Long long ago Key promised us “a higher standard of government”, and that his ministers would be held to high ethical standards. Perhaps he meant it at the time, but he long ago abandoned that promise in favour of getting away with any damn thing he could. Case in point, yesterday in question time:
Dr Russel Norman : Is the Prime Minister satisfied that his office upheld the highest ethical standards when his employee Jason Ede accessed the Labour Party’s private database without permission?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In answer to the first part of the question, yes.
What? The first part of the question?
Dr Russel Norman : When did he or his chief of staff become aware that Jason Ede, while employed on the Prime Minister’s staff, in his office, had accessed the Labour Party’s private database without permission from the Labour Party?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : My chief of staff became aware of the fact that Mr Ede had gone into the part of the Labour website that it had failed to properly secure, that its members apologised to their supporters for this, and that the database was publicly available some time after that event occurred.
The database was “publicly available” if someone with sufficient technical skill knew how to sneak in, that person appears to have been a Nat staffer who showed Slater, who subsequently made a video explaining the complex process required to find this “publicly available” information.
Dr Russel Norman : Is the Prime Minister now saying that it is acceptable behaviour for ministerial staff to go into private databases—which they have no right to go into; they have not gained permission to go into them—take the data from those databases, and share it with attack bloggers like Slater? Is that now acceptable, ethical behaviour for ministerial staff?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What I am saying is that that part of the website was publicly available for people to go into. What I am also saying to the House is that, no, I do not agree with Nicky Hager being part of an action to steal emails. I do not agree with people coming to the National Party cocktail party and secretly taping our people. No, I do not agree with people secretly taping other activities undertaken by us. I think the member, actually, should pick up a mirror and have a bit of a look.
Key runs the “but the front door was open” defence (no it wasn’t, see above) then falls back on his usual deflect and attack. Highest ethical standards? Not so much.
A question that still needs to come up in Parliament is, just who were the “senior nats” that Slater was working with in plans to release Labour’s confidential information, in an attempt to embarrass and intimidate Labour members and donors? (Slater: “it will shut down their donors, shut down their it systems shut down their membership flow and shut down their online campaigns”). They would have done it too, if Labour’s forensics hadn’t linked the intrusion back to the Nats. National’s highest ethical standards? Not so much.
As even John Armstrong acknowledges, there are questions still to be asked.
Mr Key is quoted as saying: “Someone phoned and told me who the hacker was, but other than having a look at this person, I thought, ‘Oh well … nothing will come of it. Life goes on’.”
So – the police didn’t need to go and trample all over Nicky Hager’s home for 10 hours after all – because Key already knows. Uh huh.