I know that I and others regularly get stuck into the Herald. It is just that its general tone is so anti Labour and pro National.
The variation in quality of writers is considerable. Reading a John Roughan article invariably causes me to prefer that I had not done this. At the other end of the spectrum I usually enjoy reading Toby Manhire’s and Brian Rudman’s pieces.
Fran Sullivan is in a class of her own. She clearly has a right wing view of the world. But her writing is tough and intelligent and she is willing to criticise anyone if she believes that criticism is warranted. Her articles demand to be read with respect even though often I will not agree with her.
Her article today on Dirty Politics and Mark Hotchin has more than a hint of anger to it. I suspect the keys of her keyboard were bashed as she committed some of her ideas to written prose.
Her anger is understandable.
She was implicated in the Mark Hotchin inspired attacks on the head of the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Market Authority. The Cam Slater email that crushed Judith Collins’ career contained this passage:
Cathy [Odgers] can outline her contact with Fran O’Sullivan separately. Basically though the Herald and other media are now picking up our lines…
It is clear that O’Sullivan does not agree with this claim and wishes to publicly refute the suggestion that she was merely regurgitating Slater attack lines.
Her article contains a personal acknowledgment she received from Odgers that unlike other reporters she (O’Sullivan) had neither given nor received any information with Slater and Co. Good to see.
O’Sullivan then criticises the Government’s handling of the issue and criticises the terms of reference. These are:
This Inquiry will inquire into and report upon allegations that Ms Collins was involved in efforts to undermine Mr Feeley during his tenure as Director of the Serious Fraud Office, including whether:
(1) there is any evidence Ms Collins acted inconsistently with the conduct expected of a Minister by undermining or attempting to undermine Mr Feeley’s tenure as Director of the Serious Fraud Office; and
(2) Ms Collins provided information about Mr Feeley during his tenure as Director of the Serious Fraud Office to Mr Cameron Slater or any other party who did not have a proper entitlement to receive such information; and
(3) Ms Collins inappropriately sought or received information about Mr Feeley from Mr Slater or any other party;
(4) identify and report on any other issues relevant to the above matters, to the extent necessary to provide a complete report on those matters.
The first shortfall is a glaring one. The attacks on the Financial Markets Authority are not being investigated even though they were relentless and disturbing. As said by previous head Sean Hughes “I’ve never experienced the level of personal denigration and anonymous attacks that I’ve experienced in the NZ media context”. I am not aware of any allegation that Collins had any involvement in the attacks on Hughes but confirmation is important and even though Collins was not the responsible Minister (it was Craig Foss) the source of any Government information used by Slater in attacking the FMA should be investigated.
The use of the phrases “proper entitlement” and “inappropriately sought or received” in the terms of reference are interesting. The emphasis should be on whether or not Collins contributed to the public denigration of a senior Public Servant not whether Slater was entitled to receive the information.
And as O’Sullivan correctly states the investigation is missing the big issue. There should be a police investigation into whether or not there was an attempt to pervert the course of justice by an attempt to undermine the SFO and FMA investigations.
O’Sullivan correctly concludes with the following:
But while the police have been busy poking about in Hager’s affairs – hacking is, after all, a crime – they do not appear to have actively followed up on Acting Opposition Leader David Parker’s pre-election complaint over various actions disclosed in the Dirty Politics affair, including the alleged “SFO/Hanover Sting”.
This suggests to me a failure of prioritisation on the part of police chief Mike Bush and his team.
I believe he could start by requiring Odgers, Graham and Slater to say just who paid them for apparently trying to fit up Feeley.
And why they obliged.
The issue is too big to be swept under the carpet by mere politics and a focus on chasing whistleblowers instead of the real issues.
Well said Fran.