The fateful tea party – a footnote

Written By: - Date published: 7:12 am, May 7th, 2012 - 61 comments
Categories: election 2011, john banks, john key - Tags: , ,

So much of what shapes the current political landscape traces its roots back to the fateful tea party, the meeting between Key and Banks intended to gift the electorate to ACT. It did that – and more. Cameraman Bradley Ambrose accidentally recorded a “private” conversation between the two Johns, and in doing so became part of our political history.

In the aftermath Key attacked Ambrose and the media, and used the police to raid media outlets. The end of the media love affair with Key, and their somewhat more realistic interpretation and reporting of his behaviour, dates from that time.

While speculation raged about the contents of the tape, Winston Peters seemed remarkably well informed. He began dropping hints and snippets, among them the gist of Key’s callous disregard for the elderly. The surge in attention for Peters, and perhaps the anger of older voters, saw NZF surge to over 6% and claim 8 seats in parliament, thus denying the Nats any chance of an outright majority.

And having Banks (with the pretend ACT party) back in Parliament hasn’t worked out well for the Nats either. Key is personally covering himself in muck to try and protect Banks – who holds the one patsy vote that stands between the Nats and a hung Parliament. The longer it drags on the more damaged Key looks, and the more the hypocrisy of all their posturing on ethical standards is exposed.

All this from a cup of tea. It’s almost enough to make me believe in Karma.

Anyway, almost lost in the grand political consequences is the impact of these events on one man, Bradley Ambrose himself. Key laid a complaint against Ambrose with the police. In late April (conveniently timed while Key was overseas), after four months of hell for Ambrose, the police announced that they were dropping charges. However in an act of political vindictiveness the government went after him for almost $14,000 in court costs. In this respect at least there was some welcome news yesterday:

Teapot costs bid dropped

The Attorney-General has ditched plans to demand nearly $14,000 in court costs from freelance photographer Bradley Ambrose over the long-running “teapot tape” saga. … on Wednesday, Crown Law Office spokeswoman Jan Fulstow confirmed the order had been withdrawn by the Attorney-General.

But it isn’t over for Ambrose yet:

Ambrose said his lawyers were still deciding whether to take defamation action against Key for saying Ambrose broke the law. He is also still waiting for police to return $1000 worth of recording gear, despite repeated requests. … Ambrose said he lost “tens of thousands” of dollars as work dried up during the scandal.

I’ll leave him with the final word:

“I became completely disillusioned with the people running the country. And that’s coming from someone who’s been a National voter for 18 years.”

61 comments on “The fateful tea party – a footnote”

  1. While speculation raged about the contents of the tape, Winston Peters seemed remarkably well informed. He began dropping hints and snippets…

    How he became so well informed has not been examined by the media. Why not?

    There’s a remarkable impression that the media played a political game plan using Peters, and vice versa.

    Did this affect the outcome of the election? Did it help NZ First take Labour votes? If so should the media be playing political God? Not much chance of them asking themselves those questions.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      If so should the media be playing political God?

      What on earth does this mean?

      Did the media make people vote for Peters?

      Was the information made available to the public accurate?

      If yes, can that be a problem>

      What are you suggesting?

      • Vaughan 1.1.1

        The media has pretty shocking ethics around political reporting. One aspect of this is that the current government is somewhat a media creation – the media ran a campaign of encouraging voters to stay home by publishing so many polls that showed national way ahead. Problem with that is, polls are done off landlines, not cellphones, and a growing number of mostly youth have been disappearing off the landline grid for a number of years. The media knew this, but it’s less dramatic to report properly on polling than to play up a landslide which was never going to happen.

      • The media play a free hand in the political process, devoid of democratic process. What they choose to publicise and what they choose to ignore plays a big part in what the public see of an election campaign.

        The cafe meeting was as much a creation of the media as it was a ploy of Act (particularly) and National. It then overshadowed up to a week of the campaign, which used up coverage that legitimate campaigning didn’t get.

        It was suggested this adversaly affected Labour in particular – it’s debatable whether more coverage would have won them more votes.

        But it swung a significant portion of the floating and protest vote to New Zealand First. As Anthony suggests in his post Peters seemed to be in collusion with someone who new the contents of the recording – and the most likely ones were those who are kniown to have a copy of the recording, TV3 and the Herald.

        TV3 went as far as promoting a speech given by Peters in Invercargill where he talked about the recording.

        I think this suggests the possibility of very dubious use of media power to influence an election. It could adversely affect any party, and I don’t think it’s good for democracy.

        • Pete 1.1.2.1

          The media relationship with the political establishment is a symbiotic one. The media’s core business isn’t delivering news to an audience, it’s delivering an audience to advertisers. Winston Peters, regardless of your views on the man, makes for good television. He is a skilled populist politician and even I – a staunch Labour supporter – can appreciate his ability to put a bit of stick about and inject some life into the political theatre of this country. So I can understand why he’d be given some airtime.

          I do think your comment demonstrates a lack of faith in the New Zealand electorate too. Voters are going to vote for who they want to. It’s not TV3 and the Herald who are marking those boxes on election day.

          • Pete George 1.1.2.1.1

            But it’s TV3 and the Herald et al that sell the population on burgers and beauty products, what makes you think they don’t sell the politics their advertises want?

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1.1.1

              Corporate advertisers in the US can deliberately affect news editorial standards and positions; I don’t think that contagion has really made it to NZ yet.

            • Pascal's bookie 1.1.2.1.1.2

              Are you saying (unspecified) advertisers wanted Peters to get back in?

              What exactly is the allegation here?

              • Not an allegation, just suggesting a possibility.

                What if a survery showed that people eat 20% more burgers under a XXX government?

                We simply don’t know what happens. Perhaps there is always a good separation in media between commercial and journalistic interests, but it’s all done out of sight, no accountability and transparency that media demand of politicians and parties.

                Isn’t that a double standard?

                • Colonial Viper

                  What if a survery showed that people eat 20% more burgers under a XXX government?

                  so funny

                • McFlock

                  Not an allegation, just suggesting a possibility.

                  Oh, okay – just wasting everyone’s fucking time with no point you’re prepared to commit to, once again. 
                  Might I suggest the possibility that you regularly fellate aardvarks? Perfectly possible, if you can get an import permit. I’m not making the allegation, you understand, just suggesting the possibility.   

                • North

                  You’re a great one for having a dollar each way Pete George. While blasting Sir Botox Banks for the nasty, creepy, false idol he is you nevertheless pretty much engage apologism for the man.

                  Latest effort, your suggestion that his and Key’s own goal with the cuppa tea fiasco (which begot them Winston actually) should really be sheeted home to the media. More apologism.

                  Where the hell are you coming from Pete George ? Please have the honesty and the courage not to parade a mock distaste for Sir Botox and a PM whose contempt for us all is increasingly evident in dead eyes and a poker face.

                  • No bob each way on this, I’ve always been critical of the whole sideshow. I haven’t said that the blame for the fiasco should “be sheeted home to the media”, but they have been a significant part of it.

                    Banks seemed to be desperate for the attention of the symbolism of a cafe meeting.

                    Key seemed to me to be a reluctant participant – but of course it was his decision to take part, and I am sure it’s one he regrets making.

                    And the media were enthusiastic promoters of and reporters of the whole nonsense.

                    I think it was a bad look for all involved, and democracy and the election campaign was poorly served by it all.

                    Political patheticism.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.1.2.2

          Pish posh.

          Key and Banks decided to have their cuppa. The media didn’t force them to. It was part of the Epsom election race, which was of huge legitimate interest. The polling showed Banks wasn’t a shoe in, and the media were quite rightly intrested in whether or not Key would give a more explicit signal. The cup of tea routine has been used many times before, including by Dunne IIRC.

          So Key decided to send the signal. If he had decided the other way, that too would have been a story deserving of coverage.

          As it turned out, the tape was made, and the Key and Banks conversation was recorded, No one forced Key to talk about NZ First, no one forced Key to lay a complaint with the police, and no one forced him to attack the media. He chose to do these things, all of which were of legitimate interest.

          • Pete George 1.1.2.2.1

            I question whether there was anything of real interest in that whole sorry saga. I agree that Key and Banks were major players – but so were the media. They pushed and pestered for the meeting a week before it took place.

            It was trash trivia.

            • vto 1.1.2.2.1.1

              “trash trivia”. How on earth is the Prime Minister of New Zealand conspiring with a blow-in from Act to rort the NZ election 2011 “trash trivia”???????

              • Endorsing a third-party candidate really isn’t a rort, it’s a natural result of a system where electorates can provide extra seats, and precisely one of the biggest reasons we should get rid of electorates as soon as practical.

            • Pascal's bookie 1.1.2.2.1.2

              They didn’t push and pester for a meeting. They wanted to know if Key was going to give a signal or not.

              It’s pretty hard to see how that is not a legitimate question. Key could have said ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ at any time. But he decided not to. Then he talked about political things, and was recorded, and filed a police complaint, and attacked the media.

              It was certainly of interest to the people whose votes it’s assumed were changed by the whole affair.

              So who are you to say that they should have been denied the information that they felt was decisive?

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      “How he became so well informed has not been examined by the media. Why not?”

      Um, because they all know exactly how he became informed? You know who had the copies of the tape/transcript, right? You know it was the media, right? Specifically TV3.

      When asked how he knew, he said something like “well we all know where TV3’s offices are”.

    • jack 1.3

      I doubt it. Peters has connections, he’s been in Parliament for a long time and he is smart. I think the last people Peters trust is the newsmedia.

  2. Maui 2

    “I became completely disillusioned with the people running the country. And that’s coming from someone who’s been a National voter for 18 years.”

    Join the crowd ..

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      and join most of my once-was-old-Tory family members … my still staunch-National voting brother has been wavering recently

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    How he became well informed ?
    The contents of the tapes became common knowledge- a newspaper had the original remember.
    Peters was in a position to be able to use it.

  4. deuto 4

    I just missed Ambrose being interviewed on Morning Report – just before 8am. Must listen when it comes up on the website. Do hope he sues for defamation. Perhaps someone with money will come to his aid on legal costs. Dotcom? That would be a hoot.

  5. Graeme 5

    I am ashamed to admit, I voted for that sneaky little bastard Key in 2008……He promised a brave new world in NZ politics.
    That’s the last fucking time i take any politician seriously, and expect them to hold their word.
    My Grandfather literraly begged me not to, and may he rest in peace, everything he said would happen, has happened. The attacks on workers rights, the law for sale, the lie’s, the deceit, and general sneaky behaviour of a right leaning Govt.

    • Cin77 5.1

      I feel your pain, my poor mother almost howled when I suggested voting National in 08!

      I’m a good girl and did exactly what she told me, thanks Mum for the advice 🙂

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        People unthinkingly listening to their families is why so many people vote for National in the first place.

        • TheContrarian 5.1.1.1

          “People unthinkingly listening to their families is why so many people vote for National in the first place.”

          Complete bullshit

          • Lanthanide 5.1.1.1.1

            No.

            It can be equally said of Labour, or any other large mainstream party. Where’s the bullshit?

            • TheContrarian 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “It can be equally said of Labour, or any other large mainstream party”

              That I can agree with. It came across as if the only reason people could be voting National, in particular. was because of their families. I apologise for the misunderstanding.

              • I think we can all agree that people should be voting based on policy, or maybe secondarily the history of candidates in serving their constituents or in being effective advocates for your principles.

  6. Tiger Mountain 6

    Stuff Ambrose personally is my reaction, he has done the country a service by default only. That does not excuse the heavy handed treatment he got. If he has learnt something from all this-brilliant, he appears a bit of a slow learner though as a long time tory voter.

    “it burns us” but some of you keep doing it.

    • tc 6.1

      Agree, the number of folk who just refuse to see beyond granny and the Nat shills that passes itself off as the MSM is saddening.

      Just the other day I was listening to someone sooo impressed with shonkey in one of his tailored corporate events as he had them laughing and said a lot of impressive stuff…..another new kiwi with no shipley or muldoon experience.

      It’s all to easy for the NACT without an MSM with a spine or interest in future generations quality of life.

  7. PunditX 7

    Huge sympathy with Ambrose, my only reservation is after being force fed a shit sandwich by Key he still describes himself as a National voter…

    • deuto 7.1

      I doubt that he is a National supporter any longer. Although he did not say so directly, in the interview on Morning Report today (link at 4.1 above) he said something to the effect that the tea tape event had changed his political views.

  8. Jenny 8

    the fateful tea party, the meeting between Key and Banks intended to gift the electorate to ACT.

    ANTHONY R0BINS

    The tea party gifted Epsom to Banks.

    A simple little concept.

    But how did it work?

    How do you gift a whole electorate from one political party to another?

    When you think about it, it’s amazing really, and hardly the sort of thing that is often witnessed in a democratic election, of any sort.

    Right up until the tea party the National Candidate Paul Goldsmith according to polls was leading Banks by a large margin.

    This was despite Goldsmith doing his utmost to dissuade Epsom from voting for him. Even pulling down his own bill boards, rudely snubbing a delegation of Epsom voters who tried to meet with him to discuss some of the issues in the electorate concerning them. Being objectionable and rude in person and being invisible in public.

    Still Goldsmith was leading.

    But one pot of tea and it all changed.

    The question must be;

    Will the conservative voters of Epsom be happy to be the subject of so much cynical horse trading again?

    Can their votes be that easily taken for granted?

    I now see that John Key has all but given his papal blessing to the Conservative Party. Colin Craig in return has promised to keep National in power.

    Well, well. Will the voters of Epsom be content to be led by the nose again?

    I wonder.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      But one pot of tea and it all changed.

      In reality, I believe that the people of Epsom when polled answered in such a way to hold ACT to account for their misbehaviour and make them work harder for their votes.

      But they were always going to vote ACT on polling day because that is what was going to help National the most.

      • Jenny 8.1.1

        Not really. If David Parker had not stood…. It is very likely that the 3000 votes he received would most likely have gone to Goldsmith, defeating Banks.

  9. Anne 9

    Will the voters of Epsom be content to be led by the nose again?

    Of course they will. It’s not about policies, principles and fair pay-packets for all NZers. These people live in Remuera/Epsom. They regard themselves as the Upper Crust of NZ society. The Upper Crust stick together and will always do what their Lord and Master (in this case, John Key) tells them to do. I have known a few of them and they are impervious to independent political thought.

    • Goldilocks 9.1

      Not all Epsom voters Anne – I live in Epsom, and I’m neither upper-crust, nor a NACT voter.

      It IS frustrating to think that my electoral vote will probably be wasted on a Labour or Green candidate, though

    • Jenny 9.2

      I don’t care how rich you are. There is something in the human psych that resents being taken for granted.

      Will the voters of Epsom will troop into the voting booth and vote for the newly anointed Colin Craig?

      What would this mean for national politics?

      What if, after being ‘gifted’ this seat in a byelection, Craig was able to hold this seat through a national election?

      If Craig’s party vote holds up, the Conservatives could have four MPs in the next parliament virtually guaranteeing them the king maker role.

      What would this mean?

      Firstly it probably would mean the return of another National led government, but with a few added twists.

      For one thing, Colin Craig is an admitted Climate Change Denier.

      • Jenny 9.2.1

        What we must do, is give the people of Epsom a real choice.

        • Pete George 9.2.1.1

          If there’s a by election in Epsom it would be quite different to a general election, as there is only one seat at stake, for Act to hold or another party to gain, so the dynamics would be quite different.

          And the Herald poll wasn’t much use, especially if Banks (presumably) doesn’t stand.

  10. Jenny 10

    With Colin Craig standing in Epsom, Epsom could be ground zero for the first ever election campaign run over the issue of climate change.

    Is it real?

    Is it a fraud?

    Is it dangerous?

    Will rich people be just as affected as everyone else?

    To give this byelection some real zest – What is needed is an independent businessman, or independently wealthy individual, a conservative who has had the time and the interest and the intelligence to investigate this problem and who is able to decimate the denier argument in an election campaign.

    A Kiwi version of Al Gore crossed with Winston Churchill.

    Would Colin Craig be able to hold his own?

    Will Craig back down?

    Will he try to run away from the issue?

    Could Colin Craig be skewered over his support for denialism?

    I want a front row seat for this one.

    • Anne 10.1

      Saw him on TV tonight. Not very bright. He would be the nearest thing we have to a Tea Party Candidate. If Labour and the Greens put their heads together and each came up with the right candidate, they would be able to have his guts for garters.

      • Jenny 10.1.1

        A realistic candidate in Epsom needs to be a tory. Someone convinced of the danger of climate change.

        One of them, not one of us.

        An environmental Churchill if you will.

  11. Te Reo Putake 11

    Technical question. Can a resident (non-citizen) stand for Parliament? If so, I’d have thought there’s a high chance of a flashy, rich and egotistical criminal standing in Epsom next election. No, not Banksie. Kim Dotcom. He’s got the dosh to take this all the way and he’s certainly got the motivation.

    • 1.2 Candidate eligibility
      To be a candidate you must:

      be enrolled as a voter,
      be a New Zealand citizen, and
      not be disqualified from enrolling.

      http://www.elections.org.nz/rules/electorate-candidates/electorate-candidate/ceo-nomination-of-candidates.html

    • Jenny 11.2

      Dotcom has no policies, and not many convictions, (NPI), as far as I can tell anyway.

      Also, he doesn’t follow New Zealand politics.

      For instance, Kim didn’t even know that his old wheeler dealer friend Banksie had done a deal to become the MP of Epsom, that is until he found himself in Mt Eden. (the prison).

      But he does bear a grudge, and it might might make him happy to derail the auction block that is the Epsom electorate.

      He may may want to bankroll a principled candidate who is willing to take on Craig.

  12. Bankzee 12

    ahem, ahem, ahh, blow me, phizz, spit that bit of tea leaf out, God damn it, never thought of this.

    Oh, you are writing about me again? I was only there very briefly, had a cuppa of Darjeeling, a few words, moved on right away. Nothing to stick neither here, nor there. I was out shopping in Newmarket by the way. Never remember much of this photo. Cuppa? Well, what is a cuppa of sorts, we all have one in the morning. Ambrose? Yes I heard about nectar and ambrosia somewhere. Written in the bible, I think. I know the bible too. So what is wrong with that? I am a good guy, never tell un truths and always do good to (most) people.

    Huljich Wealth Mangement? Never heard of them! John Key? Well, who is he? Charter Schools, well where does that come from again?

    I am sorry, must go now, you are harassing me. I am innocent, never was there, it was all trivial anyway, and Winston is to blame for it all! Rodney Hide is also a bit of a let down now, given his last comments in the Herald a day ago. Wonder if I have any friends. But that is David against Goliath, the life story I will write about, before I go. Good night all, you dear old misled souls, be blessed though. JB

  13. Jenny 13


    Climate Change:

    It is the issue, that from now on, every political movement and party will have to be measured and judged on.

    Climate Change:

    If left to run it’s course, experts tell us the death toll will be measured in the tens of millions, crop failure, famine, drought, flood, wild fires, extreme weather events. Add to this the destruction of countless and irreplaceable natural habitats, animals and plants . The bio-sphere severely impoverished, made unrecognisable to any previous generation.

    Climate Change:

    It is the question of our age.

    Climate Change:

    Colin Craig denies it is a problem.

    We should thank this admitted climate change denier for being prepared to step onto the national stage to argue his case.

    Climate Change:

    All we need now is a realistic candidate acceptable to this electorate who can argue the opposite position. Someone who can point out that climate change threatens everyone and their children and grandchildren, all people, every age, every class, every race, from the top of society to the bottom.

    Who are the likely candidates?

    Any volunteers?

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      I’d volunteer, but I believe that energy and resource depletion is going to nail modern civilisation as we now it first. Sometime in the next 10 years, in fact. Something as simple as $4/L or $5/L petrol will do it.

      BTW the more economic collapse we get in Europe, China and Japan, the less our GHG problems will be.

    • jaymam 13.2

      Why don’t you volunteer to be a candidate, Jenny?
      I don’t think Epsom has ever had a woman candidate. 🙂

  14. Graeme 14

    If the voters of the left in Epsom understood MMP better, they would have all voted for Goldsmith, and ACT would have been finished. I voted Goldsmith for that very reason, and it turns out the difference was that chunk of 4 odd thousand votes…..That’s how we get rid of ACT.

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