Home > The Body Politic > What are you hiding, Mr Key?

What are you hiding, Mr Key?



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,


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


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.


+++ Updates +++


Full Story

Interview with John Key


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.


More here

The game’s afoot, Watson!


+++ Updates +++

ACT leader agrees tape secrecy suggests something to hide



  1. 14 November 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I agree, the tape should be released in the interests of the better public good.

    • fmacskasy
      14 November 2011 at 2:06 pm

      That’s my thought, Peter. I posted this on a Facebook page,

      I think there are three points here.

      (1) Key sez he doesn’t want to release the tapes because he doesn’t want to “reward” the Heral On Sunday. Fair nuff. In which case he could release the tapes to another media – one unconnected to the Herald.

      (2) If Key releases the tapes, he will have set precedent, and Labour or any other party in similar circumstances will be bound by the same expectations of full disclosure. It has to cut both ways.

      (3) Privacy. if Key and Banks had had their chat away from public attention, or if the “cuppa tea” had not been made into a public spectacle – I’d more likely agree with John Key. But this was a public event, with the media invited. In which case, what was the role of the media? To simply report what they were fed? Where does investigative journalism come in? Key has every right to with-hold consent for disclosure… but we are left wondering what he is hiding.

  2. 14 November 2011 at 10:51 pm

    AS the radio hosts suggested: John key and John Banks were discussing what to do with Don Brash if Banks is elected. He could no longer be Act Party leader. Perhaps he could be sent to Outer Mongolia as rep of NZ?

  3. Frank Macskasy
    14 November 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Peter Petterson :

    AS the radio hosts suggested: John key and John Banks were discussing what to do with Don Brash if Banks is elected. He could no longer be Act Party leader. Perhaps he could be sent to Outer Mongolia as rep of NZ?

    Outer Mongolia would probably either return him to New Zealand strapped across a Yak – or declare war on us…

  1. 15 March 2016 at 5:06 pm
  2. 20 March 2016 at 8:02 am

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