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

  • Significant global progress made under Christchurch Call
    A stocktake undertaken by France and New Zealand shows significant global progress under the Christchurch Call towards its goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.  The findings of the report released today reinforce the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, with countries, companies and civil society working together to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • New chair of interim TAB NZ Board appointed
    Racing Minister Grant Robertson has announced he is appointing Elizabeth Dawson (Liz) as the Chair of the interim TAB NZ Board. Liz Dawson is an existing Board Director of the interim TAB NZ Board and Chair of the TAB NZ Board Selection Panel and will continue in her role as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Government to phase out live exports by sea
    The Government has announced that the export of livestock by sea will cease following a transition period of up to two years, said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “At the heart of our decision is upholding New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. We must stay ahead of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Inter-prison kapa haka competition launched
    For the first time, all 18 prisons in New Zealand will be invited to participate in an inter-prison kapa haka competition, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. The 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka will see groups prepare and perform kapa haka for experienced judges who visit each prison and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Government takes step forward on counter terrorism laws
    The Government has introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill, designed to boost New Zealand's ability to respond to a wider range of terrorist activities. The Bill strengthens New Zealand’s counter-terrorism legislation and ensures that the right legislative tools are available to intervene early and prevent harm. “This is the Government’s first ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Carbon neutral government a step closer
    Coal boiler replacements at a further ten schools, saving an estimated 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next ten years Fossil fuel boiler replacements at Southern Institute of Technology and Taranaki DHB, saving nearly 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next ten years Projects to achieve a total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Appointment of Chief Parliamentary Counsel
    Attorney-General David Parker today announced the appointment of Cassie Nicholson as Chief Parliamentary Counsel for a term of five years. The Chief Parliamentary Counsel is the principal advisor and Chief Executive of the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO).  She is responsible for ensuring PCO, which drafts most of New Zealand’s legislation, provides ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Emissions report shows urgent action needed
    Every part of Government will need to take urgent action to bring down emissions, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw said today in response to the recent rise in New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions. The latest annual inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions shows that both gross and net ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ becomes first in world for climate reporting
    Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says Aotearoa New Zealand has become the first country in the world to introduce a law that requires the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change on their business and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. The Financial ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Awards celebrate the food and fibre sector employer excellence
    Exceptional employment practices in the primary industries have been celebrated at the Good Employer Awards, held this evening at Parliament. “Tonight’s awards provided the opportunity to celebrate and thank those employers in the food and fibres sector who have gone beyond business-as-usual in creating productive, safe, supportive, and healthy work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tourism Infrastructure Fund now open
    Applications are now invited from all councils for a slice of government funding aimed at improving tourism infrastructure, especially in areas under pressure given the size of their rating bases. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has already signalled that five South Island regions will be given priority to reflect that jobs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Construction Skills Action Plan delivering early on targets
    The Construction Skills Action Plan has delivered early on its overall target of supporting an additional 4,000 people into construction-related education and employment, says Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams. Since the Plan was launched in 2018, more than 9,300 people have taken up education or employment opportunities in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Youth Justice residence offers new pathway
    An innovative new Youth Justice residence designed in partnership with Māori will provide prevention, healing, and rehabilitation services for both young people and their whānau, Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.  Whakatakapokai is located in South Auckland and will provide care and support for up to 15 rangatahi remanded or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • The Duke of Edinburgh
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today expressed New Zealand’s sorrow at the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time.  On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Five Country Ministerial Communiqué
    We, the Home Affairs, Interior, Security and Immigration Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (the ‘Five Countries’) met via video conference on 7/8 April 2021, just over a year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Guided by our shared ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Inspiring creativity through cultural installations and events
    Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni has today announced the opening of the first round of Ngā Puninga Toi ā-Ahurea me ngā Kaupapa Cultural Installations and Events. “Creating jobs and helping the arts sector rebuild and recover continues to be a key part of the Government’s COVID-19 response,” Carmel ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Drug-testing law to be made permanent
    Interim legislation that is already proving to keep people safer from drugs will be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says. Research by Victoria University, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, shows that the Government’s decision in December to make it legal for drug-checking services to operate at festivals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Better rules proposed for freedom camping
    Public consultation launched on ways to improve behaviour and reduce damage Tighter rules proposed for either camping vehicles or camping locations Increased penalties proposed, such as $1,000 fines or vehicle confiscation Rental companies may be required to collect fines from campers who hire vehicles Public feedback is sought on proposals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government backs Air New Zealand as Trans-Tasman bubble opens
    The Government is continuing to support Air New Zealand while aviation markets stabilise and the world moves towards more normal border operations. The Crown loan facility made available to Air New Zealand in March 2020 has been extended to a debt facility of up to $1.5 billion (an additional $600 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Building gifted for new community hub in Richmond red zone
    Christchurch’s Richmond suburb will soon have a new community hub, following the gifting of a red-zoned property by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to the Richmond Community Gardens Trust. The Minister for Land Information, Damien O’Connor said that LINZ, on behalf of the Crown, will gift a Vogel Street house ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Pacific languages funding reopens
      Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the reopening of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) Languages Funding in 2021 will make sure there is a future for Pacific languages. “Language is the key to the wellbeing for Pacific people. It affirms our identity as Pasifika and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • ERANZ speech April 2021
    It is a pleasure to be here tonight.  Thank you Cameron for the introduction and thank you for ERANZ for also hosting this event. Last week in fact, we had one of the largest gatherings in our sector, Downstream 2021. I have heard from my officials that the discussion on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Strengthening Māori knowledge in science and innovation
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has today announced the 16 projects that will together get $3.9 million through the 2021 round of Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, further strengthening the Government’s commitment to Māori knowledge in science and innovation.  “We received 78 proposals - the highest ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government delivers next phase of climate action
    The Government is delivering on a key election commitment to tackle climate change, by banning new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers and partnering with the private sector to help it transition away from fossil fuels. This is the first major announcement to follow the release of the Climate Commission’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Continued investment in Central Otago schools supports roll growth
    Six projects, collectively valued at over $70 million are delivering new schools, classrooms and refurbished buildings across Central Otago and are helping to ease the pressure of growing rolls in the area, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins. The National Education Growth Plan is making sure that sufficient capacity in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Two more Christchurch schools complete
    Two more schools are now complete as part of the Christchurch Schools Rebuild Programme, with work about to get under way on another, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Te Ara Koropiko – West Spreydon School will welcome students to their new buildings for the start of Term 2. The newly ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Independent experts to advise Government on post-vaccination future
    The Government is acting to ensure decisions on responding to the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic are informed by the best available scientific evidence and strategic public health advice. “New Zealand has worked towards an elimination strategy which has been successful in keeping our people safe and our economy ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Supporting Māori success with Ngārimu Awards
    Six Māori scholars have been awarded Ngārimu VC and the 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial scholarships for 2021, Associate Education Minister and Ngārimu Board Chair, Kelvin Davis announced today. The prestigious Manakura Award was also presented for the first time since 2018. “These awards are a tribute to the heroes of the 28th ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Global partnerships propel space tech research
    New Zealand’s aerospace industry is getting a boost through the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), to grow the capability of the sector and potentially lead to joint space missions, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has announced. 12 New Zealand organisations have been chosen to work with world-leading experts at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government backs more initiatives to boost food and fibre workforce
    The Government is backing more initiatives to boost New Zealand’s food and fibre sector workforce, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “The Government and the food and fibres sector have been working hard to fill critical workforce needs.  We've committed to getting 10,000 more Kiwis into the sector over the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Minister welcomes Bill to remove Subsequent Child Policy
    Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni has welcomed the first reading of the Social Security (Subsequent Child Policy Removal) Amendment Bill in the House this evening. “Tonight’s first reading is another step on the way to removing excessive sanctions and obligations for people receiving a Main Benefit,” says ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mental Health Amendment Bill passes first reading
    The Government has taken a significant step towards delivering on its commitment to improve the legislation around mental health as recommended by He Ara Oranga – the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, Health Minister Andrew Little says. The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill passes third reading
    Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has welcomed the Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Bill passing its third reading today. “After nearly 100 years of a system that was not fit for Māori and did not reflect the partnership we have come to expect between Māori and the Crown, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Trans-Tasman bubble to start 19 April
    New Zealand’s successful management of COVID means quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on Monday 19 April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the conditions for starting to open up quarantine free travel with Australia have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill passes Third Reading
    Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little welcomed ngā uri o Ngāti Hinerangi to Parliament today to witness the third reading of their Treaty settlement legislation, the Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill. “I want to acknowledge ngā uri o Ngāti Hinerangi and the Crown negotiations teams for working tirelessly ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Independent group announced to advise on firearms matters
    Minister of Police Poto Williams has announced the members of the Ministers Arms Advisory Group, established to ensure balanced advice to Government on firearms that is independent of Police. “The Ministers Arms Advisory Group is an important part of delivering on the Government’s commitment to ensure we maintain the balance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Kiri Allan to take leave of absence
    Kiri Allan, Minister of Conservation and Emergency Management will undertake a leave of absence while she undergoes medical treatment for cervical cancer, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “I consider Kiri not just a colleague, but a friend. This news has been devastating. But I also know that Kiri is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Excellent progress at new Waikeria prison build
    Excellent progress has been made at the new prison development at Waikeria, which will boost mental health services and improve rehabilitation opportunities for people in prison, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. Kelvin Davis was onsite at the new build to meet with staff and see the construction first-hand, following a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Expert panel proposes criminal limits for drug driving
    To reduce the trauma of road crashes caused by drug impaired drivers, an Independent Expert Panel on Drug Driving has proposed criminal limits and blood infringement thresholds for 25 impairing drugs, Minister of Police Poto Williams and Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Covid-19 immigration powers to be extended
    Temporary COVID-19 immigration powers will be extended to May 2023, providing continued flexibility to support migrants, manage the border, and help industries facing labour shortages, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced today. “Over the past year, we have had to make rapid decisions to vary visa conditions, extend expiry dates, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago