Polity: Hooton on Key on SIS: Bullshit!

Written By: - Date published: 9:41 am, August 26th, 2014 - 117 comments
Categories: john key, slippery - Tags: , , , ,

polity_square_for_lynnReposted from Polity.

On Radio New Zealander yesterday, Matthew Hooton made two important points.

First he – along with pretty much everyone else – poured cold water on the idea that John Key was a virginal innocent in the selective release of SIS documents to Whaleoil. Good. Key is insulting our intelligence.

But second, and more important, Hooton argued that even if Key’s version of events is right, then he is in even more trouble. In that circumstance, his issue is dereliction of duty.

Political staffers, such as for example Jason Ede, have absolutely no businesses being delegated Prime Ministerial authority to take decisions over any aspect of New Zealand’s security apparatus. Yet that is what it appears Key has done. Key, apparently, was too busy high-fiving kids to take the duties of his office seriously.

Hooton says , and I agree, that neither Prime Minister Bolger nor Prime Minister Clark delegated any decision-making authority over SIS matters. Not even Heather Simpson had that kind of authority.

If Key is right, and he had no earthly idea that his security agency was releasing just-declassified documents to his blog weapon to embarrass his partisan opponent, then what the hell was he doing delegating that level of authority to a mid-level hack? As a mid-level hack myself I use this as a term of endearment, obviously. That is shocking. Let’s hear him answer questions about that.

[original here]

117 comments on “Polity: Hooton on Key on SIS: Bullshit!”

  1. RedLogix 1

    In other words – the cover-up will get him.

    Fascinating that it is Hooten sticking the knife in here.

    This, and Key’s other admission that he routinely talks to Slater, have both fatally compromised him.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Ultimately Slater will get to claim the scalp of a prime minister. Perhaps not the PM he meant to scalp, though.

    • Chris 1.2

      “Fascinating that it is Hooten sticking the knife in here.”

      Hooton is hoping that the more he comes across as a disinterested commentator the greater the chances of deflecting close examination and criticism of the parts he’s played in all of this filth. Hooton’s donkey deep in this muck and he’s paddling as fast as he can to stay afloat.

      • rhinocrates 1.2.1

        Exactly. Hoots is just like Key – antennae, but no compass. He’s just polishing his brand, no more. Today he’ll be saying that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia and tomorrow he’ll say that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia and in both cases it’ll be because he thinks it looks good to be seen to be saying that.

        He’s neck deep in this muck alright; nobody forget that he passed Nicky Hager’s address to Odgers when she was talking about soliciting his murder.

  2. hoom 2

    Which faction is Hooton working for these days?

    I have been pretty surprised with the straight out attacking of Key on this stuff from him.
    Normally no matter how bad the situation, he puts some positive-for-the-Right spin on it. (normally followed by Mike Williams uselessly saying ‘I agree with that’)

    Seems like Blinglish & him are manouvring to be separated from it & still in the public eye after the dust settles?

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Why does Hooton ‘have’ to be working for any ‘faction’?

      • hoom 2.1.1

        Because he is a clever, well connected, very pro-right kind of guy.
        I don’t believe he says anything much of political nature without it being intentionally aiming for some gain for the right.

        I find his sudden discovery of ‘balance’ to be very suspicious.

        • Colonial Viper

          yeah it’s positioning for the faction that he thinks will take the prize – and hold the consulting purse strings.

      • phillip ure 2.1.2


        ..because every word out of his mouth is spin..

        ..so knowing who he is spinning for..is kinda essential..

      • ianmac 2.1.3

        Matthew described himself as Far Right on the 9 to Noon this week.

        • Tracey

          he was being touted as a possible candidate for epsom for ACT

        • Colonial Viper

          Matthew described himself as Far Right on the 9 to Noon this week.

          Ah-ha, I wonder if this was an effort to make the PM look nice and centrist, and hard done by the right wing?

    • Bearded Git 2.2

      Yes Hoom-me too sick of Williams agreeing with Hooton. He needs to cut that phrase out of his vocabulary.

      On the other hand it pales into insignificance compared to Key saying “At the end of the day” 20 times in one interview last week. A sure sign he was in lie mode.

      • gnomic 2.2.1

        Anyone else tired of the smirking weasel telling us that he is ‘comfortable’ with this that or the other thing? Of late he has moved on to being ‘very comfortable’. For myself I don’t need to know about the weasel’s degree of comfort. I’d be extremely comfortable with him leaving for Hawaii and never coming back.

      • North 2.2.2

        True BG @ 2.2 re Williams. Many’s the time I’ve thought “Jeez man, you coulda done better than that !”. I am however grateful for Williams’ first words to Kathryn Ryan (in the presence of Hooton) after the thing first broke – “The book shows they’re disgusting, repulsive people !” or some such, certainly he was animated in his emphasis on “disgusting” and “repulsive”.

        A powerful soundbite, all the more for Williams’ alarming proclivity for “I agree with Matthew….” A soundbite which resonates well beyond the beltway. That this business has sturdy legs is manifested by the ‘shitting themselves’ looks on the faces of various National Party MPs who stand behind and to the side of TheGodKey when risibly he tries to re-jig the application of the personal pronoun. Making a fulsome impression of the “Not me, not me” seven year-old caught with hands in the cookie jar.

        They’re worried on two scores I guess – TheGodkey’s regularly exercised capacity to offer facile, cringeworthy analysis – (“Fuck…..what impossible position’s he gonna tie me into next ?”) – and the moments in the coming weeks when publicly they’re gonna be hit up face-to-face by the people of Ordinary Folksville using words like “Bloody Liar”, “Crook”, “Bullshit”. People who don’t back-off from spin like most of the media do.

        Very embarrassing for the poor buggers but good job. For naked self-promotion and self -interest they’ve been dispensing the Kool-Aid to Ordinary Folksville for years now.

        • marty mars

          The fact is imo that williams and hooton are cut from the same cloth – just two sides of the same dirty (as in the way they play the politics) coin.

        • Bearded Git

          Agreed North. Williams has been excellent in his comments on the Dirty Politics affair. Has found his mojo on this. It is interesting that Hooton is condemning the Nats over their handling of the revelations. Reading the runes?

          btw I love TheGodKey and will use it if that is ok.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      I think, in this case, it might be called Arse Covering.

      Hooton’s one of the people mentioned in Dirty Politics.

      • Hanswurst 2.3.1

        Indeed. After all, Hooton wants to be around after the dust has settled, just like he was after The Hollow Men. It probably indicates that he knows how bad this could get and wants to put some distance between himself and the main players before the shit really hits the fan. That doesn’t make him honourable, but it doesn’t stop his dishonourable actions from being useful, either.

        • marty mars

          Political traders make ‘money’ when their side are going up and/or down – they don’t really care which way it’s going they will still makeadaloota.

        • Tracey

          yp. Hoots has a succession plan

          • lurgee

            I don’t think many people on the right listen to Hooton. He’d LOVE to be the eminence gris some here credit him as being. But he’s just a selfish loud mouth.

            He’s probably gutted – GUTTED – that he only warranted a passing reference in Dirty Politics. He’d love to have been made out to be far more important.

      • emergency mike 2.3.2

        Something about rats and sinking ships.

    • Awww 2.4

      Hooton has always given intelligent commentary. I for one am glad he pointed out the dereliction of duty – clearly nobody else thought it through.

    • Chris 2.5

      He’s attacking Key to deflect attention away from his own filthy deeds, but if you listen closely he’s still arguing strongly for a Key-led government.

  3. fambo 3

    “Let’s hear him answer questions about that.” – the silence will be deafening

  4. vto 4

    How will you get Key to answer such questions?

    I agree they are critical questions around how our government runs, and it is essential we have confidence in our government (which this shit shits on), … but …. how does someone get Key to comprehensively and accurately answer these questions?

    It is like it is impossible to ask the PM questions. He refuses to answer genuine questions. He is an arsehole for treating us in this way – key arsehole

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Make it so that it’s a legal requirement of his job and if he doesn’t answer he gets a jail term.

      • Liberal Realist 4.1.1

        +10 but it won’t happen because answering the question honestly would land him in jail.

  5. bad politics 5

    He keeps offering advice to Liala Harre on twitter, & he hates KDC, reckons this negative climate of politics is all KDCs fault!

    Today hes yelling about the ‘Kill the PM’ so expect to hear about that throughout the day from the Slater sockpockets.

    • bad politics 5.1

      & now the Penguin objects to ‘his’ tax dollars been used to fund the said hip hop band (via NZ On Air I assume). Well, I object to ‘my’ tax dollars being used to fund the Penguin spreading his BS. So there.

  6. Anne 6

    John Key puts the story of the Israeli back-packers out there. Goff is furious. I remember his rage. He knew nothing about it. What exactly happened we may never know. One thing is for sure, there is no way Goff was lying because his knowledge and expertise in the area of Foreign Affairs was such that the mere mention of the words Israeli back-packers… left country in big hurry… ChCh earthquake would have made him smartly sit up – not to mention the incident of the two Israeli spies he and Clark had to deal with only a few years earlier.

    That is followed by the OIA/Slater/PM’s Office/SIS scandal.

    The question I would like answered:

    Did Dr Warren Tucker know he was being dragged in to a politically motivated government run set-up to take down the Leader of the Opposition? Or was he put in the invidious position of having to obey instructions without full knowledge of the intended use of the information?

    • yeshe 6.1

      My question: What was Key thinking when he first ‘outed’ the subject into the public domain ? As Minister of SIS, I thought this was forbidden ? This is irrefutable .. it is what Key did.

      • Not a PS Staffer 6.1.1

        Another question: why did Warren Tucker seek legal advice at this juncture? What was different about this OIA that Tucker needed to either:

        (a) get a third party to fully witness his diligent approach? or
        (b) get Crown Law guidance about a unique and novel issue arising from this matter? or
        (c) pull more people into the web so that he had a level of protection should the shit hit the fan?

        I doubt this matter will be resolved before the election. What we need to let the voting public know is that the PM & National has been proven to be working with near criminal elements and government departments to shaft anyone who gets in their way.

        • yeshe

          is it possible all OIA releases are Crown Law cleared and this specific piece is not odd ?

          • Tracey

            do you mean all SIS OIAs or any OIAs

          • Not a PS Staffer

            OIAs are part and parcel of every government agency’s work-load. Legal advisers will not give security advice. An agency will only ask Crown Law for guidance on legal interpretation, process or precedence. An OIA will need to have some unusual context or element before they will incur the cost and time of Crown Law.

            • Tracey

              and what legal issue would this have raised? If they declassified the briefing notes would it set a precedent?

    • RedLogix 6.2

      not to mention the incident of the two Israeli spies he and Clark had to deal with only a few years earlier.

      Along with a whole string of uncomfortable and unanswered matters that were never resolved publicly.

    • Saarbo 6.3

      Yep, agree 100% Anne. Say what you want about Goff, he is an experienced MP, he would never have overlooked this business.

  7. left for dead 7

    I suspect if you asked Matthew Hooton,he would say,..I have never liked john Key.I have heard him say as much.Yes I know,i,ll try an find a link.

  8. Man in Barrel 8

    As I’ve argued previously here, the matter of whether or not Key actually knew about this matter is relevant only to the matter as to whether or not he is a bold-faced liar occupying the most important position in Government – ie his personal reputation

    As the Minister in Charge of the SIS he is reponsible for the doings of the SIS, right or wrong and whether he knew about it or not. It’s the constitutional convention of ministerial responsibility.

    “This means that if waste, corruption, or any other misbehaviour is found to have occurred within a ministry, the minister is responsible even if the minister had no knowledge of the actions. A minister is ultimately responsible for all actions by a ministry because, even without knowledge of an infraction by subordinates, the minister approved the hiring and continued employment of those civil servants. If misdeeds are found to have occurred in a ministry, the minister is expected to resign. It is also possible for a minister to face criminal charges for malfeasance under their watch.

    The principle is considered essential, as it is seen to guarantee that an elected official is answerable for every single government decision. It is also important to motivate ministers to closely scrutinize the activities within their departments. One rule coming from this principle is that each cabinet member answers for their own ministry in parliament’s question time. The reverse of ministerial responsibility is that civil servants are not supposed to take credit for the successes of their department, allowing the government to claim them.”


    Note the “The principle is considered essential.” It is the check on politicians misusing the huge power available to them through the information and powers their ministries hold. Without this doctrine it would be all easy for Ministers to get up to Dirty Tricks and then escape responsibility simply by crying “I knew nuttin”. The convention, Draconian tho’ it might be in cases of genuine Ministerial innocence, imposes a powerful incentive for Ministers to get on top of their Ministries so as not to get caught out. In short it’s there to keep them honest.

    That Key and Collins can think they can just drive a truck through what is one of the most important, essential conventions sustaining Parliamentary democracy disgusts me far more than any little boy caught out lying tantrums from the Prime Minister.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      National don’t think that the rules apply to them.

      • Man in Barrel 8.1.1

        I would argue it’s more important than a mere rule. Constitutional conventions like this are, or should be, fundamental social compacts. We the electorate, give politicians huge powers over us when we elect them into office. The limits and restrictions of those powers have in some places been enshrined into written constitutions, with varying degrees of success, but under the Westminster system we, the electorate, rely on the politicians we elect to respect the conventions that have been established over time to curb the improper use of those powers against us.

        It is those conventions that not only prevent the majority from using the democratic process to oppress or abuse the minority, they also protect the individual from suffering the abuse of power against them by the State.

        That senior National figures like Key and Collins, for reasons of purely personal pride and greed, are prepared to flaunt those conventions, and thus the social compact underlying them, demonstrates that they are not fit to be entrusted with the power of those offices.

        That there are no decent MPs or leading figures in the National Party speaking out along these lines tellsl me volumes about their integrity and morality, and this has certainly cost National my Party Vote this time around.

        But it worries me, too, that Labour is not shouting about this from the hilltops as it suggests to me a conspiracy by politicians of all stripes to be rid of this awkward convention – ‘we want you to vote us into power without these troublesome inconveniences called conventions.’

        And it is a tragedy of the Commons that most New Zealanders are not even aware that the protections against abuse of power so painstakingly built up over the generations to make Parliamentary Democracy the least worst system of Government, are being quietly dismantled with all the dangers that presents.

        • Draco T Bastard

          That senior National figures like Key and Collins, for reasons of purely personal pride and greed, are prepared to flaunt those conventions, and thus the social compact underlying them, demonstrates that they are not fit to be entrusted with the power of those offices.

          National will say that there’s no rules enforcing those conventions and so whatever they do is legal. This requires that those conventions become constitutional rules that can’t be broken without serious consequences to both the individual and the party.

          And it is a tragedy of the Commons that most New Zealanders are not even aware that the protections against abuse of power so painstakingly built up over the generations to make Parliamentary Democracy the least worst system of Government, are being quietly dismantled with all the dangers that presents.

          That’s not a tragedy of the commons but a tragedy of education.

          • Man in Barrel

            “National will say that there’s no rules enforcing those conventions and so whatever they do is legal.”

            They would be right.

            The problem is that the enforcement of a social compact rests entirely with the social consequences of breaking it. If society sleeps through it, it won’t know it’s been screwed until (or unless) it wakes up. And that’s a matter of awareness along with, as you say, education.

            Unfortunately for Standardistas the rot set in, as far as New Zealand is concerned, with Bob Semple* who refused to resign in 1943 over engineering failures in the construction of a railway tunnel. He was quoted as saying “I am responsible, but not to blame.” (Wikipedia, again.)

            This of course immediately raises problems of what is meant by ‘blame’ as opposed to responsibilty. In fact IMHO it’s just one of those quibbles that helps get politicians the bad name they deserve. More importantly it opens the door on the temptation for Ministers to start abusing their powers as far and as long as they can cover their tracks, and lets them start yelling, “Prove it,” once fingers are pointed. Which is exactly what is happening now in Key’s case and why the convention, however unfairly it might operate on occasion, should be absolute.

            *A union leader and later Minister of Public Works for the first Labour Government, which makes it difficult for Labour to get too uppity now. Thanks, Bob.

            • Tracey

              the electorate is supposed to pass judgment on such floutingat an election based on the media shining a light in dark places.
              we are all living this mess together, politicians, media and voters.

              Too many people are accepting gutter behaviour as the price they pay for getting the team they want.

              Most kiwis of voting age are also to blame

              • Man in a Barrel

                “Most kiwis of voting age are also to blame.”

                Bob Semple might be forced to respond that most kiwis of voting age are responsible, but not to blame. After all, how can we blame them for not responding with anger to a breach of an essential constitutional convention/social compact when at best they had a once-over-lightly introduction to the subject at school and there isn’t a peep about it now from the Press (the self-appointed Guardian of our Liberties) or from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the only justification for the expensive existance of which is to hold the Government of the Day to Account?

                Of course it’s only a convention that the duty of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account, and as respect for the conventions has become optional MPs who aren’t actually in Government might just as well go for a three-year vacation in the Bahamas at the taxpayers’ expense for all the good they are.

                • Tracey

                  blame, responsible is a better word yes, but not responsible alone. It requires a breakdown of many parties and our desire to rationalise away stuff we know is wrong

        • Clemgeopin

          “That there are no decent MPs or leading figures in the National Party speaking out along these lines tellsl me volumes about their integrity and morality, and this has certainly cost National my Party Vote this time around”

          Very well said. You are absolutely correct.

          I would like to AT LEAST see a whole bunch of previous National party leaders, ex MPs, and ex civil servants, ex judiciary and prominent members of the public take a bold stand and speak up for the good of democracy and the good of the country in the long run.

          Here is hoping.

      • Of course they dont DracoTB.They are born to rule are they not. At least they think so.

  9. Tom Gould 9

    I don’t believe the delegation alibi for one moment. Of course Key knew all along precisely what was going on in his office and with his dirty tricks brigade. He just never wrote it down. Which is what any good slippery con artist will tell you to do. They are even now trying to get up the narrative that Slater and Lusk were loners and some sort of rogue element acting independently. Anyone who actually read the book knows what a bunch of BS that is and how donkey deep the Tories have been all along. Nixon said the same as Key, until the tapes turned up.

    • Plus 1 – plus maybe an OIA to the spooks for their recordings of the PM’s office would shed light…

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Hard drive accidentally lost beneath a steam roller

        • yeshe

          Like the video of Key receiving the Dotcom briefing was lost.

          We need our own Martha Mitchell ….

          and in similar vein, I do wonder what Bronagh and Mrs Cameron Slater think of what their hubbies do in their day jobs now it is in public sunshine.

          • Anne

            Like the video of Key receiving the Dotcom briefing was lost.

            A very competent steam roller.

  10. And here for the first time (that I’ve seen) is a serious suggestion that a royal commission may be necessary to clean it all up rather than expecting the traditional integrity from NZ politicians to do the right thing when caught.


    • MrSmith 10.1

      Royal commission?

      You mean like the one we had into the Arthur Allan Thomas case where the police still haven’t admitted any wrong doing or the Erebus disaster. Sadly the Government and the police have now become so corrupt any inquiry will be nothing but a white wash and if anyone dares to speak up they and their report will be squashed, like Canadian jurist Ian Binnie’s report into David Bain’s compensation was crushed by Collins recently or remember how Justice Peter Mahon was discredited by Muldoon.

      What a sad, sad, place New Zealand has become.

      Of-course sadly as people realize this they will become more disobedient and the right will see this as an opportunity to become more authoritarian.

  11. Sable 11

    You wont be hearing any more answers, apparently his Majesty is “bored” of the issue. I’m sure his MSM minions will find something else to talk to him about so it can all quickly go away…

  12. North 12

    Hear hear ! This goes to the core of constitutional governance.

    Pity that it takes a ‘New Zealander of the Year’ to raise it.

    Where are you John Armstrong Supreme Political Journalist ?

    It’s fortunate that Judith Collins is so munted now.

    Imagine the ugly tirade she’d Twitter up against Dame Anne Salmond otherwise.

  13. Tracey 13

    And it turns out not everyone is doing it… Security break in nats website….

  14. Dialey 14

    “If no one is accountable, the problem must lie in the system. This is the inevitable conclusion and the reason that the protesters are right to be indignant. Every barrel has its rotten apples, but the problem, comes when the whole barrel is rotten” Joseph Stiglitz

  15. MrSmith 15

    I actually thought Mike Williams did a very good job yesterday, by agreeing with Hooton occasionally he forces him to at-least agree with him some time, and that turned out to be yesterday, when it counted the most in my opinion.
    I think people here are far too hard on Mike, shit he has been beaten with a stick supplied to Slater by the prime-ministers office and others for years now, and has managed to keep his dignity intact, unlike his opponent Hooton.

    • Saarbo 15.1

      Williams was on fire on Q&A on the weekend, farrar started shrivelling in his seat.

    • Anne 15.2

      Agree MrSmith. He keeps his cool under provocation which is a good deal more than most of his fellow commentators.

    • RedLogix 15.3

      Yes – I think Williams uses “I agree with you” is a sweet rhetorical gambit in this context.

      It frames his as being reasonable and having heard what his opponent has said. The listener, having just spent minutes following Hooten’s argument, now starts seamlessly hearing what Williams is saying without having to make a cognitive jump to a diametrically opposing view.

      Hooten is a very smooth and smart operator. You are not going to score points off him in direct confrontation. He’s far too experienced and skilled for that. But spin merchants like him are always vulnerable to having their own words used as evidence against them.

      Which is why Williams starting out by confirming those words is sound tactics.

  16. xen 16

    All of this rhetoric is based on a fundamental ignorance of the Official Information Act (OIA).

    In theory, any request would be handled autonomously by bureaucrats and would never be taken to Politicians for review and sign off on release of the information.

    There are grounds for withholding information but these reasons and the info to be withheld would have to be submitted to the Ombudsman for approval – he may still release it if he disagree with the reasons.

    If John Key had interfered with this or any OIA process it would not only be unusual, it would be borderline illegal.

    • yeshe 16.1

      It’s not OIA process .. it’s SIS and OIA process. Huge difference isn’t it ?

      • xen 16.1.1

        That’s just it, a different treatment is not allowed under the Act. Like I said some information may be withheld, e.g. redacted or withheld, but everything must have a lawful reason for the Ombudsman to review, e.g. a person’s name, commercial sensitivity, etc.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.2

      Yep. The point, as I understand it, was that the SIS wouldn’t have released the information because it hadn’t been declassified yet – if things hadn’t already been manipulated Key hadn’t already told everybody about it yet.

      • yeshe 16.2.1

        agree DTB .. that’s the major point — Key did something unlawful re SIS, cut and dried QED imho.

    • RJL 16.3

      Except that this particular OIA involved declassification of politically sensitive information, and Key operates a no-surprises policy (as he referred to when he claimed in 2011 that Tucker told him about this OIA response).

      Plenty of OIA responses (from all Govt. departments) go across the relevant Minister’s desk. Not because the Ministers are making the decision, but because they want to know that an OIA decision has been made and that information is about to be released, that they might be called upon to discuss with the media etc.

      • Tracey 16.3.1

        And the no surprises policy is to give ministers asvanced notice so they can pre empt anything that is bad. IOW its not about working for new zealand but working new zealanders, spin wise

    • Tracey 16.4

      and you need to factor in the practical application of the process and that going to the ombudsmen, for most people, takes months or years before it is actioned and depts know this, and use it to their advantage.

  17. xen 17

    Politicians are told of OIAs within their portfolios (and the name of the requester) and when they will be satisfied, the original query letter will also be relayed.

    But, the information to be released will not be passed in front of said Politician. This is purposefully firewalled and sign-off will be done by a senior manager. So Key’s office would have received a letter that copied the original request, but the final package of data (emails, paperwork, verbal reports, etc.) would not be able to be reviewed by Key (or his team).

    ‘Politically sensitive information’ is not grounds for refusing to release information. Re: the SIS, if it were a state secret say, I’m sure they would refuse, and the Ombudsman would have final say. Clearly, senior management at the SIS have sufficient discretion to declassify the requested info, assuming it was classified in the first place, and they didn’t see fit to appeal to the Ombudsman to block its release.

    Re: the Ombudsman, their turn-around is surprisingly fast, despite the sometimes overwhelming volume of data released. I’d say the catch with OIA’s in general is that it is within the discretion of the responder to interpret the meaning of the request. I have myself in the past collated such responses and my manager and I would spend some time trying to interpret the request to our advantage. So if you wish to do an OIA request, word your request very carefully 🙂

    • RJL 17.1


      Key said that Tucker told him about the OIA. Tucker says that he told the PM about the OIA. The OIA Ombudsman says that Tucker told the PM about the OIA.

      All three now claim that they meant “PM’s office” instead of “PM”; but none of them are denying that the OIA release was discussed with somebody in the PM’s office.

      And, of course, you seem to be forgetting that the only reason anybody was OIAing this information at all was because Key asked Tucker whether there had been a classified briefing to Goff and then told everybody in a Press Conference that there had been such a briefing.

    • Tracey 17.2

      I call bullshit on ombudsmen turning stuff around quickly.

      so are you seriously saying when someone like the head of the sis says he had a discuszion with tthe prime minister he meant some no name in the office

    • Puddleglum 17.3


      It is irrelevant whether or not the material to be released was passed before the Minister’s eyes.

      This controversy is over the request being passed before the Minister’s eyes (or that of his Office). It is the request, the requester and Key’s (or his Office’s) knowledge of both that is at issue. In particular, it concerns the credibility of Key’s claims about this knowledge.

      Further, if what you say is true, I think you have just confessed to trying to pervert the intent of the Act through some narrow, legalistic, barely plausible possible meanings in the wording of requests. That demonstrates an attitude that is entirely against the spirit of the Act. You must feel proud.

      It is also entirely in keeping with a culture of ‘dirty politics’.

  18. Penny Bright 18

    What people don’t seem to be picking up on is the completely different roles and functions of the party political – cover John Key’s political butt as the LEADER OF THE NATIONAL PARTY – Office of the Prime Minister vs the apolitical, impartial Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

    The role of the politically partial Office of the Prime Minister is NOT enshrined in statute, it is NOT regulated and in my considered opinion is completely out of control.

    It is the DPMC that is supposed to handle OIA requests – not the Office of the Prime Minister.

    So how come I have a number of OIAs addressed to Prime Minister John Key that have been answered by his Chief of Staff attached to the party political Office of the Prime Minister – Wayne Eagleson?

    (I have challenged this.)

    What on earth is the SIS having anything to do with the party political Office of the Prime Minister?

    Time for a genuinely Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    This STINKS.

    Penny Bright

  19. xen 19

    ‘I call bullshit on ombudsmen turning stuff around quickly.’

    Well I’ve done 3 OIA replies and they’ve all been passed through without comment or delay. Delays are introduced when initial responses are rebuffed to the Ombudsman as not sufficiently answering the initial request. This didn’t happen this time.

    ‘so are you seriously saying when someone like the head of the sis says he had a discuszion with tthe prime minister he meant some no name in the office’

    This is what the head of the SIS says he did, he sent a letter to the PM’s Office, he did not directly speak to the PM, why wouldn’t you take this man at his word?

    ‘Key said that Tucker told him about the OIA. Tucker says that he told the PM about the OIA. The OIA Ombudsman says that Tucker told the PM about the OIA.

    All three now claim that they meant “PM’s office” instead of “PM”; but none of them are denying that the OIA release was discussed with somebody in the PM’s office.’

    Yes, and this is all consistent with my comments, the final package of info will not go the PM for vetting (so he won’t know its contents), that sort of political interference is illegal AFAIK, and bureaucrats simply wouldn’t want the headache.

    Good points Penny, I would say if any information was sourced from or involved Wayne’s team, he could have right of reply and append a cover letter of some sort.

    • Weepus beard 19.1

      You are a civil servant. Your salary is paid by us. Care to give your full name and job description?

      [lprent: No he does not need to. Next time I see you ask demand in violation of our privacy guidelines, I will grant you the private time you need. ]

      • RedLogix 19.1.1

        Lynn – while of course I entirely agree with the moderation point you make (and would have done it myself if I had seen it first) – you have to admit weepu makes an intensely ironic point in the context of Mr Pleasant’s fate at the hands of Collins.

    • Clemgeopin 19.2

      “This is what the head of the SIS says he did, he sent a letter to the PM’s Office, he did not directly speak to the PM, why wouldn’t you take this man at his word?”

      Even if he initially did send a letter to the PM’s office, (no proof of this yet) it does not mean that subsequently he did not have a direct talk with the PM, going by Key stating that he did tell ‘HIM’. Correct?

      “All three now claim that they meant “PM’s office” instead of “PM”; but none of them are denying that the OIA release was discussed with somebody in the PM’s office.”

      So, those ‘somebody in the PM’s office’ are they authorised to discuss and interfere with SIS matters? And do the public have a right to know who those ‘somebody in the office’ are? Doesn’t the responsibility lie with the minister of SIS, the PM? So the question still stands: Is Key lying or has he been derelict in his duty?

      • xen 19.2.1

        ‘Even if he initially did send a letter to the PM’s office, (no proof of this yet) it does not mean that subsequently he did not have a direct talk with the PM’

        First part is true enough.

        ‘ going by Key stating that he did tell ‘HIM’. Correct?’

        Where did you get the PM saying that he was told in person subsequently?

        ‘“All three now claim that they meant “PM’s office” instead of “PM”; but none of them are denying that the OIA release was discussed with somebody in the PM’s office.”

        So, those ‘somebody in the PM’s office’ are they authorised to discuss and interfere with SIS matters? And do the public have a right to know who those ‘somebody in the office’ are? Doesn’t the responsibility lie with the minister of SIS, the PM? So the question still stands: Is Key lying or has he been derelict in his duty?’

        I didn’t write that paragraph, I was quoting it to respond.

        • tricledrown

          Xen Hair splitting mind games now you even have Hooton throwing Key under a Bus!
          Hooton would not be doing that unless he knew Key was in it up to his eyeballs!
          Hooton gets a Mention in the book as well!
          So your profile suggests that you are part of these dirty tricks!

    • cinesimon 19.3

      O OK – so what you’re saying is, all the media are wrong with regards to their experiences with OIAs, and you are right. Gotcha!

    • Tracey 19.4

      hang on, the word “discussion” was used to describe Tucker’s interaction witht he PM. You are deliberately leaving that out.

      you also haven’t assauged my personal experiences of the ombudsmen. Over the years I have had amny requests denied by various departments, and those I have taken up with the Ombudsmen have never reached a resolution (shit I even have one still with the Ombudsmen since May 2010), except for ONE.

      My most recent referral tot he Ombudsmen over my request around a statement made by Bill English. In that instance the Ombudsmen has intervened quickly, and in my own opinion my request was not straightforward.

      When I have made OIA requests of dept Building and Housing for a single report on a particular property, the response is relatively swift, and often within the 20 working days BUT as soon as I request information more relative tot he machinations of the DBH itself, its process etc…. it goes to 20 working days and more often than not is refused.

  20. Weepus beard 20

    Xen is backing the PM’s version of events. I was interested in what capacity he was doing so. It was a simple question, not an ask demand.

    [RL: The Standard energetically protects the right of people to comment here pseudonymously. Anything that looks even vaguely like ‘outing’ or pressuring people to ‘out’ themselves is strongly discouraged and acting on accordingly.

    I believe you have done this unintentionally in this instance and you were not deleted or banned as would be usual. If you need more information please read the Site Policy above. ]

  21. feijoa 21

    So……….. has John Key actually broken the law?
    Or the Cabinet manual or whatever he is bound by?

    • Tracey 21.1

      “highest ethical standards” is the level of behaviour required by the Cabinet Manual

  22. xen 22

    I haven’t worked for government for years and never would again.

    ‘Xen is backing the PM’s version of events.’

    No, I was explaining how OIAs generally work, and the importance of separation of powers in this respect, because there seemed to be some confusion as to why the PM would not have had direct oversight of this OIA request.

    If it conforms with the PM’s version of events then that’s to be expected, it just means the standard process was followed.

    • RedLogix 22.1

      And while we agree you are narrowly and technically correct – there remains the gaping pragmatic and political hole in your account.

      As quite a few people have already pointed out to you.

    • Clemgeopin 22.2


      “No, I was explaining how OIAs generally work, and the importance of separation of powers in this respect, because there seemed to be some confusion as to why the PM would not have had direct oversight of this OIA request.
      If it conforms with the PM’s version of events then that’s to be expected, it just means the standard process was followed.”

      Thanks for your response.

      Do you BELIEVE that the standard process was followed in this case, based on the public statements by Key, the revelations in the ‘Dirty Politics’ and the ‘whaledump’ expose?
      Do you think something fishy and BS coverup is going on here? Are you disturbed by all the dirty goings on?

      Also, could you respond to my previous post (at 19.2 at 10:56pm)?

    • tricledrown 22.3

      Xen you haven’t worked for govt for years !
      yet you know everything!
      yet the average number of days for an OIA request is more than 20 working days!
      your just the latest of a long line of Nationals pathetic apologists and dubious dirty tricks brigade adding more fuel to the fire!
      each time one of you not so obvious spin merchanters is outed the next spin tries to up the anti by telling a bigger Lie than the last!
      you must be in the Prime Ministers inner circle!

      • RedLogix 22.3.1


        I agree that most sources say that OIA’s are rarely processed in less than the statutory 20 days – and xen does appear to be wrong on that point. But unless you have strong evidence to the contrary – it’s the general practise to accept what people say about themselves in good faith.

        • xen

          I said the Ombudsman process was relatively fast, I said nothing of the total length of time involved, the responder can easily ask for extensions. The OIA process start with an Ombudsman process (asking for info), then responder does their process and replies, then second Ombudsman process is completed where the info is passed on to the requester. As I said the Ombudsman part of this composite process is fast.

          ‘gaping pragmatic and political hole in your account.’

          What is this? I’m explaining the exact pragamatic approach to these situations. The gap is in your thinking and unless you explain it no one else can understand what you mean?

          • RedLogix

            Your own words show how you are part of the problem here. Clearly you are very familiar with the details of the OIA process. Intimately so.

            And yet somehow for all this knowledge you deliberately miss what is blindingly obvious to everyone else – that clearly Slater was tipped off about exactly what OIA request to ask for and overall it was processed in a remarkably prompt fashion. Very conveniently for a National Party in election mode.

            Obviously the Prime Minister did not need to see, vet, or approve of the contents of the OIA as it was processed; banging on about that is an irrelevancy and a distraction. The abuse of power lay not in the minutiae of the process – but that it happened at all.

            The fact remains is that someone in the Office of the Prime Minister (full of party political appointees) ensured Cameron Slater had timely and effective access to damaging SIS information on Phil Goff. And John Key is responsible for his Office’s actions and that abuse of power.

            Of course everyone meticulously followed their little bit of the process in order to comprehensively cover their own arse. As an ex-public servant yourself you exquisitely demonstrate here in your own words, the instincts and self-justifications involved.

            • Clemgeopin

              Very good post.

              “clearly Slater was tipped off about exactly what OIA request to ask for and overall it was processed in a remarkably prompt fashion. Very conveniently for a National Party in election mode.

              Obviously the Prime Minister did not need to see, vet, or approve of the contents of the OIA as it was processed; banging on about that is an irrelevancy and a distraction. The abuse of power lay not in the minutiae of the process – but that it happened at all”

      • xen 22.3.2

        ‘yet you know everything!’

        Your short-term memory must be shot mate if you cant remember your job skills. Re: total OIA time read below. I won’t bother with the rest of your crazed rant…

        • tricledrown

          Xen desperation from corrupt conmen your bullying!
          No more pathetic excuses from those who can’ t take personal responsibility!
          profiling why would you try to defend the indefensible in such a manner!
          laughable to see what lengths this completely corrupt govt will go to to try to undermine opposition and democracy!

        • Tracey

          John key can’t

    • cinesimon 22.4

      Seems to me you were explaining how you think OIA’s work, and not how the media actually experience it.
      Do you really believe that the entire media is lying about the time issues here?
      And I take it you’re not actually talking about SIS OIAs. Rather a big difference than most other portfolios, I would hope you’d agree.
      And going by your posts, I find it hard to believe you’ve actually read much about this particular issue.

      • xen 22.4.1

        ‘Do you really believe that the entire media is lying about the time issues here?’

        No but accepting the words of all parties involved doesn’t sell newspapers, so why would they accept the words of the people at the center of the matter?

        ‘And I take it you’re not actually talking about SIS OIAs.’

        Wow, you haven’t read anything above have you? This is exactly what I’m saying, the SIS can’t ignore the OIA, they have to treat it the same way that an OIA request to Parliamentary Cleaning Services would be treated, i.e. they take it seriously and follow a legally prescribed process – they have no choice in this and I’m surprised you don’t all support this transparency.

        However, I expect that the SIS would have more grounds to withhold more info than other areas of government, except maybe commercial entities related to government.

  23. cinesimon 23

    Yet the rest of the political media twiddle their thumbs, and continue to do Key’s bidding.

  24. Weepus beard 24

    It’s all right everyone. Nothing to see here.

    Apparent fleewee, or insomniac, xen has cleared this whole OIA thing up.

    He’s worked in government see and reports that despite the OIA process being carefully managed through several hands and many levels of officialdom, elected and otherwise, from the Ombudsman, to ministers, to heads of ministries, to crown lawyers, and all the way back again, xen reckons that at the most crucial juncture of the entire process, the sign off for release of politically sensitive information to a member of the public, there is and never has been any reason to trouble the minister in charge.

    Nay, it’s even illegal to show the minister, as far as he knows…

    the final package of info will not go the PM for vetting (so he won’t know its contents), that sort of political interference is illegal AFAIK


    and too much work for everyone…

    and bureaucrats simply wouldn’t want the headache.


    Lprent’s earlier admonishment notwithstanding, I invite xen to provide citation on both the illegality of showing the relevant minister OIA documents for release, and on the procedure behind who in the civil service decides what does and does not constitute a “headache”.

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    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • US imperialism, Huawei, racism and imperial anxiety
    by Tony Norfield US political opinion against China has two solid bases. The first is the longstanding racist and protectionist sentiment in the white working class; the second is a more recent anxiety about China’s economic prowess in America’s ruling elite. This article notes some historical aspects of anti-Chinese racism ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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