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Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

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You can feel mainstream media’s frustration with the news-vacuum created by the two week period necessary to count the approximately 384,072 (15% of total votes) Special Votes that were cast this election.

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Winston Peters has announced on several occasions that he will wait until the Specials are counted and announced by the Electoral Commission on 7 October,  before making any announcements on coalition;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said…”

And you know what? He’s 100% right.

All the media pundit speculation; all the ambushing at airport terminals; all the annoyingly repetitive questions are utterly pointless. Peters simply cannot say anything meaningful until 7 October because the 2017 Election has not yet fully played out.

This is not a game of rugby where, after eighty minutes, a score determines a winner and loser (or draw).  In this game of “electoral rugby”, the score will not be delivered for two weeks.

The media – still feeling the adrenaline from Election Night “drama” – appears not to have realised this. The 24-Hour News Cycle is not geared toward a process lasting days or weeks.

One journalist writing for the NZ Herald, Audrey Young, even suggested that initiating coalition talks before the Specials were counted and announced was somehow a “good thing”;

It is surprising that NZ First has not begun talking to National yet, at a point when it has maximum leverage.

Not doing so before the special votes runs the risk having less leverage after the specials are counted should there be no change in the seats, or in the unlikely event of National gaining.

That bizarre suggestion could be taken further; why not announce a government before any votes are counted?

Pushed to maximum absurdity, why not announce a government before an election even takes place?  Banana republics fully recommend  this technique.

It says a lot about the impatience and immaturity of journalists that they are demanding decisions on coalition-building before all votes are counted. It is  doubtful if any journalist in Europe – which has had proportional representation far longer than we have – would even imagine  making such a nonsensical  suggestion.

Little wonder that Peters lost his cool on 27 September where he held a press conference and lambasted the mainstream media for their “drivel”;

“Now frankly if that’s the value you place on journalistic integrity you go right ahead, but the reality is you could point to the Electoral Commission and others and ask yourself why is it that 384,000 people will not have their vote counted until the 7th of October. 

Maybe then you could say to yourselves that may be the reason why New Zealand First has to withhold its view because we don’t know yet what the exact precise voice of the New Zealand people is.

All I’m asking for is a bit of understanding rather than the tripe that some people are putting out, malicious, malignant, and vicious in the extreme.”

The mainstream media did not take kindly to the critical analysis which they themselves usually mete out to public figures. They reported Peters’ press conference in unflattering terms and a vehemence usually reserved for social/political outcasts who have somehow dared challenge the established order of things;

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The Fourth Estate does not ‘do’ criticism well.

Even cartoonists have piled in on Peters, caricaturising him for daring to impede the [rapid] course of democracy;

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Or satirising Peters for being in a position to coalesce either with Labour or National. Despite this being a feature of all proportionally-elected Parliaments around the world, this has somehow taken the mainstream media by surprise;

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Perhaps Winston Peters was correct when he accused  New Zealand’s mainstream media of continuing to view the political landscape  through a First Past the Post prism;

“You ran a first past the post campaign in an MMP environment. And things suffer from that.”

Without a hint of self-awareness of irony, the usually insightful Bernard Hickey  offered this strangely familiar ‘advice’ to Peters;

It could have been so different. He could have simply said he couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose. Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance.

Really? “Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance”?!

How many timers did Peters tell journalists  that he “couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose” and how many times did those same journalists (or their colleagues) persist?

I have considerable respect for Mr Hickey’s researching and reporting skills. He is one of New Zealand’s most talented journalists/commentators.

On this point, however, he has over-looked the stubborn persistence of his colleagues in their unrelenting demands on Peters.

That media drivel has extended to journalists reporting on a non-existent, fabricated “story” – a potential National-Green (or “Teal”) Coalition.

Nowhere was this suggestion made seriously – except by National-leaning right-wing commentators, National party supporters, and National politicians. It should be blatantly clear to the most apolitical person that,

(a) such a coalition has been dismissed by the Green Party on numerous occassions

(b) such a coalition would be impractical due to wide policy differences between National and the Greens

(c) such a coalition scenario was being made only as a negotiation tactic by National to leverage against NZ First, and

(d) such a coalition would offer very little benefit to the Greens.

Green party leader, James Shaw, had to repeat – on numerous occassions – that any notion of a National-Green deal was out of a question;

“Our job is to form a government with the Labour Party, that’s what I said on election night, that’s what I campaigned on for the last 18 months and that’s what we are busy working on.

I said on election night that I think the numbers are there for a new government and that’s what we are working on, so everything else frankly is noise and no signal.”

This did not stop the mainstream media from breathlessly (breathe, Patrick, breathe!) reporting repeating the “story” without analysing where it was emanating from: the Right. Or who it would benefit: National.

Writing a series of stories on an imaginary National-Green coalition scenario, Fairfax ‘s political reporter Tracy Watkins could almost be on the National Party’s communications-team payroll;

Metiria Turei’s departure from the Greens co-leadership seems to be what lies behind National’s belief that a deal may be possible – she was always cast as an implacable opponent to any deal with National. James Shaw is seen as being more of a pragmatist.

But National would only be prepared to make environmental concessions – the Greens’ social and economic policy platform would be seen as a step too far. Big concessions on climate change policy would also be a stumbling block.

On both those counts the Greens would likely rule themselves out of a deal – co-leader James Shaw has made it clear economic and social policy have the same priority as environmental policy.

There is a view within National, however, that a deal with the Greens would be more forward and future looking than any deal with NZ First.

One concern is what is seen as an erratic list of NZ First bottom lines, but there is also an acknowledgement that National was exposed on environmental issues like dirty water in the campaign.

That’s why National insiders say an approach to the Greens should not be ruled out.

But Watkins was not completely oblivious to the Kiwi-version of ‘Game of Thrones‘.  She briefly alluded to comprehending that National is pitting the Greens against NZ First;

Senior National MPs have made repeated overtures through the media that its door is open to the Greens, who would have more leverage in negotiations with the centre-right than the centre-left.

Watkins and her colleagues at Fairfax made no attempt to shed light on National’s “repeated overtures”. She and other journalists appeared content to be the ‘conduit’ of National’s machiavellian machinations as prelude to coalition talks.

Such was the vacuum caused by the interregnum between Election Day and Special  Votes day.  That vacuum – caused by the news blackout until coalition talks begin in earnest after 7 October – had obviously enabled sensationalism to guide editorial policy.

Writing for another Fairfax newspaper, the Sunday Star Times, so-called “journalist” Stacey Kirk cast aside any remaining mask of impartiality and came out guns blazing, demanding a National Green Coalition;

They should, and the reasons they won’t work with National are getting flimsier by the day. But they won’t – it’s a matter that strikes too close to the heart of too many of their base – and for that reason, they simply can’t.

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For all their dancing around each other, National is serious when it says it would be happy to talk to the Greens. But it’s also serious when it says it knows it has to make big environmental moves regardless.

If the Greens are serious about putting the environment above politics – and the long-term rebuild of the party – they really should listen.

Kirk’s piece could easily have emanated from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive – not the Dominion Post Building in downtown Wellington.

The media pimping for a fourth National-led coalition, involving the Greens, would be comical if it weren’t potentially so damaging to our democracy. Media are meant to question political activity such as coalition-building  – not aggressively promote them in an openly partisan manner. Especially not for the benefit of one dominant party. And especially not to install that political party to government.

One person went so far as launching an on-line petition calling for just such a coalition;

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The organisor is one, Clive Antony, a Christchurch “organic fashion entrepreneur”. (That’s a ‘thing’? Who knew?)  Mr Anthony explained why he wanted a “Teal” coalition;

“I genuinely think there is common ground between the National Party and the Green Party, which could result in practical policy wins for New Zealand. Environmental issues such as carbon neutrality and social issues like child poverty come to mind.”

Mr Anthony happens to be a National Party supporter.

Mr Anthony failed to explain what National has been doing the last nine years to protect the environment; why rivers have continued to be degraded; why the agricultural sector has been left out of the emissions trading scheme; why National has squandered billions on new roading projects instead of public transport; etc, etc. Also, Mr Anthony has failed to ask why National has not willingly adopted Green Party policies in the last nine years.

What has stopped them?  Party policies are not copyright.  After all, you don’t have to be in coalition with a party to take on their policies.

Although it helps if National were honest enough to release official reports in a timely manner, instead of the public relying on them to be leaked;

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This is how National demonstrates transparency and integrity.  This is the party that attempts to suppress critical information on climate change.

This is the party that some media pundits are clamouring to enter into a meaningful working relationship with the Greens.

As former Green MP, Mojo Mathers pointed out on Twitter;

“Oh my, National love the Greens now do they? Pity they couldn’t show some love for the environment over the last 9 years. #NoGreenWash

Dirty coal. Polluted rivers. Industrial dairying. Rising emissions. Billion dollar motorways. Seabed mining in blue whale habitat and more.”

Another, former Green MP, Catherine Delahunty, voiced what probably 99.9% of Green Party members are thinking right now;

“I would rather drink hemlock than go with the National Party. The last thing I want to see is the Green Party or any other party propping them up to put them back into power. They’ve done enough damage.”

Green Party (co-)leader, James Shaw, was more diplomatic;

“A slim majority of voters did vote for change, and so that’s what I’m working on… We campaigned on a change of Government, and I said at the time it was only fair to let voters know what they were voting for – are you voting for the status quo, or are you voting for change?”

Other individuals pimping for a Nat-Green coalition are sundry National party MPs such as  Paula Bennett or former politicians such as Jim Bolger.

All of which was supported by far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s “intern staff”, on the “Whaleoil” blog;

Currently we are sitting in wait for old mate Winston Peters to choose who is going to run the country. After watching all the pundits in media talk about what the next government would look like, it started to annoy me that everyone has been ruling out a National/Green coalition and rightly so as both parties have basically written it off.

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A quick Blue-Green arrangement with the appropriate Government Ministries assigned to Green Ministers would kill the NZ First posturing dead and would probably be the death knell for NZ First forever once Mr Peters resigns.”

National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, was also actively pimping for a National-Green Coalition;

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When even the far-right are salivating at the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition, you know something is seriously askew.

However,  judging by comments posted by Kiwiblog’s readers, the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition does not sit well with his audience.

As an interesting side-note, both Whaleoil and Kiwiblog both published their first stories on a Blue-Green coalition around 27 and 28 September. The Tory communications-strategy memo talking up a Blue-Green scenario appears to have been sent to Slater and Farrar at the same time.

It beggars belief that very few media commentators have picked up on what is really the bleedin’ obvious: National’s strategy is obviously a ploy to leverage against NZ First.

Of all the pundits, only one person seems to have sussed what was really happening and why. Otago University law professor and political commentator,  Andrew Geddis,  put things very succinctly when he wrote for Radio NZ on 30 September;

Media coverage of the post-election period echoes this existential angst. With Winston Peters declaring that he – sorry, New Zealand First – won’t make any decisions on governing deals until after the final vote count is announced on October 7, we face something of a news vacuum.

Commentators valiantly have attempted to fill this void with fevered speculation about who Peters likes and hates, or fantastical notions that a National-Greens deal could be struck instead…

That is as close to sensible commentary as we’ve gotten the last two weeks.

The 2017 General Election may be remembered in future – not for Winston Peters holding the balance of power – but for the unedifying rubbish churned out by so-called professional, experienced journalists. In their thirst for something – anything!! – to report, the media commentariate have engaged in  onanistic political fantasies.

They have also wittingly allowed themselves to be National’s marionettes – with strings reaching up to the Ninth Floor.

The National-Green Coalition fairytale promulgated by some in the media was a glimpse into the weird world of journalistic daydreaming. In other words, New Zealanders just got a taste of some real fake news.

Like children in the back seat of a car on a two-week long drive, this is what it looks like when bored journalists and media commentators become anxious and frustrated. Their impatience gets the better of them.

And a politician called them on it;

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When the antiquated, binary system of First Past the Post  was replaced with a more sophisticated; more representative; more inclusive MMP in the 1990s, our political system matured. Our Parliament became more ethnically and gender diverse. We even elected the world’s first transgender MP.

MMP is complex and requires careful consideration and time.

It is fit-for-purpose for the complexities of 21st Century New Zealand.

The Fourth Estate is yet to catch up.

 

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References

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

NZ Herald:  Winston Peters – 7 per cent of the vote, 100 per cent of the power

Newsroom:  Winston’s awful start

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters launches tirade on media, stays mum on coalition talks

TVNZ:  ‘Next question!’ – belligerent Winston Peters has press pack in stitches after shutting down Aussie reporter

NZ Herald:   Attack on media, some insults and stonewalling – Winston Peters comes out firing in press conference

Newstalk ZB:  Winston Peters hits out at media in fiery press conference

Radio NZ:  Green Party dismisses National-Green speculation

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Fairfax media:  National says don’t rule out an approach to Greens on election night

Fairfax media:  Stacey Kirk – Honour above the environment? Greens hold a deck of aces they’re refusing to play

NZ Herald:  Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Govt sits on climate warnings

Twitter: Mojo Mathers

Radio NZ:  ‘Snowball’s chance in hell’ of a Green-National deal

Mediaworks:  ‘I will hear the Prime Minister out’ – James Shaw

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters’ super leak ‘great gossip’ I couldn’t use against him – Paula Bennett

Fairfax media:  Greens have a responsibility to talk to National – Jim Bolger

Radio NZ:  Special votes – why the wait?

NZCity:  Have patience, says Winston Peters

E-Tangata: Georgina Beyer – How far can you fall?

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  What could the Greens get if they went with National not Winston?

Kiwiblog:  How a National-Green coalition could work

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – Let’s seriously consider David Farrar’s offer to the Greens and laugh and laugh and laugh

Liberation:  Cartoons and images about negotiating the new government

Previous related blogposts

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (whitu)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 October 2017.

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Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu

22 February 2017 2 comments

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(Or, “It’s only ‘hypocrisy’ when the Left do it!“)

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The Labour-Green New Deal

On 14 February, the Left finally woke up to the realities of MMP. A deal was brokered and the only possible, logical  outcome arrived at;

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The Radio NZ story is correct; Dunne retained the Ōhāriu electorate by only 710 votes.

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ohariu-2014-election-result

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Had Green voters given their electorate vote to the Labour candidate, Virginia  Andersen would have won Ōhāriu by 2,054 votes and National would  have lost one of their coalition partners.

With the subsequent loss of Northland to Winston Peters in March 2015, National would have lost their majority in Parliament and would have had to either rely on NZ First for Confidence and Supply – or call an early election.

A major victory for the Left (and all low-income people in our community) would have been the abandonment of National’s state house sell-of. (Current state housing stock has dropped from 69,000 rental properties in 2008 to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased) by  2016.)

National has sold off  7,400 properties. Meanwhile, as of December last year, there were 4,771 people on the state house waiting list;

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Had Dunne been ousted from Ōhāriu in 2014 our recent history would have been completely altered.  Anyone who believes that the Labour-Green accomodation was a “dirty” deal might ponder the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ whilst spending the night in a car or under a tarpaulin. Preferably in winter.

Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, rightly pointed out the obvious;

“I think New Zealanders will understand that, in an MMP environment, it makes perfect sense for us to not stand a candidate in Ōhāriu. Ōhāriu has a significant impact on the makeup of Parliament.

Not standing in Ōhāriu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the government in September – it’s as simple as that.

I would actually argue that we’re being more transparent here by actually simply saying we’re not going to and it’s within the structure of the memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party that we signed last year, where we actually held a press conference saying that we were going to work together to change the government.”

Shaw has rejected any suggestion that this is a “dirty deal”. Again, he is correct. the Greens and Labour are simply working by the rules of MMP as National determined in 2012/13, when then-Dear Leader Key refused to eliminate the “coat-tailing” provision.

Shaw should have thrown the description of a “deal” right back at critics such as right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, and TV3’s faux-moralistic Patrick Gower. Shaw’s response should have been hard-hitting and ‘in-your-face’,

“Damn right it’s a deal. Those are the rules set by  National and we  play by them. If people don’t like it, take it up with the Tories.”

Some context

In 2012, National followed through on an earlier government committment to conduct a review into the MMP electoral process. The Commission called for submissions from the public, and over 4,600 submissions were duly made on the issue. (This blogger made a submission as well.)

As a result, the Commission made these findings;

The Commission presented its final report to the Minister of Justice on 29 October 2012 with the following recommendations:

  • The one electorate seat threshold  [aka “coat-tailing”] should be abolished (and if it is, the provision for overhang seats should also be abolished);

  • The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4% (with the Commission required by law to review how the 4% threshold is working);

  • Consideration be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to address concerns about declining proportionality and diversity of representation;

  • Political parties should continue to  have responsibility for selecting and ranking candidates on their party lists but they must make a statutory declaration that they have done so in accordance with their party rules;

  • MPs should continue to be allowed to be dual candidates and list MPs to stand in by-elections.

 

The first two recommendations were a direct threat to National’s dominance in Parliament, and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins rejected them outright;

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Key offered a mealy-mouthed excuse for not accepting the Electoral Commission’s report;

“If you’re really, really going to have major change to MMP you’d want to have either consensus or to put it to the people.  It’s not a matter of blame – it’s just a range of views out there.”

Yet, submitters had been fairly clear in their views and failure to obtain “concensus” from the smaller parties in Parliament said more about their own self-interests than public-interest.

A NZ Herald editorial pointed out;

All of National’s present allies, Act, United Future and the Maori Party, take the same view of the single electorate entitlement and all but the Maori Party have benefited from it at some time. Self-interest may be their underlying motive…

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National seems not to want to disturb the status quo because it discounts its chances of finding stable coalition partners under the simplified system proposed.

So the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars spent on the MMP Review; seeking submissions; listening to submitters; and providing the Report to Parliament was all an utter waste of money.

The “coat-tailing” provision would be set to remain because without it National would find it harder to find potential coalition allies, and therefore govern.

It also meant that all political parties now have to play by the same rules, or else be disadvantaged.

(Hypo)Crit(ic)s

— Gower

Patrick Gower (with Jenna Lynch sharing the byline) writing for  TV3 News was obviously having a bad coffee-day with this vitriolic comment, condemning the Labour-Green accomodation;

Labour and the Greens have just done the dirtiest electorate deal in New Zealand political history – and it is all about destroying Peter Dunne.

The tree-hugging Greens will not stand in Ōhāriu to help the gun-toting former cop Greg O’Connor win the seat for Labour.

This is dirtier than most electorate deals because for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running rather than standing but giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate.

The degree of hypocrisy to Gower’s comment is breath-taking.

Note that he suggests that it is preferable to “giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate” rather than withdrawing a candidate and openly declaring an accomodation.

In effect, a journalist has advocated for “open deception” rather than transparency. Think about that for a moment.

Gower antipathy to left-wing parties using current MMP rules is not new. Three years ago, Gower  made a scathing attack on Hone Harawira and Laila Harré over the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana Movement;

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By attacking parties on the Left who choose to work together (but not parties on the Right), Gower is either displaying crass ignorance over how MMP works – or undisguised political bias.

I will not be surprised if Gower eventually ends up as Press Secretary for a National minister.

Postscript: Re Gower’s comment that “for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running“.

This is yet more ignorance from a man who is supposedly TV3’s “political editor”. Political parties often do not yield a full slate of candidates in every electorate.

In the 2014 General election there were 71 electorates; 64 general and seven Māori electorates;

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The Green party had only 57 candidates out of 71 electorates. Notice that even National did not offer candidates in every electorate.

Only Labour fielded a candidate in all 71 electorates.

So as usual, Gower’s political knowledge is disturbingly lacking. Or partisan. Take your pick.

— Farrar

Soon after the Greens announced their accomodation deal, National Party apparatchik, pollster, and right-wing blogger – David Farrar – was predictable in his criticism. Cheering for Patrick Gower, Farrar  wrote;

…Labour and Greens have spent years condemning deals where National stands but tells supporters they only want the party vote, and now they’ve done a deal where they don’t even stand. I don’t have a huge issue with them doing that – the issue is their blatant hypocrisy.

They’re so desperate to be in Government they’ll put up with that, but the irony is that if Winston does hold the balance of power and pick Labour, he’ll insist the Greens are shut out of Government.

Yet, in 2011 and 2014, Farrar had different thoughts on deal-making when it came to electoral accomodations;

This is sensible and not unusual. Off memory most elections there have been some seats where ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote. One of the nice things about MMP is that you can still contest the party vote, without needing to stand in an electorate.

And,

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

So, according to Farrar, it’s ok  that “ ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote“. He describes it as “one of the nice things about MMP“.

So as long as a deal is presented dishonestly – “All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government” –  then that’s ok?

Both Labour/Greens and National/ACT have presented electoral accomodations – but in different ways.

One was transparent.

The other was doing it with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

It is unreasonable and hypocritical to support one side to exploit current MMP provisions to their benefit – whilst expecting others to work to a different set of rules. Perhaps Mr Farrar should look at how National/ACT presents their accomodations to the public – or else do away with the coat-tailing provision altogether.

Ōhāriu Green Voters

Following the 2011 General Election, I noted that Green voters had failed to make full use of strategic voting under MMP;

Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.  In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

And again, post-2014;

Some Green supporters are either woefully ignorant of MMP – or have been smoking to much of a certain herb. Or, gods forbid, they are so desperate to remain ideologically pure in their principles, that they are willing to allow a right wing candidate to be elected, rather than supporting a candidate from another party on the Left.

In  Ōhāriu (as well as other electorates) Peter Dunne was returned to office because Green Party supporters cast their electorate votes for Green candidate Tane Woodley, instead of the Labour candidate. Preliminary election results for Ohariu yield the following;

ANDERSEN, Virginia: (Labour)11,349*

DUNNE, Peter: (United Future) 12,279*

WOODLEY, Tane: (Greens) 2,266*

Had supporters of the Green Party given their electorate votes to Viriginia Andersen, Peter Dunne would have been defeated by 1,336* votes.

The Greens need to get it through to their supporter’s  heads that giving their electorate votes to their own candidates is a waste of effort and an indulgence we cannot afford.

When elections are close-fought and majorities slim, such indulgences cannot be tolerated, and the Greens need to educate their supporters quick-smart, if we are to win in 2017.

(*Note: figures above were preliminary and not final results.)

If there was an element of frustration and anger in my comments above, it was a ‘face-palm’ moment.  The  poorest families and individuals in New Zealand have paid the price by enduring two terms of National because Green voters chose to indulge themselves by casting both votes for the Green candidate, rather than strategic vote-splitting.

I can understand affluent, propertied Middle Class voting for self-interest.

I find it less palatable that Green voters cast their ballots for some bizarre feeling of political purity. That is selfishness in another form.

Beneficiaries being attacked by a souless government; people living in cars, garages,  rough, or crammed three families into one home; people suffering as social services are slashed, will find it hard to understand such selfishness.

In the United States, blue-collar workers voted for a populist demagogue. The workers who voted for Trump believed that the Left had abandoned them.

We dare not allow the same despair to flourish in our own country.

If politics is a contest of ideas; a battle of ideology; then strategy counts.

The Greens have woken up to this simple reality.

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References

Radio NZ: Green Party will not stand in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Ōhāriu

Radio NZ: Winston Peters takes Northland

Radio NZ: Thousands of state houses up for sale

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Fairfax media: Samoan family stuck in makeshift, mosquito-ridden tent – ‘through no fault of their own’

Ministry of Social Development: The housing register

Radio NZ: Labour-Greens deny deal over Ohariu seat

NZ Herald: Political Roundup – Embarrassing but strategic deal for the Greens

Electoral Commission: 2012 MMP Review

Electoral Commission: What people said on the MMP Review

Electoral Commission: The Results of the MMP Review

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

NZ Herald: Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

Electoral Commission: Financial Review

NZ Herald:  Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

Radio NZ:  Collins defends not trying for changes to MMP

Fairfax media:  Government’s MMP review response slammed

Scoop media:  Minister’s response to MMP review a travesty –  Lianne  Dalziel

NZ Herald:  Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

TV3 News: Patrick Gower – Labour-Greens do double dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Electoral Commission releases party and candidate lists for 2014 election

Kiwiblog: The double dirty deal in Ohariu

Kiwiblog: Marginal Seat deals

Kiwiblog: National’s potential electoral deals

Additional

Electoral Commission:   2017 General Election

Other Blogs

The Standard:  The coat-tail rule and democracy (2014)

Public Address:  Government votes not to improve MMP (2015)

The Standard:  Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Judith Collins issues decision on MMP Review!

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand

John Banks: condition deteriorating

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014 – A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2017.

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Hooton and Farrar slag Key – With friends like these…

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The Panama Papers continue to simmer and National’s greatest fear is that the public will link tax-dodging to the current government. (Up-coming political polls will be interesting to see.)  But that is not all that National’s hierarchy has to worry about.

Closer to home, National is facing “Third Termitis” and an increasingly cynical view of  the government and it’s leading figures – even from within.

Some recent ‘digs’ at  Dear Leader John Key by right-wing commentators – ostensibly friendly to National – are either miscalculations, or a subtle hint that respect for Key’s leadership style is waning.

Case in Point #1 – David Farrar

On 2 May, National Party pollster and  apparatchik, David Farrar made a guest appearance on Jim Mora’s afternoon Panel (hosted that afternoon by Jesse Mulligan), on Radio NZ. Along with lawyer Mai Chen, they discussed the issues of the day;

“…foreign Trusts and how much the Prime Minister was involved in our tax laws.”

The issue of what Key’s lawyer – Ken Whitney –  said to then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay arose amongst the Panelists, and host.

Ken Whitney, the executive director of tax-trust specialist, Antipodes Trust Group, wrote to McClay on December 3, 2014, over concerns Inland Revenue were reviewing the sector;

“We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the industry. I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime.

The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders who are keen to engage to explain how the regime works and the benefits to NZ of an industry which has been painstakingly built up over the last 25 years or so.”

Key refuted that he had “advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime“;

“One of the members of the tax, that group, the foreign trusts, asked me about it. I said I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, I don’t think that’s right that there are changes, but go and take it up with the minister.

Subsequently there’s miles of paperwork that shows all the stuff he did, I had no other involvement other than that – it happens every day to me, people come up to me all the time and say ‘what about x or what about y?’ and I say take it up with the relevant minister.”

Bear in mind when this conversation took place: December 2014.

Key is clear in his recollection of the conversations he had with his then-lawyer, Ken Whitney, and then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay;

Mr Key was insistent he made clear to McClay the connection between himself and Mr Whitney, when he alerted his minister to the approach from his lawyer about the trust rules regime.

“I’ve seen his comments, what he basically said was he couldn’t absolutely recall but it was two years ago but I absolutely told him – 100 percent.  It’s a few years with an oral conversation that lasted a few seconds but I definitely told him.”

Which is intriguing, as Key has a somewhat dubious reputation for having a shockingly bad memory of events that are uncomfortable for him to recall and discuss. Especially when journalists are present.

A particularly extraordinary example of Key’s inability to retain recollection of events took place in November 2014, when Key “forgot” a txt-conversation he had had with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater;

“He sent me a text one time, but I can’t remember when that was.”

In fact, the txt-conversation with Slater took place only eighteen hours previously. Which resulted in headlines like this one;

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John Key 'genuinely couldn't recall' text messages - mediaworks - Cameron Slater

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When the issue of John Key’s memory and reputation for lapses arose, Farrar made this revelation;

@10.06

“Oh I’m not sure I quite accept the assertion there. I found in my experience the Prime Minister has a remarkable good memory on things. There was – I had a conversation with him the other day on something, where he referred to ‘Oh I think there was something in January, um, 2007’, and he was right. It took me half an hour to look it up, but he remembered this thing, from what was it, nine years ago. So I think actually he generally has a very good memory, just not a perfect one.”

Farrar’s willingness to share this aspect of  John Key’s mental state is reassuring. It means our esteemed Dear Leader is not suffering on-set Alzheimers  Disease or any similar brain-debilitating condition, when he insists he cannot re-call an inconvenient event.

It just means Key is lying.

Thank you, David Farrar, for clearing that up.

Case in Point #2 – Matthew Hooton

The next person to offer a singularly unflattering insight into Key’s personality was right-wing commentator and a member of the neo-liberal cadré, Matthew Hooton.

Hooton has a regular 11am appearance on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon show, where he offers his views from a right-wing, free-market perspective. He speaks frankly on a variety of issues-of-the-day and can be as highly critical of National; it’s policies; and leadership, as he is on the Left.

Hooton’s own investigation into  Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi farm-in-the-desert deal should be required-reading for all New Zealanders, regardless of their political persuasions. As political scientist, Bryce Edwards wrote in May last year;

Perhaps the strongest views are from Matthew Hooton, who has two columns in the National Business Review (which have just had their paywalls removed). The first column, Gulf games fail to deliver, gives the background to the fallout between the New Zealand Government and Saudi Arabia, with Hooton largely blaming John Key. According to Hooton’s story, the Saudi businessman was led to believe that the incoming National Government of 2008 would resume live sheep exports.

Once in power, however, Hooton says that Key changed his mind on hearing that TVNZ would broadcast “a programme critical of live sheep exporting. In a panic, and fearing further criticism from the Green Party’s Sue Kedgley, Mr Carter was ordered by Mr Key’s media staff to go on TV and rule out any resumption of the trade, ever. This was later confirmed to the Saudis as New Zealand’s new position and negotiations ceased. Furious, Mr Al-Khalaf used his influence with the Saudi royal family to ensure the FTA was put on ice”.

Hooton’s second must-read column, Flying sheep endanger McCully, turns the focus to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, suggesting that his subsequent handling of the mess could lead to his sacking. Hooton suggests the whole deal is “implausible” in terms of the bizarre farming arrangements and partnership that the Government has established.

He doubts that the promised innovative “agrihub” will actually eventuate and “If not, people might start comparing Mr McCully’s dealings with Mr Al-Khalaf with those with Mr Roberts 15 years ago. For which Mrs Shipley sacked him”. Hooton says “Key’s nervous ‘yup,’ when asked if he had confidence in his foreign minister, betrayed concern over where the story may head”.

On 9 May, filling his regular slot on Nine to Noon’s political panel, Hooton voiced his views on the Panama Papers and how – in his view – our Esteemed Dear Leader was handling the growing scandal.

As Hooton discussed cleaning up the trust sector in New Zealand,

“That is despite his government’s obvious negligence in not legislating for greater transparency around the trust industry years ago, when reputable trust lawyers themselves were lobbying for it.”

– one particular remark caught my attention,

@ 2.19

“… From talking to the people in the industry, is that some of the people I’ve been talking to, who’ve been using other consultants up till now I should say, they’ve been trying to lobby John Key on this issue since when he was Leader of the Opposition. And they’ve been wanting him to make the industry more transparent. And Robin Oliver [former head of IRD] was on Morning Report this morning and talked about this. And the people that I’m talking to anyway, they tell me that John Key’s consistently said to them, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely, totally agree, we must sort that out, yep, yep, the government will do that’.

But absolutely nothing has happened. And I don’t think that’s necessarily – there’s nothing corrupt about that. It’s how John Key rolls. It’s a refrain I hear from people in the business community, the education sector, the health sector, you name it, John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear, and there doesn’t seems to be any follow up.”

“John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…”  – a very brief, off-the-cuff remark – but one which goes some way to perhaps explaining Key’s popularity with the public. Even those who might stand to be disadvantaged by his policies.

An example of occurred in 2008, during the PSA Conference, when Key made a firm committment resiling National from any future asset sales;

“There’s no agenda to sell assets. There will be no asset sales in the first term – in fact there may never be asset sales in the year’s ahead.”

His speech can be viewed here.

In the same video clip, Key also resiled from weakening Union power;

“Yes, I support Unions, and I support New Zealanders’ rights to join unions. And no, we’re not proposing to change the Employment Relations Act in a way that weakens unions…”

Seven years later, amendments to the Employment Relations Act were pushed through Parliament. The amendments weakened Union power;

National has highlighted employment law changes as one of its key priorities in the first 100 days in Government. Proposed changes will affect collective agreements, the 90-day trial period, strike action and rest and meal break provisions.

[…]

The changes will give employers more power during the bargaining process.

As Hooton pointed out, “John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…” – and Key was speaking to the 2008 PSA Conference.  Union delegates were told precisely what they wanted to hear.

Coupled with Farrar’s comments about Key’s “very good memory” (and by a process of elimination, therefore a liar) – and we have two right-wingers close to our esteemed Dear Leader  who have shared their personal observations with “how John Key rolls“.

However, the public may not be as gullible to Key’s duplicitous charms as many would think.

In October 2009, Key’s popularity rating (3News/Reid Research Poll) was at a staggering height of  55.8%.

By July 2015, his popularity rating had fallen to 38.3%.

Whether consciously or sub-consciously, perhaps the public are coming to the same realisation that Farrar and Hooton are at; our Prime Minister is a con-artist.

And a damned good one.

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References

Radio NZ: The Panel with Jim Mora – 2 May 2016

NZ Herald: The Antipodes email – John Key, his lawyer and foreign trusts

Radio NZ: PM’s private lawyer lobbied government on foreign trusts

Radio NZ: I told McClay about lawyer, says Key

Fairfax media: How is John Key going to spin this one?

TV3 News: John Key ‘genuinely couldn’t recall’ text messages

Radio NZ: The Panel with Mai Chen and David Farrar – Part 1 (alt. link) (audio)

NZ Herald: Political roundup – The bizarre ‘bribery’ and flying sheep scandal

Radio NZ: Key ends week deeply satisfied

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton (alt. link) (audio)

TV3 News: Labour: Key promised no job cuts, asset sales in 2008 speech

TV3 News: Highlights from Key’s 2008 ‘no job cuts’ speech (video)

MoBIE: Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

Radio NZ: National’s proposed labour laws

Other bloggers

The Paepae: John Key is getting a reputation as a liar

Previous related blogposts

The slow dismantling of a Prime Minister continues

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 16: The sale of Kiwibank eight years in the planning?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 May 2016.

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Judith Collins – the Gift that keeps Giving to the Opposition?

30 November 2014 3 comments

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From a news report;

Ms Collins resigned before the election after being accused of working with the Whale Oil blog after emails were released suggesting she was “gunning” for former director of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, when she was the minister in charge of the SFO.

A report by former High Court judge Lester Chisholm into her actions will be released this week, with some media reporting that it is expected to clear her name.

After the Old Boys’ Network swarmed around now-disgraced CERA boss, and sexual-harrasser, Roger Sutton, with support and to downplay the seriousness of his behaviour – this blogger predicts the following outcome of the investigation into Judith Collins.

  • She will be fully exonerated.
  • The Prime Minister will say he had faith in her all along. (He has already intimated this, “If Judith is cleared that’s great – that would be my expectation“.)
  • Bundles of flowers will be sent to her office (note to florists in Parliamentary precinct: stock up).
  • Cameron Slater will claim full vindication and become even more obnoxious and unpredictable in his behaviour (if that were at all possible).
  • Critics of this increasingly authoritarian government will think twice before speaking out.
  • Collins will be restored as a Minister within twelve months, more vengeful,  and more dangerous than ever.
  • This government will become more emboldened than ever to pursue vindictive retribution against critics.

The report from Chisholm will most likely be a total whitewash.

No one should expect accountability from this government. They will see “accountability” as  weakness, and a third-term government cannot afford to show any hint of weakness.

After all, New Zealanders love ‘strong’ governments. Even Muldoon’s increasingly erratic administration might not have been voted out had it not been for Bob Jones’ NZ Party, which split the right-wing vote in 1984. The under-current from a significant portion of the population that holds irrational, conservative views should never be under-estimated.

It will be a mistake for Key to restore Collins as a Minister. But the pressure from her National party cronies will become irresistible, and Key will have no choice but to eventually yield.

It will not be a decision that comes easily to our esteemed PM. Key is fully aware that Collins’ arrogance – like a certain ex-MP with a don’t-you-know-who-I-am‘ attitude – inevitably draws trouble to herself. The Oravida-China fiasco, where Collins used a tax-payer funded trip to promote her husband’s milk company in Beijing, made unwelcome headlines for the National Party for weeks.

Collins escaped that scandal only by the skin of her teeth, when the Opposition and Media onslaught ran out of steam.

Next up, Collins’ bizarre personal attack on one of the media’s most inoffensive Parliamentary journalists, Katie Bradford, where the Minister made outrageous allegations of impropriety.

Collins eventually had to retract and apologise –  no doubt after an increasingly irritated PM put the hard word on his errant Minister.

Not content to keep her head down, Collins pursued a  secret political relationship with far-right blogger and convicted criminal, Cameron Slater, which, when uncovered in Nicky Hager’s expose, ‘Dirty Politics‘,  was the straw that finally broke the ministerial camel’s back. On 30 August she ‘resigned’ her portfolios.

This scandal could easily have triggered an early election had she held fast and refused to step down. History might have been different had Key gone to polls three weeks before the Nats were ready, and under  Collins-inspired storm-clouds.

A TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, released the day before Collins stood down, gave an unequivocal result to the simple question:  should Collins resign?  61% of respondents said yes; 26%  said no, and 13% had no opinion. (That 26% corresponds roughly to National’s core tribal-electoral support, as demonstrated at the 2002 general election.)

A day later, she obliged.

Five days after her ‘resignation’, a Fairfax media-Ipsos poll reported a massive 3.4% jump for National. No doubt National-aligned pollster, David Farrar, had already known that National would re-bound with Collins gone. His own internal polling would have shown this.

But here comes the ‘kicker’. On 5 September, on the same day as the Fairfax-Ipsos poll was made public,  a NZ Herald-DigiPoll, showed another conclusive result for the National Party. The majority stated categorically that they had had enough of the increasingly troublesome,  ‘accident’-prone, Member for Papakura.

Asked if Key should give Collins any Ministerial role in a third term National government, 51.6% responded with  “give her no ministerial role”. (25.5% responded with  giving her a less senior role than she had; and only 12.6% agreed she “should keep the Justice portfolio or a similarly senior role”.)

Those results clearly illustrate the divisive nature of Judith Collins if she is in a position of authority.

Key would do well to remember these facts, even when/if the Chisholm Inquiry exonerates her.

On the other hand, a revitalised Parliamentary Labour Opposition probably relishes the prospect of a politically “rehabilitated” Collins appointed to a Ministerial role once again.

One can only imagine what new cluster-f**k is awaiting in the wings with this woman.

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References

NZ News: Collins report may clear way for return

NZ Herald:  Rennie made ‘miscalculation’ in allowing Sutton press conference – PM

Dominion Post: No Cabinet return for Judith Collins

TV3 News: ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: I’m the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns

TVNZ: Collins says sorry to TVNZ reporter after allegation

TVNZ: Voters want Judith Collins to stand down, poll reveals

Wikipedia: 2002 General Election

Fairfax media: National soars without Collins – poll

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Judith Collins

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Judith Collins – Hypocrite of the Week

Are Cameron Slater and Judith Collins bare-faced liars?

Additional related blogpost

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)


 

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Collins feeding her trained attack mutt cameron slater

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 November 2014, at around 8am.

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So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

24 August 2014 3 comments

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As the media storm over Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  and allegations over smear campaigns continue to swirl,  National’s spin doctors have given Key, Collins, and other National Party ministers a string of  phrases to use in all media interviews. The phrases are,

  • “Conspiracy theorist”
  • “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations”
  • “Nicky Hager’s assumptions”
  • “Nicky Hager made them up”
  • “Nicky Hager can’t back  up his claims”
  • “Nicky Hager’s claims dissolving before his/our eyes”
  • “nothing to do with us”
  • “nothing to do with me”
  • “I don’t have details on that”
  • “I don’t know the details”
  • “I don’t know the context of all that”
  • “this is a smear campaign”
  • “briefing bloggers” (instead of leaking information)
  • “Slater is a force unto himself”
  • “Slater is a force of nature”
  • “Labour does that too”

When confronted with specific allegations, as with Guyon Espiner interviewing Key on ‘Morning Report’ (18 August), Key simply refused to engage and veered of on a side-issue or responded with , “I don’t have details on that”.

At no stage does Key or his ministers take responsibility. For anything. If anything is “dissolving”, it is Key’s much vaunted reputation for “transparency” and “high ministerial standards“.

Key and Collins have been instructed by their taxpayer-funded media minders  not to respond to specific issues raised by Nicky Hager, and instead keep the discussion generalised and vague. At that point, Key and Collins can respond with a general statement of “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations“.

Recently, some in National have tried a new tactic – painting themselves as the “victims” of so-called “dirty tricks”. The new strategy  began on 15 August, with National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, making this extraordinary claim on his own blog;

I’ve either been hacked or spied on

August 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.

I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.

I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.

There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it.  In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.

I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.

More…

This neat bit of propaganda aimed for two objectives

  1. It tried to deflect attention from Nicky Hager’s allegations of National’s abuse of ministerial power,
  2. It tried to show that “everyone is doing it, so no big deal” – a line that Key has repeated on several occassions.

A day later, interviewed on TV3, Cameron Slater told the world he had been the subject of death threats and  the victim of a hate campaign himself;

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Cameron Slater -  Death threats over 'Dirty Politics' - TV3 - Nicky Hager - Whaleoil - Jason Ede - John Jey

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“‘Cos I’ve got a torrent of death threats as a result of Mr Hager’s book…”

I’ve covered Slater’s claims in a previous blogpost, and raise questions about the truthfulness of those so-called “death-threats”.

A day later, on 17 August, Farrar repeated his belief that someone was spying on him;

But if you were tape recording my phone when I worked out that someone had planted a spy into my office (and one that appears to still have been there maybe just three weeks ago), then you would have heard me swearing and promising bloody retribution.

On the same day, the Herald ran a series of stories – all with one central theme, that National ministers, MPs, and even Slater were the “victims” of some secret conspiracy;

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kim dotcom hits back at cameron slater's claims

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom has denied another accusation by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater that he was responsible for hacking Slater’s blog website earlier this year.

“We all know by now that I had my emails hacked in February,” Slater posted this afternoon.

“We also know that David Farrar has had his intellectual property stolen, and that Mark Mitchell had his personal emails hacked and his office broken into.

“What I can also now reveal is that Tony Lentino, the businessman who formerly financially supported Kim Dotcom also had his office broken into.

“On top of that Travis who works for the blog was also hacked along with another media person who has been a vocal critic of Kim Dotcom.

“Until now we haven’t had the proof, only a bunch of dots to join but we now have the complete picture.”

More…

 .Judith Collins' husband targeted in burglary

The cabinet was held his laptop which had not been taken. Amounts of cash on left by staff on desks around the office had not been taken either.

“It seemed a very odd thing at the time and I presume that someone may have been interested in the information that was on that laptop” Ms Collins said.

More…

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MP burgled and hacked

In response to Herald on Sunday inquiries, Mitchell confirmed:

• His parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Police investigated and swept the office for bugs but none was found.

• His Rodney constituency office in Orewa was broken into in early October and a laptop and two phones were taken. Police investigated but no arrests have been made.

• His personal email was hacked.

More…

Now, call me a sceptic, and perish the thought that politicians are even remotely capable of lying… but… yeaaaah, nah.

All of this is just way to convenient to be happening now.  Let’s cut to the chase and call it what it is; this is tin-foil hat stuff. In effect, the Nats are suggesting that a Vast Left-wing Conspiracy (VLC) of operatives trained in break-ins; bugging; tapping; etc, are conducting a covert programme of intel-gathering against National.

Am I right?

And Labour, no doubt is part of this VLC?

The same Labour whose IT experts left gaping security holes in their party computer, allowing Aaron Bhatnagar, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, and the local Young National Komsomol Brigade to go wandering through, collecting data on donors, credit cards, email addresses, etc, etc, etc?!

Is that the same Labour party?

Well, I have a few questions myself…

  1. Judith Collins  claims that her husband’s office was burgled and his laptop “accessed”, but not stolen. Was a complaint laid with the Police? What is the Police Case Number? And what was the result?
  2. Rodney MP claims his email hacked. Where is the evidence for this and why has the GCSB not been able to determine the culprits? Considering the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money spent on the Bureau with all their considerable hardware and trained staff – they can’t locate the culprits?
  3. Mark Mitchell also claims that his  parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Mitchell further states  that  Police investigated and “swept the office for bugs but none were found”. September 16 last year was a Monday – Parliamentary staff would have been present, and no one saw anything out of the ordinary?

More important though is that access to Parliament and it’s inner offices is strictly controlled.

First, a visitor has to proceed through security at all main doors, where everyone is screened via metal-detectors.

Then you sign-in.

Access to offices is permitted via swipe-cards, and is monitored by Parliamentary Services – as Fairfax media journalist Andrea Vance found out the hard way, last year;

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Spy scandal journalist speaks out

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If Mitchell’s office was “broken into”, the culprit(s) had to make their way past security; through metal detectors; past National Party staffers;  through coridor and office doors. and past his secretary – all  controlled by swipe cards.

I don’t think so.

It all seems  too… convenient.

Ironically, our esteemed Dear Leader – who has “never been caught out bending the truth or outright lying” – is accusing investigative journalist Nicky Hager of  being a “conspiracy theorist”.

The only conspiracy theorising appears to be emanating from National’s inner hierarchy.

There is simply no Vast Left-wing Conspiracy. (If there is, I have yet to receive my invitation.)

Postscript

MP Mark Mitchell is a client of National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk – one of central characters in the Cameron Slater-David Farrar-Jordan Williams cabal outlined by Nicky Hager.

The MPs to whom Mr Lusk has been a campaign adviser in the past include Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former list MP Aaron Gilmore.

And of course we know the close relationship between Judith Collins and Cameron Slater.

Mark Mitchell. Judith Collins. Simon Lusk… and Cameron Slater.

There were no break ins.

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References

Radio NZ:  Listen to the full interview with John Key on Morning report ( 11 min 3 sec )

Beehive.govt.nz: Speech to the New Zealand China Partnership Forum

John Key.co.nz: Prime Minister accepts Minister’s resignation

Kiwiblog: I’ve either been hacked or spied on

Kiwiblog: People sometimes say jerky things in e-mails

NZ Herald: Kim Dotcom hits back at Slater’s claims

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ husband targeted in burglary

NZ Herald: MP burgled and hacked

Fairfax media: Spy scandal journalist speaks out

Hawkes Bay Today: Concern about Hawke’s Bay mans influence in Nats

Previous related blogposts

Death threats made to rightwing blogger?

Other Blogs

Public Address: Confidential information: the legal rights and wrongs

Public Address: Dirty Politics

Polity: National and Labour’s membership data

Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s new book

Bowalley Road: Closing Our Eyes In The Sausage Factory: Some Thoughts On Nicky Hager’s Book, “Dirty Politics”

The Standard: Rob Gilchrist On Nicky Hager

The Standard: Was a crime committed when Slater accessed Labour’s computer system?

The Daily Blog: Hager’s Dirty Politics – Death threats or hit jobs?

Kiwipolitico: Ducking for Cover

Pundit: Dirty Politics: The battle of the metaphors

Pundit: The politics of vilification

Pundit: A crazy day in dirty ol’ NZ politics

Imperator Fish: Cameron Slater is the real victim

Porcupine Farm: Why My Next Printer Will Be An Epson

Porcupine Farm: #TEAMKEY2

The Jackal: Death threats and Dirty Politics

The Jackal: Nicky Hager – Hero of the Week

The Jackal: National’s death by association

Recommended reading

The Jackal: The real nasty bloggers


 

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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 20 August 2014

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When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar – *Update*

21 August 2014 4 comments

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David Farrar - Tory twat

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Further to National Party  blogger, pollster, and political apparatchik making this  public post on Facebook;

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David Farrar - facebook - dirty politics - 14 august 2014

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To quote in cut-and-pastable text;

“For reasons I’ll make clear tomorrow, but should not be hard to guess, I need to do a security check of my home and office. I need to check for bugs, implanted software and the like.

Does anyone know of a good but reasonably priced firm that can both check for physical bugs, but also check laptops, computers, phones etc for any electronic nasties?

I’m rather sad and angry that I have to do this, but it seems it is necessary.” – David Farrar, Facebook, 14 August 2014

True to his word, Farrar today (15 August) made a post on Kiwiblog ourlining his “fears/suspicions” that his computer/home/workplace/etc has been bugged or documents stolen.

He writes,

“I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.”

He then goes on with a paranoid spiel that would invoke full approval from the tin-foil-hat wearing community;

“Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.”

 

With “100+ staff working” for Farrar, he seems oblivious to the obvious suggestion;

“I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.”

Oh, of course no one out of “100+” young people would possibly be politically motivated to leak anything.

Oh, of course this is not a small country where we are only two degrees removed from everyone else.

Farrar then indulged in a bit of “poor me” lamentation/wailing/gnashing of teeth;

“My gut reaction last night was to give up politics, if it means that I am going to have to worry about spies infiltrating my company, my communications being hacked, people recording private conversations with me. I regard my family, friends and loved ones as far more important to me, than my involvement in politics. But I’m not going to do that in haste.”

No, Mr Farrar, please don’t give up politics. Aside from being one of the saner (*cough*) voices from the Right, you amuse us.

However – and here’s the ‘rub’ – when Farrar claims that his physical addresses have been broken into;

“Instead with huge regret I’m going to have to stop being so trusting. I’m going to have to pay what will be possibly a fair bit of money to check my apartment, my office and my computer systems for anything that shouldn’t be there. While my assumption is that the scripts came from someone who had physical access to my office, I can’t be sure.”

– I am reminded of this blogpost he made on 8 March 2012, which I re-post verbatim and in full’

Your home spycam

March 8th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Got sent a copy of some software which turns your webcam into a home security camera. The designer is actually a Kiwiblog reader.

The software is Spycam-Watcher. It works with around 50 different brands of webcams, including the built in one on my Sony Vaio. It would take up a lot of space to be recording all the time, but you can use motion detection, have it send you an e-mail with a frame shot, and can even have a virtual tripwire where for example you aim your computer camera at your driveway, draw a “tripwire” line across the image on your screen, and it will alert you when any vehicle crosses the line and start recording.

It costs only US$30, but for just an additional $5 you can get a remote interface from your iPad or iPhone. Yes, you can view your home camera from anywhere in the world if the motion detector is set off. you can turn it on and off, and can view video already made. It’s simple as pie to use also.

I think it a seriously good system, Kiwi made, and really affordable. As someone who travels a lot I’ll be having it installed on one of my old laptops, so it can monitor my door.

All it really needs is the extra option of firing a taser at intruders.

Now aside from the illegal nature of using weapons against human beings, Farrar himself tells us that “ I’ll be having it installed on one of my old laptops, so it can monitor my door“.

In which case, how could anyone have entered his home or office?

And if Farrar is as knowledgeable about security as he makes out, where is his security for his devices?

Has he asked any of his “100+” staff? Or has he – by the sounds of it – smeared all one hundred of them with this very public allegation of insider theft/hacking?

Not exactly good employer-staff relations, one would think?

More likely, David Farrar’s claims are based on nothing and this is a pitiful attempt at generating a counter-story to the sensational headlines driven by Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“.

In which case, he is exploiting his “100+” staff for political purposes.

Will the media pick up on it?

I doubt it.

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References

Kiwiblog: I’ve either been hacked or spied on

Kiwiblog: Your home spycam

Previous related blogposts

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar


 

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farrar key slater will pose for cash

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 August 2014

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When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

19 August 2014 1 comment

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David Farrar - Tory twat

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As the sh*t storm over Nickey Hager’s book,  Dirty Politics engulfs the National Party; Key’s teflon coating is being scoured away by the nova-like searing heat of public glare; Cameron Slater is shown to have been the weapon-of-choice for the government’s dirty tricks campaigns; Judith Collins is embroiled (again) is claims of mis-using her ministerial position; SIS information was leaked to Slater; etc, we have David Farrar – blogger for the National Party – now making this incredible (and somewhat incredibly stupid) public post on Facebook;

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David Farrar - facebook - dirty politics - 14 august 2014

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To quote in cut-and-pastable text;

“For reasons I’ll make clear tomorrow, but should not be hard to guess, I need to do a security check of my home and office. I need to check for bugs, implanted software and the like.

Does anyone know of a good but reasonably priced firm that can both check for physical bugs, but also check laptops, computers, phones etc for any electronic nasties?

I’m rather sad and angry that I have to do this, but it seems it is necessary.” – David Farrar, Facebook, 14 August 2014

W.T.F?!?!

Farrar hasn’t spelt it out, but I’m guessing that he’s not pointing the finger at the GCSB/SIS/Police/NSA for needing to do a “security check of [his] home and office” and needing “to check for bugs, implanted software and the like”?

I’m also  guessing that he’s making a snide reference to alleging that Nicky Hager or an accomplice has bugged his home?

And I’m also guessing that Farrar, the National Party’s blogger-of-second-choice,  is hoping that the media will pick up on this – an extremely clumsy attempt at deflection – by running a counter story/smear against Hager.

Pathetic, Mr Farrar, absolutely pathetic. Also throw in desperation mixed with a bit of juvenile dramatics.

Is this your best  defense after being found out?

Anyway, Farrar is a fine one to be complaining bitterly about being “bugged” (even if we were to take him even minutely seriously). After all, Farrar  supported the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill which, which finally  passed on 21 August 2013, against massive public opposition;

“These are good changes. I had talked on TV about one area of concern being the proposed ability for the Govt to add other agencies onto the list of agencies the GCSB can assist with interceptions. Having Parliament, not the Government, make any changes is desirable.

Despite these significant changes, Labour appears to still be voting with the Greens against the bill. Ironic as it was a Labour Government that caused this problem with their 2003 law change.

Dunne and Banks have shown how you can have a constructive role in improving legislation.” – Kiwiblog, 24 July 2013

Or this;

“What I think is important is that the GCSB can’t just help the SIS with any old request. That their assistance is limited to cases where the SIS has gained a warrant due to security concerns. Let’s look at the SIS Act for the criteria. That:

the interception or seizure or electronic tracking to be authorised by the proposed warrant is necessary for the detection of activities prejudicial to security

And what does security mean:

  • the protection of New Zealand from acts of espionage, sabotage, and subversion, whether or not they are directed from or intended to be committed within New Zealand:
  • (b)the identification of foreign capabilities, intentions, or activities within or relating to New Zealand that impact on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:
  • (c)the protection of New Zealand from activities within or relating to New Zealand that—
    • (i)are influenced by any foreign organisation or any foreign person; and
    • (ii)are clandestine or deceptive, or threaten the safety of any person; and
    • (iii)impact adversely on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:
  • (d)the prevention of any terrorist act and of any activity relating to the carrying out or facilitating of any terrorist act

So it is important to recall that the 88 cases cited in the Kitteridge report, all had warrants authorised under the SIS Act because they met one or more of the criteria above. The issue is not that they should not have legally had their communications intercepted – but whether the right agency did the interception.

If you do not amend the law, then there will be no reduction in the number of NZers who have interception warrants issued against them. The only difference is the SIS will do the interception directly, rather than use the GCSB.” –Kiwiblog, 15 April 2013

And this,

Yet Labour and Greens are opposed to the GCSB doing what it did under Helen Clark – assist the dSIS. The problem is the law passed by Clark does not make it clear if the clause saying it will not monitor NZers over-rides the clause saying it can assist other agencies such as the SIS.

She rejected that the Government Security Communications Bureau routinely spied on New Zealanders as that was “not part of their remit”.

And still will not be, despite the hysteria. In fact the bill will provide greater transparency than in the past over what work the GCSB does do.” – Kiwiblog, 4 August, 2013

Plus this bit,

What is being proposed is that the can continue to do the actual interception on their behalf as they have the expertise. If the bill fails, it won’t mean a single less domestic interception. It will just mean interception infrastructure will be duplicated and exist in multiple agencies, rather than one.” – Kiwiblog, 25 June 2013

And,

The Inspector-General has said that basically on balance of probabilities he does not believe their actions have been  outside the law – but again, that it is not absolutely clear.

A recent review of compliance at the GCSB by Rebecca Kitteridge found difficulties of interpretation in the GCSB Act. Following the Prime Minister receiving that report, cases involving 88 New Zealanders were referred to the Inspector-General. All were cases where the GCSB had been asked to help another agency.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General found that all of the cases were based on serious issues including potential weapons of mass destruction development, people smuggling, foreign espionage in New Zealand and drug smuggling.

Nothing to worry about then!

  • 15 cases involving 22 individuals did not have any information intercepted by GCSB. 
  • another four cases involving five individuals were the subjects of a New Zealand Security Intelligence Service warrant and the GCSB assisted in the execution of the warrants. The Inspector-General is of the view that there were arguably no breaches and the law is unclear.
  • the Bureau only provided technical assistance which did not involve interception of communications, involving three of the individuals, so no breach occurred.
  • the remaining cases involved the collection of metadata, and the Inspector-General formed the view that there had arguably been no breach, noting once again that the law is unclear.

It is worth noting that this is over around a 10 – 12 year period, so we are not talking a huge amount of activity.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General is of the view that the interpretation of “communication of a person” is one of the issues where there are uncertainties in the interpretation of the GCSB Act, when it comes to metadata.

An example of metadata is the information on a telephone bill such as the time and duration of a phone call, but not the content of the conversation or identification of the people using the phone.

Now it is not good enough that interceptions happened when there was uncertainty over the law. The operations of the spy agencies must be beyond doubt legally. Hence the major changes being made to GCSB to ensure no repeat. But it is worth putting this into context, especially compared to the current scandals in the US with Associated Press and Fox news journalists having their communications intercepted to try and find out their sources on security issues.” –Kiwiblog, 21 may 2013

So after cheerleading National’s law-change to allow the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders, Farrar is now bitching that someone *might have* spied on him?!

Not for the first time, I remind certain right-wing politicians and apparatchiks that Karma is an implacable goddess, and not to be trifled with.

But if this is a cunning plan to deflect attention away from this crisis, that Farrar is trying to dangle in front of the media – well, it’s a damn, piss-poor amateurish attempt.

Farrar and his Tory mates need to understand one simple thing; this is a small country. Like Cunliffe and his ill-conceived plan for a Trust fund during his Party  leadership campaign, secrets do not stay secrets for long.

If there is  one thing that the media loves in this heightened commercial, competitive,  ratings/advertisement-driven environment: it’s a sensational headline.

The National Party dirty-tricks team have generated many of those headlines.  Now it’s their turn.

The only ‘bug’ that Farrar needs to concerned about is a slater.

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References

Scoop media: Nicky Hager book launched today

Facebook: David Farrar

Kiwiblog:  GCSB Changes

Kiwiblog:  Labour and GCSB

Kiwiblog:  Clark on GCSB

Kiwiblog:  What if the GCSB bill doesn’t pass?

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

Those who love Big Brother

When Karma caught up with Cameron Slater

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Twitter Judith Collins John Key Oravida

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 August 2014

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