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Look what I found

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, September 9th, 2009 - 25 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

Does anyone really believe a Treasury official just happened to accidentally drop a notebook full of secrets on The Terrace then one of only a couple of dozen political reporters in the country, Julian Robins from Radio New Zealand, just happened to pick it up, read it, and realise what he had found?

Pull the other one. 

I think this – like the Superfund leak that exposed English’s lies, like the ‘Chopper Tolley’ story, and all the others – shows that officials are concerned at the secret and often incompetent way this government is handling the buisness of governing. They’re leaking an unprecedented amount of information.

Good. It’s great fun and it’s the only way we can find out what the Nats are really up to.

25 comments on “Look what I found ”

  1. JohnDee 1

    I thought the same yesterday when i heard the radio news. Staggering that with all the people wandering around the streets and it is a reporter who finds it.
    Why do Government Ministers not think that Public Service Staff are not going to bite back when those same ministers are less than truthful.
    Long may it continue.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    Does have the flavour of the reporter having a meeting with said official, who then accidentally ( but may be on purpose) drops the notebook which the reporter snaps up.

    Could this official be NZs ‘deep throat’

  3. Hieronymous 3

    Agreed. Watch for further developments as Key’s slash and burn
    brigade attempts to sell the crown jewels and gut the state.

  4. spot 4

    That’s some kind of ‘martyr’ action on the part of the civil servant isn’t it?

    Why go so dramatic with the exchange, to lend it more credence?

    How about one or other of the agencies involved are not happy, they nick the note-book in a honey-trap sting/burglary, and then discredit a foe through its release….

    ….that’s far more Le Carre !

  5. r0b 5

    Does anyone really believe a Treasury official just happened to accidentally drop a notebook full of secrets on The Terrace then one of only a couple of dozen political reporters in the country, Julian Robins from Radio New Zealand, just happened to pick it up

    You could argue either conspiracy or cockup on the above I guess (I usually tend to the latter).

    read it, and realise what he had found?

    But realising what he had found probably wasn’t hard!

    We don’t hear much about our “Intelligence” services – I get the impression that they’re Mostly Harmless, which is the way I like it. The services are outlined here and there’s a discussion of the possible merger here.

  6. Zorr 6

    Personally, the strangest/stupidest thing about this story is the fact that the Treasury staffer gets to keep their job.

    In what world is dropping a pad full of notes on confidential meetings in the middle of the street NOT a colossal screwup that should get you fired? Or, at the very least, on latrine duty with your tongue as your only tool for the next 100 days. Ah well, thanks to that very nice Mr Key whoever it was gets to keep their job. “Everybody makes mistakes”. Insanity.

    • Maynard J 6.1

      The world is not much better when no one is allowed to learn from their mistakes.

      What if that person happens to be an exemplary individual who has done wonders in that role – off with their head? Leave knee-jerk to others!

      All we know is that someone made a careless mistake. So we do not know what kind of world it is when you do not lose your job for making a careless mistake, because we know nothing else whatsoever about the situation.

      (ye gods I am defending Key here, for once I agree with his feather-light attitude of “umm, ahh, I think it is ok really”…)

  7. Does anyone really believe a Treasury official just happened to accidentally drop a notebook full of secrets on The Terrace then one of only a couple of dozen political reporters in the country, Julian Robins from Radio New Zealand, just happened to pick it up, read it, and realise what he had found?

    I think that’s a lot more likely than a Treasury staffer deciding to anonymously leak material to the media by throwing their notebook onto the ground (with their name printed clearly on the front) and then running away. Good grief.

  8. it beggars belief that they just happened to drop the notebook, didn’t notice it fall. Picked up by a journo – who didn’t see it fall – how long did it sit on the road? And it just happened to have info on a undisclosed cost saving exercise relating to a ‘sensitive’ area. We might be idiots but we aren’t stupid.

  9. Eddie 9

    I don’t for a second believe Julian Robins and Radio NZ were lying about how they came across the notebook. So yeah, I’m inclined to believe them.

    • Scott 9.1

      Me too. I heard Robbins on the radio yesterday morning giving his explanation. He sounded genuine. It sounded like he just couldn’t believe his luck when he found it.

      I don’t see a deliberate leak in this. I’m always reluctant to find a conspiracy when bungling incompetence provides an adequate explanation.

  10. We might be idiots but we aren’t stupid.

    No, I think you’re pretty stupid. Julian works in Parliament, which is just across the road from Treasury. The person who dropped the notebook happened to have the same name as someone else who works in the gallery. If I saw a notebook lying on the road I’d probably leave it there, if the notebook had the name of a workmate on it I’d pick it up and take it too him.

    • marty mars 10.1

      But danyl is it not a big stretch – because of the information it contained? how many notebooks are lost with no up-coming ‘sensitive’ information in them. Occram’s razor slices this one to bits doesn’t it?

      • Occram’s razor slices this one to bits doesn’t it?

        No. If a notebook gets lost without any sensitive information in it then it isn’t a news story. I think it’s safe to say that this is not the only notebook that has ever been lost in Wellington.

  11. The Voice of Reason 11

    Sorry, but the staffer did not deliberately leave the book lying around, Zet.

    If she had wanted Robins to have the info, there are a many easier ways to blow the whistle. Email, phone, ‘casual meeting’ in a coffee shop, etc. Why dob yourself in, when it is so much easier not too?

    Treasury, Parliament and Radio NZ are all within a short walk of each other, so it is hardly surprising that a civil servant picked it up and it is just coincidence that it was a RNZ journo who did so. And he did not realize what he had found. When talking about it on RNZ he said it was only when he discussed it with colleagues that the penny dropped.

    It’s simply an error from the Treasury official and clearly her employer sees it that way. It beggars belief that Treasury, the second most conservative public office behind the SIS, would retain a staff member who had deliberately leaked the info.

    Righto, off to Area 51 for my daily meeting with L. Ron Hubbard. You coming Zet?

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    I’m happy enough to believe the coincidence/cockup theory, but for fun, some questions:

    1) If someone wanted to leak this sort of material, would it be seen as more serious than other leaks.

    1a) If so, would they perhaps leak it to a journo only on the condition that it not look like a leak at all?

    1b) If that was the offer, would a journo want the story, and how would they tell it?

    2) If a third party found the notebook, might they think it worth giving to a journo, but not think it worth the hassle of maybe having spooks looking at them funny.

  13. Zetetic:

    If you have evidence that this was a plant or a set up, please provide it, otherwise its just a conspiracy theory like man didn’t walk on the moon and their are aliens in Roswell.

    You have to ask yourself, if they wanted something leaked like this, they would of gone about it differently.

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    Either way, it’s good that it came to light. Now all we need are the rest of NACTs plans.

  15. Hieronymous 15

    “You have to ask yourself, if they wanted something leaked like this, they would of gone about it differently.”

    There are many ways of skinning a cat, a goose, an eel .. whatever.

    This is Wellington, with journos, Treasury, and SIS/EAB/GCHQ in close proximity. When did such an “accident” happen last ?

    I am sure that the motives of all parties are entirely honourable.

  16. Maynard J 16

    I am not agreeing nor disagreeing with this idea, but those to the contrary have all said there are better ways to leak information.

    What do they all have in common? They are reported as leaks.

    Spot the difference here?

    Just some food for thought – I do not think the ‘there is a better way to leak’ explains it, though I also have no reason to believe it was not a genuine mistake.

  17. rgraham 17

    As one would expect from a lefty, it’s a conspiracy.
    Instead of the usual silly nonsense, how about considering the following –
    1. why did the ‘journalist’ talk about this in public ? the notebook is a private one – he/she should have returned it to the owner.
    2. does the ‘journalist’ not work for the cvil service ? is so, why did he/she betray another fellow civil servant ?
    3. the subject matter in the notebook was private/secret information, concerning the NZ security services, so why would a citizen deliberately broadcast the contents ?
    4. who in radionz authorised the broadcast of the information ? is this not unprofessional ? will that person and the journalist be reminded of their duty towards fellow NZers and civil servants ?

    Can’t we take it for granted that the fool who lost the notebook is going to be disciplined – or doesn’t the civil service do that ?
    All in all, a sad story, showing up poor behaviour all round.
    High time radionz was given a damn good smacking !

    • Pascal's bookie 17.1

      Yeah, god forbid journalists tell people what’s going on.
      They should keep their big mouths shut!

    • Scott 17.2

      “who in radionz authorised the broadcast of the information ? is this not unprofessional ?”

      No it isn’t.

      If a civil servant, or indeed a politician, is careless and drops something like this, then I’m afraid it’s fair game. That’s well understood in the media and indeed in political circles.

      There is a long tradition in this and other countries of the content of documents, briefcases and dossiers being published, after being found on trains, in gutters or other public places.

      The journalist didn’t tell us anything particularly sensitive. And I think we have a right to know how our intelligence agencies operate generally (without needing to know specifics of particular intelligence operatiions). So what is the problem?

      Leaks and accidental disclosures like this are how we find out what our untrustworthy politicians are really up to.

      As for the poor sod involved, if we fired someone every time they made a mistake, who would be left with a job?

  18. Hieronymous 18

    Who said Wellington was boring ?

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