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The Donghua Liu Affair: One Year On

15 July 2015 6 comments

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair - v2

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1. The Stage is Set

Just over one year ago, the NZ Herald published a series of stories relating to a then-eleven year old letter written by then-Labour leader, David Cunliffe; alleged “big donations” made to the Labour Party by migrant businssman, Donghua Liu; and other assorted (and somewhat dubious) allegations of “impropriety”.

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NZ Herald - Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - letter for immigration nz

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NZ Herald - Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party - Donghua Liu - john armstrong - david cunliffe resignation

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NZ Herald - Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - $100,000 bottle wine

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A time-line of events is outlined here: The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

Judging by the activities of the office of the Minister for Immigration; TV3 journalist, Brook Sabin; NZ Herald personnel Shayne Curry, Tim Murphy,  Jared Savage,  and John Armstrong;  blogger Cameron Slater, and assorted right-wingers, it is also evident that there was a high degree of collusion between these parties.

One day before the Herald launched it’s “exclusive” that David Cunliffe had written an eleven year old letter on behalf of Donghua Liu, right-wing blogger “Barnsley Bill” (Russell Beaumont) posted this cryptic comment on blog, ‘The Dim Post‘;

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barnsley bill - russell beaumont - donghua liu - nz herald - the dim post

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Hours before Jared Savage’s story (David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid) went live on-line at 2.29PM, Twitter chatter between the Herald’s Editor, Shayne Currie, and sundry right-wing characters were gleefully anticipating the release;

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shayne-curry-twitter-nz-herald-donghua-liu-david-cunliffe-immigration-nz1

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Some Tweets have been deleted by their authors – but the screenshot above is a permanent record of  the conversation. (Acknowledgement to  co-writer, ‘Hercules’, for uncovering this part of the story.)

But the ‘clincher’ was this post, on far-right blog, ‘Whaleoil‘, published at 12.57PM – an hour and a half before the Herald published Savage’s story at 2.29PM;

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donghua liu - nz herald - whaleoil - cameron slater - jared savage - david cunliffe

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See full story revealed here: The Donghua Liu Affair: The Players Revealed

Even the Prime Minister could not resist chipping in with his own “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” reference to being privy to more information, as he stated the following morning (19 June) after Savage’s story went live. As Savage reported;

Speaking from the East Lawn at the United Nations this morning, Mr Key said he had heard rumours that Mr Liu had given more that $15,000.

“I’ve heard the rumours and we’ll see what actually comes out but I’d be very, very amazed if the amount is $15,000,” he told New Zealand reporters.

Key’s reference to “$15,000” related to allegations made by the Herald that Liu paid that amount for a book autographed by then-Labour leader, Helen Clark. On 16 June, Savage wrote;

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

On 22 June, Herald journalist, Bevan Hurley, reported on the now-mythical $100,000 bottle of wine;

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.

The Herald’s sole informant was migrant businessman, Donghua Liu. (More on this point later.)

2. Retractions

But only three days later, as Labour hit back demanding evidence of Liu’s claims and pressure mounted on the Herald to “put up or shut up”, a new, revised, statement appeared;

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NZ Herald - Donghua Liu's new statement on Labour donations - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - $100,000 bottle wine

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Savage wrote;

Liu, to whom Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was “capable of two meanings” and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on.

[…]

He said the figure was the total payments to Labour and its politicians which included the wine auctions, a $2000 donation to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, the Yangtze River trip and anonymous donations to MPs.

“I have no reason to inflate this number. It’s as best as I can remember,” said Liu.

The Herald’s back-tracking continued when this editorial appeared on 27 June 2014;

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NZ Herald - Editorial - Cries of bias will not stop reporting - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - $100,000 bottle wine

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The editorial bluster continued until the un-named author came to the salient point;

“At the weekend, the Herald on Sunday reported from a signed statement by Liu in which he appeared to claim he spent $100,000 on wine at a Labour fundraiser and $50,000-$60,000 hosting former Labour MP Rick Barker in China. The paper verified the document was from Liu and put its claims to Mr Cunliffe and the Labour Party.

On Wednesday, Liu provided the Herald with another statement, after being pressed for more detail, in which he corrected his previous implication that $100,000 was paid for a bottle of wine and limited his total spend on Labour and its MPs when it was in power to “close to $100,000”.

The Herald immediately published his clarification, with prominence on our website, where it remains, and amended the Herald on Sunday story online. The Sunday paper will publish a clarification this weekend.

Liu’s mis-statement, however, has been grasped as proof of Herald complicity in a plot against Labour. The claim is risible, across the range of political coverage but also explicitly over the Herald’s investigation of National and Labour and their damaging cosiness with Donghua Liu.

We regret having reported inflated and conflated dollar figures.”

On-line public commentary following the editorial was scathing and in no mood to be mollified by this Clayton’s apology (if that is what it was intended to be). No wonder it was eventually closed down.

3. Press Council Complaint & Consequence

On 5 July 2014, I laid a complaint with the Press Council regarding the nature and content of the Herald stories.  The  complaint referred to several Herald articles omitting to mention Cunliffe’s letter being eleven years old; that no evidence had been presented to support Liu’s claim he had paid $15,000 for a book , nor $100,000 for a bottle of wine; that the Herald had not released the full text of Liu’s signed statement, and other examples of misreporting and lack of evidence.

(Full text of complaint here.)

On 21 August 2014,  the Press Council deliberations yielded it’s decision.

Despite the complaint against the Herald being dismissed by the Press Council (hardly a surprise), it is noteworthy that the Council did issue one admonishment against the paper;

We accept in part the criticism from both Mrs Lyons and Mr Macskasy regarding the reliance on information from Mr Liu only, including his signed statement. It can correctly be distinguished from the Cunliffe letter released under the Official Information Act. We do not consider there is any obligation on a newspaper to publish it in full. While they were entitled to rely on such a statement as part of the factual basis when reporting the paper failed to adhere to a basic tenet of journalism…the need to have confirmation from a second source.

(Full text of Decision here.)

In fact, the entire series of stories emanated from just one man: Donghua Liu. Not only was the businessman’s story uncorroborated, but the Herald was reluctantly forced to concede that several of Liu’s “facts” were simply incorrect.

There is also the strange involvement of Cameron Slater, Russell Beaumont, and other sundry assorted right-wing characters, who were party to the Herald’s story.

On top of which was the even stranger fact that the Herald’s OIA request (made by Jared Savage on 16 June 2014) into Donghua Liu’s immigration was processed within 48 hours – a feat unheard of when it comes to Official Information requests.

(Full text of Immigration NZ letter here. Full story here.)

4. The Herald’s Promises of  more “evidence” and “details” to come

Part of the Herald’s defence was that the Donghua Liu investigation was on-going and more revelations were to follow. The following comments by the Herald’s then-editor-in-chief promised the following;

Tim Murphy, email to Frank Macskasy, 27 June 2014

“We are continuing to investigate the payments from Donghua Liu and the circumstances of his various migration approvals.”

Tim Murphy, email to Frank Macskasy,  4 July 2014

“We fully expect further details to come will show the  Herald’s earlier reporting to have, as we have known throughout, been accurate and soundly based.”

Murphy made similar commitments to the NZ press Council as part of their defence against complaints in the handling of Dongthua Liu’s allegations;

Tim Murphy, email, 7 July 2014 & NZ Herald statement to NZ Press Council, 15 July 2014;

“We stand by our report that a book was purchased and expect further ‘evidence’ of this to be made public shortly.”

Tim Murphy, ibid

“You seem to have accepted without question MP Rick Barker’s claim he attended only a staff party in China.  We do not accept this and expect further details of the hospitality for him and others in China to be revealed in due course.”

To date, no further evidence, nor details, have been forth-coming.

I wrote to Shayne Currie, the Herald’s recently-appointed editor, asking;

It is now one year on from the Donghua Liu Affair, which ranged from 18 June 2014, to 27 June 2014, when  several allegations were made regarding David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, and the NZ Labour Party.

At least one of those allegations (a so-called “$100,000 bottle of wine”) was retracted by your paper. Another allegation, of a so-called “$15,000 book signed by Helen Clark”, was never proven.
Two complaints to the NZ Press Council were, for the most part, not upheld, though your paper was roundly criticised for sole reliance on only one source (Donghua Liu), and not confirmed from a second source. The Press Council stated in it’s findings that this was a failure of a basic tenet of journalism.
On several occassions, the then-editor of the Herald, Tim Murphy,  stated that the investigation into this story was on-going and expected further details and evidence to emerge.
I refer you to statements made by Murphy;
[See statements above by Tim Murphy]
As it has now been exactly one year since the Donghua Liu Affair, are you able to advise me as to what further “details” and “evidence” the Herald’s “continuing investigations” have uncovered?
I will be seeking comment from other ‘players’ in this story, and felt it fair that I seek your comments as well, to present some degree of balance.
I will be happy to present any comment you wish to make, verbatim.

As this story is published, Currie has not replied to my emailed questions.

5. A response from Labour’s Mike Williams

Former Labour Party President, Mike Williams, was more forthcoming when I questioned him on the Donghua Liu Affair. On 8 July, Williams told me;

“I was incensed by this. Because if the Labour Party had picked up $150,000 I would’ve known about it.”

This was all founded on bullshit. There were no donations from Donghua Liu. Not a cent.”

Williams was scathing of the manner of the Herald’s reporting of Donghua Liu’s claims;

“This story was just total bullshit, it was front page bullshit. They kind of withdrew from it, but it did damage the Labour Party at a time when it didn’t need much damage.

There’s gotta be a withdrawal or apology, I would have thought.”

6A. Conclusion

In a previous chapter of the Donghua Liu Affair (The OIA Gambit), ‘Hercules’ and I wrote;

What appears to be an orchestrated  Beehive plot to dig dirt for throwing at Labour leader, David Cunliffe, ahead of a crucial parliamentary debate is revealed in a paper trail linking Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, and the Parliamentary Press Gallery offices of the New Zealand Herald and TV3.

Hatched in National’s anticipation of a hammering in a debate on Wednesday 18 June (note the date) prompted by the resignation of ACT leader, John Banks, the plot was pivotal on having Cunliffe first deny helping Auckland businessman Donghua Liu with his residency application – before producing an eleven-year-old letter from Immigration’s files as proof that the Opposition leader was either a liar or had suffered serious brain fade.

On its own, the letter was innocuous…

…What is certain is that the real reason for the urgent 48-hour response to the OIA requests was to ensure that the Cunliffe letter was in the public domain by midday on Wednesday 18 June.

The same day that the government was facing a torrid questioning by the Opposition after the conviction and resignation of ACT MP, John Banks. A government that desperately needed a credible diversion. Relying on another beneficiary-bashing story from Paula Bennett was simply not tenable.

This was the a Dirty Trick of the highest order, involving an eleven year old letter; complicit media looking for another  easy sensational news story; Ministers with connections to right wing bloggers; and journalists who run with the pack instead of asking questions that might yield real answers.

As they say in law enforcement circles; Motive. Means. Opportunity.

The government had all three.

This was the real story behind the Donghua Liu Affair.

However, there is more to it than that.

The motivation of the National government to smear and destroy David Cunliffe’s credibility is fairly obvious. With National facing an election later that year (2014), a resurgent Labour Party led by a new leader was the last thing they needed.

But there were two other players in this Affair…

6B. Donghua Liu

As I wrote in a previous chapter on this Affair (The impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign), the Herald came into possession of the first of two statements by Donghua Liu (neither of which have ever been released publicly, despite ongoing demands for transparency);

The date on Liu’s “signed statement” – 3 May – was only two days after Maurice Williamson’s enforced resignation after being found out attempting to influence a police investigation into Liu’s assault on two women.

The close timing of Williamson’s resignation and the date on Liu’s “signed statement” was a critical mistake on the part of those responsible for this smear campaign. It ties the two events together. I believe Key’s senior media strategist, Jason Ede, and right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater were probably involved.

The motive for the smear campaign was an act of utu, in retaliation for Labour prosecuting revelations against Maurice Williamson.

Interestingly, the Herald political reporter who wrote the Donghua Liu stories made a passing reference to Maurice Williamson as well, in an email to me dated 17 July, last year;

It all started with queries about his citizenship while the Nats were in power, against advice, specifically after Maurice Williamson writing an email in support in 2010…it eventually led to Mr Williamson’s resignation as a Minister for intervening in a police matter and the discovery that Liu was also lobbying Immigration Minister Woodhouse to change policy. –  Jared Savage, email, Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM

From several media reports, it seemed clear that the relationship between Donghua Liu and Maurice Williamson was more than just a formal MP-Constituent relationship. They appeared to be good friends;

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Liu, who has close ties with the minister, was arrested in December last year following a domestic violence incident…  He had previously lobbied his colleagues to grant Liu citizenship against official advice. Liu’s citizenship was approved in 2010 by then Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy. He later made a $22,000 donation to the National Party. TV3, 1 May 2014

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National MP Maurice Williamson lobbied a ministerial colleague to give New Zealand citizenship “as fast as possible” to a wealthy businessman – then conducted the ceremony himself the day after citizenship was granted against the recommendation of officials.The urgent VIP ceremony, believed to have taken place in Mr Williamson’s electoral office, is another close link between the former Minister and millionaire property developer Donghua Liu, who has donated $22,000 to the National Party previously. – NZ Herald, 1 May 2014

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He [Maurice Williamson] later revealed that Liu owned a bach next to his family’s house at Pauanui, and the MP had used the property and performed minor repair work on the house when Liu was in China.“I’m a fan of being a handyman and the house was good to be able to use while we were doing it,” he told Campbell Live.Mr Williamson recommended the neighbouring holiday home to Liu when it went on the market.  He also said he had eaten dinner with Liu as part of a group five or six times. – Otago Daily Times, 2 May 2014

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When Williamson resigned his ministerial portfolio on 1 May 2014,  Donghua Liu no doubt noticed his friend’s misfortune, and conveniently  supplied his statement to the NZ Herald three days later.

Donghua Liu could not have been too happy at the downfall of his ‘mate’, and was eager to exact revenge against the Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

One of the few remaining questions is; who put him (Liu) up to it? Who could have prompted a migrant businessman, with poor command of the english language, to make a formal statement, and ensure it made it’s way to the Herald’s offices?

It had to be someone well-connected with the National government; who had experience with ‘dirty tricks’; links with media; and who has/had a working relationship with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater (who, don’t forget, published Jared Savage’s Donghua Liu story on Whaleoil one and a half hours before it appeared on the Herald’s own website!).

I think we all know who fits that ‘job description‘.

6C. NZ Herald

If, as evidence indicates, the Donghua Liu story was a cunningly concocted smear-campaign run by the National Party to discredit David Cunliffe, they needed someone – a willing ‘patsy’ –  to make the allegations of “hidden donations”. That man was Donghua Liu, loyal friend of disgraced Minister, Maurice Williamson.

They also needed a compliant media outlet who could be ‘tipped’ off about Cunliffe’s 2003 letter on behalf of Donghua Liu. That media outlet would be the NZ Herald. More specifically, Jared Savage, who has admitted to regular contact with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater.

How did Herald Reporter, Jared Savage, know to lodge an OIA request on 16 June 2014 with Immigration Minister Woodhouse’s office, seeking, “Any correspondence, including emails, letters or queries, from any Members of Parliament in regards to Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005″.

Why was Savage’s OIA request granted within 48 hours – a feat unheard off when it come to this government responding to OIA requests by journalists, bloggers, members of the public, etc. (See:  The OIA Gambit)?

Was the Herald knowingly complicit in a smear campaign against David Cunliffe?

This blogger thinks not.

In which case, what was the Herald’s involvement?

Simply put, National’s “black ops” team  manufactured a story against Cunliffe using a twelve year old letter, and a bogus statement (note; it was not a signed, witnessed affidavit, which has greater legal standing than simply a signed statement) by a friend of Maurice Williamson – Donghua Liu.

Through Jared Savage, the Herald was offered an “exclusive”,  despite having no corroborating evidence nor a second source to back up Liu’s claims – a fact pointed out by the Press Council as a critical mistake. Remember that the NZ Press Council, in it’s decision (see:  The Press Council’s decision) on complaints laid against the Herald, stated;

While they were entitled to rely on such a statement [from Liu] as part of the factual basis when reporting the paper failed to adhere to a basic tenet of journalism…the need to have confirmation from a second source.

There could be no “second source”. Because it was all a concocted lie.

Whether or not the Herald’s editor at the time (Tim Murphy), Shayne Currie, or Jared Savage suspected that the Donghua Liu story was a pack of lies is moot.

What is indisputable is that the Herald was handed – on a plate – an exclusive story that ultimately aided in the destruction of David Cunliffe’s political career.

For the NZ Herald, that was the “pay off”; an exclusive story. They were not going to turn away from such a sensational story – especially when a competitor such as TV3 could run with it.

Shayne Currie and Tim Murphy may have been aware that Liu’s claims were bogus, but they were willing to sacrifice their journalistic integrity to throw caution to the wintry winds of Wellington’s politics and run with it anyway.

The fact that the Herald’s current editor, Shayne Currie, has not made any form of reply to my email indicates that the Donghua Liu Affair  is a story that they would rather quietly ‘went away’.

It is a unusual when a media outlet will not defend it’s own and one has to ask the obvious question – why?

Because the Donghua Liu Affair, as reported by the Herald in June and July last year, was a fabrication from beginning to end.

Otherwise, where is the new ‘evidence’ and ‘details’ promised by then-editor, Tim Murphy? Like Liu’s claims, Murphy’s promises were empty.

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Addendum1

Tim Murphy was given an opportunity to answer questions relating to the Donghua Liu Affair. A near-identical email to the one sent to Shayne Currie has not been responded to.

Addendum2

On 16 June this year – nearly the exact anniversary of the Herald publishing it’s first Donghua Liu story on 18 June 2014 – all domestic violence charges were dropped against Mr Liu.

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References

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

The Dim Post: June Polls – Barnsley Bill

Twitter: Shayne Currie @ShayneCurrieNZH

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour Link – More to come

NZ Herald: Under-fire donor gave to Labour too

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

TV3: Maurice Williamson resigns as minister

NZ Herald: Maurice Williamson conducted citizenship ceremony himself

Otago Daily Times: Williamson used Liu’s holiday home

NZ Herald: Editorial – Ministers and immigration shouldn’t mix

Fairfax media: Jason Ede still has Beehive access

NZ Herald: Jason Ede resigns from the National Party after Dirty Politics scandal

NZ Herald: Collins resigns – Jared Savage and Fran O’Sullivan respond

NZ Herald: Domestic violence charges against millionaire businessman dropped

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

The Donghua Liu Affair:  The Players Revealed

The Donghua Liu Affair: One Year On

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Dirt Unit.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 July 2015.

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A degree in Urban Mythology, courtesy of Massey University

10 December 2014 7 comments

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smells like media bullshit

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A media report on Massey University’s annual New Zealand quote of the year caught my attention. Amongst the memorable quotes was one by former Labour Leader, David Cunliffe. The media story reported the quote,

* “I’m sorry for being a man” – Former Labour leader David Cunliffe

As most folk should be aware, that is not quite what Cunliffe said. In fact, those six words are a dishonest, simplistic mis-representation of what he actually stated.

On 4 July, as Cunliffe addressed a Women’s Refuge forum in Auckland, he actually said,

“Can I begin by saying I’m sorry.

I don’t often say it. I’m sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.

“So the first message to the men out there is: wake up, stand up and man up and stop this bullshit!”

The degree of mis-representation by the MSM is best illustrated by the Otago Daily Times story at the time. Whilst Cunliffe’s statement was reported in full, the headline was still inaccurate,

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As we know, the MSM made a ‘feast’ of this story – but for all the wrong reasons. Cunliffe’s statement was shortened to six words and the actual social problem of vicious beatings, maimings, and deaths of predominantly children and women at the hands of their menfolk – was submerged.

Meme-creator, Francis Owen, summed up the lunacy of the situation in his now-famous image (see below), where he condemns the media for their behaviour,

“David Cunliffe stood up on the issue of social violence. The media portray it as a gaff… ffs”

In case anyone is in doubt,  the facts are straight forward enough;

• In 2013, there were 95,080 family violence investigations by NZ Police. There were 59,137 family violence investigations where at least one child aged 0-16 years was linked to these investigations.

• In 2013, 3,803 applications were made for protection orders: – 2705 (91%) were made by women and 207 (7%) by men – 2638 (90%) of respondents were men and 252 (9%) women.2

• In 2013, there were 6749 recorded male assaults female offences and 5025 recorded offences for breaching a protection order.

• In 2012/13, Women’s Refuges affiliated to the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges received 81,720 crisis calls. 7,642 women accessed advocacy services in the community. 2,940 women and children stayed in safe houses.

• In 2013, NZ Police recorded 11 homicides by an intimate partner. 7 of the victims were women and 4 were men.

• In 2013, NZ Police recorded 10 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.

• In 2012, 52 children under 16 years of age were hospitalised for an assault perpetrated by a family member.

Source: NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse Data Summaries Snapshot, June 2014 (PDF, 183 KB)

Despite the mayhem in so many homes, the MSM thought it more “news worthy” to treat Cunliffe’s comments with mirth and derision. The bashings and deaths of women and children was relegated, or not mentioned at all.

To be honest, I am no longer surprised at the MSM. The corporatisation and corruption of news means we are less informed than ever. Superficiality, trivia, mis-reporting – rubbish packaged as sensational headlines – but rubbish nevertheless.

But surely, an institution as prestigious as Massey would not have continued the media-driven charade of mis-quoting Cunliffe?

I checked.

The following screenshot reveals how Massey portrayed Cunliffe’s comments;

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Massey University - I'm sorry for being a man - Cunliffe - Quote of the Year

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Not exactly very honest, I thought. And more so when the Voting Form invites readers to “vote as many times as you like“.

Is this how Massey University views academic integrity? Mis-representation of a public figure’s speech and encouraging multiple voting?!

Evidently Dr Heather Kavan, who has sponsored the “Quote of the Year”, does not view domestic violence as a serious problem. According to her, it’s little more than a “gaffe“;

“There has been a trend this year towards large numbers of insults and gaffes. If there was any soaring rhetoric during the election, no one seems to have remembered it.”

Perhaps Dr Kavan has been lucky. She obviously has never had a fist in her face; been sexually assaulted by a partner; or had to escape to a Refuge in fear of her life.

I wrote to  Dr  Kavan;

If you’re going to quote David Cunliffe, shouldn’t you be using the quote in it’s entirety, instead of selectively taking six words out of context?

Cunliffe’s full statement was;

“I don’t often say it. I’m sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.”

Not only does the whole statement give new meaning to Cunliffe’s speech, but it raises the question as to why a critical social problem has been so trivilised by the media – and now by your University.

Because it strikes me as outrageous that whilst we expect the MSM (mainstream media) to mis-quote and sensationalise simply to sell advertising – one expects a University to be better acquainted with the notion of truthfulness.

If Universities are going to follow the MSM in promoting mis-quotes simply because they achieve social currency, and enter the realm of urban myth, then what else will Universities sacrifice for convenience?

If you’re going to quote, please do it accurately. Or not at all.

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There is only one reason why domestic violence is still a blight on our society. Only one reason why men, women, and children continue to be affected by this violence; because those with voices and influence in our society treat it as a joke.

David Cunliffe took the the problem head-on.

He was ridiculed for his efforts.

And now a University perpetuates the trivialisation of the beating and killing of women and children.

There are times when I’m ashamed to be a New Zealander.

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References

NZN News: Cunliffe’s man apology up for best quote

Otago Daily Times: ‘I’m sorry for being a man’ – Cunliffe

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse: Data Summaries Snapshot, June 2014

Massey University:  Vote for 2014 Quote of the Year

Massey University:  Vote for 2014 Quote of the Year (Voting List)

Previous related blogposts

When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

The Mendacities of Mr Key #6: When apologising to a victim of violence is not considered “serious”


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 December 2014

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MSM under-mining of new Labour Leader already begun?

26 November 2014 Leave a comment

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confused-man

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It did not take long.

In fact, on the same day that Andrew Little won the Labour leadership*, the first media reporter was already asking if he would be stepping down  if Labour failed to lift in the all-important polls.

On Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, the usually uber-sensible, Mary Wilson asked these gormless questions of Andrew Little,

@ 4.35

Wilson: “And in terms of your accountability though, if at the end of 2016, there is no movement [in the polls] there is no change, what happens then?”

@ 4.47

Wilson: “Is there any point during the next few years where you will say, ‘Ok, this hasn’t worked; I haven’t done what I set out to achieve; I’m leaving’.”

@ 5.00

Wilson: “And if you’re not there by the end of 2016, would you step aside?”

Now bear in mind that Radio NZ is not part of the ratings-driven, advertising-revenue-chasing corporate MSM of this country – but still those questions were put to Little.

How long before the corporate MSM – sensing sensational headlines and potential advertising revenue –  begin baying for blood and drafting stories which begin to portray Little in a negative light?

It was the relentless attacks on Cunliffe from all quarters of the MSM (including non-commercial Radio NZ) which contributed to under-mining his leadership in the eyes of the voting public.

The public’s perception of a political figure is determined largely by how he is portrayed by the media. Fairness and accuracy can play little part in reporting stories targetting a political figure. As the Donghua Liu Affair, in the NZ Herald showed with disturbing clarity, even a non-story can be spun in such a way as to totally destroy a man’s credibility and reputation.

Note: As an aside, in defending the Herald’s story on the 13 year old Donghua Liu-Cunliffe letter,  Editor  Tim Murphy stated in June this year (in an email to this blogger), that “We fully expect further details to come will show the Herald’s earlier reporting to have, as we have known throughout, been accurate and soundly based“. Nothing further has been produced by the Herald to back up it’s assertions since it was forced to make retractions on 25 June.

The Donghua Liu Affair was part of  an ongoing, targetted, smear campaign against David Cunliffe. The non-story, involving a 13 year old letter; a non-existent $100,000 bottle of wine; and an alleged, yet-to-be-discovered, $15,000 book, painted Cunliffe as untrustworthy, and the Labour Party as dodgy.

The new  Labour leader will have to keep his wits about him and use every media-related connection and employ the best possible media minders to counter an MSM that can no longer be trusted to report the basic truth. With the likes of Patrick Gower and Mike Hosking competing to be the “baddest bad asses” on the Media Block, accuracy and truth play third-fiddle behind egos (#1) and ratings (#2).

TV3’s Patrick Gower has already had a ‘go’ at Little’s victory, referring to the democratic selection process as “the great union ripoff”;

It’s a backdoor takeover by the unions. Simply, Andrew Little would not be Labour leader without the unions. He is the unions’ man; Little is a union man, and the unions have got their man into Labour’s top job.

Gower’s statement mentions “unions” five times in three short sentences. Which, when you think about it, is bizarre given that the Labour Party was born from the union movement in the first place**. Who did Gower think would lead Labour – someone from the Employers’ Federation? Business NZ? The Business Roundtable?
Silly little man pretending to be a political commentator.

The TV3 on-line article is bizarre in itself with TV3’s “Online Reporter”, Dan Satherley,  reporting  TV3’s Political Reporter, Patrick Gower’s, utterances. Journalists interviewing each other?

What next – siblings marrying each other under an ACT-led government?!
Predictably, Gower then launched into his own “Who’s-the-next-Leader” guessing game;

Gower says there remains the chance Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern – known informally as ‘Gracinda’ – might have another crack at the leadership – but this time with Ms Ardern leading the way.

I think there will be a switcheroo – Jacinda as the leader, Robertson as the deputy. He’s probably seen the writing on the wall that it has to be her if they have another go.

They just can’t help themselves. In an ‘Interstellar‘-quality vacuum of any meaningful news reporting, media-hacks like Gower will  blather on about any silliness that enters their heads. Far be it for him to actually interview Andrew Little and ask him questions like;

What’s on your agenda if you become Prime Minister?

What’s your point-of-difference to National?

What do you hope to achieve, legislation-wise, in the First 100 Days of a government you lead?

You know, real questions that real journalists used to ask, in real interviews, with real people.

At the same time, the same brickbat used to beat the MSM around it’s collective head should be generously applied to the Labour Party hierarchy’s backside.

When Labour president Moira Coatsworth made this statement in the NZ Herald, congratulating Andrew Little;

Labour president Moira Coatsworth, who announced Mr Little’s victory, said he would lead a reinvigorated party into the 2017 election campaign.

Andrew has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2017. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.

– it was the same gushing enthusiasm she voiced for David Cunliffe last year;

The Labour Party congratulates David Cunliffe on his win. David has been elected by a robust and democratic process and has won on the first round with a clear majority. This gives him a strong mandate as leader and he has the full support of the Labour Party.

[…]

David Cunliffe has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2014. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.”

– and before that, David Shearer, in 2011;

I congratulate both David and Grant and look forward to working closely with them as we build towards a Labour victory in 2014.

David and Grant bring a fresh approach; a breadth of skills and a strong commitment to rebuild for a Labour win in 2014.”

The repetitive nature of Labour’s revolving-door leadership leaves the voting public scratching it’s collective head, wondering WTF?! As I blogged on 2 October;

If the Labour caucus don’t support their own leader – especially when times are tough – why should they expect the voting public to take their  leadership choices seriously? After all, with four leaders gone in six years, it would appear to be a temporary position at best.

And earlier, on 25 September, I wrote to the NZ Herald;

If Labour keeps changing it’s Leader after every defeat, then I put the following questions to them;

1. How will a Labour Leader gain experience, if they’re dumped every couple of years?

2. How can the public be expected to get to know a Labour Leader, and develop trust in that person, if their presence is fleeting and disappear before we get to know him/her?

3. How will a Labour Leader learn to handle victory, when s/he first won’t be allowed to understand defeat? Humility is learned in failure, not success.

I also pointed out in the same letter-to-the-editor;

The Greens have leaderships that are stable and long-term, irrespective of electoral success or failure. That is because the Party has faith and confidence in their leadership choices.

Even pro-National columnist for the NZ Herald, John Armstrong stated the obvious on 18 November;

 “The public should warm to him. But that will take some time.

Meanwhile, on the day that Andrew Little won the leadership contest, John Key made this astute observation;

What this process has shown is that there are deep divisions within the party, they’re a long way away from agreeing with each other or even liking each other.

Andrew Little has the task of unifying a group of individuals who historically have shown they have very low levels of discipline.

He has a point.  Labour’s lack of internal discipline is in stark contrast to National’s public facade of unity. Both parties have their own factions – but National is the one that has succeeded in keeping in-fighting private and behind closed doors.

There is a weird  irony to this. Labour is supposedly the party that espouses an ideology of collective action whilst National is the party of unfettered individualism.

Yet it is the Nats who work collectively and collegially for their number one goal: power. Any factional agitation and cat-spats for dominance is kept well away from the public and media gaze.

By contrast, Labour appears to be a party of rugged individualists that would make ACT look like an Ohu commune from the 1970s.

Labour could do well do learn from their rivals.

The alternative is more dissent and dis-unity within Labour; more leadership changes; and a National government stretching into the 2020s, with Max Key taking the reigns of Prime Ministership from his father, and assuming the dynastic role of “Little Leader”.

Personally, I prefer a “Little Leader” to emerge from a Labour-led government, and not a future National regime.

Andrew Little’s success will be our success as well.

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* Disclaimer: This blogger is not a Labour Party member, nor has any preference who should be Leader of that party.
** Acknowledgement to Curwen Rolinson for his perception and pointing this out on his Facebook page.

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References

Radio NZ: Little man for the job of Labour’s big rebuild

Radio NZ Checkpoint: Little says narrowness of his win not a problem (audio)

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

TV3 News: Gower – Little’s victory ‘the great union ripoff’

NZ Herald: ‘He has the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders’ – Andrew Little elected Labour leader

Interest.co.nz: David Cunliffe wins Labour leadership contest, defeating Grant Robertson and Shane Jones

Scoop Media: Labour Party President congratulates new leadership team

NZ Herald: John Armstrong – Andrew Little’s first job – drown out Winston Peters

MSN News: Labour is still divided – Key

Te Ara Encyclopedia: Communes and communities

Facebook: Curwen Rolinson

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

No More. The Left Falls.

Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed


 

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we_can_do_it

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 November 2014

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= fs =

No More. The Left Falls.

29 September 2014 3 comments

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The Left Falls No More

We cannot be beaten down

Because we are down already.

We can only rise up

and if you should beat us down,

We will rise again. And again. And again…

And when you tire of beating us down,

We will rise up once again,

And look our Oppressor in the eye,

and say, ‘Rise up with us, brother,

for you may yet share our pain’.

                                                      – FM

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As passions settle, disappointment wanes to something approaching tolerable, and we start to look at things a bit more rationally, it’s time to review the last few days, weeks, and months…

Without a doubt, it is safe to say that the Left never expected expected the two results of the Election Night figures.

  1. That National would score so  highly, at 48.06%, (Specials still to be counted)
  2. That the Left would fare so poorly that even NZ First’s credible 8.85% result would make no appreciable difference to National’s success.

Once again, it appears that the Non-Voters – traditionally mostly Labour or left supporters  – gifted National the government for a third term;

Roughly a million people didn’t show up to vote for Saturday’s election, making it one of New Zealand’s worst turnouts in the last century.

An estimated 77.04 per cent of enrolled voters took part in the election, slightly higher than the 74.2 per cent turnout in 2011, which was the worst in percentage terms since before women got the right to vote in 1893.

This year’s result still ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National.

The estimated results are based on the 2,405,652 votes received before voting closed, which includes nearly 300,000 special votes that are yet to be counted.

Interestingly, in the same Fairfax article,  Victoria University politics professor Jack Vowles said,

“A small increase in turnout is what we would expect. There’s been a downward trend of turnout for some time, so any increase shows something has changed.”

My suspicion is that the polarising effect of John Key may have motivated more people to engage in voting. My own experience lends some credence to this, with past non-voters this year keen to engage in the electoral system. In plain english, Key has pissed off people to such a degree that they expressed their feelings through the ballot.

Unfortunately, the Left was in no position to focus this anger in any meaningful way. Young people chanting in unison, ‘Fuck John Key‘, may have been fun and cathartic – but it ultimately failed to translate into valuable votes.

Meanwhile, I offer my post-mortem, observations, and views of events…

David Cunliffe

I am not one to pick and choose Party leaders – especially for Labour. Besides which, I’ve always been more interested in policy factors than pretty faces.

However, I will offer my ten cents + 15% GST worth.

Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;

1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man  (or woman)?

2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?

3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).

It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.

For god sakes, learn from history.

Or be consigned to it.

David Shearer

I understand David Shearer’s simmering anger. I really, really do. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve gone ‘thermo-nuclear’ by now.

But he does himself and the Labour Party no favours with his behaviour in front of the media.

Shearer has every right to be angry. But dignity and self-discipline is a far better course of action than publicly under-mining his Leader. After all, when/if he assumes the Labour leadership again, he would expect a modicum of public loyalty shown to him.

Two words: Kevin Rudd.

Hone Harawira

The more times I met Hone Harawira, the more times I have been thoroughly impressed with this man. The word ‘mana’ was created to describe his real personality- not the isolated snippets chosen by the media to portray him as a “mouthy brown boy”.

Hone was condemned – mostly by the Right and a headline-seeking media and commentariat – for the ‘crime’ of having a rich benefactor.

Meanwhile, the National Party has a plethora of rick benefactors – and no one bats an eyelid.

Unfair? Of course it is.

But that’s New Zealand in the 21st Century. As a society, it seems we left fairness behind when we allowed ourselves to be tempted by neo-liberalism’s promises of  “aspirationism” and shiny consumer goods.

Men and women like Hone Harawira still exist in our fair, if considerably less-than-100%-Pure, country. But their values and notions of fairness, decency, and helping one-another is something that the public view with suspicion as a quirky notion from last century (much like Queensbury rules when two men engaged in fisticuffs) – and which an increasingly cynical, lazy,  and politically-captured media treat with disdain and derision.

The media subtext of Hone’s relationship with Kim Dotcom was simple; “You can be a ‘champion of the poor’ as much as you like. We’ll write patronising (if somewhat racist) stories about you to paint you as a loud-mouthed radical engaging in ‘envy politics’.”

But the moment Hone’s Mana Movement got all cashed up, things changed.

National is allowed money.

Even Labour.

NZ First and the Greens rely on branding for success.

But parties representing the poor?  No way. The rule from On High was simple: You want to represent the Poor and the Powerless? Fine, but you stay poor and powerless.

Hone broke that rule.

John Key

Key’s victory speech was par-for-course, and well scripted for him  by his tax-payer funded spin-doctors and media minders. The speech was a mix of humility and delight in his victory.

Part of Key’s election night victory speech referred to “serving all New Zealanders”,

“I can pledge this to you, that I will a government that governs for all New Zealanders.”

In fact, it seemed a re-hash of his 2011 victory speech,

“I will lead a government that serves the interests of all New Zealanders…”

Key’s sentiments were repeated in a John Campbell interview on 22 September, (the interview is worthwhile watching) where he spoke at length about his concerns for the most vulnerable in our society.  He pledged a third term Key-led government to improve their lives.

Trouble is –

  • His government has spent the first two terms doing very little about rising child poverty,
  • tax cuts have benefitted the most well off,
  • Increases in GST, prescription charges, and others costs-of-living have impacted on the poorest,
  • Inequality has increased,
  • Wages have fallen even further behind Australia

If Key failed to address the lot of the poor in the first six years of his governance – why should we take his word for the next three? Especially as National has lined up new legislation to further cut back worker’s rights; the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Marginalising  workers’ rights will not reduce poverty; create jobs; or lift wages. It will only maximise profits for companies at the expense of workers.

As the editorial for the Otago Daily Times stated on 22 September,

“But while he is rapidly becoming one of this country’s most ”popular” prime ministers, there remains a gulf before he can go down in history as a ”great” prime minister. If that is Mr Key’s ambition, he is going to have to show that his role is, indeed, to serve all New Zealanders.

He and his Cabinet will have to strive to care for families, to try to ensure the poor are supported and not consigned to a demeaning and destructive underclass future. As well, alongside pursuit of economic development, this Government is going to have to protect the environment.”

Talk is cheap.

Actions count. So  far, we’ve seen precious little of it.

I look forward to being proved wrong.

Kelvin Davis

The day after Election Night, my feelings were running high and my views coloured by my passions. I may have written some things that, as my passions cooled, I reflect more wisely on matters in the clear light of day.

Not so with Kelvin Davis.

I stand by my initial statements;

Davis did not “win” Te Tai Tokerau. It was “gifted” to him as a dirty little rort, when John Key, Winston Peters, and the Maori Party told their supporters to vote for Davis, over Hone Harawira.

This was a disgusting, shabby example of dirty politics.

Kelvin Davis is “Labour” in name only and, like Peter Dunne and David Seymour,  he should not forget who his political patron really is: John Key. Davis is John Key’s errand boy.

Who knows – one day Key may call in the debt David owes him?

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom has been vilified and made the scape-goat of the election by many.  As if Hone Harawira’s defeat has validated the views of the Right Wing, and those who see Kim Dotcom as the villain of the piece.

I offer a counter-view, and one I believe equally as valid.

Let us not forget a few pertinent facts about Dotcom;

  • He was allowed entry into New Zealand by John Key’s government.
  • Dotcom has committed no crime in this country. He has yet to be tried for copyright infringements – a civil matter, not a criminal offense. And his convictions in Germany happened when he was 19 years old – a time when young people often fall foul of the law with drugs, alcohol, violence, driving offenses, teen pregnancies, etc. He is no criminal “mastermind”, despite the obsessive rantings of the Right. Dotcom’s past criminal record is only an affront to Right Wingers because he supports the Left.
  • Dotcom was instrumental in uncovering the fact that the GCSB had illegally spied on eighty eight New Zealand citizens or Permanent Residents. Until then, we had no idea what had been happening under successive Labour and National governments.
  • Dotcom has also uncovered the very real likelihood that the NSA/GCSB has been engaging in mass surveillance in this country – despite protestations  to the contrary by our Prime Minister (not noted for his scrupulous honesty) and the former GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson (under whom illegal spying had been taking place for years).
  • And Dotcom uncovered John Banks’ own dishonest activities regarding his election financial returns, resulting in the former ACT minister’s conviction and resignation from Parliament.

Kim Dotcom’s real ‘crime’ has not been copyright infringement.

His real ‘crime’ has been to turn his back on his fellow millionaires and political elites – the Oligarchs for whom power is the oxygen that sustains them – and to give financial support to one of the few people in this country to threaten their privileged positions:  Hone Harawira.

For the Right Wing – and the infantile lackeys who act as their on-line henchmen by constantly posting anonymous message demonising Dotcom – this was an intolerable situation. They could barely tolerate Hone Harawira’s existence. But as long as Hone was one lone voice in the political wilderness, he was left alone. Kelvin Davis’ previous attempts to unseat Hone came to nothing.

But when radical left-wing politics and Big Money became entwined, Hone Harawira became a threat that could no longer be ignored by the Establishment.

First, some in  the media responded. The venom dripped from this typical comment on social media, and was only less overtly spiteful in the mainstream media;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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Because Big Money funding the National Party is not  “rorting MMP”.

The vendetta – and that is precisely what this was – culminated in National, NZ First, and the Maori Party rushing at the last minute to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis;

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Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

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Hone's call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

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Harawira’s fall was compounded by the ‘Moment of Truth’, on 15 September,  failing to deliver certain promises made and hyped by Dotcom.  Ironically, it was not sufficient for New Zealanders to learn that were were living in a Surveillance State and all our meta-data was being collected by shadowy agencies. It was not enough to realise that our on-line and telephone privacy was a thing of the past.

We wanted the ‘dirt’ on John Key. That’s where the real sensationalistic headlines lay for the MSM. That would sell several million bucks worth of advertising to the punters.

And when Dotcom failed to deliver – stymied by legalities, I am informed – the media and noisy aspects of the public turned on him. Being spied on by the State was apparently nowhere as bad  as being denied a good political drama. We wanted Reality TV, made real, in our lounges, and our insatiable appetite for sensational gossip to be sated.

When that was denied us, we turned – like children denied access to our favourite TV programme or ‘grounded’ from internet access for 24 hours – on he who had promised us so much. We howled with rage and had Dotcom lived in our village, the good people would have gathered up their pitchforks and torches and made for his hut.

However, this is the 21st Century. We don’t do pitchforks and  blazing torches any more (OSH would have a fit!). The mob is more sophisticated now. We do lynchings on-line and in the media.

Far more effective.

Fewer blood stains to wash out.

It has been said that part of our peculiar national psyche is something called ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’. In this case the tall poppies were two men who dared challenge the Establishment, and were cut down for their troubles. This time, though, it did not happen in secret, behind closed doors, concocted by shadowy figures.

It happened in full public view.

If you think this happens only in movies, in America, and the good guy(s) always win – think again.

It happened here. We just witnessed it. And the good guys didn’t win.

Not this time.

See also:  Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Labour

One thing that Labour  apparently excels at is self-mutilation. As a fund-raiser, it could make truckloads of cash by catering to certain folk with BDSM inclinations. One hour of a good, hard flogging, $250. Humiliation and discipline – $150 per half hour. (So I’m reliably informed…) Ok, so you have to wear a lot of sticky leather or rubber gear, but hey, it’s all for a good cause, right?!

 

Since Labour’s loss on election night, Labour MPs have been more vocal and active than all their last campaigning over the past six months. None it it, though, any good. Airing the party’s “dirty laundry” is an act that beggars belief.

 

If Labour MPs believe that their current media appearance on Radio NZ, TV3, TV1, et al, are doing them any good – let me disabuse them of that belief. It is self-destructive.

 

It is self-harm on a party-political scale. It is sheer, unmitigated stupidity.Attentions Messrs Shearer, Goff, Hipkins, et al – the public are watching.Whoever leads the Party – whether it be Cunliffe or X – will be accepting a poisoned chalice that would fell a totara.

 

It makes the Labour Party look like a bunch of self-serving fools or witless muppets – take your pick.Is there any wonder why Labour keeps losing? Let me spell it out.

 

After each election defeat – 2008, 2011, 2014 – Labour indulges in public self-flogging and blood-letting. There is nothing remotely subtle or civilised or clever about the unpleasantness that follows.

 

It turns people off in droves.It turns voters away from Labour.

 

Three years later – another defeat.

 

Repeat cycle.

 

At this rate, Labour will become a third-rate Party, supplanted by the Greens which will become the main Opposition Party – and ultimately, along with NZ First (or it’s successor under Ron Mark) – lead the next Coalition Government.

 

This is how a once proud, proactive political party becomes an ossified institution, and ultimately irrelevant to peoples’ lives. Think – Alliance, post 2002.

 

To all Labour MPs, take my advice: STFU. Listen to your Leader (whether you support him or not) and keep your mouths closed. Sort your sh*t out in private, and in public, smile a Happy Face.

 

Otherwise, you can kiss your chances goodbye for 2017.

 

Media

 

The media pack is in full hunt. Their quarry – David Cunliffe.I swear TV3’s Patrick Gower was salivating at the prospect of doing a “Nosferatu” on Cunliffe’s neck;

 

“Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat…[…]So Labour is now in a civil war, with Mr Cunliffe trying to gag MPs.[…]The five potential contenders show just how fractured Labour is. The caucus has atomised and another leadership spill is the last thing it needs.”

 

With some journos seemingly actively campaigning for Cunliffe’s resignation,

Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices.

Including this anonymous (Mr Armstrong, I presume?) NZ Herald editorial;

“Labour needs to face the question of its leadership, nothing more. If Mr Cunliffe is going to appeal over the heads of his caucus to the membership and affiliated unions who elected him last year, he must imagine he can continue to lead a team that has little confidence in him. This will do Labour no good, as surely its members and unions now see.It is in the nation’s interest that the party finds a new leader quickly.”

 

This isn’t reporting the news. This is actively manufacturing it.
Is this how news “reporting” is now done in Aotearoa New Zealand?  The Fourth Estate appears to have become a de facto, quasi-political party.

They simply haven’t announced it to the public.

 

Stuart Nash

 

Some commentators (media, political, and blogs) are still adhering to the fiction that Stuart Nash “won” the Napier seat. Election night results, however, paint a different picture entirely;

 

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

 

Contrast to the 2011 result:

 

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 13,636

TREMAIN, Chris (National) 17,337

 

See where Tremain’s 7,000 votes went three years later?

Nash has now hinted  he is “not ruling out”  throwing his hat into the ring for an up-coming leadership challenge. If true,  Nash’s colossal ego has outstripped his common sense entirely. He is deluded if he really believes he won his seat on his own merits. An extra 405 votes is not a mandate when his ‘success’ was predicated on his  opponant’s vote being split by another right-wing candidate.

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The heading of this piece is wrong. It’s not, “No More. The Left Falls.”

It should read,

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The Left Falls, No More.*

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* With acknowledgement to a recent BBC movie, about a certain quirky time travelling hero in a blue box.

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References

Electoral Commission:  Election Results — Overall Status

Fairfax media: Voter turnout near record low

Youtube: Fuck John Key! [New Zealand Revolution]

TV3: Former GCSB boss denies Snowden’s claims

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

NZ Herald: Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Fairfax Media: Hone Harawira accuses Maori Party of sabotage

Electoral Commission: Election Results — Napier

Wikipedia: 2011 Election – Napier

Radio NZ: Tussling starts for Labour’s top job

TV3: National Party wins third term

John Key: 8 November 2008  – Victory Speech

Previous related blogposts

She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation

Other blogs

Why chanting “fuck John Key” is a battle cry not profanity

Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014

 

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Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe (v2)

25 September 2014 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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FROM: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
DATE: Thu, Sep 25, 2014
TO: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
SUBJECT: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;

1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man (or woman)?

2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?

3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).

It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.

For god sakes, learn from history.

Or be consigned to it.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address & phone number supplied]

Text taken from blogpost: No More. The Left Falls.

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe

25 September 2014 4 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

 

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FROM: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
DATE: Thu, Sep 25, 2014
TO: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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If Labour keeps changing it’s Leader after every defeat, then I put the following questions to them;

1. How will a Labour Leader gain experience, if they’re dumped every couple of years?

2. How can the public be expected to get to know a Labour Leader, and develop trust in that person, if their presence is fleeting and disappear before we get to know him/her?

3. How will a Labour Leader learn to handle victory, when s/he first won’t be allowed to understand defeat? Humility is learned in failure, not success.

4. If the Leader is changed after each defeat, that suggests the Labour Party wasn’t confident with their initial choice. The public cannot be expected to take Labour leadership appointments seriously knowing that their tenure is most likely temporary.

The Greens have leaderships that are stable and long-term, irrespective of electoral success or failure. That is because the Party has faith and confidence in their leadership choices.

The Labour Party might consider this before it dispatches Mr Cunliffe.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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Fastest growing poverty

 

 

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The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

24 September 2014 10 comments

 

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair - v2

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– Special investigation by Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules

Speculation that the Beehive office of Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, was behind the release of a letter linking Labour leader, David Cunliffe, with controversial Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu, is supported by Twitter chatter linking Herald editor, Shayne Currie, with Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog.

Nothing to see here” Currie’s boss, Tim Murphy, tweeted on 19 June in response to questions about Immigration NZ’s speedy release the previous day of the now infamous  Cunliffe-Donghua Liu 2003 letter to his investigations editor, Jared Savage.

“We seek info, public service tells govt and denies us info. We refine request and get letters. We publish. Pretty standard.”

But there was nothing “standard” about the handling of this OIA request. Made at lunchtime on Monday June 16 it produced a response — which usually takes at least 20 working days —  within 48 hours. Plucked from a file and previously withheld on privacy grounds, the 11-year-old letter was immediately put to use by National’s frontbenchers in the debating  chamber and by the Parliamentary press gallery in the corridors to discredit Cunliffe and undermine his leadership of Labour’s caucus.

Although just a routine check on progress being made on  Donghua Liu’s residency application, signed by Cunliffe as New Lynn MP in March 2003, the letter was touted as evidence of support and advocacy for the controversial Chinese businessman.

[Full Background]

For the Herald, it lent credibility to its investigation into allegations that Liu had made big donations to the Labour Party.

Jared Savage’s investigation had included a request on May 8 for all information that Immigration NZ held on Donghua Liu. After taking three weeks to decide to withhold everything on his file on privacy grounds, the ministry sat on that decision for another three weeks before suddenly agreeing to  release it to Mr Savage at 8.59AM on Monday 16 June.

Although no explanation was given for the sudden u-turn it is most likely that the potential for extracting maximum political advantage from releasing the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter became apparent over the preceding weekend.

The resignation of ACT leader John Banks as an MP had taken effect on the Friday (13 June). The filling of the vacancy created in Epsom required a special debate on whether to hold a by- election or wait for the general election on September 20. Gerry Brownlee decided to get it over with, scheduling it for Wednesday afternoon following the weekly General Debate. That meant National faced a torrid afternoon on Wednesday 18 June as Opposition parties combined to hang the Government’s dirty washing all around the debating chamber.

A  diversion would be handy.

First, the response to Mr Savage’s May 8 OIA request had to be cleared away and replaced by a fresh request targeted more precisely at the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter. Mr Savage obliged with an email seeking “any correspondence, including emails, letters or queries, from an Members of Parliament in regards to Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005.” The email was sent at 1.04pm on the Monday and asked for the request to be treated urgently because of “the public interest in this case.”

Just over an hour later, at 2.11pm, a remarkably similar request arrived from TV3’s political reporter, Brook Sabin;

“We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency back in 2005 . . . Cheers.”

A growing army of managers, business advisors, comms people and consultants went straight to work on co-ordinating responses to the two requests. Ironically, although TV3 lodged their request sixty seven minutes after the Herald, Sabin was to scoop Savage by three minutes when the 2003 Cunliffe letter was released just under forty eight hours later at 12.49PM on Wednesday 18 June.

Twitter chatter in the hour leading up to the letter’s release reveals a small network of journalists and right-wing bloggers who knew it was coming. They had their stories already written and were waiting impatiently to hit “send”.

12.10pm: Herald editor, Shayne Currie, starts the count down on Twitter: “Tick, tick, tick . . . keep an eye on @nzherald #scoop.”

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Shayne Curry - 12.10 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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The 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter has not yet been released at this point. No one outside of  Immigration NZ and Minister Woodhouse are supposedly aware of it’s existence. It would not be released for another thirty nine minutes.

At exactly the same moment, an unidentified staff member in the Immigration Minister’s Beehive office in Wellington emails across the Parliamentary complex to Cunliffe’s office with a heads-up. Two documents, Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and a similar one sent five months earlier from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter, are to be released to the media “around 1pm”.

12.12pm: Meanwhile, “Pete” is getting impatient. Described in his Twitter profile as “a fluffer, researcher, reporter, journalist, moderator and deputy editor” for Whale Oil Beef Hooked, “Pete” tweets back at Currie: “We’ve been waiting. Get on with it. #bloodyembargoes.”

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Peter  - 12.12 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.23pm “Pete” is missing lunch. He asks @Inventory2 [Wanganui right-wing blogger and National Party member, Tony Stuart] and Currie if he has enough time to make himself a sandwich;

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Peter - 12.23 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.28pm: Currie tells sandwich-seeking “Pete” to “Take your Herald mobile app.

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Shayne Curry - 12.28 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.30pm: Back in Wellington, ministry staff are racing to get the  letters to the minister’s office. An area manager in Visa Services emails 10 colleagues with the news that a copy of the OIA response to Sabin’s request has been sent to the minister’s office.

12.39pm: The Visa Services area manager reports that he’s “just been advised that the Ministerial consultation has been completed so we will proceed to release.”

12.42pm: The same area manager then emails 10 colleagues to report that the consultation process has been completed and the letters are being released. “I have also asked . . . when we can release the Brook Sabin OIA.”

12.49pm: A business advisor in the ministry’s “Operations Support” team emails scans of the signed response and the two letters to Jared Savage at the Herald. At this point the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters ‘officially’ become public.

12.53pm: Sabin posts a scan of the Cunliffe letter on TV3’s website with a story quoting extensively from it. His story appear four minutes after ImmigrationNZ release the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters to Savage.

12.55pm: “Pete” checks in. He’s had lunch and he’s hot to post the story he’s already written after hearing from Whale Oil. Currie gets the green light and, obviously unaware that the Herald has already been scooped by TV3, tweetsBig political story breaking now . . . what David Cunliffe knew and said about Donghua Liu.”

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Pete - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Shayne Curry - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.57pm: Cameron Slater posts excerpts from Savage’s story on his Whale Oil blog along with a transcript from a media briefing the previous day on Labour’s KiwiSaver policy when Sabin’s TV3 colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about Donghua Liu.

12.59pm: Blogger Keith Ng posts the Question and Answer transcript on Twitter, describing it as a “wicked sick burn.”

1.00pm: The Herald’s veteran political correspondent, John Armstrong, posts a comment on the Herald’s website saying Cunliffe “is in deep political trouble. So deep that his resignation  as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. Armstrong’s column is written and published on-line eleven minutes after Savage is emailed the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

1.46pm: Parliamentary Press Gallery accuse Cunliffe of lying and and being a hypocrite in 8-minute “stand-up” on his way into the debating chamber.

2.00pm: Cunliffe arrives in chamber, met by jeering from National benches. Ministers use the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter to attack the Labour leader’s credibility. Two of them (English and Woodhouse) quote directly from TV3’s Question and Answer transcript from the previous day.

On the following day, Thursday 19 June . . .

8.04pm: Herald political editor, Audrey Young, in New York with the prime minister, reports that Key admitted knowledge of the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter for some weeks. She says Cunliffe’s denials that he wrote “any such letter” has “thrown his leadership into crisis.”

5.14pm: Herald deputy political editor, Claire Trevett, and political reporter, Adam Bennett, report that Woodhouse had confirmed that his office had informed the prime minister’s office of the letter’s existence within a few days of learning of it on 9 May, the day after Savage lodged his first OIA request — the first of three conflicting accounts from Woodhouse.

Four conclusions

1. This was no ordinary scoop. This was a political dirty trick with journalists as willing participants when they should have been exposing it for what it was. Links between political operatives, bloggers and journalists are inevitable and revealed. Ultimately the credibility of mainstream news depends on  its objectivity, independence and accuracy.

2. While the last-minute scramble to publish the letter before 1pm on the Wednesday depended on its release to the Herald’s  investigations editor at 12.49pm, there is no record of its  release to TV3’s political reporter. There is no paper trail, except a few references in internal emails. If it didn’t come from the ministry, it must have come from the minister.

3. The production and circulation of the Question and Answer transcript, required to support the — false — claim that Cunliffe had lied or suffered serious memory loss, remains a mystery. Blogger Keith Ng’s instant judgment on it as a “wicked sick burn” is more than just a smart turn of phrase.

4. Nicky Hager’s chapter on the Cunliffe/Donghua letter in ‘Dirty Politics’ refers to a blogger called “Barnsley Bill”, who – on the day before the Cunliffe-Liu story “broke” on 18 June in the Herald –  made this cryptic remark on Danyl McLauchlan’s blog, “The Dim Post;

Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems.
Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am

Followed the next day with this;

Pascals Bookie..
There ya go. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510
Boom.
Now wait for the 100k bottle of wine to drop

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 18, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

“Barnsley Bill’s” reference to “the 100k bottle of wine” was made before the Herald published allegations of Liu spending $100,000 on a bottle of wine to the Labour Party. (Allegations which have since been re-tracted by the Herald.)

Subsequent questions put to  “Barnsley Bill” have yielded no sensible answers, and his/her responses have been evasive. (Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)

Maintaining his cryptic game-playing,  “Barnsley Bill” referred on “The Daily Blog” to “look to Kerikeri for the leak” – which he pointedly repeated. Kerikeri is in the Northland Electorate. Northland is National MP, Mike Sabin’s electorate.

Mike Sabin is TV3 journalist, Brook Sabin’s father.

These are the people who knew about the 2003 Cunliffe letter before it was made public under  OIA requests on 18 June. Those OIA requests were ‘smoke-screens’ as TV3, NZ Herald, and Whaleoil already had the documents, or had been informed of their content.

Those letters were provided by the Office of the Minister for Immigration.

Under Savage’s OIA request there was a deliberate, pointed paper-trail trail by Ministry officials. No doubt the civil servants involved had an idea what their Minister was up to, and wanted plausible deniability in case any investigation resulted. By contrast, no such paper trail exists to explain how Brook Sabin obtained his copy of the 2003 Cunliffe letter. Minister Woodhouse was clumsy.

This could have come directly from the Minister’s office.

As the Twitter discussion and “Barnsley Bill’s” cryptic, prescient, comments  indicate, there were several people “in the loop” to what was clearly a calculated, planned, – if rushed – political trap and public smear campaign. Clearly, these people did not expect anyone to notice their public conversation.

Organised from a  Minister’s office; with involvement by Cameron Slater,  and with TV3 and NZ Herald complicity, David Cunliffe walked into that trap.

The truth is only now coming out.

Put the whole Twitter conversation together, and it is abundantly obvious that those involved knew that the story was coming out  prior to the Ministry releasing the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

Herald Editor, Shane Currie certainly had fore-warning.

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Shayne Curry - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing  information and filling in the gaps. Without your in-put, this story would never have come it.

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References

Wikipedia: Shayne Curry

Document Cloud: David Cunliffe-Liu-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request 16 June 2014

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request declined 8 May 2014

Parliament Hansards: Daily debates – Volume 699, Week 75 – Wednesday, 18 June 2014

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu (see video)

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request extension-approved 16 June 2014 8.59AM

Radio NZ: John Banks to resign from Parliament

Document Cache: Jared Savage – Immigration NZ – new OIA request – 16 June 1.04PM

Document Cache: Brook Sabin – TV3 – Immigration NZ – OIA request –  16 June 2.11PM

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Document Cache:  Release of OIA to Jared Savage – covering email – 18 June 2014 – 12.49PM

Document Cache: Chris Carter – letter – 3 October 2002

Twitter: Pete – 12.12PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.23PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie – 12.28PM

Wanganui Chronicle: Wanganui man outed in Hager’s book

Document Cache: ImmigrationNZ Area Manager to 10 colleagues – 12.30PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.39PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.42PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Curry – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie @ShayneCurrieNZH

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

TV3: Tova O’Brien’s four questions to David Cunliffe, 17 June

Twitter: Keith Ng –

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour Link – More to come

NZ Herald:  National denies dirty tricks campaign against Cunliffe

The Dim Post: June Polls – Barnsley Bill

The Dim Post: Entities – Barnsley Bill

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

The Daily Blog: EXCLUSIVE: Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?

Mike Sabin

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

 


 

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Vote and be the change

 

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014 as “The Donghua Liu Affair – how the NZ Herald played their part in #dirtypolitics

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