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Gerry Brownlee, David Farrar, and Brett Hudson win Hypocrisy Awards

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Minister Clare Curran’s recent demotion was announced in a surprise press conference at Prime Minister Ardern’s electorate office, just before 4pm on a Friday afternoon. A government statement outlined her sin-of-omission;

In February this year Minister Curran met with Mr Derek Handley at her Beehive office in her capacity as Minister of Government Digital Services to discuss Mr Handley’s interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. This meeting took place after the first unsuccessful recruitment round for the CTO. As with approaches from other interested parties, the Minister directed Mr Handley to register his interest with MBIE officials. Applications reopened for the CTO role in May.

The meeting was not recorded in the Minister’s diary and neither the Minister’s staff nor officials were made aware of it.

The demotion and removal from Cabinet comes on top of Ms Curran’s unrecorded “secret” meeting at Astoria Cafe with former Radio NZ executive, Carol Hirschfeld, which hit the headlines in March this year.

Ms Curran’s gaffs have sparked the usual and tedious pious pontification from the National Opposition benches. Former Christchurch Re-build Minister, and airline security hazard, Gerry Brownlee, climbed the rarified heights of Mount Moral Highground to demand Ms Curran’s sacking;

But not everyone agrees. National Party MP and shadow House leader Gerry Brownlee said it was the “most limp-wristed, wet bus ticket thing” Ms Ardern could do.

He wants her stripped of the broadcasting portfolio as well.

“It’s undergoing a huge amount of change at the moment, and you need a minister that’s pretty active and onto it to make sure that broadcasting legislation is going to be the best for the sort of information and entertainment services that New Zealanders expect.”

Relatively unknown National Party List MP, Brett Hudson, devoted an entire press release excoriating the hapless Minister*;

“The decision to allow Clare Curran to retain any of her Ministerial portfolios after being dumped from Cabinet is a sign of weakness in the Government…

It’s almost comical that Ms Curran, who until today held the Associate State Services (Open Government) portfolio has failed not once but twice to answer Written Parliamentary Questions accurately.

Her punishment is a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. She keeps her Ministerial salary and the all the perks that come with that despite demonstrating that she’s not capable of being a Minister.

It’s not good enough that it took Ms Curran five and a half months to correct her answer to a written question and to finally acknowledge she met with Derek Handley, who had expressed interest in the Chief Technology Officer role created by the Minister.”

Rightwing blogger and National Party activist, David Farrar, was equally scathing;

So covering up secret meetings is okay for a Minister outside Cabinet, just not inside Cabinet. That’s mighty low standards. A meaningful sanction would be removal from the Ministry.

The undisclosed meeting was just as improper as the Hirschfeld one, namely:

  • It was a conflict of interest as Derek Handley was an applicant for the CTO job that the Minister appoints
  • The meeting was not in the Minister’s diary
  • The meeting was kept a secret from the Minister’s own staff and officials
  • The meeting was not disclosed to a written parliamentary question

If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Good question, Mr Farrar: “If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Let’s try to answer that question. What would merit removal from office for unofficial, unrecorded meetings?

Here are three possible answers;

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But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of Mediaworks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.

Was Key’s “social event” where he “ran into” Brent Impey held at Astoria Cafe by any chance?

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Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key’s diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives since July last year.

“Having said that, the Prime Minister attends numerous functions and is quite likely to have come across Sky City representatives at some stage.”

Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003”.

So the former PM’s “diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives” – but he did have dinner with the entire “Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“.

Also held at Astoria Cafe, by any chance?

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Prime Minister John Key had breakfast with Ian Fletcher just days after he selected a panel to interview candidates for the country’s top spy job.

The pair ate together at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel on June 17, 2011. Mr Key says the vacancy, as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was not discussed.

Three days earlier, Mr Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Mr Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected.

Not held at the Astoria Cafe.

But Mr Fletcher did get the job.

As for Mr Farrar’s question – would the former Prime Minister’s unofficial and unrecorded meetings with Brent Impey, Ian Fletcher, and the entire Board of Skycity Casino quality to be “enough to be removed from the ministry”?

Herein lies a lesson for Ms Curran and other government ministers. If you’re going to have “secret” meetings, follow the National Party’s handbook. They do it much more effectively.

And they get away with it.

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*  Note

National Party pages are removed regularly from their website. Brett Hudson’s page/statement has been saved for future reference.

References

NZ Herald: Clare Curran sacked from Cabinet, PM Jacinda Ardern announces

Scoop media: Clare Curran removed from Cabinet

ODT: Carol Hirschfeld resigns over Clare Curran meeting

Mediaworks/TV3: Why wasn’t Clare Curran stripped of all her portfolios?

Fairfax media: Gerry Brownlee fined for airport security breach

National Party: Curran token demotion a sign of weakness

Kiwiblog: Disclosure State

Kiwiblog: Curran demoted after a further secret meeting

TVNZ:  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

Other Blogs

The Standard: Clare Curran demoted

Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

National Party Corporate welfare vs real welfare

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

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

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Disclosure: This blogger had a date with his current partner at the Astoria Cafe. It was very nice.
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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 August 2018.

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Moral justifications in a moral vacuum cannot be heard

6 August 2013 3 comments

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A recent TVNZ story,

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Spy law legislation passes second reading

Source: TVNZ – Spy law legislation passes second reading

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In the same TVNZ story, note the invocation of Helen Clark’s name by John Key;

“That is just the way things are,” he said. “We live in a global environment where there are real threats, that’s the point we make with the GCSB legislation, it is why Helen Clark passed the legislation in 2003.”

And,

“It is obviously small numbers but there are small numbers of radicalised New Zealanders, who have either gone over into those environments or returned, and I don’t think this is terribly new, I suspect Helen Clark would have signed warrants as well.”

Source: IBID

It’s not that Key is trying to shift blame on to Labour – as he usually does when avoiding responsibility for one of his stuff-ups (see: Taking responsibility, National-style, and National’s disdain for taking responsibility). No, this time he is invoking the credibility and mana of his predecessor to justify his own dubious  actions on the scandals and unpopular legislation swirling around him.

Despite a few trivial errors of judgement, Clark left Parliament with her reputation intact; enhanced; and invited to work for the United Nations.

Contrast that to John Key whose reputation for distortion; fudging the truth – and in my opinion, some outright lies – has left his reputation in tatters.

Channelling his predecessor’s name appears to be  Key’s last card to justify an unwarranted extension of governmental power; the growth of the policed surveillance state; and his involvement in illegal spying on a member of parliament and a journalist.

If that is all he’s got left , then he’s heading for rock bottom.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 August 2013.

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John Key & George Bush…

3 August 2013 3 comments

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John Key, George Bush, and The Bogeyman

 

 

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’nuff said.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 2 August 2013 –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The Prime Minister remained defiant this week despite evidence emerging his office had pressured the Parliamentary Service to release phone records to the inquiry into the leak of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013 ( 17′ 38″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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How deep is Key in this mess?

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Key's office ordered records released

Source: Fairfax Media – Key’s office ordered records released

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It now appears that the Prime Minister’s office was involved  in obtaining Andrea Vance’s phone records.

If it can be shown that Key was directly involved – this government will fall.

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Facepalm #3: John Key

On TV3 News tonight…

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John Key - Kim Dotcom - GCSB

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Did Key lie, or is Dotcom bluffing?

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One of the worst interviews from Key. His comments had to be heard to be believed…

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Did Key lie, or is Dotcom bluffing1

0:45 – “He makes so many claims that are just factually incorrect..”

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Not true.

In fact, to date, every claim that Kim Dotcom made in regards to John Banks has been proven to be true. Not one statement from Dotcom has been disproven as a lie.

Either Key was woefully ignorant of this fact – or once again he has deceived the public.

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Did Key lie, or is Dotcom bluffing2

0:56 “And to the best of all the records that we’ve checked and we’ve gone extensively through every  record my office holds, there is no evidence that we can point to we’ve heard of the guy, prior to the 19th of January 2012.”

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So why does Key have to  go “through every record my office holds ” to answer a simple question whether or not he knew of Kim Dotcom much earlier than he has admitted? Surely he would know this without having to go through his office records?!

Why also is Key referring to “there is no evidence that we can point to we’ve heard of the guy” when his own memory should be sufficient? Why does he need to check if evidence exists or not?

Evidence of what?

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Did Key lie, or is Dotcom bluffing3

2:09: “The man is a conspiracy theorist. He makes things up.”

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He makes things up“?!?!

Key is accusing other people of “making things up”?!?!

John Key is perhaps the most dishonest Prime Minister we have seen. He bends the truth to suit the situation. He is conveniently forgetful to such a degree that the term “brain fade” has entered common usage. His reputation for making it up as he goes along is now common knowledge.

As I wrote before; Kim Dotcom has been 100% up-front with the people of New Zealand and has never been caught out lying or even bending the truth.

The same cannot be said of John Key or John Banks.

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A Special Facepalm for John Key

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Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

25 April 2013 22 comments

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This Blogger has deduced the new, simplified,  John Key Style of Doing Business.

Phase 1

Meet socially and conduct an ‘informal chat’. This leaves only the barest record of any meeting; nothing said is documented or reported; and plausible deniability exists if things go pear-shaped.

From April, last year,

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Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

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” Published: 8:28PM Friday April 08, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister is defending his decision to loan $43 million of taxpayer money to private media companies.

John Key claims the loan scheme was designed to help the whole radio industry.

But a ONE News investigation has revealed MediaWorks was the big winner after some hard lobbying.

Key is known for being media friendly, but he’s facing criticism from Labour that he’s become too cosy with MediaWorks which owns TV3 and half of New Zealand’s radio stations.

It has been revealed the government deferred $43 million in radio licensing fees for MediaWorks after some serious lobbying.

Key and the former head of MediaWorks, Brent Impey, talked at a TV3 Telethon event.

“I just raised it as an issue but we’d been looking at it for sometime. My view was it made sense. It’s a commercial loan, it’s a secured contract,” Key said.

It’s believed the loan is being made at 11% interest.

But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister. ” – Source

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The up-shot of Key “running into Brent Impey at a ‘social event’ in Auckland” was that Mediaworks were offered a $43 million dollar loan, despite being earlier declined by Broadcasting Minister, Steven Joyce.

For full background on this story, see earlier blogpost:  Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

As John Drinnan, the NZ Herald’s business writer and media commentator wrote at the time,

So much for market forces. The future of the radio industry was decided behind closed doors in talks between industry incumbents and a former industry player, and signed off by Cabinet.  ” – Source

Hmmmm…  Now where have we heard this just recently?!

From April, this year,

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SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

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10:20 AM Wednesday Apr 18, 2012

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…

… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003″. ” – Source

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That’s how it’s done. Neat, no fuss, no questions from pesky media – sorted. (Even better if the business party pick up the tab for the evening!)

Phase 2

Promise Big Numbers.  It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees  collective amnesia for 99% of the public.

From December, 2010,

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Cycleway jobs fall short

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6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.” – Source

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Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?

Precisely.

From March, this year,

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Key defends casino pokie machine deal

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08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…

…  But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it ” – Source

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In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?

Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?

Precisely.

That, my fellow New Zealanders is how John Key Takes Care of Business, in this country. (Dropping to one bent knee and kissing his Don Of Don’s ring, wins extra ‘brownie points’.)

Of course, this isn’t the transparency that John Key promised the country in two recent elections – but considering that National has no other job creation policies they can rely on, they are desperate to clutch at any offer of a business proposal that may create even a handful of jobs (no matter how short-sighted, shady, or ethically dubious).

National’s blind adherence to new right dogma that “governments do not create jobs; only the private sector creates jobs” is not only nonsensical, but traps them in an ideological mindset that does not permit them to consider historical  alternatives. John Key’s – and National’s – dilemma forces them to rely on business, whether it be shady casino deals or selling our productive, revenue-earning farms to overseas investors.

It is a trap of their own making, but we the taxpayer, will end up paying one way or another.

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

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Previous Blogposts

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

Additional

NZ Herald: Pokie deal is a devil’s bargain

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First blogged 23 April 2012