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What are you hiding, Mr Key?

13 November 2011 6 comments

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It seems that more may have come out of the “cuppa tea” between John Banks and John Key, than we first thought. One of the journalists present inadvertantly recorded something that was not meant for our ears,

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The conversation was inadvertently recorded in Newmarket’s Cafe Urban where Banks and Key had arranged to meet in front of 40 members of the media. The meeting was a platform for Key to symbolically endorse Banks in the Epsom seat. If Banks, who has been trailing National’s Paul Goldsmith in polls, wins the seat, it would give National a much-needed coalition partner. Banks initially told the NZ Herald on Friday he was not concerned about any recording. But when told the Herald on Sunday had a copy, he refused permission for it to be printed.

“I’m not saying yes. I’m not saying no. I think you need to talk to the Prime Minister. It was his cup of tea, he paid for it.”

Herald on Sunday editor Bryce Johns said the newspaper had sought legal advice and believed it could have gone ahead, but it was an ethical matter for the newspaper. “Neither politician knew they were being recorded and they want to keep that chat private.”

The freelance cameraman who made the recording, whom the paper has agreed not to name, said the recording had been made accidentally after he was stopped by Key’s security staff from recovering the recording device. It transmitted the recording to the camera operator’s equipment but he did not discover until later.

In the eight-minute and 26-second conversation, the pair discuss Act’s future and its leadership, New Zealand First’s electoral chances and the percentage of the vote the National Party would secure.

Labour’s Epsom candidate David Parker said Banks and Key’s actions were “hypocritical” after the pair organised and stage-managed the “cup of tea” scenario to get the public maximum impact.

“They have been hung on their own petard and they should be pressured to disclose what it is that is so distasteful they don’t want the public to hear it.”

Parker said the public did not have a right to all aspects of public figures’ lives but the situation involving Banks and Key was different.

“They manipulated things. Because of a mistake caused by an agent of the Prime Minister not allowing this person to pick up his kit, they are uncovered. What is it that they are hiding?”

Two senior politicians to enjoy the “cup of tea” show of support were Act leader Don Brash and former party leader Rodney Hide. As National Party leader, Brash met United Future leader Peter Dunne in 2005.

Brash said he believed the it would be “unethical” to publish. “I suspect there is nothing terribly sensitive in it.”

Hide, who met Key for coffee during the 2008 election campaign, said, “I’m of the strong view that private conversations should stay private.”

University of Otago political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said the information should be released. It was increasingly difficult for the public to access real information about politiciansbecause the media was outgunned by political budgets and press officers.

“It is a conversation that would help voters navigate the election campaign. In an election campaign, voters need maximum amounts of information and viewpoints. In the name of democracy, we need this sort of information.”

Right-wing blogger David Farrar also supported release if the recording revealed hypocrisy. “If there is something which is contradicted by what they say publicly, it makes the public interest argument.”

Source: NZ Herald

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One wonders what was recorded that could possibly be so “sensitive” or “embarressing” that neither Key nor Banks want the details to be made public?

What did those two have to say to each other could possibly be so damaging?

And here’s the richness of the irony; both men were the centre of a massive media scrum. John Banks needed Key’s public “nudge, nudge ,wink, wink” endorsement – and Key… well, Key just lives for photo ops. (Though he did give away the faintest impression that this was not his favourite photo-op since he first ventured into Parliament and political life. (There may’ve been a dead rat in his cuppa tea?)

So despite their basking in the media lime-light and public focus – all of a sudden they have both become shy at revealing what was recorded on tape?  From media “sluts” to shy, retiring “wall flowers”?!

Ok, my curiousity is well and truly piqued.

As for John Key’s remark…

I’m of the strong view that private conversations should stay private.

… strikes me as a bit rich, given Paula Bennett’s willingness to release people’s private details to the media, and to the public.

And if, as Brash says…

I suspect there is nothing terribly sensitive in it.”

… why not release the tape/transcript? What does he have to hide?

Considering Brash’s secret dealings with the Exclusive Brethren in 2005, his credibility on such matters is dubious, to put it mildly.

Even right-wing  blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, smells a rat – of which there seem to be plenty of dead ones around Epsom these days – then something is definitly “rotten in the State of Denmark”, to quote The Bard.

Of course, this cuts both ways.   One day the left may also have to disclose a dodgy conversation to the public.

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

Interview with John Key

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John Key states categorically that he will not provide consent to release the tape/transcript of the recording of his conversation with John Banks. He says,

It was deliberately put there and I’m simply not going to reward them with that tape. But I’m not bothered by the contents of it.”

If the Prime Minister’s sole concern is “not rewarding” the Herald-on-Sunday, then he has another simple option: release the tape to another media outlet.

That removes any element of   “reward” for the Herald-on-Sunday, whilst satisfying  the public’s right to know what their elected representatives are up to.

Quite simple really.

Unless, of course, there is more to the contents of that tape than John Key is letting on. And let’s face it – the debacle over the alleged “email” regarding Standard & Poors was our first public indication that the Prime Minister could bend the truth when it suited him.

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More here

The game’s afoot, Watson!

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+++ Updates +++

ACT leader agrees tape secrecy suggests something to hide

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Hypocrisy – thy name be National

13 November 2011 21 comments

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Most of us remember the situation of  Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers, who protested at the canning of the Training Incentive Allowance that was specifically set up to allow single-parents to upskill and enable them to find jobs for themselves.

The Training Incentive Allowance was used by a personal friend of mine, who was on the domestic purposes benefit,  to obtain qualifications as a teacher; land a job at a primary school; and earn a salary. Instead of receiving a welfare benefit, she now pays taxes.

Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Welfare, did precisely the same and used the Training Incentive Allowance to pay her way through University. As I wrote in an earlier piece, Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy, this was Ms Bennet’s own circumstances,

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A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

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As is their right in a democratic society which values freedom of expression, Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston both challenged Bennett on her decision to axe the TIA. They reminded Ms Bennett that the TIA was designed to get people of the DPB, and reminded Ms Bennett that she herself had used this allowance for her own betterment.

Paula Bennett did not take kindly to this criticism. On 27 July 2009, Bennett instructed her staff to release sensitive, personal details of both women’s WINZ payments.

It was a gross abuse of ministerial power.  It was an attempt to bully the two women into submission, using the reactionary, red neck abuse from certain misogynistic elements in our society. (And those elements duly obliged.)

On 11 August 2009, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed that a complaint had been laid with her office over Bennett’s releasing of the two women’s details.

The releasing of the Human Right’s document, as outlined by TV3,  has ‘upset’  the Prime Minister who feels that Paula Bennett’s “human rights” have been breached,

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John Key says,

It’s a bit odd when something’s before the Human Rights Commission and yet the Human Rights of one of the parties seems to have been breached.” Source

Pardon?!

It seems outrageous that John Key is not as concerned that one of his Ministers – sworn under oath to uphold the laws of the land – released private information to “destroy” the credibility of her critics (Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston).

Or is using peoples’ private details to discredit them, if they dare criticise the government, now acceptable practice?

This government does not take kindly to criticism. This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspirational-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

Quite simply, it is apparent that one criticises this government, and especially John Key, at some risk to themselves.  New Zealanders should be appalled. This is what is known as going down the road to a Police State.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel uneasy – rest assured, that is a normal response.

It is people who think this is all ok, that worries the hell out of me.

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