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 … on Wednesday, Crown Law Office spokeswoman Jan Fulstow confirmed the order had been withdrawn by the Attorney-General.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.”