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Hide vs anonymous editorial on Sabin

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, February 16th, 2015 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, journalism - Tags: , ,

Once again Rodney Hide has come out with a fiery piece on National’s handling of Sabin:

Government attitude disrespects us

I concluded last week that Prime Minister John Key would have to do some explaining. He didn’t. He has refused. He’s not saying whether police briefed him or other ministers about their investigation of MP Mike Sabin. That’s it. Move along. Nothing to see. To hell with Parliament. To hell with ministerial accountability.

The date of any briefing is explosive. It’s certainly not nitpicking. Sabin chaired the law and order select committee, which oversees the police. He was hopelessly conflicted. So, too, was our Parliament and justice system. How could the chairman be holding police to account when he himself was under police investigation? We deserve to know who was responsible for such dreadful judgment and management. …

Read on for plenty more. In contrast, The Herald’s anonymous editorialist de jour would rather sweep the whole matter quietly under the carpet:

Sabin a matter for the police, not politicians

Since the resignation of Northland MP Mike Sabin two weeks ago persistent questions have been asked about what the Prime Minister knew of a police investigation and when he knew it. But those questions beg a much more important one: ought ministers be told anything about an investigation such as this? The disturbing element in the story is not so much that Mr Sabin was given the chair of Parliament’s law and order select committee when he was already under investigation but rather that all sides assume the “no surprises” rule in the public service extends to a police inquiry.

“No surprises” may be a common convention for public servants, requiring them to alert their minister to anything likely to attract adverse public attention, but it should stop short of investigations by law enforcement agencies.

The whole “no surprises” policy is certainly a matter worth debating (see David Fisher’s excellent piece on its consequences). But as it operates now – of course the police informed Ministers:

The country’s top cop says police did not drop the ball when it came to telling the Government about the Mike Sabin issue under the ‘no surprises’ policy.

The anonymous apologist can’t change the facts. Ministers were briefed, and Key either knew or is running the most incompetent administration ever. Final word to Rodney:

It’s distressing to see Parliament treated with such disrespect and a disrespect that continues through blanket refusals to answer straightforward questions.

I fear ministers are confusing public interest with their own interest. It’s easy to see why. To tell us who was briefed, and on what date, would be to tell us who was responsible for such an appalling and unacceptable undermining of Parliament.

51 comments on “Hide vs anonymous editorial on Sabin”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I have to wonder, if Rodney was still in Parliament propping this government up, if he would be a lot more circumspect in his opposition, or if he’d actually do something about it – like refuse to vote for government bills until they answered the questions in the house.

  2. Blue 2

    The Herald are really trying to bury the Sabin story. Even though they have sunk to such awful lows over the past few years it seems there is still room to fall.

    I read that appalling editorial and thought ‘what would you be saying if it were a Labour MP?’

    • Jilly Bee 2.1

      Something like a “DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK” banner on the front page.

    • marya46 2.2

      @Blue, if it was a Labour MP in the same position as Mike Sabin is now, it would be headline news in ALL msm networks. And there would be no let up!

      But I guess being in the back pocket of the PM, msm has to carry on being the cheerleader for John Key and his motley lot of crooks, despite their filthy activities and disdain for the rule of law, which applies to the rest of us!

  3. Treetop 3

    Key and the last two ministers of police strategy, is so simple. No answer in the House = not misleading the House. This has NOTHING to do with the suppression order on confirming the date of having known about a police investigation.

    Key is not going to play me as a dumb arse, this is why I do not like him.

    • Brendon Harre 3.1

      Key can treat Parliament and by extension all New Zealanders as ‘dumb arses’, while he has a Speaker covering his arse.

      New Zealand desperately needs an independent Speaker to get some accountability into our political system, like me and Tracey discussed some time back.

      “We may as well kiss democracy goodbye”

      • Treetop 3.1.1

        Agree that Carter needs to take control of the House during question time and to be impartial. Carter let the cat out of the bag last Wednesday when he joint up the dots,[r0b: the speaker can do it, we can’t].

        Carter has started off the year trying to have question time run more smoothly by abiding by the rules. Already he has made an error similar to last year. Can’t remember what over, but Key had to return to the house to answer the question.

        I consider it to be in the public interest for the last two ministers of police and the PM to answer, who and when Bush informed a member and whether the member/s informed the PM or his office and when?

        There is a precedent for this, Sir Alfred North’s December 1976 inquiry.

      • Tracey 3.1.2

        It is now blindingly obvious why Lockwood had to go…

  4. tangled_up 4

    Wow. That anonymous editorial takes partisan media up a notch.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1

      Their editorials are all ways anonymous.

      • tangled_up 4.1.1

        Yeah but they’re not all that blatantly biased towards National.

        • adam 4.1.1.1

          Oh yes they are. And always have been, It’s a Tory paper. A Tory paper, pushing a Tory agenda for the betterment of Tory Scum everywhere. The sooner the left realise this, the better. It’s not a free bloody press – it’s all about the almighty dollar.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1.2

          Well yes.

          Often political columns start off with praise Key to the skies before there is a change of tone which suggest all is not good in Denmark.

          A rewrite by the senior editors who know the board would explode if they read it ?

          Their pre election coverage trying to be balanced in some situations led to lots of ‘im not been a subscriber for 20 years for this rubbish’ calls .

          of course that sort of older demographic is not wanted by the advertisers, and subscribers forget the paper LOSES MONEY to print and distribute so they save money if the oldies give it away.

          • phillip ure 4.1.1.2.1

            the herald is (bravely/foolishly to my mind) going behind a paywall..

            ..and the really fucken hilarious aspect of this – is that they must think/believe their supermarket-tabloid-giveaway stylings/contents..

            ..are that good..

            ..that mug-punters will pay to click on their poxy-site..(!)

            ..now that..is funny..

  5. emergency mike 5

    Mr Key spoke so well about his high principles regarding accountability and other democratic concepts back when he was in opposition. Since then he’s given a smirk and an extended middle finger to those things each and every time they’ve been remotely inconvenient. And Rodney is noticing this just now? Can anyone remember our leader John Key accepting responsibility for anything ever?

    Either he is thick as sh*t or certain factions have decided that now is the time to slip the knife in.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.1

      Can anyone remember our leader John Key accepting responsibility for anything ever?

      Yes, he accepted responsibility for winning the World Cup.

  6. Anne 6

    The Herald’s anonymous editorialist de jour would rather sweep the whole matter quietly under the carpet:

    John Roughan – I’ll bet.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      The press is full of careerist lackeys.

      • Anno1701 6.1.1

        its not like there’s a lot of media jobs in NZ so if you want to make use of that expensive degree you probably have no choice but to get on board…

        let alone any work for real investigative journos !

    • Jilly Bee 6.2

      @Anne – that was my thought too when I read the editorial this morning.

    • Unicus 6.3

      I wonder if Roughan and the rest of the execrable hacks at The Herald will continue their titillating vendetta over Len’s sad sex life now that they are confronted with a genuine social outrage in their pet party

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    The final version we were told- via NZ Herald, as usual- was that TWO ministers were told an unnamed MP was under investigation.
    Which was very convenient as it was understood by then we had been mislead about when the government was told ‘anything’

    Its just a bit unbelievable that the day before parliament sits- when questions would be asked- that the latest version is leaked to the Herald, this shuts down the speculation.

    Colour me a cynic, but I think the official briefing was preceded by an informal, ‘ how much do you want to know’ chat

    • rawshark-yeshe 7.1

      surely they would have been told what the MP was under investigation for ? yes ? no ? that vital detail seems to be missing ?

      • Lanthanide 7.1.1

        The line seems to be that the police didn’t say who the MP was, or what the charges were, because they were deemed to be very prejudicial to their career and reputation if they proved untrue.

    • Anne 7.2

      Colour me a cynic, but I think the official briefing was preceded by an informal, ‘ how much do you want to know’ chat

      That’s not cynical. That is facing the obvious reality of the situation.

      I expect a senior detective handling the ‘preliminary’ investigation (probably the one rumoured to have begun earlier in the year) gave an informal briefing… nudge, nudge, wink wink… no formal inquiry yet but thought you might want a heads up minister, and that was followed by the formal briefing by a very senior cop – possibly the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner early August.

      No wonder Key was so venomous about Hager and his book “Dirty Politics”. You could see the hatred in his eyes every night on TV. It wouldn’t surprise me if they thought Hager knew about Sabin (plenty of people apparently did) and had timed the launch of his book to coincide with the investigation.

      • Anne 7.2.1

        Ooops, I’ve just thought… is that another reason why the cops ransacked Hager’s house a few months back? They wanted to know about rawshark yes, but they also wanted to know what – or if – Hager knew about Sabin?

        My imagination running away with me? Well, you can’t rule anything out under this corrupt government.

        • Tracey 7.2.1.1

          It seems to me that given an MP is an elected representative, there at the (cant remember the word) of the voters of NZ, any investigation by a police authority MUST be reportable to the Leader of that person’s party. Had key stood Sabin down from the Law and order Committee there really wouldn’t be as much air in this story. But Key chose to lie and obsficate. His default position seems to be to lie. And it is catching (note Tolley and Bennett when asked about Cabinet Club ).

          As they say it’s the cover-up that proves the downfall.

          The police would, like the defence forces, dislike Hager, they wouldn’t take much convincing to raid.

          • Anne 7.2.1.1.1

            Why do they dislike Hager? Don’t like their dirty linen being aired in public? There’s an easy answer to that one. Don’t soil the linen in the first place or at least don’t try to cover it up.

            Btw is the word you can’t remember ‘mercy’ or ‘courtesy’?

          • freedom 7.2.1.1.2

            behest -?

          • Anne 7.2.1.1.3

            Tracey, we’re waiting with bated breath to find out which one of us was right?

  8. Treetop 8

    3.1.1 needs to be removed. [r0b: thanks]

  9. Treetop 9

    I have questions for the writer of the editorial: Sabin a matter for the police not politicians.

    What if a police officer is involved in an incident concerning an MP?

    What if the involved officer is used by the police to benefit the government of the day?

    What if a police officer uses police resources to silence a person e.g. (their ex girl friend) who they mentioned the incident to and the ex girl friend threatened the officer with going to the newspaper?

    Is the police commissioner protecting his employer the government?

    The only partly honest person so far has been the commissioner of police. He could easily find himself misleading the public if the minister of police or Key push him into a corner.

    • adam 9.1

      I don’t have a problem with the headline – but the reality is – it is a political issue. Because it questions the role and relation of the executive and the legislative. Now they are desperate for the legislative to protect the executive, because of alleged behaviour by a member of the legislative, was wilfully ignored by the executive.

      Now silly me think that this undermines the constitution, and threatens the viability of executive – no matter how popular they are – this is really high levels of incompetence, or. It goes to show – the executive will work in the interests of the old boys network rather than for a stable and effective government – and be damned the consequences. And as far as the Tory scum in power are concerned, our constitution is not worth the paper it is written on. Nor are the conventions and norms.

      So, you have to ask yourself – if this is a government that is willing to throw away the constitution over alleged offence. Then what else are they willing to do? Personally, I think even conservatives at this point will be quoting from Hobbs, and worrying what is going to happen to them and theirs.

      • Treetop 9.1.1

        The spotlight is now on the PM and the police commissioner, the executive vs the legislative.

        The above could have been avoided had Sabin withdrawn being a candidate for Northland. He had enough time prior to the election. He could have asked to go on the list even though he had a big majority. (I know hindsight is a wonderful thing).

        Your second paragraph has the makings of a police state.

        “Then what else are they willing to do?”

        This is why it is in the interest of the public.

  10. Skinny 10

    If National knew of an investigation into Sabin prior to the 2014 election well thats corrupt as it would have had an effect like this;

    Two hours ago I ran into a farmer who farms just inside the Northland boundary, we talked about the need for some rain. Eventually
    I angled on to the By-Election and without too much pushing the cow cocky said “if I’d known what I know now National would have got my party vote and the local girl my candidate vote.”

    If that’s one voter how about the rest?

    • Treetop 10.1

      Key knew the numbers were going to be tight concerning the September 2014 election and that NZ First were likely to be required to prop him up. There is no way that Peters would have proped Key up. As well the election date was called months prior to the police investigation (which appears to be in August 2014).

      Until you know the outcome of something you are kept in the dark.

      Standing Sabin as a candidate when he had not been convicted of an offense is one thing. Not answering when you have been informed of the person being under investigation is another matter.

      Can a person stand as a candidate when they are under a police investigation?

      • Murray Rawshark 10.1.1

        “Can a person stand as a candidate when they are under a police investigation?”

        Obviously they can. I believe the real question is “Should they stand” and the answer is no. If I were in that situation, I would withdraw my candidacy. Actually, I’d hang myself as well if I were in exactly the situation in question.

        • Treetop 10.1.1.1

          See Treetop@ 8.1.1

          “Should they stand?”

          No

          I have looked at why Sabin did not withdraw, he had a sure electorate seat win and people may have raised why Sabin was withdrawing, which would have been damaging to the government. Anne@7.2 & 7.2.1 talks about Key being venomous about Hager’s book and that the raid on Hager’s home could have been to find out what Hager knew about Sabin.

    • Jeeves 10.2

      Tories- man they really know how to polish their own turds.

  11. Paul 11

    The Herald is a rag.

  12. ankerawshark 12

    Someone may have said this already, but I noticed the vast majority of commenters on the Herald’s editorial were not in agreement with this.

    Also wasn’t Phil Goff given s…t for not coming out immediately and saking Darren Hughes or standing him down, while he was under investigation????

    • Murray Rawshark 12.1

      Some things are too much even for Bradbury’s “sleepy hobbits”. I think a lot of people are starting to have an idea of what was involved and the significance of what Key actually is doing. It’s something that would have been previously unthinkable.

    • Treetop 12.2

      There was some transparency about Darren Hughes (it was on the radio, TV and in the newspaper) within a day of the incident and Hughes was not charged with an offense following the police investigation.

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