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Rennie: Key vetoed the shortlist?

Written By: - Date published: 2:58 pm, April 4th, 2013 - 115 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, slippery, spin, Spying - Tags:

The story keeps shifting from hour to hour, as questions are raised (see Eddie’s post on Vance’s questions), and Key’s obfuscation is increasingly commented on. Now State Security Commissioner Iain Rennie, following ex GCSB chief Sir Bruce Ferguson’s interview on Campbell Live (see Bomber’s review), has come out and slightly shifted the story.  He now says that it is quite a normal procedure for the Prime Minister to veto the shortlist:

Rennie said it was “ultimately” Key’s decision to scrap the shortlist of four candidates, but he didn’t believe the applicants were up to managing the shake-up they believed the GCSB needed.

In his qu & a with the press (video at the above link) Rennie dances on a pin, saying ultimately it was Key’s decision to scrap the shortlist, but also defending Key’s role as normal procedure and conducted under advisement.

As Claire Trevett reports,

[Rennie] said all short listed candidates knew there was a chance they might not make the interview process and that the Prime Minister would have some input.

“Those who were shortlisted were told the PM had considered their applications and they were declined at that point.”

Rennie is at pains to explain that all this  was within normal procedures, and resulted in the best person for the job being appointed.

But this raises the questions about whether John Key has misled parliament and the country, in his insistence that he wasn’t involved in the selection process, and that, ultimately, all the decisions were made by Rennie.  Key replied to Grant Robertson’s questions on 27 March 2013, saying:

Grant Robertson: What role, if any, did he play in recommending the appointment of Ian Fletcher as Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: His appointment was made by the State Services Commissioner, but if the member is trying to make some other allegation, then yes, I knew Ian Fletcher. I went to school with his brother. His brother was way brighter than Grant Robertson—

With the speaker’s help, Key avoided directly answering about his involvement.

On 28 March, Brownlee answered further questions on Key’s behalf:

Grant Robertson: Did the Prime Minister accept the first recommendation of the State Services Commissioner for the person to be appointed to the post of Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, following the process begun in May 2011?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: My understanding is yes.

Grant Robertson: Did the Prime Minister either directly or indirectly intervene in the process for the selection of the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The State Services Commissioner has the role of identifying persons who might be suitable for that role, then conducting appropriate discussions with those people, and finally making a recommendation to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister ultimately makes that appointment, and, of course, there were discussions through that process.

In the last sentence Brownlee fudges it somewhat, by making it seem that Key’s role was to rubber stamp Rennie’s decisions.

Also in Rennie’s press conference today (as linked above), he says he was surprised when he learned that Key approached Fletcher about the job.

“I was a little surprised when I had a call from Maarten Wevers.”

Wevers – now Sir Maarten – was then head of the department of prime minister and Cabinet. Key had told Fletcher to ring Wevers if he was interested in the job.

So Key certainly has been giving himself some wriggle room, but he does appear to have been misleading in indicating that he did not intervene in the appointment process.  As Claire Trevett said, in her article this morning:

Key appears to take the same approach to the truth as to the economy: it should be flexible enough to withstand shocks….

Rather, he indulges in the science of obfuscation – a highly technical speciality.

On the Fletcher appointment, has Key employed this strategy in such a way to technically avoid being charged with misleading the House and the country?

115 comments on “Rennie: Key vetoed the shortlist? ”

  1. Colonial Weka 1

    “Rennie said it was “ultimately” Key’s decision to scrap the shortlist of four candidates, but he didn’t believe the applicants were up to managing the shake-up they believed the GCSB needed.”

    Right. In other words, the applicants weren’t likely to do Key’s bidding during a restructure.

    The implication isn’t good for Rennie either.

  2. ianmac 2

    I put this on the “Vance asks…” page. Might be more use here:

    NRT has an interesting post up explaining just how the Appointments are supposed to work under the the State Sector Act. He comments on Mr Rennie’s statement given to the press today. NRT is a very interesting read as usual.


    • karol 2.1

      Thanks. A good post by I/S. Also, the Green Party are now calling for an independent inquiry, saying that key has misled the public, as reported by 3News:

      Co-leader Russel Norman says Mr Key has “misled the public” and will now ask the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to conduct the investigation.

    • alwyn 2.2

      There is a minor problem with NRT’s interpretation.
      He appears to put a great deal of weight on section 35 of the act when he talks about the way a recommendation is made etc.
      The bit one should take note of is that section 35 is subject to provisions of various other sections, including section 44, which says that section 35 DOES NOT APPLY to a number of positions, including the head of the GCSB.
      It also talks about the Commissioner recommending a candidate. Rennie has stated that he told the PM that he could not recommend ANY of the original candidates.
      Incidentally, even if the procedure did apply can you imagine the screams of outrage if Key had appointed someone who the Commissioner had said was not qualified for the job?

  3. IMO now is the time for some moral outrage about the lying – multiple sustained attacks from the opposition – key will try to smile his way out but the public will see that and bankster-monster will appear which they will like even less – If too much time is wasted he will walk away unscathed and we are back looking at that smug face of his again. He can go down and his weakness is his vanity and hubris combined with a pathological inability to tell the truth. Unleash the bloody hounds – no softly softly and no trying to spin it out for months. WTF is there to lose – the election is going going …

    • TruthSeeker 3.1

      You’re right. Let’s hope the opposition are smart enough to see it.

      • karol 3.1.1

        Yes, but they’ve surely got a mammoth struggle on their hands. Key et al’s fight back surfacing this evening, against Ferguson and Labour, shows how ruthless Key can be. He can’t stand losing or being on the back foot – just the last sort of person to lead a country in the interests of all the people.

      • felix 3.1.2

        Yep indeed marty.

        And TS, I’m sure the opposition are smart enough to see it. My concern is that they’re too gutless to go for the throat. I believe they’ve bought into the bullshit idea that just because Shearer is a nonce who ‘forgot’ his bank account the entire opposition has to play dead.

        I’ve already given them some free advice on how to handle this non-issue here: http://thestandard.org.nz/cronyism-2/#comment-613192

  4. aerobubble 4

    Distorting capitalism took the lead in the cheap credit
    and cheap energy world. Key breathed distortion, rules
    were a bane, or an opportunity for profit when gotten around.

    Been involved with Anarctica for 50 years… ..says Key,
    as he plays the role of leader of our nation, talking
    as our PM about Anarctica and NZ. This is the salesman
    Key out front doing the job, but behind the doors he’s
    see rules as … …well… …a problem, SkyCity,
    the head of the spy agency, due diligence of Solid energy,
    Novapay lack of adequate testing. Shorting process
    as the downside risks are likely to fall to the next
    government (as National are keen to express it was the
    last government mess they are clearing up, and so ergo,
    their mess is the next governments problem).
    No responsibility Key,key to how any second hand car
    salesman deals with their role of selling bangers.

    Whose bright idea was that, a fracking money man as PM,
    distort the fiscal strata and pump in awful spin chemicals.
    When did we grow the idea that being good in a finance business
    would make a good leader of the nation, what a dumb idea.

    • Arfamo 4.1

      We didn’t. He didn’t get voted in. Helen got voted out. After she got dumped there was nobody in Labour that would have got elected in her place.

  5. seeker 5

    Well he certainly misled me Karol, but then I ran out of my telepathy tablets a couple of weeks ago.
    Instead I had to rely on the Herald video clip (April 3 posted at 3.38pm on Adam Bennett’s (of all people) column.)

    And there I was yesterday afternoon tabletless, watching said videoclip and really hoping that that nice mr key was telling the truth for once, so convincing was he – and, what’s more, apparently benificent enough to give that charming, but rather naive hekia p. a key master class in media communication- when 00ps, down he went………..

  6. North 6

    It’s official folks………Afternoons with Bora today…….. “nothing to see here”.

    The Prime Minister is an amnesiac according to panelist Jock Anderson and John Armstrong phoning in, and that’s as far as it goes. And encouragingly Fletcher’s the right man for the job, according to Anderson. How the hell would that easily mistaken for Garth George blowhard know ?

    He’s simply repeating the amnesiac’s assertion. No facts to see there.

    Armstrong dismisses it all as having no legs beyond Wellington. Paraparaumu for example won’t give a stuff.

    Oh well, that’s OK then. Let’s not be tiresome and give Key’s amnesia any more mention than acknowledgment that it’s a regular feature of the man.

    Come in Morrissey.

    • karol 6.1

      Then, after 5pm, Brent Edwards said otherwise: that Rennie had contradicted what Key had said previously.

      • felix 6.1.1

        Yes well 5pm on RNZ is when the children get sent to bed and the grown-ups are allowed to talk again.

    • Blue 6.2

      Yeah, lying is a beltway issue. People in Paraparaumu don’t give a shit about their Prime Minister continually telling them a pack of lies and then insulting their intelligence by claiming he forgot. Again.

  7. freedom 7


    Now the focus turns to the short list and the circumstances of its demise, which is apparently the candidates lack of suitability for the ‘new direction’ of GCSB. Why are we not seeing some clarity on what exactly that means?

    The reformation processes that the GCSB have reportedly undertaken since the Dotcom revelations have somehow become secondary to discussions on who will oversee their implementation. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the echoes of the strategy huddles ‘We were caught breaking our own rules and now that we’ve had the wet bus ticket on the open palm, we can begin another unwarranted and seriously expensive rewriting of rules and protocols that were working just fine before we ignored them’

    and the beat, as they say, goes on

  8. geoff 8

    Just listened to Mary Wilson try and put Iain Rennie through the wringer. Bit disappointed she didn’t make him cry.

    • Anne 8.1

      Rennie was followed by Bruce Ferguson who is not backing down from his assertion that due process was not followed etc… He also updated his knowledge of the names on the shortlist. He now says he knows three of them and all were top drawer candidates – or words to that effect. I expect he has been contacted by them following his appearance on CL last night.

      It’s obvious Rennie was given detailed instructions from Key as to what sort of background and experience he wanted the new boss to have, and military and intelligence experience was not among them. That’s why Rennie could confidently say the persons on the short list were not right for the job.

      It really does beggar belief.

      • karol 8.1.1

        Yes, I heard them both on Checkpoint. It looks like Rennie has been pushed forward to do some damage control, and take the heat of Key.

        But he raises as many questions as he attempts to gloss over answer.

        • geoff

          Now karol, can you help me. How do I get strikethrough? I thought it was using ‘s’ in an html tag but the last times I did that it didn’t work. I’ll try again now:
          John Key is a liar flexible with the truth.

          After googling Ill try using ‘strike’ in the edit

          John Key has no morals difficulty
          with ethical decisions.


      • Ugly Truth 8.1.2

        “due process was not followed”

        Fergusson was talking about the selection process, he did not mention due process.

        The real issue here is why the normal selection process was not followed when the process is clearly laid out in the legislation and the position was both important and politically unsettled.

        • Anne

          He spoke of due process on Campbell Live last night… or it may have been Morning Report this morning. You think you’re so bloody clever. You’re not. How old are you? 18?

          Wait until you’re mature enough before you start commenting on grown ups’ sites.

          • Ugly Truth

            The context was Checkpoint, not Campbell Live or Morning Report.

          • Ugly Truth

            I listened to Campbell Live and today’s Morning Report and it’s the same audio, Fergusson talks about the selection process and not due process.

            Due process is a feature of common law, is has nothing to do the parliament’s selection process.

            [lprent: Ummm…. Are you really sure that this isn’t simply a diversion from the topic of the post? Nods towards an area designated for a off topic obsessions where I as a moderator do not usually constrain people’s interesting but curious ‘interests’. You’d have to explain more about how this apparent shift of topic is relevant within the current legal and procedural frameworks (especially as so much of it is not a legal issue at all). ]

          • karol

            Ferguson was talking about the normal process that’s followed. I’m not sure that amounts to the strictly legal criteria of due process. As I understand what Rennie said on Campbell Live tonight, it is the PM’s prerogative to make the final decision. Ferguson said there’s normally a whittling down process until one candidate is finally selected. This process wasn’t followed.

            Rennie on CL said the shortlisted people had started going through the normal process – psych tests etc. Then Key pulled the plug because he wanted someone who would be able to bring major changes to GCSB.

            Apart from the fact that Key had misled us on the role he played, it reminds me a bit of the way the governor general can dismiss a PM but (mostly) doesn’t. People had come to think that a governor general has this right in law, but would never do it in practice (unless there were highly exceptional circumstances) because it is undemocratic by today’s standards….. but then there was Gough Whitlam in Aussie.

            • alwyn

              Karol. As I understand the system the only person who can appoint the head of the GCSB is the PM.
              What he asked Rennie to do was to recommend someone. From the original short list of candidates Rennie said that he did not consider anyone to be qualified, and that he could not recommend anyone. It was only then that consideration of other candidates, including Fletcher, started.
              What would you have said if the Government had simply appointed someone that the SSC did not consider qualified? I’m sure in that case the screaming would have been even louder.
              Incidentally I don’t think one should take to much notice of Fergusson. He is I think more than a little bitter that he wasn’t given another stint in the job. Given the way the department seems to have been organised while he was there that seems like a good thing.

              • karol

                Ah, so you are repeating the government’s line in attacking Ferguson. The PM has the ultimate responsibility for the appointment, and legally he can veto the process. However, why was he so keen to cover up his intervention? And why did he close down the usually fair and democratic process, resulting in the appointment of the crony he shoulder tapped for the job? Why has he not been careful to avoid actions that can be perceived as political interference?

                • alwyn

                  A couple of things. The first is that Key didn’t veto anyone. Rennie has said that he couldn’t recommend any of the original candidates.
                  The other thing, and I commented on this at 2.2 in this discussion is that the so-called “usual process” doesn’t apply to a number of positions, including the head of the GCSB. The head of the GCSB is exclusively a position for the PM to fill.

              • Pascal's bookie

                It’s odd though, is it not, that just last week the PM was quite clear that Rennie had made the decisions and that he himslef was limited to pretty much saying ‘Good choice’?

                And if we are talking about screaming hyptheticals, one can only imagine the uproar if H1 had decided, for reasons undisclosed, that someone from outside the military intelligence field should be shoulder tapped for the role.

                So we’ll just leave that one out of it I think.

                There are other questions though.

                When did the PM and SSC decide that GCSB needed a clean out?

                Before Jerry Mateperae was moved to Govt House perhaps?

                And seeing it was no later than July, why weren’t the directer and the PM paying closer attention to the dysfunctional organisation when it stuffed up the DotCom operation in Sept-Jan?

                • good questions and below I posted where key was talking about fletcher in 2009 hard to see how the vague knowing will stand up now. Plus key wanted him in, anywhere it appears not just the job he got.

    • gobsmacked 8.2

      Mary Wilson did get Rennie to expose the fundamental contradiction here – he was quite explicit that it WAS a political appointment.

      In short –

      Key: “It wasn’t me.” Rennie “It was him, but that’s fine. It happens”

      It’s obviously absurd to have the PM and SSC holding different versions of the NZ constitution. But that’s what we’ve now got.

      BTW, Rennie is on Campbell Live at 7 pm tonight.

      • karol 8.2.1

        Yes, and now the government (as indicated on 3News just now, is coming out with a (defensive) counter attack on Ferguson – saying the upcoming report will show the GCSB in disarray and was so under Ferguson’s watch – hence, according to the senior government leaker, Ferguson is proactively covering his back..

        • Anne

          Beat me to it karol. He’s being represented as a bumbling fool who was part of a military culture of bad management that dates back many years. Oh, and Ferguson is bitter and twisted because he wasn’t reappointed for another term. That’s bullshit with a big B!

          I said last night and I say it again… I met the man a few times and he came across to me as someone of honesty and integrity.

          • karol

            Yes, Anne. My interpretation of Ferguson being ousted, is that Key wanted his own guys to do things his own corporatist, US-toadying, TPPA-supporting, intellectual property-ownership way.

            And Key is still left with his obfuscation, misleading the public about how he intervened in the recruitment process…. and the illegal actions re-Kim Dotcom…. the whole mess.

            And last night you predicted some kind of backlash against ferguson, albeit not in exactly the way you said.

            • Anne

              Yes Karol, I put it in a slightly different way. I wasn’t the only one to predict it either.

              Key also tried to divert attention by labelling Labour as liars (turned away from the the reporters and cameras as he said it of course – the action of a real liar) and brought up Shearer lying about the GCSB video. I’ll bet anyone Shearer was right. That video existed but it never surfaced… Ian Fletcher saw to that? Wonder how he and his ‘greaser’ mates did it? Threats or blackmail?

              • Colonial Viper

                Attacking a former head of the GCSB? That’s just a brilliant tactic. There’s nothing which can go wrong with that.

              • TruthSeeker

                We assume the tape doesn’t exist. But what if it does? Someone, somewhere might have a copy. The question then arises: why hasn’t it surfaced yet? The answer is: motive. The motive to leak the tape didn’t exist in October last year, but that was before the Kitteridge report.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Of course the tape doesn’t exist; it’s a hard drive with a digital video file.

          • xtasy


            “I said last night and I say it again… I met the man a few times and he came across to me as someone of honesty and integrity.”

            Honesty and integrity are attributes that are not necessarily “useful” when governments with certain “agendas” want to have their foot soldiers front the lines for the dirty work. That most certainly applies to John Key and his Nat gang! Just look at the re-appointments of commissioners and whatever, CEOs of departments, ministries and so forth.

            They hand pick the ones they favour, and let us not forget, that Bennett tried to get that top notch beneficiary off-loading CEO from the UK to work here (her name was Janet Grossman). Only because something went wrong, did she resign unexpectedly within just a year. They paid her money out for leaving early too. There are rumours that she objected to the Welfare or Social Welfare Board “overseeing” her work.

            Look at Dr Des Gorman, former senior advisor to ACC, now ACC Board member, also member or head of Health Work Force NZ, of the National Health Board, formerly head of the School of Medicine at Auckland Uni, and look at the Health and Disability Commissioner now, same as Rebstock for leading ACC, for a senior role in welfare, for this that and much more.

            This is all a close knit network of who knows whom to do the job the top (Key and his close cabinet circles) want done!!!

            Is it so difficult to work this out? No, but the media leaders are also in on this, that is some in the corporate, private media, all on good terms with the business circles Key also is socialising with.

            This is not transparency, independence, accountability and democracy what goes on in NZ!

            • Anne

              Honesty and integrity are attributes that are not necessarily “useful” when governments with certain “agendas” want to have their foot soldiers front the lines for the dirty work.

              You’re on the button there xtasy.

  9. From the article entitled ‘surprised by …” on Stuff

    “Mr Fletcher’s name was certainly one of the names identified and it wasn’t a surprise to me that his name came up, I was very well aware of his background ..”

    ‘Very well aware’ not just aware, I wonder why rennie was ‘very well aware’ – hope they aren’t school chums too.

    • Oh well a bit more of the puzzle coming clear

      Prime Minister John Key was pushing his childhood friend Ian Fletcher as a good candidate for a top-level government job as early as 2009, State Services Commissioner Ian Rennie revealed yesterday.

      While Mr Key last week said he knew Mr Fletcher only “vaguely” since their school days, and couldn’t recall particular occasions when he’d met his old friend in recent years, Mr Rennie confirmed he and Mr Key discussed Mr Fletcher in 2009.

      That was in the context of bringing back expatriate New Zealanders who had performed well in public sectors overseas to fill public sector chief executive roles.

      Mr Key was positive about that and told Mr Rennie about Mr Fletcher, “and he told me about the nature of his knowledge of Mr Fletcher”.


      That vaguely lie is going to bite key.

  10. xtasy 10

    I just heard Rennie and also Ferguson being interviewed on Checkpoint on RNZ.

    Yes, talk about “shifting” the interpretation and focus, a senior public servant may justify what his boss did, as he may be concerned about his job. Do not bite the hand that feeds you gets another new meaning. While Ferguson (former GCSB boss until 2010) accepted that such decisions about selecting CEOs and managers of core government departments (incl. GCSB) tend to be “political” (I can tell many other stories in that regard), he still challenges the appropriateness of throwing out the other contenders for the job, some of whom he saw qualified and would have interviewed.

    The process remains to be in question, and we are back to Key and a few others bending past actions, comments, words and deeds, trying to justify the indefensible.

    It looks ROTTEN what has been going on.

    NZ is run by a PM who is behaving like a smart alec clown at some times, and as a big schemer and rule-breaker at other times. This is dangerous, what is going on. Some media are realising what has been going on and are starting to ask question, where are the rest?

    NZers, throw the LIARS out of government, wake up, finally, please!!!

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    Key, with all his expertise in intelligence gathering and signals, vetoed the shortlist as none of the candidates considered could do the job of “shaking up” (wtf) the GCSB.

    • ianmac 11.1

      But remember that the appointment was back in 2011 wasn’t it? Long before the “mismanagement” was known and a shakeup needed. Otherwise Mr Key would have kept a very close eye on GCSB for a year or so. Amazing how clever he is in Hindsight???

  12. felix 12

    He’s also lied directly to the whole country in his press stand-up yesterday. When asked if he had a role in the appointment process he definitely said no.

    I mean he made that ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee here comes a massive lie’ noise first, but he definitely said he didn’t take part.

    This isn’t a ‘forgetful’ lie, this is a ‘been doing nothing for three days but working on this scandal and definitely know what really happened and when, and I’m still in with a chance of lying this away’ lie.

  13. Paul 13

    Campbell Live has Iain Rennie on.

  14. BLiP 14

    And another one for the list . . . thank’s John, I’m lovin’ it:

    – We seek a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050. 50 by 50. We will write the target into law.

    – National Ltd™ will provide a consistent incentive for both biofuel and biodiesel by exempting them
    from excise tax or road user charges

    – I didn’t know about The Bretheren election tactics

    – If they came to us now with that proposal [re trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods regime], we will sign it

    – 1981

    – Tranzrail shares

    – Lord Ashcroft

    – National Ltd™ would have sent troops into Iraq

    – Standard & Poors credit downgrade

    – I didn’t say I want wages to drop

    – the real figure of inflation is 3.3 percent.

    – the tourism sector has not lost 7,000 jobs

    – I won’t raise GST

    – the purchase of farmland, by overseas buyers will be restricted to ten farms per purchase

    – capping, not cutting the public service,

    – north of $50 a week

    – privatisation won’t significantly help the economy

    – wave goodbye to higher taxes, not your loved ones

    – I never offered Brash a diplomatic job in London

    – Tariana Turia is “totally fine” with the Tuhoe Treaty Claim deal

    – Kiwisaver

    – National Ltd™ is not going to radically reorganise the structure of the public sector

    – tax cuts won’t require additional borrowing

    – New Zealand troops in Afghanistan will only be involved in training, not fighting

    – 14,000 new apprentices will start training over the next five years, over and above the number previously forecast

    – Our amendments to the ETS ensure we will continue to do our fair share internationally

    – we are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations

    – any changes to the ETS will be fiscally neutral

    – we [NZ} have grown for eight of the last nine quarters”

    – National Ltd™ will tender out the government banking contract

    – we will be back in surplus by 2014-15

    – Nicky Hager’s book “Other People’s Wars” is a work of fiction

    – unemployment is starting to fall

    – we have created 45,000 jobs

    – we are likely to create 170,000 jobs in the next 4 years

    – I don’t know if I own a vineyard

    – the Isreali spy killed in the Christchurch quake had “only one” passport

    – the Police will not need to make savings by losing jobs

    – GCSB re Kim Dotcom x 3 (that we know about)

    – I voted to keep the drinking age at 20

    – New Zealand is 100% Pure

    – I will resign if found to be lying

    – I’ve been prime minister for four years, and it’s really 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year

    – baseball in New Zealand is attracting more government support

    – the public demanded that we change the labour laws for The Hobbit

    – “The Hobbit” created 3000 new jobs

    – we have delivered 1000 extra doctors in the public service

    – I wasn’t working at Elders when the sham foreign exchange deals took place

    – I was starting School Certificate exams in 1978

    – cutting consent fees and times and opening up land to developers will create affordable housing

    – Labour left the economy in poor shape

    – forecasts show unemployment will fall

    – our [NZ’s] terms of trade remain high

    – the TPP is an example of democracy

    – National Ltd™ will use the proceeds of state asset sales to invest in other public assets, like schools and hospitals

    – New Zealand troops will be out of Afghanistan by September 2014

    – overseas investment in New Zealand adds to what New Zealanders can invest on their own

    – overseas investment in New Zealand creates jobs, boosts incomes, and helps the economy grow

    – National Ltd™ will build 2000 houses over the next two years

    – my officers had no correspondence, no discussion, and no involvement in this [SkyCity] matter

    – SkyCity will only get “a few more” pokie machines at the margins

    – Sky City has approached TVNZ about the purchase/use of government-owned land

    – the Hobbit is going off shore unless we do something

    – David Shearer has signed up for the purchase of shares in Mighty River

    – Solid Energy asked the government for a $1 billion capital investment

    – no front line positions will be lost at DoC

    – I forgot that after I scrapped the shortlist for the top job at GCSB I phoned a childhood friend to tell him to apply for the position

    • freedom 14.1

      “- I will resign if found to be lying”
      anyone got the source for this one?
      It might be useful.

    • Te Reo Putake 14.2

      Thanks, BLiP, that’s the most comprehensive list of Dunnokeyo’s brain fades I’ve seen so far. If I win lotto this weekend, I’m buying a page in the Herald and the Dom and printing the lot.

      It is just staggering to see them listed like that; you wouldn’t put up with this level of flimsy fibbery from a four year old, so why does NZ put up with it from Key? Mind you, it is starting to look like the worm is turning in the MSM. No ‘labour coup’ stories for weeks now, the focus is definitely on Key for the time being. When the likes of Vance and Armstrong feel obliged to point out the PM’s failings, you just know the rot is really setting in.

      So, big question. Who is going to lead National into the next election if Key is seen as damaged goods? Joyce? English? And never forget that Thatcher was a parrticularly unpopular Education Minister before transforming herself into the Iron Lady, so there’s hope for Parata too. Should we start a sweepstake?

  15. pollywog 15

    In the words of Scott Pilgrim when versing the World and in perfect relation to Key in this instance…

    “YOU COCKY COCK !!!”

    • chris73 15.1

      Off topic but damn Scott Pilgrim was such a dick and yet got some awesome hot, cool chicks…

  16. Adrian 16

    Remember when David Shearer got gazumped by the video that mysteriously disappeared, much like all the to the contrary evidence on Iraqi WMDs. At the time Labour members were told quietly that there was a lot more to come on this story and that it was very damaging. Bingo!. Well done DS. Go get the lying bastard.
    By the way where was Ian Fletcher when all those lies and obfuscation were happening in Britian, perchance was that the time he was working for Tony Blair? Is there a pattern here?

    • karol 16.1

      Adrian, I addressed the issue of when Fletcher was working for Blair, in this post.

      On Campbell Live tonight, Campbell raised the issue of the non-existent tape as mentioned by Shearer.

      Rennie did a very slick job of damping down the criticisms of Key – with a “nothing to see here” kind of response throughout the interview.

      • Anne 16.1.1

        It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Dotcom saga played a significant role in the appointment of Ian Fletcher. In my view – and as John Campbell pointed out tonight – it is also significant that there was a one month (and a bit) gap in Dec/Jan of last year when there was no Director of the GCSB. How convenient that was the period when the Dotcom raid was organised and executed at a time when there was no GCSB overview – apart from the Prime Minister of course.

        According to Ian Rennie GCSB staff are right behind Ian Fletcher and yet I heard Sir Bruce Ferguson say last night that GCSB morale levels are at their lowest ever ebb. Funny that. Ferguson must know many of the staff well from his own tenure as GCSB chief, and they are apparently telling him something quite different.

        Yet another brilliant job by John Campbell.

        • karol

          Yes, i thought the bit about the gap between heads when the Dotcom raid happened was intriguing.

          And the discrepancy between what Ferguson said about the low morale of GCSB right now, and Rennie saying Fletcher was doing his job well and morale was fine… was glaring.

          Rennie just seemed to be doing the official, boss, smoothing things over,, “nothing to see here” line.

          Campbell did very well, and managed to slip a question about the connection between Fletcher’s background on intellectual property and the way Key wanted to change GCSB – linking it with TPP and the Dotcom case on digital copyright. Rennie’s response was a bland dismissal of the idea – but Campbell had already made the connection.

          • geoff

            It’s ridiculous, I wish Campbell had raised that question, having interviewed Ferguson. How can a department undergoing significant internal restructuring have high morale and be ‘right behind’ the new leader who is making the sweeping changes?
            All media pieces I have seen of Rennie show him at pains to defend Key’s actions so I assume it’s essentially like having a National MP as the SSC?

        • Anne

          Oops… I meant Dec.2011/Jan.2012.

        • Ugly Truth

          Dotcom is important because of the US political influence.

        • Treetop

          According to Campbell Live Fletcher started at the GCSB on 29 January 2012. So if there was not a Director for several weeks who was in charge of the joint operation with the police?

          Key was more interested in holidaying in Hawaii than having no director at the GCSB or was this part of the plan because Dotcom had to be shut down and the illegal spying could be dealt with later on if it entered the public arena.

          As well on 16 February 2012 there was a debrief between GCSB and the police.

          Do not take your eye off the police (commissioner and OFCANZ) or the minister of police as they are in the loop. The minister of police may have been informed by Marshall and then she could have informed Key along the way or when there was no director at the GCSB (sometime in December 2011 – late January 2012).

          Rennie on CL could not identify a minister who had rang up a person for a political appointment. I think that Key phoned Fletcher to say that the job would be his were he to apply for it.

          Today Rennie said that OIA requests could be made for information re Fletcher’s appointment.

          Would the government release information?

          A forensic chronology needs to be put together.

          • TruthSeeker

            Wolfensohn was acting director of the GCSB during Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012.

            • Treetop

              Thanks for that, answering who was in charge of the GCSB when there was no director.

              Who was in charge of the joint operation with the police?

              Marshall or acting director Wolfensohn?

              Even though Key is the minister in charge of the GCSB he was not in charge as he did not know who Dotcom was until a day before the raid.

              When Banks was matey with Dotcom, Key does not know who Dotcom is.

              Was this to protect Banks and the Key Government?

              When Key is in charge of the GCSB he does not know who Dotcom is until 19 January 2012.

     “… or was this part of the plan because Dotcom had to be shut down and the illegal spying could be dealt with later on if it entered the public arena.”

              The Dotcom affair is being carefully orchestrated because the GCSB (including Key due to being the responsible minister) and OFCANZ were caught out with being involved in spying and now Fletcher and Key want to absolve themself from taking responsibility for NOT doing stuff by the BOOK.

              Me thinks that that perjury is very likely to occur at future Dotcom hearings because past lies will have to be covered. The smart thing for Key to do is to fire Fletcher, (I do not think that Fletcher will spill the beans on Key as this would ruin Fletcher’s future job prospects). Firing Fletcher or Fletcher resigning is the first step required to clean up the GCSB and were I employed at the GCSB I would not respect Fletcher.

              I don’t care what Fletcher’s background is. For seven months he either did not inform Key of the illegal spying or he is covering for Key. I would have no problem with taking carton boxes into Fletcher’s office and filling them up. I would even hoover, dust and polish the office before I left.

          • geoff

            Whenever the shit goes down JK always makes sure he’s overseas. Like now! “Bye y’all I’m off to China for a week, don’t worry I’ll have Paula or Hekia pull some stunt while I’m away to take the heat off me.”

            What a fucking circus. I’m so naive that I think this shit is going to add up in the punters minds but you live and hope I suppose…

      • Arfamo 16.1.2

        “Rennie did a very slick job of damping down the criticisms of Key – with a “nothing to see here” kind of response throughout the interview.”
        – – – – – –
        Yes, that was a very smooth performance. Rennie only slipped up with his eyes about twice I think.

        • Anne

          One of those slip-ups was when Campbell talked about the one month gap between one chief leaving and the next one taking over. A flicker of the eyes and a quick lick of the lip was an instant giveaway.

          • Arfamo

            He did make a couple of good points I thought, though. One was that this is one of very few appointments actually made by the responsible Minister (always the PM), and the other was that GCSB had shown itself to be in need of a complete overhaul, necessitating a change Manager. (I wish Campbell had asked him why a traditionally-backgrounded candidate couldn’t have been appointed, part of his role to be to recruit a change manager deputy.)

            I find everything JK says these days, and his body language, and the protection of the Speaker, just dodgy. I can’t explain why more people don’t feel the same way. The next round of polls will be interesting.

            • karol

              Well, Rennie does kind of answer Fletcher was the person to fulfill the role required: to “professionalise” the GCSB; “to change the structure and organisation “to meet the needs of the contemporary world”…. in other words… management speak.

              Rennie very cleverly sidesteps issues of what Key was looking for, and focuses on what he (Rennie) thought were the requirements for the job. e.g. Campbell asked about whether Fletcher’s background in intellectual property made him a good person to be dealing with intellectual property issues re-Dotcom and TPP. Rennie replied that was not in his (Rennie’s) mind when he was considering Fletcher for the GCSB job – Rennie thought Fletcher was the ideal person to manage the required changes to GCSB.

              But, that doesn’t mean the intellectual property issue wasn’t forefront in Key’s mind.

            • xtasy

              “I find everything JK says these days, and his body language, and the protection of the Speaker, just dodgy. I can’t explain why more people don’t feel the same way.”

              Maybe they can “identify” themselves as being on a similar wave-length with John Key?

              The harsher economic times, the ruthless and extremely competitive capitalist system now rigorously enforced in NZ society, this may force too many out there to cut corners themselves, to engage in tax dodging and evading, in “shonkey” deals and all sorts of activities, which are on the borderline of being legal, so that so many have so much to hide themselves now.

              In some Key may be viewed as the villain hero, as they have become so cynical, selfish and ruthless themselves, they have no other “role model” that they can sleep in peace with themselves.

              Having such one as PM makes life excusable and bearable for all the small and bigger crooks and rule benders out there. Slowly NZ society is becoming a sick joke, and I see fewer and fewer stand up for ethics, principles, values, community and dignity. The knives are out for many out there, not literally, but in another sense.

              Me first, my family and whanau first, defend the territory and what I have, that is what makes most tick now, a growing number fearing to sink into working poor or even hated welfare dependency.

              • Mary

                That’s right. Sadly New Zealand’s become a place where people value what Key stands for. That’s the problem.

          • karol

            I’m just re-watching the video. But Campbell started by quoting from the SSC website about Rennie’s role.

            The current office of State Services Commissioner descends directly from that of the Public Service Commission. The Public Service Commission was established in 1912 to employ all public servants, so protecting the Public Service from political interference and enabling the preservation of the political neutrality of the Public Service.

            Campbell then said that Rennie thought Key’s role in the appointment process didn’t amount to political interference.

            Good one, John!

            • Arfamo

              Well, yeah, the neutrality of the public service really disappeared under the Lange/Douglas government. By the end of the Bolger administration it was quite clear governments henceforth regarded them not as public servants but as government servants and that has been SSC’s pragmatic operating philosophy since.

              And Rennie’s contract’s up for renegotiation soon apparently.

              • Yeah, Key initially said that Fletcher was referred to a government minister but Wevers is supposedly as public servant. Understandable that he wouldn’t make a distinction between them.

              • geoff

                The more I hear from the man (Rennie), the more I want to know about his appointment!

                • Arfamo

                  I don’t think there was anything dodgy about Rennie’s appointment. He was a logical successor. It’s just that the SSC’s relationship with the Government is about doing what the Government wants, within the bounds of whatever that can be done will be done, and only whatever can’t, won’t (or shouldn’t). It’s an awkward relationship to manage and one that I guess is based on some tightrope walking. Can you think of any time in public knowledge where the SSC chief refused to do something a Minister or the PM wanted because it would be inappropriate to do so? Generally the desired government outcome is achieved by skilful use of an investigation with recommendations that remove or neutralise senior servants who have become a liability or who they simply want gone.

  17. freedom 17

    and of course tomorrow the PM escapes to China leaving Brownlee to be Johnny on the Spot next Tuesday.

    Mr Key will depart New Zealand at midnight on 5 April. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully will also travel to the Bo’ao Forum. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Trade Minister Tim Groser and Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples will accompany the business mission delegation in China. Mr Key will return to New Zealand by Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 on 13 April.

  18. outofbed 18

    Shearer gets dropped some info on video
    GCSB knows this
    A video showing Key being informed about dotcom dissapears
    Shearer looks like a munter

    But the facts are Key is a liar and capable of anything. If you appoint your best mates brother to run the Spy agency then anything goes
    I think the Greens and Labour should be at least encrypting their emails I know the Greens are technically competent and may already be doing this
    But I very much doubt Labour are tech Savvy if this is any thing to go by
    This sounds a bit conspiracy theory but can you hand on your heart trust the Nats not to do this. After all Key, the proven liar is the only person who provides oversight of the spooks .
    its all a bit fishy

    Maybe that is why morale is low at GCSB

    • chris73 18.1

      Thats pushing it, I mean Labours security was so weak that Whaeleoil decided to helpfully let them know how bad it was (and not a word of thanks) so I don’t think National need to be recruiting the GCSB…some bored 3rd year computer science guy would probably be able to have a look

      • McFlock 18.1.1

        Well, we know nact ministers don’t encrypt the emails they send through personal webmail accounts.

        • chris73

          Ezachery, Labour should go for it and see what they can come up with

          • McFlock

            They’d do much better for the country if they sent their webtechs to the eqc. Or acc. Or whoever this week’s privacy leak comes from. Or has the government managed to go an entire week without sending confidential data to random new zealanders?

            • felix

              With the exception of the MoSD kiosk clusterfuck, I hardly think any of the others could be said to have gone to “random new zealanders”. They’ve all seemed pretty well targeted to me.

              • McFlock

                True that. All been Emailed to people the relevant department has been trying to deny legitimate payments to., if I recall correctly.

                • Colonial Viper

                  People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

      • felix 18.1.2

        “Labours security was so weak that Whaeleoil decided to helpfully let them know how bad it was”

        I don’t think anyone seriously believes Cameron just stumbled over this and figured it out all by his little not-that-savvy self. It’s far more likely he was tipped off by someone in the NPRU or the PM’s office.

        Which takes us all the way back to square one. And before you say how far fetched it sounds, you’d probably best explain why Key thinks his relationship with the head spy is so dodgy that he’s been lying about it for a week.

        • chris73

          How do you know it wasn’t someone in Labour or the Greens?

          • Colonial Viper

            Nats had more to gain.

            • chris73

              Labours pretty good at taking rivals out

              • McFlock

                But only national would be dumb enough to trust slater with a job. Well, them and PoAL, of course.
                Fuck, that ‘how I did it’ video of his was painful to watch as he followed off-screen instructions he couldn’t really understand.

            • felix

              Of course you’re right chris, it could have been someone from Labour, the Greens, the Mooneys, the International Space Station, the CTU, the United Nations, the Illuminati, the Shire, or just about anywhere else.

              But it probably wasn’t, because Occam’s razor suggests it was probably someone from Nat HQ.

              • McFlock

                That and The Ip addresses, if I recall correctly 🙂

                • felix

                  Haha yes. Of course someone from Labour could’ve disabled the security at the beehive and broken into the PM’s office. I’m pretty sure chris will tell us that’s just as likely.

              • chris73

                I’d say occams razor suggests an inside job because for the Nats to have organised this someone would have had to:

                a. Thought of it
                b. Contracted someone to do it (not really the kind of job you advertise in the SJS)
                c. Made sure whoever did the job didn’t talk
                d. Made sure no one in National who knew about it talked

                or Someone in Labour tipped whaleoil off by telling him the securitys a bit naff

                So by occams logic I’d suggest it was someone in Labour interested enough in the techie side of things (or knows someone who is) and has an axe to grind…

                • felix

                  Ignoring the obvious (that you don’t believe a word of what you’re saying), and ignoring the fact that a couple of comments ago you were saying it was all so simple that a retarded monkey could’ve found it, there’s also that for Labour to have organized this someone would’ve had to:

                  a. Thought of it
                  b. Contracted someone to do it (not really the kind of job you advertise in the SJS)
                  c. Made sure whoever did the job didn’t talk
                  d. Made sure no one in Labour who knew about it talked

                  and after all that, you want us to believe that they then:

                  e: decided to work with Cameron Slater.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    f: For Slater not to yell at the top of his lungs after being approached: “Guess what some backstabbing Labour gimps asked me to do for them!!!”

                    C73: I suggest you get a new razor mate. Yours is dull.

                    • felix

                      Think he’s using Occam’s mallet.

                    • McFlock

                      Occam’s cheese block.

                    • chris73

                      So you don’t think someone in Labour would try to shaft their own party out of spite?

                    • McFlock

                      Based on the electronic evidence and known associates in that particular case, anyone in labour would be much further down the suspect list than anyone in National.

                      But feel free to ignore everything that’s public knowledge about who went trawling around someone else’s computer system and make up your own story.

                • RedBaronCV

                  The GCSB having a trial run?

  19. The Al1en 19

    All this talk of spooks and Richie Mckiwi oo8 number wire secret agents got me thinking.

    Do you think there’s an open file on Key with his ‘interests’ and ‘connections’ in the interest of national security?
    If so, do we have to wait thirty years to see it?

  20. outofbed 20

    Ask yourself the question
    Are the Nats capable of using the spy agency that its leader has sole oversight of, to help in any small way retain power?

    I think the answer is probably yes

    It is therefore of vital importance the the oversight of GHCB is and independent body. And not the brother of the PMs best mate

    Talk about democracy under attack!

    • Anne 20.1

      Are the Nats capable of using the spy agency that its leader has sole oversight of, to help in any small way retain power?

      Well Muldoon did it, and by his own admission Key was one of Muldoon’s most ardent admirers.

  21. Wairua 21

    John Key is damaged goods.

    Would you buy a used car from that guy ?

  22. freedom 22

    here’s a couple of questions

    Why have we heard nothing from the Maori Party about this?
    Are integrity in Government and transparency of process not important to them?

    from the C&S Agreement:

    “It is agreed that relevant spokespeople within the Māori Party will be briefed on significant issues which are likely to be politically sensitive before any public announcements are made.”
    “*Advance notification to the other party of significant announcements by either the National lead Government or the Māori Party”
    “* Briefings by the National led Government on significant issues before any public announcement”

    – so when the PM diligently told the Co-Leader of the Maori Party about the appointment of our top spy, did Mr Sharples ask about the appointment process? If so, why then did the Maori Party stay silent in the House when the PM lied to Parliament?

    – these C&S points are also interesting when considering the Mighty River Power and the Solid Energy fiascoes

    Did Mr Sharples simply roll over for big boy Johnny and wag so as not to be sidelined from the trip to China?

    • xtasy 22.1

      Too busy having their cosy BMWs polished and made ready for the next ride in them (heated seats for cold winter days and nights included).

  23. Colonial Viper 23

    Canadian police crack down on instagram they claim threatened police communications chief.

    Looks like its going to be an ongoing thing globally in western “democracies”.


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