“We may as well kiss democracy goodbye”

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, September 19th, 2014 - 103 comments
Categories: Ethics, national - Tags: , , , ,

The words of the title of this post are those of Ombudsman Dame Beverly Wakem:

Ombudsman ‘appalled’ by ex-Customs lawyer’s OIA allegations

… She said the Ombudsman’s relationship with the government service was based on trust. Without that, she said, “we’re all in trouble”.

“We may as well kiss democracy goodbye. The work of this office relies in great measure in the maintenance of a high level of trust and integrity between ourselves and government agencies,” she said.

The Ombudsman is referring to this story, appearing in a separate article by David Fisher in The Herald:

Ex-Customs lawyer claims he was told to bury info that could embarrass the Government

A former high-ranking Customs lawyer says he resigned from his job after allegedly being told to bury information that could embarrass the Government.

Curtis Gregorash said he was told by senior Customs executives to refuse Official Information Act and Privacy Act requests, which he believed was at the direction of former Customs Minister Maurice Williamson.

It comes at a time the Prime Minister’s office is under inquiry over the release of intelligence material through the OIA and accusations that former Justice Minister Judith Collins was manipulating OIA responses for political purposes.

Back to the Ombudsman again:

“If our examination and investigation finds that [trust and integrity] has been betrayed or warped in any way that is something I am going to be taking very seriously and I think the public of New Zealand should be taking very seriously because it attacks the whole integrity of the system of governance.”

Dame Beverley said whistleblowers should make contact with the Office of the Ombudsman if they had evidence of such practices.

Yet another typical scandal from the dirtiest government ever seen in NZ.

103 comments on ““We may as well kiss democracy goodbye””

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    I wonder whether the word ‘prison’ is starting to loom in their private thoughts.

    • Kaplan 1.1

      It can only be a matter of time.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      We really need better anti corruption laws so that it does occur to them.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        It still boils down to the basic problem: how can we Tory criminal-proof our institutions? We know they will be kneecapped the moment the criminal party regains the Treasury benches.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1

          Decent whistle-blower protections and more transparency. In fact, everything a government institution does should be automatically public on an easily searchable website. Throw in some decent anti-corruption legislation that throws them in jail immediately, pending trial, if they try to take that openness and protection down.

          Can’t think of anything else ATM.

          • Colonial Viper 1.2.1.1.1

            It’s all very well talking about changing this law or that. That’s the easy stuff.

            The real hard work is around rebuilding a public sector organisational culture which values and implements integrity, impartiality and transparency.

            Also on making the judiciary and the courts a massive bulwark against the general anti-citizen assfuckery which we have been seeing governments running both here and in every other FVEY member nation.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1.1.1

              The real hard work is around rebuilding a public sector organisational culture which values and implements integrity, impartiality and transparency.

              Yep and after thirty years of memememe culture as comes about from neo-liberalism it’s going to take a long time to rebuild.

              Of course, if all the fuckwits are in jail instead of in the leadership positions in our public institutions it would be a little easier 😈

        • Brendon Harre 1.2.1.2

          We need a neutral referee position in our political system.

          My preferred way of doing this is for the Speaker to be appointed by unanimous vote in Parliament (MPs locked in without recess until they decide). The Speaker then appoints all the important heads of our civil service -ombudsman, Chief Auditor, head of TVNZ etc. Plus Judiciary and recommendations to the Queen for Governor General and Knighthoods.

          This would prevent the corruption of the civil service and the wider civil society in general. Civil society would serve the public not the PM.

          • thatguynz 1.2.1.2.1

            Do you foresee the speaker being an MP as per current scenario or a truly independent external?

            • Brendon Harre 1.2.1.2.1.1

              I see my neutral referee type Speaker being a MP, a continuation of current practice. But this is a really good question. Many people don’t trust MPs or Parliament but the other choices are worse in my opinion.

              I don’t see much appetite for an independent Presidential type position elected by popular vote, which a truly independent external would be. For two reasons.

              1. Because their is no firm public support for Republicanism. I don’t think this independent referee position issue should be bogged down by the whole Monarchy versus Republicanism debate.

              2. Because a Presidential type vote would be dominated by big money -so even more influence from the Colin Craigs, KDC and whoever the money men behind ACT are.

              • Tracey

                In my opinion it needs to be someone who hasnt had their world narrowed by being in parliament.

                The Ombudsmen relies on trust from government… That is the biggest flaw. This govt has deliberately messed with the oia process and the use of urgency… It leaves it to the voters to then decide while hiding their deceit from those voters.

                That the press gallery was not outraged by the recent revelations and constantly needs others to do their work for them removes the only real parliamentary watchdog we have.

                • Brendon Harre

                  Tracey two responses and I hope you take it in a friendly debating the issue way I intend.

                  Firstly Parliament has done nothing wrong, it is the Executive (what we call the Government) that is on trial.

                  It is dodgy way that Ministers, supposedly neutral civil servants and sections of the media operate that is undermining our trust in corrupt free governance in NZ. The scary thing is this corrupt nudge, nudge, wink, wink, culture becomes entrenched. We are all poorer if that occurs.

                  Secondly how would this person from outside Parliament be appointed? How can they stand up to the Government if they are appointed by the Government -even if the odd case where they are indirectly appointed like the current Ombudsman, Chief Auditor etc. The Speaker appointed them and he was only voted in by National MPs. So basically it was a stitch up by John Key and his Ministers.

                  So the options are either a unanimous vote from all democratically elected MPs or a popular vote from all kiwi voters.

                  • Tracey

                    I would have them appointed by 75% agreement of parliament. You have a committeee set out criteria and seek candidates. Three get selected by that committee and presented to parliament for a vote.

                    I said parliament because i dont believe the current govt has a monopoly on obstructive behaviour. Some of us recall tge winebox days when labour and national parry colluded to block winston, and the truth, from parliament.

                    I would have this person coming from a legal background.

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Tracey that might be better than current practice but I can see several flaws.

                      75% of Parliament means basically Labour + National. So minor parties will still be ignored.

                      There is no urgency in your process like my proposal with Parliament being locked without recess. This probably means National would demand the selection of one person, Labour the other, compromise for the third. Then when Parliament vote if it is a simple majority the Government (either National or Labour) will choose their person.

                      Sorry for being blunt Tracey but your proposal gives the appearance of adding a neutral referee into NZ’s system of governance but the reality is it probably wouldn’t.

                      If 75% of Parliament selected one outside person, probably with a legal background that might work better.

                      My proposal also has the bonus of giving a neutral Speaker, which might improve the quality of Parliamentary debates, that would be better than the kindergarten behaviour we have come to expect.

                      It would be hard for the PM, his Ministers, the civil service and the media to politically ignore a neutral referee type Speaker. In my opinion an outside person appointed by a Parliamentary committee would have less authority so could easily be undermined, side-lined, ignored etc.

                    • Tracey

                      By unanimous, you mean supported by 100% of parliament?

                      For the record i was pleasantly surprise by lockwoods performance, far better than wilson or carter, imo.

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Sorry Tracey I didn’t read your proposal clearly with it being a Parliamentary committee then 75% Parliamentary vote. But most of my comments still stand. I tried to correct it but then got timed out. I think that is why I am now ‘undefined’. (now fixed -Yah)

                    • Tracey

                      Brendan

                      I shrink withfear of a president style election of such a person for the reasons you allude to.

                      We could create this new position constitutionally, embed it into legislation and the position… They sit as an adjudicator taking over speaker roles, and expand them if required. I would put ombudsmen and privacy commissioner, to name only two, under this person, so they effectively have the clout of this position.

                  • Brendon Harre

                    Yes I mean all MPs. The whole 100% and they can be locked in Parliament for days with no breaks until they decide. That will concentrate their minds….

                    Tracey I have played around in my head with a strong majority figure like 75%, like you have suggested. But in the end I think the advantages of a unanimous vote is better.

                    Lockwood was definitely better than Carter. I was out of the country for Wilson.

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Tracey I seemed to have got this out of order. I hope readers can still follow this thread. I think we agree except on the minor details. That is ok.

                      I think this lack of neutral referee type person within the constitutional governance system is what has gone wrong in US politics and society. Especially now politics has got more partisan. This has ruined an otherwise good political system.

                      So I too ‘shrink with fear from a Presidential type election’.

                      NZ has the opportunity to gently evolve into a better system. I hope the left champion this evolution.

                      I think the right will either try to distract this progressive idea with either labelling it as anti Monarchy/pro republicanism. Or distract the voters with something else like the Conservatives Referendum proposals.

                    • Tracey

                      I am happy with 100% but i dont think it would get through the Bill stages?

                    • Brendon Harre

                      75% vote could work. IMHO it would work best if tied in with the Speaker’s appointment for the reasons I detailed above.

                    • Tracey

                      Thanks for the discussion Brendan.

                      Now, how do we get this to Winston?

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Thanks to you too Tracey.

                      I emailed Winston a few weeks back on this but not sure he paid much attention.

                      Personally if I was any smaller party I would insist on this sort of constitutional reform.

                      Governance in NZ is becoming more about controlling patronage rather than policy and legislation. That is how the big the party’s bypass the little party’s. The right have found they are better at this than the left because they can go really negative. The more people lose trust in public services and the political process the more votes they get (Actually the lower voter turnout means the left lose more votes).

                      Each cycle of MMP gets worse for patronage abuse.

                      Look at how much nepotism is in this lobbyist, media, civil servant, Government Minister corrupt culture. Follow the names -they keep reappearing.

                      Nepotism never used to be part of NZ’s culture.

                    • Tracey

                      Have you tried emailing the Greens too? Norman and Turei?

                      I think it is worth re sending to winston… This time in two days he will be looking for workable ways to lance the boil of dirty politics.

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Yes I have emailed the Greens amongst others following ‘Dirty Politics’ and surprisingly got the best response from Julie-Anne Genter the Transport spokesperson(actually the only non-automatic reply)!

                      I sent Julie-Anne some similar information to the above before this debate http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1409/S00004/fiery-broadcasting-debate-in-auckland.htm
                      Afterwards I got a thank you email saying my email had been helpful.

                      I will email this thread to all the progressive party’s to show the continued concern re this issue.

                      Thanks Tracey for your support that this proposal could help lance the ‘Dirty Politics’ boil

      • AmaKiwi 1.2.2

        We need some separation of powers so the PM’s party cannot influence certain bureaucrats.

        The UK is considering that the chair of the security services oversight committee is ALWAYS the Leader of the Opposition. We need something similar.

    • barry 1.3

      It will be a dangerous situation if a change in government results in the incumbents being imprisoned. then we get to a situation like Pakistan or Ukraine. It makes orderly change of government less likely.
      Unfortunately, short of murder, the government has to be forgiven a lot if they hand over peacefully.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3.1

        I agree. Any criminal charges must be brought by the appropriate authorities. The important thing for the government is to ensure that the other arms of democracy, (police, Judiciary, fourth estate etc) are protected from the National Party’s owners.

        National party members and enablers will be best remembered by their willingness to cooperate with the Police etc.

        Do something your great-grandchildren can be proud of.

        • AmaKiwi 1.3.1.1

          When Key announced he was not going to read the police report into Bank’s campaign contributions, the message to our police was clear: “Don’t prosecute Banks or else.”

          Our Police are compromised, our SIS is compromised (leaks to Slater), and the GCSB is run by someone whose primary qualification was his life-long friendship with Key.

          If there is no one to investigate, there is no corruption.

          Nixon was not brought down by 2 newspaper reporters. He was brought down by their secret source (“Deep Throat”) who told them where to look. Eventually we learned “Deep Throat” was the Deputy Director of the FBI.

          Who can be our independent investigators with the powers to prosecute?

  2. dv 2

    Frank Macskasy has a minute by minute record of what happened.
    well worth a read

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/09/19/the-donghua-liu-affair-the-players-revealed/

  3. Chooky 3

    Yep …we have to shout corruption from the rooftops…I still believe the Left will WIN on Saturday!

    ‘Unbelievable corruption inside Government to attack Kim Dotcom’

    By Martyn Bradbury / September 19, 2014

    “Will John Armstrong or the rest of the press gallery focus on this as much as they focused their attacks on Kim Dotcom’s decision to take his fight to Parliamentary Privileges?…

    – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/09/19/unbelievable-corruption-inside-government-to-attack-kim-dotcom/#sthash.P133n4wY.dpuf

    • Tom Jackson 3.1

      If they don’t, the strategy should be to bring the government down as soon as possible via pursuit of Dirty Politics, Spying, etc.

      The right have proved themselves ruthless, which means the left are going to have to be as well.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Yep, we need to be as ruthless as the RWNJS but with the ethics and morals that they lack.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 3.2

      We’d had better hope the left wins b/c with the recent news coverage we’ve now got some idea as to the extent of government corruption and misuse of power we will face if the lefties are in the minority.

    • + 1
      Keep calm and vote left!!!!!
      People I have been talking to are moving their political allegiances….away from National. Let’s build on that momentum….and get everyone out to vote.

  4. Dont worry. Be happy 4

    If the case against KDC is so water tight why are so many powerful people in Govt and the media stooping to such low, desperate and potentially risky/illegal methods? Logically, the only thing that can be inferred is that their case is pretty rubbish.

    By the way, I love that the person who is warning NZ on the brink of an election that if this is true “we can kiss democracy goodbye” is called Wakem. You couldnt make that up!

      • yeshe 4.1.1

        +100% and go Wakem ! She will do what Cheryl Gwyn cannot imho.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1.1

          There is a loophole.

          As journalists they will all say the law allows them to ‘protect their sources’

          Guess who now claims hes a journalist too- Oily Orca.

          Testify under oath just means instead of lying they will refuse to answer

          • Tracey 4.1.1.1.1

            Based on the quality of audrey youngs work recently he doesnt have a high bar to climb over for that claim…

  5. Tania 5

    on the ground information seems to be vastly different to that the media is promoting here is the debate comments and Cunliffe is ahead at 278 to keys 178 lets hope it turns into votes http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11326376

  6. Treetop 6

    I reckon that Peters has one more term in parliament and he really needs to make this count.

    Peters has two main options.
    1. To go with Key and change little as Key will still continue to dupe the voters.
    2. To go with Labour and the Greens and to overhaul all the rot that has accumulated over the last 6 years.

    No time to waste is my message to Winston Peters.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 6.1

      I think he has a third option which is to vote on each individual issue. This will be preferable because he will maintain power and answer only to himself.

      • Treetop 6.1.1

        I considered this to and concluded that it was window dressing. There needs to be a purge otherwise the regime/culture will hardly change.

        Will need to wait and see how serious Peters is about the rot.

        Will he just make consessions or will he eradicate the cause?

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        Now that would be an interesting shift. It would get rid of government and leave us with only parliament. This would probably be more democratic than the present system and possibly more stable well.

  7. Tracey 7

    and this is also relevant to how well served slater has been by oias. I have said for a while… slaters experience is WAY out of the ordinary.

    This govt is appalling on OIAs. Key breaches level 4 security for his own purposes. why not use denial of oias to over burden ombudsmen and slow the thing dowm

  8. Disturbed 8

    Yes we need to combine all vestiges of opposition members to form a Government and firstly rid this NatZ filth from our shores.

    Lets us please just forget the differences between all opposition parties for now.

    The greater peril is keeping these evil Governing right wing parties alive in Government.

    Most importantly now to do is first to get rid of total corruption of Government, MSM and big business interests ruling our future in a very damaging & corrupt way.

    This makes all feel very sick right now so please this plea from us elders is to get our young future leaders, those young voters out to vote and save our future from peril and destruction.

  9. Tracey 9

    name of person handling slaters sis oia released. not name of person who told him what to ask tho

  10. Martin Legge 10

    I was a gambling whistleblower in 2010. I was encouraged and at times harassed by investigators and DIA Management to provide statements and documents that would prove the illegal arrangements behind why millions of dollars of grants went to certain groups and how the trustees of the pokie trust I worked for had deceived DIA in an earlier investigation. I was told it was a “slam dunk.”

    Then Peter Dunne contacted the DIA and according to investigators, his contact influenced DIA Management to do an about face. The original investigator was removed from the investigation and I was never interviewed or spoken to again in respect of these matters. I was constantly fobbed off by the highest DIA Management with claims that they’d reviewed the file and they all continued to uphold it as a robust and serious investigation.

    The constant delays in OIA disclosure meant that it would be nearly 3 years before I would discover that DIA had in fact lost a file containing critical documents. Rather than alert me, they had preferred to stay silent on the matter because, I am in no doubt, the result of any investigation into this poke trust already had a pre determined outcome. DIA has broken the law in relation to the gambling act to achieve this outcome, not to mention their missed opportunity under the Crimes Act.

    I hope my renewed complaint to the Ombudsman will be given the attention and scrutiny that Beverley Wakem is finally admitting it needs!!!

    • yeshe 10.1

      kudos, martin.

    • thatguynz 10.2

      +1 Martin

    • ghostwhowalksnz 10.3

      remember this about the Wairarapa police child abuse whistleblower and ‘lost files ?

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/local-blogs/off-pat/3732066/A-whistleblower-lost-files-and-lies

      Apparently ‘lost files’ were just in another locked cupboard.

      You would think its the 1960s and everything is in physical paper.
      Modern document management will ensure all records are digital ( as they created on computers to start with) with some other documents scanned in. Once they are in the system all previous versions and and updates are retained on computer drives.

      Of course that didnt stop GCSB from ‘aging off’ or deleting stuff relating to its illegal activity with KDC

      • Treetop 10.3.1

        Justice delayed is justice denied. I would like to know the actual number of convictions that arose when the complaints were finally investigated.

        Disgraceful when serious crime against children was not a priority for the police.

        It takes a certain apitude to work in the area of sexual abuse and adequate resources/funding is required.

        • AsleepWhileWalking 10.3.1.1

          Yeah, it’s a technique to avoid anything happening. I have had experience of government departments saying that b/c an event happened years ago they weren’t going to investigate (the agency was the Health and Disabilities Commissioner and the complaint was only after a two year delay due to…. issues getting information…).

          Just because it falls inside their durisdiction doesn’t mean they have to investigate.

    • Tracey 10.4

      Thanks for speaking out martin.

    • BLiP 10.5


      Respect.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 10.6

      I didn’t realise that Peter Dunn was involved. Wish there had been more coverage as I feel an extra week or two is needed for the public to process all of this.

    • yeshe 10.7

      and Martin … hope your renewed complaint to B Wakem includes your record of Dunne’s interference.

    • Sans Cle 10.8

      You have our fullest admiration. We need more brave people like you. Kia Kaha!

    • Theodora 10.9

      Good on you!

  11. philj 11

    The wheels of this corrupt dumocrupty are falling off. Regardless of who prevails, our country has fundamentally changed.

  12. minrach 12

    IMO NZ has been corrupt for a long time, and what is starting to emerge is really just the tip of the iceberg…

    • Tracey 12.1

      Well when China is listening to Collins lecture them on corruption you know our standards are very low in that regard.

  13. venezia 13

    Martin Legge you are a hero.

  14. Smelper 14

    This is the second time in a week that David Fisher has pursued a story that is significantly embarrassing for the government. He also was the journo who dug out the Kitteridge material that partly forced Key into admitting that we maybe, possibly, couldn’t quite deny that we had a relationship with the NSA.

    Is it my imagination or has Fisher’s journalism turned around 180 degrees since his mea culpa revealing the potentially blackmailing side of his relationship with Slater and co?

    Are we waking from the fever dream that was the hold the Whoilers had over some of the MSM? If it can happen in the Herald it can happen anywhere?

    • Tracey 14.1

      Perhaps hwrald is using his articles to try and seem balanced. I mean this is theday before the election and doesnt trump audrey youngs mathematical gymnastics to create an unpaid Ad for the Nats

  15. Tracey 15

    if you want to see how most OIAs are handled you can follow my experience here

    Guest Post: Tracey – Blinglish single handedly reduces teenage pregnancies

    Of note it took three weeks from my last, very specific, request to bill english to get the summary. He had referred to receiving a summary from ms bennett before making a statement to the data forum. He told me about the existence of the summary, and I asked him for it. It took THREE WEEKS.

  16. Historical: Read comments by whistleblower Martin Legge at What if? Dunedin blogsite at http://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/…. (enter *martin legge* and *dia* in the search box) ….Bev Wakem better listen!

  17. Peter 17

    Correct me if I am wrong but as I recall when Mr Key won his first election much of his campaign involved mocking the Public Service. It appears as if they simply carried on from there and took actions to demonstrate their contempt ……..

  18. KJS0ne 18

    This could easily be a scene straight out of the Sopranos.

  19. AsleepWhileWalking 19

    Today on a sandwich board outside a dairy a headline said something about National rising after the DotBomb.

    I would assume if I hadn’t been following the issue that there was nothing to the claims made by Greenwald, Amsterdam, and Dotcom.

    Corruption has many forms.

  20. finbar 20

    Corporartions and their control will always stack the deck in their favour.We now have had six years control of a government who!s corporate favoured rule has had little effect on their popularity.The bailing out of Canterbury finance, and their vilification of its director.The disaster of ChCh,and the control of their power, not only to disenfranchise its citizens by appointing one of their own to be the governing ajudicator on all its major capital decision above their elected council.The white wash, that their corporate anti worker and corperate favour of the Pike River Disaster.These are only a few examples of what has occured in our present governments corporate control of our country,and for some reason a persons face seems more important.

  21. ianmac 21

    Bryce Edwards and Matt Nippet have been discussing this on the Panel. Concerning.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/20150319

  22. venezia 22

    Just arrived home to find a message on my answerphone urging me to Party Vote National “for a strong stable government”. There has never been National voters in this household since the place was built 10 years ago. So they are getting desperate!

  23. gregorash is a hero…

    ..i hope he gets the respect he deserves..

    • One Anonymous Bloke 23.1

      Crowd fund a statue? Name the National Party wing of Paremoremo after him? What?

      • phillip ure 23.1.1

        u cd name the inquiry after him..that’d be a start..

        ..the gregorash inquiry..?

        ..that has a nice ring to it..

        ..and garth mcvicar is going to name that parry-wing after himself..

        ..after he becomes minister of corrections..

        ..(anyone nervous..?..)

  24. small thing 24

    I read a wee while ago that there is plans to create special prison units for specific crimes maybe they should consider spending a large proportion of it on” White Collar” criminals and then we might be able to get our democracy back

    • One Anonymous Bloke 24.1

      Not so sure. Right wing faith thrives in part due to ‘low levels of contact with outgroups’ (Hodson & Busseri 2012). Ratfuckers belong with the general prison population, although when we return the right to vote to inmates let’s make an exception in their case 😈

    • @ small thing..

      ..they could just put some locks on the doors..and bars on the windows..

      ..down at natty-hq..

      ..that should sort things out…..

  25. Jepenseque 25

    This sounds a little similar to what phill Goff tried to do re sis OIAs!

  26. Gruntie 26

    without a string Fourth Estate out democracy is in the terminal phase

  27. Mr If Only 27

    To National:

    I want to break free
    I want to break free
    I want to break free from your lies
    You’re so self satisfied I don’t need you
    I’ve got to break free
    God knows, God knows I want to break free

    I’ve fallen in love
    I’ve fallen in love for the first time
    And this time I know it’s for real
    I’ve fallen in love yeah
    God knows God knows I’ve fallen in love

    It’s strange but it’s true
    I can’t get over the way you love me like you do
    But I have to be sure
    When I walk out that door
    Oh how I want to be free baby
    Oh how I want to be free
    Oh how I want to break free

    But life still goes on
    I can’t get used to living without living without
    Living without you by my side
    I don’t want to live alone hey
    God knows got to make it on my own
    So baby can’t you see
    I’ve got to break free

    I’ve got to break free
    I want to break free yeah

    I want, I want, I want, I want to break free

    lyrics By Queen

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