web analytics

Key’s reputation and the law

Written By: - Date published: 12:01 pm, September 15th, 2014 - 26 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, law, Spying - Tags: , , , , ,

An interesting article by lawyer Steven Price at Media Law Journal. Some extracts quoted, but well worth going and reading the full article:

Some questions for the PM

I’m struggling to find the provisions in NZ’s policy about the classification of documents that allow the PM to declassify documents for the purpose of protecting his reputation (his word, not mine, on Morning Report this morning). Perhaps the PM could help me out here.

The PM has said he would declassify documents to prove he stopped a mass surveillance proposal, in response to criticisms by journalist Glenn Greenwald (and, it seems, whistleblower Edward Snowden).

A few other questions spring to mind:

Why were these documents classified in the first place, and who by? What was the security classification?

If they were classified secret or top secret, what was the “serious” or “exceptionally grave” damage to our security operations that would have been caused if we’d known about them, say, at the time we were debating the proper content of our spy laws?  …

Who is directing the reclassification? Because it sounds like the PM is ordering it.  …

So what’s the PM doing making this call? Hasn’t he always told us that operational decisions are the domain of the agencies themselves? (And isn’t his office under investigation for rapidly having SIS information declassified and released to Cameron Slater?)

If the PM is making this decision, is protecting his own reputation a proper consideration? …

Go and read the whole article at Media Law Journal.

26 comments on “Key’s reputation and the law ”

  1. Gruntie 1

    More evidence that what is happening in NZ right now is a democratic constitutional crisis Key is out of control, he has to go, and our Fourth Estate need to front up and call it – help our citizens understand

    • aerobubble 1.1

      Key clearly does not want to understand the mistakes he has made, and the mob that he has blown up targeting him. He was in denial, now he’s moved into negotiation.

      Here’s the documents proving a negative says Key on Morning report.

      The problem is that he admits to believing in mass surveillance, and coupled with his association with Slater, he does not understand the threat to the nation state he himself has become.

  2. Wayne 2

    Interesting questions by Steven Price, but they seem to be operating in a parallel universe.

    If there is a major allegation that the NZ’ers are subject to mass surveillance, which is backed by documents, and that the PM has lied about that, surely it is reasonable that the PM be able to release documents that would refute such allegations (at least to the extent that does not compromise sources, etc).

    The allegations, which are serious and which go so directly to both the integrity of the PM and the security services, so it seems appropriate that the PM ought to be able to properly rebut them.

    The alternative would mean that people could say the assertions by Glenn Greenwald are obviously true, because the PM is not allowed to rebut them except by his own say so.

    How many people who regularly comment on this site would accept the PM’s statements without supporting documents?

    • aerobubble 2.1

      To refute Greenwald, and then in some way exonerate Key, you would need to disprove the Snowden documents. Good luck with that.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2

      The Prime Minister already lied to the country during the debate over the bill.

      Are you such a fool as to trust his further assurances, Dr. Mapp?

      • Wayne 2.2.1

        One Anonymous Bloke,

        In a sense you prove my point. It is the ability of the PM to release documents that matters.

        The Snowden documents might be accurate as far as they go (or at least that is what the PM is saying). But the Snowden documents are limited, in that only cover a snapshot in time. If the government did not proceed after the time period of the Snowden documents, then Snowden and Greenwald would not know that.

        And given that Rebecca Kitterridge has been all over this, it would be a “brave” soul who would suggest she would not tell the truth.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Are you auditioning for a play? Dr. Mapp and the Red Herrings. A rock band perhaps?

          The Prime Minister’s integrity is at stake you said. He doesn’t have any, or why did he lie to the nation during the GCSB bill debate.

          Stop trying to smear Rebecca Kitteridge: the Prime Minister stains the National Party and its associates, not her.

          • Anne

            Dr. Mapp and the Red Herrings.

            My instant response too. Wayne, you might be able to fool the sheeple among out population, but don’t play those silly games with us.

            • yeshe

              Dr Mapp and the Red Herrings .. playing now at a microfiche and silicon chip shop near you !

              solid gold OAB.

        • Macro

          When government’s break the law they need to be held accountable – just like everyone else; and the Ministers and officials who are supposed to make sure they don’t, need to lose their jobs. That is the principle at stake here, nothing else.

        • KJT

          Why? We already know Key is a liar. Doesn’t seem to affect those who vote for him too much. Which says something rather unpleasant about a great many right wing voters.

          The thing with revelations that the Government is spying on us to keep themselves in power, keep their fuckups secret, and stifle dissent is, unfortunately, not really news.

          What is frightening, is that so many people think it is fine.

          • Draco T Bastard

            What is frightening, is that so many people think it is fine.


            And that, really, is how civilisations end. The rich get more and more corrupt and a largish part of the population lets and encourages them.

        • Tracey

          You are a Law Commissioner, yes? Do you actually believe what you just wrote and apply your “logic” across the board or only for the PM’s benefit?

          • Wayne


            For the very reason you have noted, I have confined my comments as to whether it is reasonable to release the documents, not the veracity of the documents.

            Although for some even that is controversial.

            I would have thought that any Prime Minister, irrespective of party, would see the need to do so. I note that David Cunliffe is not saying the PM should be barred from releasing the documents, in fact he is saying they should have been released earlier, presumably at the time of the debate on the GCSB Bill.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Considering the political level I think the allegations should have gone to the Supreme Court with the court then requisitioning the documents and doing a full investigation. That way there wouldn’t be any of the politicising that we’re seeing now.

              And at the end of it we’d be able to lay charges.

    • Wayne,

      The point, surely, is that the release of documents previously classified to such a high level (because of the grievous threats to national security their release would involve) trumps any concern about the political career of John Key?

      Even if he is entirely innocent, it should not be possible to risk national security in order to establish that innocence. He either finds another way to defend his innocence or he takes it on the chin – for the collective good (i.e., for the national security).

      That would show true integrity – to sacrifice his personal ambitions for the good of the many.

      • tricledrown 2.3.1

        Wayne trying to defend Keys Merrill Lynch behavior his wheeling and dealing with Hollywood is straight out of Merrill Lynch code of practice Key hasn’t changed his spots !
        Who set up the wealthy investor category only 10 people came in on this Visa!
        Key categorically denies any knowledge is pure BS!

        • Murray Olsen

          He could name the 80 people who went to Australia but had no idea about the ten who came in as filthy rich investors? Hmmmm.

          Wayne is dissembling here, for some known reason. One other thing that occurs to me is to look at the basis on which documents are classified. What on earth is in them that made them secret until Key felt like releasing them? What has changed in terms of threats to national security since last week?

          • North

            Poor Wayne……retired now……battling hard against that ever-niggling sense of irrelevance. A classier resistance than Aaron’s (Gilmore/Bhatnagar) but essentially the same.

    • framu 2.4

      “so it seems appropriate that the PM ought to be able to properly rebut them.”

      but for what purpose wayne

      is it appropriate if its just key protecting his reputation?

      is it appropriate if its about ensuring NZers get a true story free from mis-information and delay?

      then for bonus points – what is keys publicly stated reason for releasing the docs now?

      • KJT 2.4.1

        If they were so vital to NZ security that they be secret.

        Either there was no justification for the secrecy in the first -place, or Key is violating NZ security by releasing them.

        Which is it?

        • framu

          well yes – i agree with you there.

          More following mappies line of reasoning to see what he picks – i reckon he knows its a weak argument anyway

        • To be fair you could argue that given the allegation has been made that said documents are in essence no longer secret, but there’s still a big difference between “journalists claim New Zealand does X” and “government confirms New Zealand tried to do X but may not have succeeded” in terms of security concerns.

          What alarms me is that this declassification can be done so quickly at election time when there’s a political point at stake. This stinks really, really badly of National undermining the neutrality of the public service.

    • Tracey 2.5

      But others cannot demand the release of any such documents to clear their names or prove the PM is telling an untruth.

      Spo, when the PM says he can’t comment on something, even though it would reveal the truth of an issue, you are fine with that? And he does, often.

    • Sue 2.6

      I think the point is that the PM’s motivation for declassifying documents is stated as protecting _his_ reputation (as opposed to the reputation of the office of the PM – although I understand there has been a little blurring of those boundaries lately) rather than reassuring us that no such thing happened.

  3. KJT 3


    “These are two fine examples of why the proprietary kind of information that spies purvey is so much riskier than the products of rational analysis. Rational inferences can be debated openly and widely. Secrets belong to a small assortment of individuals, and inevitably become hostage to private agendas”.

    “Translation: the proper function of spies is to remind those who rely on spies that the kinds of thing found out by spies can’t be trusted.”

    Note that almost all exposures of terrorism has been by conventional police work, including our own home grown incident, the Rainbow Warrior.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Project protects jobs and nature
    A Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19 Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “This $500,000 project will save ten local jobs by deploying workers from Discover Waitomo into nature-based jobs. They will be undertaking local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Minister Shaw speaks with U.S. Presidential Envoy John Kerry
    Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw spoke yesterday with President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Kerry this morning about the urgency with which our governments must confront the climate emergency. I am grateful to him and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today announced three diplomatic appointments: Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai   Poland “New Zealand’s relationship with Poland is built on enduring personal, economic and historical connections. Poland is also an important ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Major redevelopment of Wainuiomata High School underway
    Work begins today at Wainuiomata High School to ensure buildings and teaching spaces are fit for purpose, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Minister joined principal Janette Melrose and board chair Lynda Koia to kick off demolition for the project, which is worth close to $40 million, as the site ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • New expert group appointed to advise Government on Oranga Tamariki
    A skilled and experienced group of people have been named as the newly established Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board by Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis today. The Board will provide independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki: relationships with families, whānau, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihōpai Rūnaka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago