No one has really challenged Nikki Kaye’s involvement at the fringes — having that dinner with all those right wing internet trolls.

  12. reason 12

    About the only thing I’d believe from lost sole slaters mouth is if he said he gets nervous around west coasters ……………….

    But to get around Torys intellectual argument ……. summed up as “dick”

    An interesting short read regarding Nickys book onNationals dirty politics can be had at wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Politics

    From the page ………..”WhaleOil was hacked some time after he posted a blog post with the headline “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour.” Three other children in this family had already been killed in accidents and the post provoked a ‘furious public reaction’. ( John key commiserated with Cam over this )

    Lets hope Judith crusher collins ‘press secretary’ does get up to their wiki editing/sanatizing tricks……………… again

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    2 days ago
  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
    •    New funding for four beds at Napier’s Springhill Residential Addiction Centre •    A new managed withdrawal home and community service, and peer support before and after residential care at Tairāwhiti DHB  •    A co-ordinated network of withdrawal management services throughout the South Island •    Peer support in Rotorua and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
    Introduction, seafarers and POAL Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be online with you all today. Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that COVID-19 has disrupted the maritime sector on an unprecedented scale. The work of seafarers and the maritime industry is keeping many economies around the world ...
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    2 days ago
  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
    A $13 million investment from Government will create jobs and improve the resilience of the rail connection between Christchurch and the West Coast, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau say. The funding comes from the tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure projects ...
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    2 days ago
  • Major investment in safe drinking water
    The Government is investing $761 million to assist local government upgrade under-pressure water services across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  The announcement was made at the site of the water bore that was found to be the source of the fatal ...
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    2 days ago
  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
    Recognised Seasonal Employers and migrant seasonal workers stranded in New Zealand will be able to continue working and supporting themselves with more flexible hours and roles, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The time-limited visa changes are: Stranded RSE workers will be able to work part-time (a minimum of 15 hours ...
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    2 days ago
  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
    The Government is making immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while also ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. We are: Extending temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020 ...
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    3 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
    Professor Peter Skelton CNZM has been appointed as Chief Freshwater Commissioner and Alternate Environment Court Judge Craig James Thompson as Deputy Chief Freshwater Commissioner for the newly established Freshwater Planning Process (FPP). Environment Minister David Parker today also announced the appointment of Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook as the ...
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    3 days ago
  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
    Auckland Queen’s Counsel Neil Campbell has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today. Justice Campbell graduated with a BCom and LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1992. He spent two years with Bell Gully Buddle Weir in Auckland before travelling to the United ...
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    3 days ago
  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
    The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to better enable the development and operation of commercial film and video facilities in Christchurch. The Proposal, developed by Regenerate Christchurch in response to a request from Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section ...
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    3 days ago
  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
    The Government has launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value ...
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    3 days ago
  • Wellbeing of whanau at heart of new hub
    A new approach to prevent family harm that encourages greater collaboration across government and community groups is being celebrated at the opening of a new facility in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today opened the Multi-Disciplinary Family Harm Prevention Hub Te Taanga Manawa in Lambie Road in Manukau. The facility ...
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    3 days ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
    The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. “That decision needs to be informed by policy analysis that is still to be completed. As a result it will be up to a ...
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    3 days ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
    The history of Rāpaki is being restored through the inclusion of te reo in thirteen official place names on Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula and around Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō, the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced today.   “I am pleased to approve the proposals from Te Hapū o Ngāti ...
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    3 days ago
  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
    Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.  “Last week Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I ...
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    3 days ago
  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
    Grant Robertson has today announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020.  “Today we’re setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/2021 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite ...
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    3 days ago
  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
    The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID-19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a ...
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    4 days ago
  • Extended loan scheme keeps business afloat
    Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says it will be ...
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    5 days ago
  • New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways
    A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects put forward by local councils receiving $62 million and the Kaipara ...
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    5 days ago
  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
    Tena koutou katoa  Nga tangata whenua o tenei rohe o Pōneke, tena koutou Nau mai, haere mai ki te hui a tau mo te roopu reipa Ko tatou!  Ko to tatou mana!  Ko to tatou kaupapa kei te kokiri whakamua  Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa   Welcome. I ...
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    5 days ago
  • PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $1.5 million to ensure QE Health in Rotorua can proceed with its world class health service and save 75 existing jobs, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The PGF funding announced today is in addition to the $8 million ...
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    7 days ago
  • Building a more sustainable construction sector
    A new programme, which sets a firm course for the Building and Construction sector to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has been announced by the Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. “A significant amount of New Zealand’s carbon emissions come from the building and construction sector.  If we’re serious ...
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    7 days ago
  • PGF funds tourism boost in Northland
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing more than $7.5 million in Northland ventures to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced. The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment is going to the Northern Adventure Experience and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Four new projects announced as part of the biggest ever national school rebuild programme
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced significant funding for Auckland’s Northcote College as part of the first wave of a new nationwide school redevelopment programme to upgrade schools over the next 10 years. The $48.5 million project brings the total investment in Northcote College to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Support to improve student attendance and wellbeing
    The Government has opened an urgent response fund to support schools and early learning services to get children and young people back on track after the Covid-19 lockdown. “While we are seeing improvements in attendance under Alert Level 1 Ministry of Education data shows that attendance rates in our schools ...
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    1 week ago
  • Fast-track consenting law boosts jobs and economic recovery
    The law to boost the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by speeding up resource consenting on selected projects has passed its second and third readings in the House today. “Accelerating nationwide projects and activities by government, iwi and the private sector will help deliver faster economic recovery and ...
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    1 week ago
  • Whanganui Port gets PGF boost
    Five port-related projects in Whanganui will receive a $26.75 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to support local economic recovery and create new opportunities for growth, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is a significant investment that will support the redevelopment of the Whanganui Port, a project governed ...
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    1 week ago
  • More support for Sarjeant Gallery
    Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery will receive an investment of up to $12 million administered by the Provincial Growth Fund to support its redevelopment, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The project is included in a $3 billion infrastructure pipeline announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Shane Jones yesterday. ...
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    1 week ago
  • Funding for training and upskilling
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $2.5 million into three Te Ara Mahi programmes to support Manawatū-Whanganui jobseekers and employees to quickly train and upskill, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “Up to 154 local people will be supported into employment within the first year by these ...
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    1 week ago
  • Statement from the Minister of Health Dr David Clark
      This morning I have formally tendered my resignation as Minister of Health, which was accepted by the Prime Minister. Serving as Minister of Health has been an absolute privilege – particularly through these extraordinary last few months. It’s no secret that Health is a challenging portfolio. I have given ...
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    1 week ago