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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 4 comments

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TinFoilHatArea

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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 5 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 2 comments

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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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When Karma caught up with Cameron Slater

18 August 2014 12 comments

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Cameron Slater

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1. “Conspiracy Theories”

Psychopath, bully, faux-Christian, convicted criminal,  Right wing blogger, and germ-masquerading-as-a-human-being, Cameron Slater has finally had his arse nailed to the wall by veteran investigate journalist*,  Nicky Hager.

Slater’s response, on Newstalk ZB was a pitiful attempt at deflection;

WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater has already responded to the book, and appears to recommend reading it.

Cameron Slater says he hasn’t got a copy yet, but it’s likely to a be very one-sided affair.

He says it’s a direct attack on the government to hurt it at election time, and appears to avoid what happens on the left side of the spectrum.

Slater’s memory is getting worse as he breathes in the methane fumes from the shit he continually wallows in.

Hager has also written an expose on Helen Clark’s government, “Seeds of Distrust“, which nearly destroyed Labour’s chances of re-election in the 2002 general election. Environment Minister,  Marion Hobbs, from the left-wing Labour government of the time said of Nicky Hager;

“Nick Hager’s conspiracy theories do not match the facts.”

And John Key today (13 August) said of Nicky Hager;

“Most people know that Nicky Hager is a screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist,”

No, he’s not a “conspiracy theorist”. He’s an impartial investigative journalist. Something we have precious little of remaining in nthis country anymore.

So Cam; if that’s your best come-back – tragic fail.

2. Karma

However, my memory is a tad better.

I remember an event in January 2014, regarding the death of a passenger in a car, in Greymouth, West Coast. At the time, Slater reached rock-bottom with his vileness, writing “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour“.

The grieving parents of the man killed in the accident were appalled by Slater’s gutless attack on their late son, Judd Hall.

As Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said at the time,

This young lad has a mother and father who are going through a great deal of hurt at the moment. It’s compassion and support they need at the moment, not condemnation from the likes of Slater.

They (the parents) are people that Slater has never met, does not know, so for him to describe their offspring as feral is the lowest of the low and an utter disgrace.”

I also remember writing this piece on my own blog,  on 29 January, in response to Slater’s grubby rubbish;

He obviously still does not understand that if you attack, denigrate, and abuse people – that eventually he will strike someone who will hit back. Hard.

Karma is not a mystical thing. It is humans getting pissed off.”

It seems that seven months later, my prediction has come true;

3. “Crusher” Collins

This précis from the book, from a TV3 report,  is noteworthy;

Justice Minister Judith Collins was another of Slater’s informants and emailed him an account of Labour’s Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself – “You can use this if you like but just don’t say it was me”

Well, well, well. That answers this question then,

Judith Collins on offensive over Radio NZ comments

But relate to the leaking to media of ACC complainant Bronwyn Pullar’s identity along with an email from her support person, former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Ms Boag sent the email onto Judith Collins and a staffer, who forwarded it to ACC chairman John Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart.

All deny being the leak, but somehow it got out.

“I’ve been very clear all along,” says Ms Collins. “I am 100 percent certain there was no leak from me or my office.”

Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Confirmation that Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff will investigate the email’s trail from Ms Boag to an eventual report in the Herald on Sunday came as Labour claimed Ms Collins, National Party operative Simon Lusk and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater all played a part in the leak.

So now we have the clearest evidence yet, of who leaked Michelle Boag’s email, relating to ACC claimant, Bronwyn Pullar, to Cameron Slater.

Leaker, I name thee: Judith “Crusher” Collins.

4. Conclusions

1.

This is a small country.

Secrets are fleeting.

2.

Key’s $55 million backside has just been  given a swift kick. His “credibility” will have taken a severe beating after this.

3.

If the National Party politburo have a shred of common sense and functioning neuronal-activity left between them, using Slater as a conduit for dirty tricks will cease. The game, you Tory Twats, is up.

4.

A major source of “easy news” for the mainstream media has just dried up. From now on, journos will actually have to do their own work.

5.

If information was sourced from the SIS, and Labour wins this election (chance now increased), expect a major shake-up of both security agencies and resignations. Heads will roll like bowling balls.

6.

I love karma.

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(*a real journalist – not the faeces-shovelling variety found at “Whaleoil”)

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References

Fairfax media:  Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater guilty

NewstalkZB: Nicky Hager’s book attacks National’s links with bloggers

Scoop media: Government Upfront On Corn Seed

TV3 News: Nicky Hager book shows National’s ‘dirty politics’

The Press: Blogger’s harsh words rile grieving parents

Greymouth Star: Blogger puts the boot in

TV3 News: Judith Collins on offensive over Radio NZ comments

NZ Herald:  Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr Key #4: “Trolls & bottom-feeders”

The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

Whalers go gunning for Whaleoil

Whaleoil Goes Porno

Other Blogs

The Standard: Cameron Slater dirties John Key (or vice versa?)

The Dim Post: Dirty politics

Public Address: Dirty Politics

The Pundit: Cri du cœur


 

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Hagerbook

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 August 2014

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David Farrar – A Question for you please?

16 August 2014 12 comments

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kiwiblog - icon - header - for money

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With revelations in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Secrets“, that far-right, blogger, Cameron Slater, has blogged-for-money and has not publicly disclosed his activities, the time has time to scrutinise the activities of another right-wing blogger – David Farrar.

Both men are closely aligned with the National Party and both have been working in cahoots with Jason Ede – John Key’s political advisor.

Slater has been blogging on behalf of tobacco companies for payment, but has not disclosed this commercial relationship. (If a Labour-aligned blogger had done such a thing, you could be assured that Slater would be all over him/her with a rabid attack.)

David Farrar has also posted blog-stories that are critical of government intervention in the liquor industries, and advocating for a more laissez-faire approach and de-regulation.

The down-side to a free market , unregulated approach to liquor and tobacco is that both are drugs and both cost the tax-payers billions annually in increasing healthcare, lost productivity, and impacting on the justice system with booze-fuelled crime.

None of this, of course, troubles right-wingers, for whom profit is paramount.

A couple of recent blogposts by David Farrar advocate on behalf of liquor  interests. The following two blog-stories were posted on his site on the same day, within one hour of each other;

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kiwiblog - david farrar - British MPs want tobacco style warnings on wine

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kiwiblog - david farrar - Is Labour going to whack up alcohol price and the purchase age.

One wonders why Farrar would be so concerned at putting a health warning on alcohol?

After all, if he is a moderate drinker, it would have little effect on him. One has to ask – are his concerns philosophical or bought-and-paid for?

If the former, his “philosophy” seems very limited to immediate individualism – and not the wider needs of the community. Alcohol abuse accounts for a $4.9 billion dollar drain on our society/economy, according to a 2009 BERL report.

If the latter, he has most certainly not disclosed any financial transactions with his blogging.

Is he being paid, whether directly or indirectly by the liquor industry for his pro-alcohol blogging?

One hopes Mr Farrar can shed some light on this subject.

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References

NZ Herald: Book alleges dirty National Party politics; Key ‘not fit to be PM’

NewstalkZB: Hacker will be hard to track

TV3 News: Nicky Hager’s new book Dirty Politics will ‘shock readers’

Kiwiblog: British MPs want tobacco style warnings on wine!

Kiwiblog: Is Labour going to whack up alcohol price and the purchase age?

Alcohol.org: Alcohol Facts

Previous related blogposts

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

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


 

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farrar key slater will pose for cash

Above image acknowledgment: [?]

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

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Heraldmobile

 

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Preface

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As the the final acts  in the smear campaign that was the Donghua Liu Affair are about to unfold, and the curtain soon to fall, it is worthwhile re-assessing what has occurred; what has been learned; and the fall-out for certain individuals.

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1. The NZ Herald

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The NZ Herald does not emerge from this Affair very well.

From 18 June, when Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter was “discovered” and made public; to 21 June, when Donghua Liu’s first “signed statement” was reported by the Herald; to 25 June, when the Herald released a “new statement” from Liu – this has been either a cock-up of colossal proportions, or self-serving connivance,  in a carefully orchestrated smear campaign.

Where does one start to unravel the mess that the Herald and some of it’s staff and editor have created?

  • The sensationalist headlines that were splashed across the paper with damaging allegations, with no evidence, and based purely on one man’s “signed statement” was trash “journalism” at it’s worst.

Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Liu’s $100k wine news to Rick Barker

Labour looks in serious disarray

Labour must cling to the wreckage

Oh David – it’s come down to a question of trust

Cunliffe’s denial has done party no favours

Cunliffe working 9 to 5 to save his job

Poisoned chalice may be leader’s saviour

etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

  • Liu’s “signed statement” was not even in the nature of an affidavit – the latter carrying more legal weight under the Evidence Act 2006. Which means that Liu could make any wild claim he fancied, with minimal repercussions. (Not unless someone with deep pockets, and plenty of time, bothers to take a defamation case against the trouble-prone migrant businessman.)

This should have made the Herald and it’s supposedly professional, experienced staff of journalists and columnists, more cautious.

Instead we read outrageous claims of a “$100,000 bottle of wine” (or “four bottles of wine” depending on which account you read); “$15,000 books”, and “$60,000 dinners on the Yangtze River” – all without a jot of evidence or witnesses. (The Yangtze boat trip/party turned out to be a staff party that then-Labour minister, Rick Barker, had been invited to attend.)

In short, we witnessed  an appalling standard of sloppy “journalism” and “trial by media” based on no evidence, and judged guilty-by-innuendo.

  • This shameful style of media reporting was made worse by the likes of Jared Savage who wrote uncritical pieces on this story, repeating in a parrot-like fashion any fanciful claim that Liu could come up with. When only one of Liu’s claims was substantiated – his $2,000 donation to a boating club – it was trumpeted as “proof” that all of Liu’s claims had been confirmed,

“The confirmation comes after Labour has denied other allegations in the signed statement from Liu, including the claim he paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at fundraising auctions.”

Rick Barker had his own views on the rowing club donation, which seemed a whole lot more credible than Liu’s “$100,000 bottle of wine”. (‘Cold Duck’ anyone?)

  •  Or  Herald Editor, Tim Murphy, on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“  on 23 June, where he was evasive in his answers and gave no explanation as to why Liu’s “signed statement” had not been published verbatim. Murphy said on the interview that he  stood by the Liu story, confidently asserting;

“Well, what’s not to stand by?”

We now know that Liu’s claims were either misleading, fanciful, or over-exaggerated and most likely, defamatory.

That is the most likely reason why the Herald did not publish, verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” It would have made them a party to a defamation lawsuit.

  • But perhaps the worst offender was Herald Columnist, John Armstrong, who on 18 June, penned one of the most scurrilous pieces of “journalistic” rubbish  in recent media  history. Armstrong’s piece was written on the same day that the Herald published Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter to Immigration NZ. Amazingly, as Armstrong vilified Cunliffe for “a lapse of memory”, and demanded his resignation as Labour leader – he omitted to mentioned that the letter had been written some eleven years ago.

Armstrong’s piece was written and published at 1pm on 18 June – one hour twentynine minutes before Jared Savage broke the story detailing Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ, on behalf of Donghua Liu.

Which suggests Armstrong’s haste and eagerness  in putting the journalistic ‘knife’ between Cunliffe’s ribs.

It was not until three days later that the Herald’s other right-leaning columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, attempted to inject some degree of sanity into her colleagues with her more thoughtful, restrained  opinion piece on 21 June,

Memo: David Cunliffe. Don’t let your political enemies (that includes your frenemies) push you out of the Labour leadership ahead of the election.

[…]

There is already a media-fuelled expectation that Cunliffe should either step down or be rolled so that Labour’s fourth leader in one parliamentary term can lead the party into the September 20 election.

This would leave precious little time for a replacement – be it Grant Robertson or Andrew Little – to bed their own leadership in place before going head-to-head with Key in the election campaign. It would almost certainly result in electoral defeat.

Similarly, the resignation calls Cunliffe faced after the Herald broke the story that the Labour leader had signed off a letter on behalf of Liu bordered on risible.

That letter was clearly a pro forma note written by his staffers. There was no element of special pleading. It’s no wonder he had forgotten it. It should not have sparked a Gotcha call from political journalists.

Well, I’m not so charitable.

The behaviour of the Herald (with some notable exceptions) has been nothing short of disgraceful. It has with-held information from the public. It has published defamatory claims from a vengeful businessman with no evidence to support his claims regarding Labour (rowing boat club aside). It has engaged in tabloid-style, “gotcha” political-journalism. It has demonstrated  a particularly virulent style of biased, partisan reporting.   It has not undertaken the most basic journalistic  requirements of confirming a story before going public. It has not bothered to investigate (as far as anyone can tell) who was behind Liu’s claims and why. It has abused it’s position as a major media organisation, with it’s considerable influence in New Zealand society.

As such, to take a page from John Armstrong’s 18 June opinion piece, I  issue the following;

Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy must apologise to David Cunliffe and to the NZ Labour Party promptly,  fully, and unreservedly. That apology should be placed on the front page of the Herald. It  is the very least that he should do as a matter of justice.

After which, Mr Murphy should re-consider his own position and decide whether  his role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

(See Appendix B)

John Armstrong

There is no question – John Armstrong must resign immediately. His behaviour has been shocking and  inexcusable. Any notion of Armstrong as an impartial  journalist was swept away with his intemperate and openly partisan column on 18 June.

To para-phrase  Mr Armstrong, “he has called for [David Cunliffe’s] head to roll for the equivalent or less. Having set the standard required of others, it is incumbent on him to himself follow suit“.

When a supposedly well-educated person writes such a travesty of journalism, there is only one course of action open.

Go, John.

Just, go.

(See Appendix B)

Jared Savage

Jared was the author of many of the pieces reporting (more like cutting and  re-pasting) Donghua Liu’s claims. There was no evidence to support Donghua Liu’s claims – but they were published and given prominence nevertheless.

Jared does not appear to have given any serious thought to questioning Liu’s claims, nor the motivations for them. This style of reporting is grossly irresponsible and undermines his profession.

Unlike his colleagues, Murphy and Armstrong, Jared is young and still learning his craft. The Liu Affair has not been to Jared’s credit, but hopefully he has learned from the experience. I encourage Jared to under-go a refresher course in journalistic ethics so that future reporting can be more balanced and accurate.

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2. A more measured p.o.v.?

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With the dust settling on the Liu Affair, and the hysteria from more ‘excitable’  media columnists and commentators dying away, I refer to the reader a more measured, thoughtful p.o.v. from Dominion Post columnist, Vernon Small, who wrote that the Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down.

Small’s column wasn’t just a breath of fresh air, it was a full tank of oxygen in an otherwise murky atmosphere of political muck-raking, innuendo, lies,  and media histrionics.

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3. The Labour Party

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Legal Action

Without a doubt, Labour – and specifically, David Cunliffe – have no choice. They must take legal action for defamation against the Herald. The kind of shabby, tabloid-style “journalism” shown since June 18 has further undermined the Fourth Estate’s credibility (whether Herald staff and management realise this or not, is irrelevant) and must not be allowed to become the new default standard by which editors and journalists operate in this country.

For these reasons, Labour must sue for three good reasons;

  • It runs the risk that the public ‘memory’ on this incident will be fixed at the point of “revelations” about a “$100,000 bottle of wine” – not that Liu changed his story. Nor that no evidence was forthcoming.
  • If the Liu Affair goes to Court, the process of discovery may reveal who was behind this smear campaign.
  • If the phone tapping/”News of the World” scandal in Britain has shown us anything, it is that the  tabloid journalism road, where irresponsible reporting becomes an  acceptable ‘norm’, leads to unpleasant (and often illegal) consequences.

However, my advice to Cunliffe and the Labour Party is to defer legal action until after 20 September.  The Labour Party cannot afford distractions this close to an election.

Rapid Response Team

Unless Labour already has one, I suggest that they create a media “rapid response group” which can  ‘kick in’ when the next smear campaign rears it’s ugly head. (Mark my words, the next dirty trick is probably already in the works.)

Such a group could comprise of senior party members, MPs, legals, media minders, etc, and could ‘swing into action’ at the first hint of another event like the Liu Affair.

Every Labour candidate should have an easy-to-contact  “rapid response group” team-member on their phone’s speed-dial.

Potential Allies

If the Liu Affair has shown anything, it is the old maxim,

“United we Stand, Divided we Fall”

The smear campaign was notable for one thing; Labour stood alone against the NZ Herald, other media, and various lunatic right-wing bloggers.  It had few allies.

Perhaps this incident should serve as a wake-up call to Labour that it needs allies – potential coalition partners who can come to the aid of an embattled Labour Party. And vice versa.

God knows the Left has many enemies in the media, political sphere, business world, rant-back radio, and rabid-right blogs.

A more collegial and co-operative relationship between Labour, the Greens, Mana-Internet, trade unions, and other progressive organisations will be needed if future dirty tricks and smear campaigns are to be successfully resisted.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is not just a catchy catch-phrase. It actually means something.

 The GCSB

Last year, John Key and the National government, with support from ACT and Peter Dunne, changed legislation to allow the GCSB to carry out domestic surveillance and spy on New Zealanders.

Of course, this does not mean that I am suggesting that when Labour becomes government, that they should use the GCSB to spy on the Herald, Donghua Liu, his lawyers, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, David Farrar, and anyone else who might be connected with this Affair, to find out who was responsible.

I am not suggesting that at all.

That would be morally wrong.

But quite legal.

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4. John Key

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It was clear from Day One, that John Key  had been fully briefed on David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ. On 19 June, John Key said he had previously known about the  letter;

“Can’t exactly recall, I think it was a few weeks ago.”

But far more interesting is that Key seems to have been aware of Liu’s “signed statement” prior to  the Herald aquiring a copy of it.

Note the following article from the Herald, written by Audrey Young, when she was in New York, covering Key’s visit to the United States . Specifically, note the date; Thursday 19 June;

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NZ Herald - Key on Liu-Labour link - More to come - $15 000 book

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Note the opening paragraph;

Prime Minister John Key believes the Labour [sic] has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

Key is quoted in Young’s article,

“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.

But according to Herald on Sunday editor, Miriyana Alexander, revelations of Donghua Liu’s claims for other donations did not come to their attention until Saturday, 21 June;

But Herald on Sunday editor Miriyana Alexander said it only got a copy of the statement on Saturday and called the party within an hour of receiving it.

The date of when the NZ Herald came into possession of   Liu’s   “signed statement” was  also confirmed as  “on Saturday” [21 June], by Herald editor,  Tim Murphy, who was  interviewed on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“, two days later (Monday  23 June). In the same interview, Murphy refused to say how the Herald acquired the statement.

When asked by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, why a copy of Liu’s statement had not been supplied to Labour, Murphy’s response was,

“There’s still more to be done. And there’s issues of sensitivities around it, for us. All these these things don’t get passed over […] I imagine it’ll come out but it just a matter of us working through some things first.”

Timeline:

19 June (Thursday): Key  stated that he  believed  Labour had a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

21 June (Saturday): NZ Herald came into possession of Liu’s “signed statement”. The Herald does not publish the “statement” verbatim, nor does it pass a copy on to the Labour Party. (A point raised by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson in her interview with Tim Murphy.)

23 June (Monday): NZ Herald editor, Tim Murphy confirms that his paper did not acquire a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” until two days ago (21 June).

So John Key knew the contents of Liu’s “signed statement”  two days in advance of the Herald.

In my previous blogpost (The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?) I posed these questions;

  1. Who had access to the Prime Minister in such a way that he could be briefed, with such detail,  in advance, on Cunliffe’s letter and Liu’s “signed statement”?
  2. Who was involved in encouraging Donghua Liu to make his statement?
  3. How did a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” get to the NZ Herald?
  4. What was the motivation in briefing the Prime Minister?
  5. Who else in the PM’s office was involved? Was it Jason Ede?

Without much doubt, Key, his  ministers,  and some of his closest advisors, were fully aware of Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and Donghua Liu’s “signed statement”.

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5. Conclusions

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1.

The Herald’s editor, Tim Murphy and  political columnist John Armstrong behaved disgracefully throughout this entire event. Either through ineptitude or complicity, they allowed the NZ Herald to become a tool for a carefully planned and executed smear campaign against David Cunliffe.

In an email to Tim Murphy (see Appendix B), I call for a full-page apology to be published in the Herald.

I also call for Tim Murphy’s and John Armstrong’s resignations.

As such, after my email to Tim Murphy, and depending on his response, I will be considering a complaint to the NZ Press Council on the matter.

I may also look at other avenues such as contacting the Herald’s main advertisers.

2.

David Liu was not the instigator or author of his “signed statement”.  Without doubt, it was a dirty trick of the sort that Nicky Hager warned us about in his brilliant exposé on corruption in the National Party, “The Hollow Men”. 

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.

3.

Labour must sue the NZ Herald for defamation. Whilst smear campaigns are, unfortunately part-and-parcel of politics (because partisan voters seem not to care, as long as it is done to the “other side”), complicit or incompetant actions by media reporting such stories cannot – must not – be allowed to stand.

Unless we want to see this country’s media  become a South Pacific mirror of “News of the World“, with associated phone hacking, bribery, police corruption, and god knows what else, the kind of sensationalist, headline-driven, misleading “journalism” shown by the Herald from June 18 cannot be allowed to become the new standard of media behaviour.

Even media companies have responsibilities and obligations to behave in a responsible manner.

If not, we must look to legal remedies to ensure responsible behaviour.

 

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Appendix A

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from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:          John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
date:      Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM
subject: OIA Request – Reminder!

Kia ora Mr Key,

On 19 June – now one week ago – I lodged an OIA request with you and your office.

My request was as follows,

Kia ora Mr Key.

This is a request lodged under the Official Information Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording, relating to any and all activities surrounding the procurement; storage; and planned circumstances of the release of the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003.

This includes a request for all communications relating to the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003, which may have occurred between yourself; any and all staffmembers in your office; any member of the National Party; any blogger; any media person; and any other group or individual who was contacted on this issue.

Information may be emailed to me, or, if the file is too large, I can supply a postal address for hard copies.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

Since then, I have not received any acknowledgement to my lodged application and require you to do so, under the Act.

If I do not receive acknowledgement to my request, I will have no option but to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

An hour later, I received an emailed acknowledgement to my OIA request.

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Appendix B

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from:         Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:              Tim Murphy <editor@herald.co.nz>
date:         Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 10:34 PM
subject:    The Donghua Liu Affair & Consequence

 

Tim Murphy
Editor,
The New Zealand Herald

 

Kia ora Mr Murphy,

After recent revelations, it has become patently obvious and apparent to all that Mr Donghua Liu is no longer a credible witness to any alleged wrong-doing or alleged inappropriate behaviour by David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, or the NZ Labour Party.

Mr Liu has;

1. Failed to provide evidence for his allegations of hefty donations to the Labour Party. The closest he has come has been  a $2,000 cheque he gave to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club, on his own volition.

2. Mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation and  attendance at a staff party, on a river-boat,  in China.

3. Made no verifiable Affidavit, and provided only a “signed statement”.

4. Issued a second statement on 25 June, changing his initial allegations.

5. Offered no evidence for his second, 25 June, “signed statement”.

Since 18 June, when your reporter, Jared Savage, broke this story in a piece entitled “David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“, the Herald has;

* published unsubstantiated allegations;

* failed to provide subsequent evidence to back up those allegations;

* published stories damaging to the reputations of David Cunliffe and Rick Barker;

* published allegations damaging to the Labour Party (during an election year!);

* published a column calling for David Cunliffe to resign (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“), based on incomplete information, and omitting a crititical fact, namely  that Cunliffe’s letter to NZ Immigration had been written  in 2003, and was a legitimate reason why the MP may have forgotten the letter;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, thereby acting as a gate-keeper/censor of information that the public had a right to see;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, despite having no hesitation in publishing David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to NZ Immigration (“David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“)

* made little or no discernible attempt to investigate the background to Liu’s allegations; his motives; and who else might have been involved.

Under your watch, the tenor of stories relating to the Cunliffe-Liu issue has been one-sided and predicated on baseless allegations.

This has been a tabloid-style, highly-emotive, unjustified witch-hunt which collapsed only because Donghua Liu’s story changed and it became apparent he was no longer a credible witness.

The Liu Affair has seriously damaged your paper’s reputation and also further eroded public confidence in the ability of the Fourth Estate to report fairly, accurately, and without bias.

Accordingly, I submit that  it behoves you to put this matter right. I therefore call upon you;

1. The NZ Herald should immediately publish a full page apology on the front page of your paper.

2. It may also be appropriate for you to  re-consider your  position and decide whether your role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

3. On 18 June, in a highly biased, unreasonable column, John Armstrong called for David Cullen’s resignation,  (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“). I submit that Mr Armstrong’s own position as a senior Herald staffer is no longer tenable and must take his own advice and resign.

These three steps are the basis upon which the New Zealand Herald can regain it’s reputation that has been severely dented since 18 June.

Regards,

– Frank Macskasy

 

Note: this letter will be made public on “The Daily Blog”, and subsequently, on “Frankly Speaking” (my own personal blog). Any response you care to make will also be disclosed and made public.

 

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References

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

Legislation:  Evidence Act 2006

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

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

NZ Herald:  Liu donation to rowing club confirmed

Radio NZ: Morning Report – New Zealand Herald stands by its story

NZ Herald/Hawkes Bay Today: Saga returns to bite Rick Barker

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

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

NZ Herald: Fran O’Sullivan: Unfounded resignation calls should be far from Cunliffe’s mind

Auckland University of Technology: Journalism Major – Bachelor of Communication Studies

Dominion Post:  Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down

Wilson Harle: Overhaul of New Zealand’s Discovery Rules

Radio NZ: Cunliffe accuses Govt of smear campaign

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

Fairfax media: Labour fights new Liu donation claims

TV3: Maurice Williamson resigns as minister

Additional

Twitter: Jared Savage

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

NZ Herald: Liu: $100k not just for wine

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu timeline – 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?

 


 

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NZ Herald

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 June 2014.

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