Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Nicky Hager’

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

13 November 2015 4 comments

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This piece by Dita DeBoni on TVNZ’s website is worth re-posting in it’s entirety – just in case it ‘mysteriously vanishes’ into the ether. Not that I’m implying the New Zealand is now more-or-less a quasi-Police State…

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Dita DeBoni Privacy right is not a right when not 'right' - nicky hagerWhether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. Goodness knows what might happen if a complete stranger paid my household bills for me, or felt inclined to impersonate me at the chemist.

And do we really need to know that the Prime Minister and prominent All Blacks are in cahoots over the new flag design?

Some might say yes, but I reckon I could have figured that out by the sheer number of photographs we’re subjected to day after day featuring them gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.
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The exception to this is if the police are asking.

It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so.

Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions.

Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

We know this because it emerged this week that Westpac handed over 10 months of data from three of author Nicky Hager’s accounts when police were investigating the hacking of Cameron Slater’s blog and social media accounts at the end of 2014, willingly complying with detectives who simply explained it was part of their investigation into ‘criminal offending’.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest the criminal offending they were investigating was anything to do with Nicky Hager.

Hager began the investigation as a ‘suspect’ but became simply a ‘witness’; he is not accused of stealing anything.

He did what good journalists do on a daily basis – was given information on nefarious wrong-doing that he believed the public needed to know. Then he published it.
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He’s been treated extraordinarily for a witness in such a case – had his house raided for ten hours, had personal files uplifted, been wire-tapped, had his records requested from as many as 20 different companies and sources, and been vilified by the government.

But whether you like Nicky Hager or not, whether you agree with what he set out to do or not, there is something rotten about the way the police acted in the case – and something profoundly out of order about the way Westpac Bank rolled over and gave away Hager’s bank records and other personal information on the strength of an unsupported request by police, without even telling their client they were doing so – which is also something they are required to do.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general.

But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.

 

In case anyone has missed the point, Dita DeBoni’s column is a direct warning to the citizens of this country.

When the security apparatus of the State – in this case the New Zealand Police – can access private and confidential details without a search warrant, then we have reached a truly frightening stage in our nation’s developing history.

The only place where police have had such unimpeded access to the private information of citizens has been – up until now – the province of military junta-controlled regimes; Soviet-style “people’s republics”; and various banana republic dictatorships. Think of Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Papa “Doc” Duvalier – it’s a very long list. (And I haven’t even gone through the entire 20th century!)

Though New Zealand is not *yet* a One Party state – which is only one national “crisis away, before a “state of emergency” is declared – we have taken a further step toward the nightmarish society envisioned by C.K. Stead in “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs“. (That nice man, Prime Minister Volkner, had such a horrid time caused by those nasty terrorists. Why couldn’t they just all get a proper job?)

It might well be that the release of Nicky Hager’s private information to the police was an inadvertent slip-up by an ill-informed Westpac employee.  Or it could be that there is now a nascent culture developing in New Zealand of fawning, unquestioning obeisance to Authority.

In a space of thirtythree years, we have gone from massive street protests and struggle against an increasingly authoritarian National government led by Robert Mudoon – to meekly accepting increasing State surveillance and seizure powers.

And in just seven years, we have gone from this;

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Showers latest target of Labour's nanny state

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– to this;

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various spy bills

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Yes, in just under a decade, National has taken New Zealand from complaining about reduced shower flows and ecologically-sound lightbulbs (!!) being “Nanny Statish” – to mass surveillance of the population; increased powers for spy agencies and police; forcing telco’s to keep client information for the State; and warrantless search and seizures.

In my youth, I visited my parents’ homeland whilst it was still under communist rule, and within the ‘sphere of influence’ of the Kremlin.

I can say, with a fair degree of confidence tinged with sadness, that New Zealand has moved closer to being a South Pacific replica of a former Soviet ‘satellite’ state. Only the Gulags are yet to be built. (Our Australian cuzzies have them already at Christmas Island and elsewhere.)

I can think of no other way to see this country. We have spy agencies monitoring New Zealanders; spying on our Pacific neighbours and trading partners; and harassing journalists who are critical of this government’s actions. Phil Goff’s political career was almost destroyed by National’s abuse of the powers of the SIS.

What else do you call a country where police can gain access to a citizen’s private information – without arresting him – and with no warrant? The term, I believe, is Police State.

If National Party supporters are “relaxed” about this, then I have this piece of advice for them; remember that governments change. Sooner or later, Labour will be in office.

And the Labour Prime Minister, with perhaps a few scores to settle, will have all the powers of search, surveillance, warrantless seizures, that John Key has gradually amassed since 2008.

Laws like these;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

There may even be a new Minister for the GCSB and SIS. Perhaps Phil Goff. Or David Cunliffe.

Then the shoe will be on the other foot (the Left one). At that point, National and it’s supporters may start to regret the encroachment of State power into our lives.

I believe light bulbs and shower nozzles will be the least of their worries.

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References

TVNZ: Dita DeBoni – Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

National Party: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NBR: Ferguson confirms ‘mass surveillance’, Key reiterates GCSB acting lawfully

NZ Herald: Warning as second part of spy bill passes

NBR: ‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Fairfax media: Spy bill passes into law amid wide criticism

Newstalk ZB: PM won’t confirm Pacific spying

Fairfax: Private data deserves greater respect than Westpac showed Nicky Hager

Techdirt: New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom

Yahoo News: English didn’t know GCSB spied illegally

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Other Bloggers

Kiwipolitico: Confronting executive branch excess

Kiwipolitico: Some questions about the Stephenson case

No Right Turn: An unwarranted demand for information

No Right Turn: The banality of intrusion

The Daily Blog: Police plotted to arrest and spy on Nicky Hager – the most interesting parts of 1 year on from Dirty Politics

The Daily Blog: What mainstream haven’t mentioned about Westpac corporate narking on Nicky Hager

The Daily Blog: News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

The Daily Blog: Why what the Police are doing to Nicky Hager is so extraordinary

The Standard: Technology and the law – and going after Hager

The Standard: Angry at Westpac

The Standard: Dirty Politics was in the public interest

The Standard: “A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.

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Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

25 April 2015 3 comments

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Current affairs programme producer, Tim Watkin, has vigorously denied any outside interference in his weekend show,  ‘The Nation‘ .

In an email, to this blogger, dated 18 April, Tim asserted his editorial independence,

“Let me reassure you, most importantly, that not a single ounce of pressure was brought to bear on me or anyone in my team. It was our decision alone (and some felt strongly it would be a waste of our time)…

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What was most frustrating about your blog was the utterly unfounded assertion that we would give in to pressure from management to not cover that, or any, story. “

On 9 April, news broke on the announcement that the last remaining  investigative/advocacy, current affairs show on free-to-air TV, Campbell Live‘, was facing a “review”. In commercial media parlance, “review” is often  a euphemism for staff to prepare to pack their bags and vacate their desks by lunch-time.

Strangely, announcing an impending “review” is hardly ever a precursor to a 20% salary increase for staff; more allocation of resources for the producers; and a more favourable time-slot for the show.

On 14 April, this blogger reported in The Daily Blog that neither TVNZ’s ‘Q+A’ nor TV3’s ‘The Nation’ that weekend (Saturday/Sunday, 11/12 April) had mentioned this story which had featured in every other main-stream media;

As well as the msm, most of the top blogs in the country covered the story, one way or another (see: Other blogs)

So I was looking forward to see some serious analysis on ‘The Nation‘ and/or ‘Q+A‘, on this issue.

Incredibly, and alarmingly, none was forthcoming, except for a brief throw-away-line by comedians Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego, during their sixty-second satirical-slot on ‘The Nation‘ (though without any actual direct reference to John Campbell), to “being replaced by Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce“.

TV1’s ‘Q+A‘ was also strangely silent on an issue that had been a nationwide talking point.

Instead, on Saturday’s ‘The Nation‘, we had stories on;

  • Legal highs, with interviews with Peter Dunne and Matt Bowden
  • the booming Auckland Property market, with interviews with Mayor Len Brown; Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse; Kate Healy from Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd, and property developer David Whitburn

Sunday’s ‘Q+A‘ on TV1  gave us;

  • an interview with HSBC economist, Paul Bloxham, who coined the phrase “rock star economy”
  • urban-designer, Charles Montgomery, on how to improve our cities

Considering that ‘Campbell Live‘ is one of the last serious current affairs programme remaining on free-to-air television, one would have thought that this was worthy of scrutiny by either ‘Q+A’ or ‘The Nation‘.

Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

On the weekend of 18/19 April, TV3’s ‘The Nation’s‘ stories focused on;

On 19 April, TV1’s ‘Q+A focused on;

  • water ownership rights & Iwi claims
  • an interview with Lt Gen Tim Keating, on our troop deployment to Iraq
  • historian, Dr Vincent O’Malley, on our own land wars

Again, it was left to the satirical componant of ‘The Nation‘ (on Saturday 18 April) to refer obliquely to the issue, when ‘Animation Nation‘ poked fun at “the entertainment value of Campbell Live“. (More on the repeat broadcast of ‘The Nation‘ on Sunday 19 April, below.)

On 18 April, I asked Tim Watkin why there was no mention during the body of the programme regarding ‘Campbell Live‘. Considering the national interest involved in this story, I found it strange that ‘The Nation‘ has not looked into the issue. Could he shed any light on whether or not  the issue had been discussed by ‘The Nation’s‘ Producers, for possible inclusion?

Tim’s reply;

“Journalism struggling is not new  and, to be honest, many journalists shy away from such stories because it looks self-indulgent and the public appetite for us navel gazing (and the political appetite for public service broadcasting, for that matter) is not high in my view. Programmes like The Nation and Q+A have no history of reporting media stories, beyond coverage of Dirty Politics etc (which we did extensively), so why start now? We didn’t cover the end of Close Up. Or the rise of Paul Henry. Or Tim Murphy’s resignation… I could go on. There are lots of media stories that matter, but it’s not our core business.”

Tim did admit though;

“Having said that I accept this is bigger than most, which is why we made sure we did discuss it both weeks, on our Sunday panel…”

Tim’s reference to “Sunday panel” repeats an earlier statement in his 14 April email where he asserts “you must have missed the fact that we talked about Campbell Live in our extra Sunday panel“.

The Sunday edition of ‘The Nation‘ is a few minutes longer because of a lack of commercial advertisements on Sunday mornings. Hence, more of the panel discussion is broadcast on Sunday than it’s original airing on the previous day, Saturday morning.

So if the viewer watches the Saturday morning broadcast, but not the Sunday morning, extended version, she/he will miss a few extra minutes of chit-chat.

Hence Tim Watkin’s reference  to the “extended panel”.

The question for the reader is threefold;

(a) is a panel discussion sufficient coverage of an issue that Tim himself concedes is “bigger than most”?

(b) is a panel discussion a suitable alternative to an actual interview and story by trained journalists?

(c) how many viewers are aware that the Sunday version of ‘The Nation‘ is extended by a few minutes, because of a lack of commercial advertising, and therefore a need exists to fill in a gap that would otherwise be left, if the original Saturday version were broadcast? Unless a viewer was aware of the extended version on Sunday mornings, why would anyone watch the same show twice?

Given Point C, most viewers, having watched the early morning Saturday version of ‘The Nation‘, would miss the repeat (albeit extended) broadcast on Sunday, and any additional material therein.

This blogger will raise his hand and say he was unaware of the extended panel version, and would have been oblivious to this situation had Tim not referred to it, and a close friend (hat-tip, Freda) not alerted me to having heard the panel discussion on Sunday morning.

Tim further stated;

…Our kind of programme is not made in a few hours. Sure, we can dump everything when major news breaks, but that’s a big ask of my already over-worked team (which is currently preparing for six hours of ANZAC Day coverage on top of their day jobs). So you pick your battles. While the CLive story matters it’s hardly 9/11 or Dirty Politics. Next, you have to think about what talent you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent? .”

No one is suggesting that the ‘Campbell Live‘ story is “ 9/11 or Dirty Politics“, and we can dismiss that strawman/woman reference right here and now.

However, considering the very nature of ‘Campbell Live‘; it’s reputation for investigative journalism; it’s reputation for advocacy journalism; and John Campbell’s outstanding, impeccable reputation – this blogger believes that it does matter. It matters very much.

Referring to coverage of any story on ‘Campbell Live‘ as “self indulgent” seems an exceedingly weak excuse to ignore it.

Tim’s question as to who “you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent” is a question for a current affairs producer to answer. S/he is paid to come up with such names.

But off the top of my head, I can think of  Kim Hill, Brian Edwards, Bill Ralston, Andrea Vance, Fran O’Sullivan, to name a few. Or ex tv company executives. Perhaps even staff willing to talk, off the record, under a guarantee of anonymity.

Critiquing and scrutinising media events that impact on our country and the way investigative journalism is carried out is hardly “indulgent”. For one thing, it addresses the ages-old question; Who Watches The Watchmen?

On the issue of  “Who Watches the Watchmen”, I asked Tim; in your experience, do media outlets (eg; TV3) ever investigate themselves when they are the focus of public attention?

Tim responded;

Yes, many do investigate themselves. Look at the BBC on Clarkson. Indeed our host Lisa Owen, when at TVNZ, was often used to stories on TVNZ.

So, it’s not “indulgent” when Lisa Owen did stories on TVNZ?

Tim added;

“It’s always delicate reporting on yourself, but it’s important to be able to do (arguably more so at TVNZ than at TV3 because there is public money involved there while Mediaworks is just a private business).”

Mediaworks is just a private business“?

I leave the reader to draw his/her own conclusions to that one single sentence. To this blogger, it raise more questions than it answers – especially when Tim described how “it’s always delicate reporting on yourself”.

Indeed.

I then referred Tim to a recent story  by Matt Nippert in the ‘NZ Herald‘ on 18 April; “Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago“. I asked if he thought Nippert’s claims warranted further investigation on ‘The Nation‘, and if not, why not?

Tim was categorical;

“No. By this time next week, I’m sure that angle will have been fully investigated and played out one way or another. It also might be useful to consider the differences between the strengths and weaknesses of print vs studio-based TV programmes. That’s a great print story, but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken? It’s a newsworthy reported fact, but doesn’t suggest a compelling 10 minute interview or 10 minute track, which is what we do.”

I am intrigued that Tim asks, “but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken?

If a blogger – untrained in media or journalism – has to advise a TV producer “how to cover it on TV now that it’s broken“, then one of us is in the wrong job. I would assume, just for arguments sake, that Nippert’s story would be covered in the same way that Nicky Hager’s story on ‘Dirty Politics‘ was covered.

To determine whether Nippert’s story is “compelling” or not, I refer the reader to the full article;

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campbell live - Campbell's sponsor cut months ago - nz herald - matt nippert - john campbell - TV3 - mediaworks

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On one point in  Nippert’s story, I will add my own observation. Reference Bill Ralson’s comment;

Bill Ralston, a former TVNZ head of current affairs, said the short-term deal was highly unusual and only made sense if a decision about the future of the show had already been made…

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Mr Ralston said longer-term sponsorships made more financial sense for broadcasters.

“If you’re a cash-strapped TV channel like they are, you’d want that cash booked in for at least a year.”

In the 1990s, this blogger worked for a community newspaper, in the advertising department. When seeking clients to advertise, we were told to encourage clients to book advertisements for long periods – the longer the better. It meant guaranteed income for the paper.

Given a choice between a three month contract and a year-long contract, any advertising rep would have pushed for the latter. No advertising manager in his/her right mind would willingly give a client only a three month contract when a twelve month version was available.

Otherwise, you would be throwing potential revenue away.

This point alone warrants a full investigation by any current affairs team worthy of the name. It raises questions. I suggest to Tim  Watkin that might be a valid starting point; why was a cash-strapped TV channel that has just come out of liquidation turning down year-long sponsorship contract

On 14 April, Tim strenuously also rejected any executive interference in his show, and  expressed umbrage at impugning the integrity of his team;

“…you suggest that we “may” have been “dissuaded” from covering the story by Weldon or Christie. Clearly given my first point, that’s wrong. But what has prompted me to drop you this personal note is that it also impugns the integrity of my team without any supporting evidence. Let me assure you that it is entirely incorrect.

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That I’m always happy to debate, but I get very protective when people make stuff up, make lazy assumptions or get personal, especially if it reflects on the integrity of my hard-working team of journalists, who more than most have put their skin in the game and chosen to work on a NZOA funded programme trying to make the type of television that is thorough and thoughtful and holds power to account without fear or favour.”

Two points require addressing here.

1.  The point made in my previous blogpost (The Curious World of the Main Stream Media) stated;

“Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

Note the two words I have highlighted; “allegedly” and “may“.

I have no evidence except other media reports which have carried this suggestion. (Hopefully Tim will be contacting them, seeking a “correction”?) Indeed, I purposely left out a damning allegation which had first been reported on social media (and since published on another website)  simply because I could find no corroborating evidence to support it.

However, let me make this point. Tim refers to Nicki Hager’s investigative book, ‘Dirty Politics‘.

When ‘Dirty Politics‘ was released and the contents of National’s dealings with a far-right blogger became public knowledge, several individuals, from the Prime Minister up, were quick to shrug and respond;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

I make no claim what influence – if any – Mediawork’s executives Julie Christie and  Mark Weldon made to keep the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue out of their current affairs programmes.

We simply don’t know for certain. There have been unsubstantiated claims, but no evidence.

But – if evidence does surface that pressure has been exerted from MediaWork’s lofty towers, or further afield, from a certain Ninth Floor, will we be hearing the same cynics dismissively protesting;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

2. This blogger rejects any suggestion that Tim’s Team has been insulted or in any way had their integrity impugned.

If legitimate questions cannot be asked of politicians by the media; and of the media by the public – then someone is holding themselves above any form of accountability.

For the record, this blogger does not question the hard work or integrity of the workers involved in ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘. Nothing I have written comes close to suggesting otherwise, regardless of Tim’s long bow which seems to stretch from Bluff to Kaitaia.

Also for the record,  despite not questioning the dedication and integrity of workers involved in both shows; my question remains; why was the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue not considered worthy of scrutiny by either/both ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘?  Tim himself concedes that this is an extraordinary, on-going story.

When the fate of television’s last, prime-time investigative tv show is under threat – then we, the public, deserve to at least ask why?

Are we still permitted to ask questions? Especially when the msm won’t ask on our behalf?

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Addendum1

I invite producers of ‘Q+A‘ to answer the same questions I have levelled at Tim Watkin.  To date, I have had no response to queries sent via Twitter to the show’s producer.

Addendum2

Meanwhile, news for ‘Campbell Live‘ just gets better and better;

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campbell live - twitter - ratings - 17 april 2015

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As I tweeted back, “I guess with those figures, Mediaworks will be canning Jono & Ben and 3 News?”

Addendum3

The near-full version of emails between myself and ‘Nation‘ producer, Tim Watkin, is available for viewing here.

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References

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Frankly Speaking: Campbell still Live, not gone

TVNZ: Q+A (19 April 2015)

TV3: Animation Nation

NZ Herald: Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago

Mana Party:  Key – I want that left wing bastard gone

Twitter: Campbell Live

Previous related blogposts

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Other bloggers


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 April 2015.

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The Slater-Key Txt-Messages Trip-Up – Did Cameron Slater Plan this?

3 December 2014 1 comment

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Cameron Slater (L) and John Key (R)

Cameron Slater (L) and John Key (R)

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Timeline

Sunday 23 November:

John Key apologises to right-wing blogger Cameron Slater over the publication of an email that forced Justice Minister Judith Collins’ resignation.

Monday 24 November:

John Key and Cameron Slater exchange txt-messages regarding impending release of Cheryl Gwyn report. Slater claims Labour is trying to kill him;

Cameron Slater: gave it away to me…Goff leaked SIS report

John Key: It’s a joke isn’t it. They will attack Jason for talking to u and they break the confidentiality agreement. Classic lab.

Slater: Yup…I’m very angry over it…Goff is the one who leaked oravida stuff too.

Slater: They still have standard bloggers on staff

Slater: And Mccarten was involved in hack

Key: Hopefully it will all come out in time

Slater: I wish they would hurry up…they played the real dirty politics…even tried to kill me…I have evidence of.

Tuesday 25 November:

Key denies he had been in contact with Slater, after RadioLive reporter, Jessica Williams, asked John Key the following;

Jessica Williams: Have you spoken to Cameron Slater since this report came out yesterday night?

Mr Key: Well I haven’t spoken to him on the phone for months and months and months on end. He sent me a text one time but I can’t remember when that was.

Jessica Williams: Has he text you about this particular report?

My Key: No.

Wednesday 26 November:

Earlier in the day: MP for Wigram, Megan Woods asked John Key this question in Parliament;

Megan Woods: Did he have communications with Cameron Slater between the 23rd and 25th of November regarding the Chisholm inquiry or the Inspector General’s inquiry?

John Key: Mr Speaker no.

Late afternoon: A screen-shot of Cameron Slater messaging an unknown person ’emerges’, confirming that he had been txting John Key (Hat-tip Anthony Robbins on The Standard.)

Late evening: Key returned to Parliament later three hours after answering question to Ms Woods, to make a “correction“,

John Key: “On Monday the 24th of November, I received an unsolicited text message from Mr Slater with a reference to the IGIS [Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security] report. There was a very short exchange where I briefly acknowledged that text message.”

Later that night: Key’s Office released a transcript of the text exchange.

Thursday 27 November:

Key denies he was caught out lying over Slater’s txt-messages;

 “No I haven’t been caught out. No absolutely not. I haven’t had a brain fade.

Key blamed “noise” in the Debating Chamber for giving incorrect answer to Megan Woods’ questions;

“When the particular question was asked, there was quite a lot of noise in the House. If I’d heard the other bit, I’d have answered it fully.”

Slater backtracks on claim that Labour were trying to kill him;
“Just to be clear, I never said the Labour Party were trying to kill me. That’s the spin the Labour Party have put on it this morning.”
Key further defended himself not recalling txt-messaging with Cameron Slater, even though he was questioned about it less than 24 hours after the txt-conversation took place;
“You’re now asking me, in a period of three months where I’ve dealt with an election campaign, where I probably deal with, I don’t know, a thousand text messages a day from hundreds and hundreds of people, you’re now telling me I have to remember exactly the number.”
Friday 28 November:
Political Commentator Bryce Edwards, on Radio  NZ’s “Checkpoint”.

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Preface

From an earlier blogpost, penned two and half years ago;

Slater is National’s “asset”, doing their  ‘dirty work’ .  When the National hierarchy  does not want to dirty their own hands with mud – but still want to make public damaging information to embarress a political opponant – Slater is their go-to man.

Slater’s role in such nefarious activities is even more useful to National after Paula Bennett’s clumsy mis-handling of private information belonging to two solo-mothers, which she disclosed to the media. There is still a complaint pending against Bennett for abusing her position as Minister for Social Welfare.

Somewhere, sometime, a top National Party apparatchik would have instructed each and every minister and MP not to repeat Bennett’s mistake. S/he would have given firm instructions that releasing damaging information to discredit an opponant had to be done surreptitiously, using a Third Party.

That Third Party would be Slater.

That would give National “plausible deniability” when the sh*t hit the fan and fingers were pointed.

Frankly Speaking“, 29 March 2012 (See: Born to rule )

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Past Prime Ministerial porkies and mendacities

To those on the Left or who have followed John Key’s career, his lies over his txt-messaging with Cameron Slater will come as no surprise. With regards to bending the truth; misleading by omission or exaggeration; or outright mendacity, Key has ‘form’.

One political commentator, using the pseudonym ‘BLiP’, has put together a list of lies from the Prime Minister that is eye-opening and deeply troubling. More could be added to that list, which is now over a year and a half old.

Some early  instances of Key being ‘sprung’…

In February 2011, Key denied all knowledge of the National Government’s intention to buy 34 new BMW limousines for ministerial use. By 22 February, it was revealed that Key had actually signed the documents to authorise the purchase;

Prime Minister John Key signed four documents that referred to a deal to buy a fleet of luxury cars – and at least three other ministers were briefed, documents reveal.

Mr Key – who is responsible for Ministerial Services – says he was in the dark about the deal until a conversation with his driver two weeks ago. But an embarrassing paper trail, dating back to 2009, and issued yesterday by the Government shows there were a series of documents referencing the deal.

And in July last year his chief of staff Wayne Eagleson met the manager of VIP Transport Service, Geoff Knighton, to discuss the renewal of a contract with BMW to supply 34 new cars.

Mr Key said he was “not going to make excuses” and acknowledged “the matter should have been handled better by everybody, including myself”.

“The whole thing has been sloppy and frankly the public deserves better.”

Mr Key said Mr Eagleson could not recall the meeting, despite a series of emails between July 19 and 20. He has since apologised to Mr Key and offered to resign.

In March and April 2009, Mr Key and minister for internal affairs at the time Richard Worth signed off on three documents – drafts of the Department of Internal Affairs Statement of Intent – which referred to the fleet replacement. Then last March he signed off on another statement of intent which made two mentions of the new cars.

Mr Key said yesterday he had not read the documents.

In April 2011, Key was once again hot water over his propensity for mis-leading people.

Prime Minister John Key has done an about-face after denying he had a discussion with MediaWorks bosses before the Government decided to give the company a $43.3 million helping hand.

He has now admitted meeting then-MediaWorks boss Brent Impey two months before, when Mr Impey pressed his case for a scheme the Government initially turned down.

The scheme, announced in October 2009, allowed radio companies to spread payments on 20-year broadcasting licences over five years, instead of one lump-sum payment.

On Monday, in answer to written parliamentary questions, Mr Key said he had not had any discussions with MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and a network of radio stations.

But on Wednesday, he issued a correction, saying he “ran into Brent Impey at a social event [in August] where he briefly raised the issue”.

On 4 October 2011,  Key’s credibility took another hammering over a dubious “Standard & Poors email”, when he made this astounding claim in the Parliamentary  Debating Chamber,

When Standard & Poor’s were giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what they did say was there was about a 30% chance we would be downgraded – that’s what happens when you’re on negative outlook. They did go on to say though, if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely.”

The comment was made under Parliamentary privilege.

Five days later, and after mounting media and political pressure, on 10 October, Key “explained” that the comments had come to him in an email, from an un-named “friend”. As questions swirled around the alleged comment by Standard & Poors, Key relented and released released the text of the email,

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Subsequently, Key held a press conference where he  was grilled by journalists,

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Key’s body language, tone, and expressions speak volumes whether or not he was being truthful. That “email” could easily have been written by any number of Key’s Beehive staffers, including National’s “black ops” man, Jason Ede.

Standard & Poors, though, had differing views on what really happened at the Auckland conference;

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has contradicted a claim by Prime Minister John Key that a credit downgrade would be more likely with a change of Government in New Zealand.

Mr Key was questioned in Parliament last week by Labour leader Phil Goff about the agency’s downgrading of New Zealand’s long-term foreign currency rating from AA+ to AA.

Mr Key claimed Standard and Poor’s had said at a meeting last month that “if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely”.

The next election is on November 26.

Standard and Poor’s sovereign rating analyst Kyran Curry, who attended the meeting in Auckland, said that would not have happened.

“In Auckland last month, I might have talked about the importance of the Government maintaining a strong fiscal position in the medium term but I would never have touched on individual parties.

“It is something we just don’t do,” Mr Curry said. “We don’t rate political parties. We rate Governments.”

These are a few examples where Key’s willingness to be “loose with the truth” has come unstuck and become known to the public.

Little wonder then, that a Fairfax/Ipsos poll last year had nearly 59% of respondents not believing what Key said. Only 23.5% – National core-constituency – said they fully believed him.

Two years before that, a Fairfax Media-Research International Poll had similar results, with 34.9% of respondents replying that Key was more likely to “bend the truth” than then-Labour leader, Phil Goff, at 26%. A further 21.3% stated that both would “bend the truth – pushing Key’s results up to 56.2%.

He may be Mr Popular – but the majority don’t seem to trust him.

For good reason, it seems.

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Txt-Messages – the further undoing of a Prime Minister

Slater landed Key in the deep doo-doos by making public the txt-messages from Monday night. He knew full well that passing them on to another person (in this case another blogger, Josh Forman, of the so-called ‘Slightly Left of Centre‘ blog) would, in only a short matter of time, find their way to the media’s scrutiny.

This is especially the case when, as blogger Danyl Mclauchlan, from The Dim Post, recently reported, there seems to be a very strange and less-than-clear relationship between Forman and Cameron Slater. (See:  The very odd Slightly Left of Centre)

Why did Slater release details of his conversation with Key, on Monday night, to Forman?

Why did Slater acknowledge  his on-line  conversation with an unknown person by confirming the validity of a screenshot of the exchange? (Especially as Slater has no hesitation to lie when it suits his agenda or to save his own backside.)

Why is Slater feeding the media on this issue?

What does he have to gain?

On 28 November, Political scientist Bryce Edwards made this astounding assertion on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint”;

“It’s obvious that Cameron Slater has dirt on the Prime Minister. And that’s why he’s very vulnerable. He’s… I mean, I wouldn’t call it blackmail, but it’s like he’s leveraged by Cameron Slater, and he can’t escape him. I mean, it’s obvious that the Prime Minister would want to be saying ‘ef off Cameron, don’t talk to me again’, because he’s so toxic, but I understand Cameron Slater does have dirt on the Prime Minister and National and he’s talked about going nuclear in the past-“

So what is the ‘dirt’ that Slater has on National and John Key?

Plenty, I would hazard a guess. As Nicky Hager’s expose, ‘Dirty Politics‘ showed, Slater has been the recipient of much information from ministers such as Judith Collins, and has connections with other MPs.

Why would Slater “go nuclear” on National?

Slater has good reason (in his own mind and twisted worldview).

As Nicky Hager reported in his book, in this exchange between Collins and Slater;

Cameron Slater: he is a very silly man, because I could stop the people who are going against him. But now, he is just is going to get double.

Judith Collins: you know the rule. always reward with Double.

Cameron Slater: I learned the rule from you! Double it is.

Judith Collins: If you can’t be loved, then best to be feared.

When Judith Collins was forced to step down  on 30 August, over allegations that she was “gunning” for Serious Fraud Office Director, Adam Feeley,  her close friend, confidant,  and political associate, Cameron Slater, did not react well;

“As Judith and I are friends, I am gutted for her. Judith Collins has now been taken down by death by a thousand cuts.”

Slater then made a comment which, in the light of current events, can only be described as a veiled threat; he referred to John Key as  a “temporary Prime Minister”.

When  asked what he would do about Collins’ forced resignation, he stated,

“I always give back double. Judith always gives back double.”

Slater’s deliberate, carefully planned, and cunningly executed scheme to  “give back double” is being directed at “temporary Prime Minister”, John Key.

Slater is gunning for John Key.

Slater has not (yet) “gone nuclear” on National – but the unstable blogger is at DefCon 2 and the threat to Key’s administration is imminent. Irony of ironies, the greatest threat to this government has not been Nicky Hager; nor Kim Dotcom; nor the MSM; nor Labour or the Greens.

It is one of their own.

Further from my 2012 blogpost;

Using Third Parties such as Slater, to spread muck has it’s inherent dangers.

Eventually, the entanglements and the copious volumes of information at the hands of  someone like Slater creates it’s own risks for his  “handler(s)”. Slater will have  considerable dirt on those who have leaked information to him. He  will have to be “kept sweet”,  to deny him cause to go rogue and threaten to disclose information  embarrassing to those who have fed him material in the past.

Frankly Speaking“, 29 March 2012 (See: Born to rule )

I should have bought a Lotto ticket at the time.

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References

Fairfax media: John Key says sorry to Whale Oil

NZ Herald: Cameron Slater – ‘I never said Labour Party were trying to kill me’

RadioLive: AUDIO – John Key denies contact with Cameron Slater

TV3: PM blames text gaffe on ‘noise’

Radio NZ: ‘Not fair on me’ – PM on text messages

Youtube:  26.11.14 – Question 4 – Dr Megan Woods to the Prime Minister

Cloudfront: Slater email

ODT: PM admits text exchange

TVNZ: Dirty Politics saga – Andrew Little claims John Key ‘misled New Zealand’

Radio NZ: PM’s contact with blogger questioned

Fairfax Media: PM signed papers relating to BMWs

NZ Herald: S&P contradicts Key downgrade claim

NZ Herald: Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster

Parliament: Question & Answer – Credit Rating Downgrade Effect on the Economy

Interest.co.nz: Key stands behind comment S&P more likely to downgrade Labour Govt

Youtube: John Key on S&P Labour criticism

Fairfax Media: John Key’s ‘believability’ low

Fairfax Media: John Key – Safe hands, forked tongue?

Blog: Slightly Left of Centre (cached)

Radio NZ: Checkpoint – Can the Prime Minister brush off latest controversy?

NZ Herald: Hager’s tell-all chapters

Fairfax Media: Judith Collins statement

Interest.co.nz: Judith Collins resigns after revelation of Slater email saying she was “gunning for Feeley”

Additional

NZ Herald:  John Armstrong – National’s response not good enough

Previous related blogposts

“I dunno. I wasn’t told. I wasn’t there.”

The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

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

When Karma caught up with Cameron Slater

Are Cameron Slater and Judith Collins bare-faced liars?

Born to rule

When the teflon is stripped away

Other Blogwriters

Imperator Fish: The Labour Party plot to kill Cameron Slater – the shocking evidence

Local Bodies: John Key’s Immoral Governance

Occasionally Erudite: Collins cleared; Slater lied

Occasionally Erudite: John Key implodes over the Gwyn report

No Right Turn: John Key’s TXTs and the Public Records Act

Polity: FFS

Porcupine Farm: Office of the Prime minister

Porcupine Farm: Key of the Day, 26/11/14

Public Address: Incomplete, inaccurate and misleading

Pundit: John Key: The buck doesn’t stop with me

The Daily Blog: Cam’s ‘Slightly Left of Centre’ sock puppet threatens Key in public

The Dim Post: The very odd Slightly Left of Centre

The Jackal: When will the PM take responsibility?

The Standard: An Honest Man?

The Standard: Only on Planet Key

The Standard: Key’s repeated reflexive lies (and giving back double)

The Standard: Textses

The Standard: Two lies in 20 seconds

The Standard: Two guilty approaches after Dirty Politics

 


 

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Liar john key

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 November 2014

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= fs =

She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!

22 September 2014 6 comments

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ballot box

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NZ, Wellington, 15 September – ‘Tina’* is 50, a close friend,  and one of the “Missing Million” from the last election. In fact, ‘Tina’ has never voted in her life.  Not once.

In ‘Tina’s’ own words, politics has never held any interest for her and she was always busy with raising a family. To her, politicians were all “the same” and of no relevance to her life. Her family and close friends were her world.

All that changed on 14 August.

‘Tina’ surprised me one evening, the day after Nicky Hager released his book “Dirty Politics“, when she asked me,

“Frank, how do I go about voting?”

I was somewhat taken aback. I was fully aware that ‘Tina’ was without doubt the most apolitical person amongst my friends and acquaintances. Her out-of-the-blue query left me surprised, and somewhat lost for words. (Unusual for me.)

I asked (almost knowing the answer) if she was enrolled. ‘Tina’ wasn’t.

I replied that the easiest way would be to wait for Early Voting to open to the public, where she could enroll and vote at the same time. I reassured her it was a relatively easy process and would take very little time.

I was curious, though, what had motivated her,

“What’s brought this on,” I asked?

She said she had seen a “guy on television” and asked if John Key was the Prime Minister. I replied, yes, sadly, he is.

“Why do you ask?”

‘Tina’ replied,

“He was going on about some book and they were asking him questions about it. I don’t know what it was about, but I know he was lying.”

This is the TV3 interview ‘Tina’ saw;

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Video - John Key talks Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics

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Despite having little interest or knowledge of politics, ‘Tina’ picked up very quickly that Key was not telling the truth when questioned by reporters. Especially toward the end of the interview. And ‘Tina’ was pissed off that Key was treating the public as fools if he thought his dishonesty was not obvious to the casual observer.

Our following discussion was which party should she vote for that got rid “of that man”. I replied that Key’s party was National – so don’t tick that box. I listed ACT, the Conservatives, United Future, and the Maori Party as parties that supported Key – so avoid them like the plague.

NZ First was a question mark as there was no way of guessing if Peters would support Key or Labour. So forget that party.

The only three parties guaranteed to get rid of Key were Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet.

‘Tina’s’ next question was the one I dreaded;

“What’s the difference?”

What followed was a short, crash-course in the difference between Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet. Which, when trying to explain it to someone out loud seemed ridiculous. The differences seemed minor. Almost trivial and meaningless.

Choosing the electorate candidate was straight forward – vote for the Labour candidate.

On 15 September, I received the following txt-message from ‘Tina’,

“U be proud of me Frank. I just voted.”

I was proud. ‘Tina’ had seen something from our elected Prime Minister that she did not like – and she set about doing something about it. Despite never having voted in her life, my friend made the decision to learn what the process was; what the parties were; and which option best matched her beliefs.

Later that day, ‘Tina’ sent me this photo. She proudly pointed at the little sticker they gave her at the Voting Station; “Yes, I have Voted“.  She txt-messaged me,

“The beehive needs a maturity injection. Its seems there is a lot of school yard bullying and antics going on.”

 

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T just voted

 

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Tina hasn’t told me which party she voted for, and I won’t ask.  But one of the “Missing Million” is no longer missing.

And one of three parties is now one vote stronger.

The moral of this story?  Sometimes it is not the policies or personalities that impel a person to vote.

Sometimes it can be as simple as a flash of insight.

And doing something about it.

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* Not real name

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References

TV3: Video: John Key talks Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics

Previous related blogposts

“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 September 2014.

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The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

16 September 2014 5 comments

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair.

– Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules’

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

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

On its own, the letter was innocuous. A routine inquiry seeking an estimate of the time required to process the application, the letter was signed by Cunliffe as the MP for New Lynn and dated 11 April 2003. It sat in a file until May 9 this year when Immigration officials in Visa Services began working on an Official Information Act (OIA) request received the previous day from the Herald’s investigations editor, Jared Savage – and subsequently declined;

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jared savage OIA request 8 may 2014 declined

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Savage’s OIA request resulted only in the release of  a brief, and somewhat pointless, Media Response to Radio NZ, dated 13 March 2014. This sole document gave a date when Donghua Liu’s business migration application was approved, and referred to a previous application being declined;

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radio nz 13 march 2014 immigration nz

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All other material was denied to him, ostensibly under privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, John Key’s Chief of Staff,  Wayne Eagleson, confirmed  that the Prime Minister’s office was made aware of the existence of the letter on the weekend of the 10th/11th May of this year;

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3 july 2014 - wayne eagleson - donghua liu - prime minister's office - OIA request

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Although deciding to withhold the whole file, including the letter, under the privacy clause in Section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, Visa Services sat on their response until, without any obvious reason, they advised Savage of their decision first-thing on the morning of Monday 16 June. Four hours later, on the same Monday, Savage emailed a fresh, more specific “Urgent OIA Request” for correspondence from MPs supporting Donghua Liu’s residency bid prior to 2005.

Jared Savage confirmed this to me in an email, on 17 July;

I initially asked for his entire residency file under the OIA on May 8. I note that the next day Minister Woodhouse asked for the file.

I was declined the entire file on privacy grounds on June 16. As I was really only interested in whether MPs were involved in his residency bid, I refined my request to ask for any correspondence from MPs because this is clearly in the public interest.

I specifically mentioned prior to 2005 because this is when Mr Liu was granted residency, against advice. There would not be any correspondence after he gained residency.

Unfortunately, it was clumsily worded because Immigration officials interpreted the word prior to exclude 2005 in the response. I then lodged a further OIA request which revealed Mr O’Connor intervened 3 times in the lead up to residency being granted – including waiving the English language criteria – the day before the 2005 election.

[…]

Coming back to the June 16 request, two days later, I received the letters. I have no idea why Immigration released it so quickly. Probably because they had already processed my earlier request of June 16 so the file was available, but you’d have to ask Immigration.

Savage’s OIA request on 16 June;

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jared savage OIA request 16 june 2014

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Savage received this response two days later, on 18 June – and this time his request was treated more favourably;

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Immigration NZ - letter to jarerd savage - nz herald - donghua liu - 18  June 2014

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The timing of the above release is critical to this Affair.

A similar request followed an hour later at 2.11PM, on the same day (Monday), from Brook Sabin, TV3 political reporter and son of National MP, Mike Sabin;

“Hello,

We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency application back in 2005?

Also, can we please request under the OIA:

All briefing notes, correspondence and emails regarding Donghua Liu’s residency applications

Cheers”

Both requests were sent straight to the “OIA team” for processing.

The next morning, on Tuesday, at a media briefing on Labour’s Kiwisaver policy, Sabin’s TV3 gallery colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about his relationship with Donghua Liu. A transcript of the exchange (below) was published the next day (Wednesday) in identical format in several places simultaneously with the released letter, and was used by two National ministers to attack Cunliffe in the debating chamber that afternoon.

This was David Cunliffe’s Q & A to reporters on Tuesday 17 June – broadcast the following day  on Wednesday 18 June. Again, the dates are critical;

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Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe - donghua liu - TV3 - Tova O'Brien

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Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Those questions – whether   audio, video, or written,   were generally not available until Wednesday.

On Wednesday,  Cunliffe was confronted by the press gallery (Ibid) on his way to the chamber and accused several times of having lied the previous day. Just half an hour after being given a copy of the letter, which he’d forgotten about, and possibly underestimating its value to his opponents, the Opposition leader continued to insist that he never supported or advocated for Liu’s residency.

He eventually had to leave to ask the first question of the day which is to Bill English who is naturally keen to exploit the opportunity to dent Cunliffe’s credibility,

“I find it a lot easier to stand by my statements than that member does to stand by his . . . that member has been remarkably inconsistent (about donations) . . . that member, who seems to have trouble agreeing with himself.”

English then led National in the weekly general debate. “The reasons no one trusts him (Cunliffe) is this” he says before quoting directly from the transcript of TV3’s questions and answers on Tuesday. “Today, of course,” he continues, “we have the letter that he wrote advocating exactly for his permanent residency.”

Also quoting directly from the transcript, Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, added an intriguing reference to a second letter, from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter.

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (7)

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Released by his office at the same time as Cunliffe’s it was totally overlooked by the media in their rush to crucify the Labour leader.

Immigration Minister Woodhouse said;

“But do you know what? He (Cunliffe) is not alone.”

The Immigration Minister then quoted from the Carter letter, sent five month’s prior to Cunliffe’s, seeking “any consideration that could be given to expediting” Liu’s residency application and reporting that he had deposited $3 million in a bank account with a view to purchasing a building for redevelopment.

The fact that the letter identified the bank as the ASB in Auckland did not deter Woodhouse from getting in a cheap shot. “I hope it was not the Labour Party’s bank account,” he said, concluding:

“That was Mr Chris Carter, on behalf of Mr Dongua Liu. In fact, the letter was from Carter’s electorate agent and begins, like the Cunliffe letter, “I have been approached by a local constituent . . .”

Woodhouse was followed in the debate by Health Minister, Tony Ryall, who also spent most of his five-minute speech attacking the Opposition leader;

“So here is Mr Cunliffe, who only a few hours ago denied he had ever met Mr Liu and said the Labour Party never got any donations from Mr Liu. And here we have today a letter from Mr Cunliffe making representations on behalf of Mr Liu. It is just not consistent with what he has been saying previously. It is hugely embarrassing for Mr Cunliffe and for the Labour Party.”

Joining his frontbench colleagues, National’s Paul Goldsmith, said Labour Party members were “hanging their heads in shame.” He added;

“It is very interesting to see John Armstrong and many of the commentators saying right now, right here today, that Mr Cunliffe is in deep trouble and Labour is in deep trouble. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Thank you.”

Goldsmith was referring to the Herald’s political correspondent, John Armstrong’s column, that Cunliffe might have to resign, a piece (see below) consequently judged by many to be totally over the top. Unsurprisingly, many have called for Armstrong’s retirement.

The plan by National ministers to embarrass Cunliffe and to deflect from a potentially damaging debate on Wednesday however became derailed when the timing of the OIA releases went unpredictably awry.

The office of the Leader of the Labour Party was first advised of the planned OIA release of the two letters (Chris Carter’s 3 October 2002 and David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003) at 12.10PM on Wednesday 18 June;

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (9)

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Ostensibly, the OIA public release was to take place one hour later.

Instead, the OIA release to Jared Savage took place only  thirty-nine minutes later, at 12.49PM;

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release of OIA to Jared Savage covering email 18 june 2014

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Sabin’s story appeared on TV3’s website at 12.53pm – four minutes after the OIA release was emailed to Jared Savage, and by Cameron Slater on his Whale Oil blog, eight minutes later,  at 12.57PM;

 

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Brooke Sabin - TV3 - cunliffe's links to liu - donghua liu affair

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whaleoil - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Another three minutes passed before John Armstrong declared Cunliffe to be “in deep political trouble; so deep that his resignation as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. It is possible that Armstrong was relying on the copy attached to the response to TV3’s OIA request, sent to the Minister at 12.30PM and presumably released directly from his office to Brook Sabin.

However, there is no documentation to that effect. So when and how did Brook Sabin obtain copies of David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003 letter? It appears to have been released without the necessary “paper trail” as Emily Fabling, Executive Director of Immigration NZ stated at 1.31PM on 18 June, when referring to Savage’s OIA request;

“I have advised that the process [of releasing the information under the OIA request]  is consistent with our usual procedures and the Act, we have had legal advice and understand the political sensitivity and complexity, and a discoverable paper trail, if required.”

Armstrong’s column was published at 1PM – just eleven minutes after Visa Services emailed a copy of the letter at 12.49PM to Jared Savage;

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John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair - nz herald story header

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Kiwiblog published it’s story at 1.06PM;

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Kiwiblog - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Some very tight time frames involved in writing media and blog reports after the 12.49PM OIA release.

In several cases the time-frames were simply unfeasibly tight to receive; digest; write up meaningful stories; proof-read; check legalities; and upload them onto websites.

Now here is where the timing of the OIA releases and blog/media stories appearing takes a very strange twist.

As detailed above Cameron Slater (or someone purporting to be writing under his name) wrote this piece on his blog Whaleoil at 12.57PM;

Jared Savage reports:

David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe – who said this week he had never met Donghua Liu or advocated on his behalf – wrote a letter to immigration officials on behalf of the controversial businessman who was applying for residency in New Zealand.

And mentioned above, at   1:06PM on Wednesday 18 June David Farrar wrote on Kiwiblog;

The Herald reports Cunliffe’s earlier denials on Tuesday:

Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Both refer to Jared Savage’s story in the NZ Herald, centering on the release of the David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

Except that Savage’s on-line story was not due to appear until 2.29PM;

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David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu's residency bid

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So how did Slater and Farrar manage to refer to a story in their blogposts that had yet to be written and uploaded onto the NZ Herald website?

Ruling out time travel, there may be a very simple answer;

  • As was outlined above by Wayne Eagleson, the government was aware of Cunliffe’s letter as early as 10/11 May 2014.
  • An OIA request by Jared Savage was first declined – then expedited in almost a panic, in two days by Immigration NZ.
  • Brook Sabin lodged a similar OIA request to Jared Savage. He appears to have received the information he requested – without a corresponding paper trail.
  • Two right wing bloggers closely associated with National ministers, and who have been fed sensitive information in recent past, published blogposts referring to Jared Savage’s article – before that article was uploaded onto the Herald website.
  • In a released email, Cameron Slater admitted to a close working relationship with Herald reporter, Jared Savage;

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slater email

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And where did this jpeg of Tova O’Brien’s questioning to David Cunliffe – and ending up on Whaleoil – come from;

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werwe2

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Quite simply, the relationship and flow of information is a two-way process; journalists are constantly feeding information to Slater/Whaleoil (and to a lesser degree, Farrar/Kiwiblog).

It seems evident that Whaleoil and Kiwiblog jumped the gun in publishing their blog-stories, not waiting for Savage to first upload his on the Herald’s website. The result ended up with Farrar and Slater referencing Savage’s story that was still in the “future”.

As revealed with startling clarity in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  the government is not above using right wing bloggers to release damaging information or mount smear campaigns against Opposition MPs in Parliament.

The media, always reluctant to admit mistakes for fear of denting their own credibility, were more than happy to carry on with the line that Cunliffe’s letter was “proof” of Labour’s links to Donghua Liu. And keen to help in any way he could, the Prime Minister, John Key, continued to hint that he knew more about Liu’s claims to have made donations to the Labour Party.

Next morning, the Herald’s political editor, Audrey Young, reported from New York that,

“Prime Minister John Key believes the (sic) Labour has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu. He also acknowledged he had known for some weeks that Labour leader David (sic) has written a letter supporting Mr Liu’s application for residency. The release of the letter yesterday in the face of denials from Mr Cunliffe that he wrote any such letter has thrown his leadership into crisis.”

Key’s admission that he had already known about the letter prompted three different and conflicting accounts from Woodhouse in response to questions about how and when he’d informed his prime minister about its existence.

As well as providing a fine working model of the media’s bias against Labour and the woeful state of the parliamentary press gallery, the handling of the Savage and Sabin OIA requests by the Immigration Service and its Minister raises some interesting questions:

1. Who told Visa Services to respond to Jared Savage’s May 8 request at 8.59am on Monday 16 June?

2. Who told Savage to make a fresh, more specific request, the same morning and copy it to the minister’s press secretary?

3. Who told Sabin to put in a request on June 16?

4. Who told Tova O’Brien to ask those questions on Tuesday 17 June?

5. Who made the transcript of the questions and answers and how was it circulated?

6. After deciding to withhold the Cunliffe letter for privacy reasons, why was it released so quickly and without any further discussion of the privacy aspect?

7. It took the minister less than 20 minutes to approve the release of the Cunliffe and Carter letters. Is this a record?

8. How was it possible for the letter to be published in so many places so quickly?

If you still don’t think there was something fishy going on, turn to page 131 of ‘Dirty Politics‘ where Nicky Hager records a comment on the ‘Dim-Post’ from “Barnsley Bill” (aka Cameron Slater acolyte, Russell Beaumont) responding to a Danyl McLauchlan blog about opinion polls:

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

That was posted at 10.21AM on Tuesday 17 June — the morning that Tova O’Brien asked her questions and Immigration officials were racing round getting responses to the Savage and Sabin OIA requests ready to send to the Minister for approval prior to release.

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

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

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

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

The government had all three.

This was the real story behind the Donghua Liu Affair.

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Note

Questions on this issue have been put to Herald journalist, Jared Savage. Thus far he has declined to answer those questions.

Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing extra information and filling in the gaps. This was truly a team effort.

Update

Giovanni Tisa, through the blogger Jackal, asks some very pertinent questions here.

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References

David Cunliffe-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

The Dim Post:  June polls (“Barnsley Bill” Commen

TV3: Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe?

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

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu

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

Kiwiblog: Cunliffe wrote on behalf of Liu after denying he knew him or advocated for him

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

NZ Herald: The email that brought down Judith Collins

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

Previous related blogposts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

Other Blogs

The Standard: The Donghua Liu letter – is that it?

The Standard: Giovanni Tiso on Dirty Politics

The Jackal: 10 questions for journalists

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 September 2014 as “Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?”

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Letter to the Editor – Our PM insults a world-reknowned investigative journalist

13 September 2014 6 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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Our esteemed Dear Leader must be in full panic mode when he insults a visiting investigative journalist of the calibre of Glenn Greenwald;

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Radio NZ - PM says Greenwald's claims are wrong - GCSB - mass surveillance - Glenn Greenwald

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Key went on to say,

“When you hack into people’s information and you steal it, sometimes you get part of the information but not all of the information.

Now, in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman, but mark my words, he’s wrong. There never has been mass surveillance and there is no mass surveillance.”

Which prompted me to pen this letter to the New Zealand Herald;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Sat, Sep 13, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

 

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The editor
NZ Herald
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John Key is becoming more Muldoonesque with each erupting scandal. His latest attack on visiting American investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, is simply beyond the pale.

Key says,“Now, in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman, but mark my words, he’s wrong. There never has been mass surveillance and there is no mass surveillance.”

Since when in a visiting journalist anybody’s “henchman”?

This is not the first time Key has abused investigative journalists who have uncovered unpleasant activities by this current government.

In May 2011,John Key derided Jon Stephenson’s research into NZ secret  activities in Afghanistan by attacking the journalists’ reputation and character;

“I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

In September 2011, Key attacked another investigative journalist, Nicky Hager, for his expose on  New Zealand’s covert military activities, in conjunction with the CIA,  in Afghanistan.

John Key dismissed Hager’s book;“I don’t have time to read fiction,”

That “fiction” Key referred to contained 1,300 footnotes of referencing documentation in Hager’s book.

In August this year, Key again attacked  Nicky Hager, for his expose in dirty dealings between Key’s office, a right-wing blogger, Judith Collins, and other right-wing extremists. Key was again dismissive;

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct.”

And,
“At the end of the day we’re five weeks out from an election, people can see that Nicky Hager’s made a whole lot of things up in his book, (they) can see he can’t back a lot of them up. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

If Hager’s book was “factually incorrect” and little more than a “smear campaign” – one has to ask the PM what prompted Judith Collins to resign 17 days after the launch of “Dirty Politics” and all it revealed?

John Key’s track record of transparency with the public has left much to be desired and attacking journalists who dare speak the truth says more about the PM’s character than the targets of his unwarranted attacks.

Thus far, Jon Stephenson, Nicky Hager, and Glenn Greenwald have a better track record at telling the truth than Mr Key.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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Every time Key behaves like this, whether it be with Nicky Hager, Jon Stephenson, or now Glenn Greenwald, he is abandoning his elevated position of a non-political Prime Minister and becoming just another politician in the eyes of the public.

Key will lose popularity.

National will lose support in the polls.

And National will lose on 20 September.

More importantly – is this the kind of sleazy government that Winston Peters wants to associate with after 20 September?  Because there is much, much more to come out.

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References

Radio NZ:  PM says Greenwald’s claims are wrong

NZ Herald: PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims

NZ City: John Key trashes Nicky Hager’s book

Radio NZ: Prime Minister stands by minister and staff

Previous related blogposts

The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

Other blogs

The Standard: Greenwald on the GCSB

The Paepae: John Key working the phones “at length”

The Daily Blog: Where does Key get off abusing a Pulitzer prize winning Journalist like Glenn Greenwald when he calls a far right hate speech blogger regularly?

The Daily Blog: Dear mainstream media – regarding Key’s promise to resign if GCSB exposed doing mass surveillance

Special mention

The Jackal: John Key Naked

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Call for Aaron Bhatnagar’s resignation from govt body

30 August 2014 5 comments

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nicky hager - dirty politics - real estate agents authority - aaron bhatnagar - judith collins

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One of the many sordid “bit”-players in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“, and one of Cameron Slater’s inner-cabal, is businessman, National Party card-carrying cadre,  and former city councillor, Aaron Bhatnagar;

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aaron bhatnagar

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In 2008, Bhatnagar was caught by journalist, blogger, and IT commentator, Russell Brown,  posting derogatory comments on Wikipedia to smear political opponants;

Auckland City councillor Aaron Bhatnagar has been caught doctoring the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to paint his opponents in a bad light at last year’s local body elections.

Using the alias of Barzini _ a power-hungry psychopath from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather _ Mr Bhatnagar created entries for his Action Hobson opponents in the Hobson ward and made unflattering changes to the entry for Mayor Dick Hubbard.

After winning a council seat and watching Action Hobson councillors Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson go down to a C&R rout in Hobson, Mr Bhatnagar tried to remove the Wikipedia entries for his opponents at 3am the following morning.

Bhatnagar  was also John Banks’ campaign manager in Banks’ unsuccessful 2010 mayoralty bid, and later himself stood National’s candidate selection process for Epsom for the 2011 general election. (He subsequently lost out to John Banks.)

But more than being a paid-up, card-carrying party apparatchik for National, Bhatnagar was part of far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s inner sanctum.

In Nicky Hager’s expose, Bhatnagar’s dirty tricks – a re-hash of his earlier 2008 Wiki exploits – is carefully laid out;

Slater was in regular contact with his blogger friends Cathy Odgers, blog name Cactus Kate, Peter Smith (not his real name) and Aaron Bhatnagar, with whom he often talked over his attack plans...” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 20

Slater got the tip-off for his biggest 2011 attack from his blogger friend Aaron Bhatnagar, a former Auckland city councillor and business investor who had written a guest post as ‘Whale Oil Business Correspondent Winslow Taggart‘, promoting ‘one of New Zealand’s best run’ retirement companies, Ryman Healthcare, in which he was a shareholder. Bhatnagar’s approach to politics is summed up by his own words to Slater: ‘I’m getting bored. I need mischief to keep me busy...’ ” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

On another occassion he [Bhatnagar] asked Slater to help him find a ‘paparazzi photographer’  to ‘spook’  a lawyer outside his legal chambers.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

This time Bhatnagar had been sniffing around the Labour Party’s websites and stumbled across an insecure location containing gigabytes of sensitive party information, including lists of donors and supporters. In the middle of election year, this was embarrassing and potentially very harmful to the Labour Party. Bhatnagar passed the find on to his friend.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

The following Facebook conversation between Cameron Slater and Bhatnagar showed the cavalier and unethical attitude both men had to Labour’s computer vulnerability;

Slater: That website info will hit soon. Watch the damage that ensues.

Bhatnagar: “I’ve been meaning to ask you! LOL [laugh out loud], when do you run it?

Slater: been working thru it all… was going to do it this week but Goff is away. Far better to do it when the putz is back

Slater: the most damaging is the 18000 emails, and the Credit card transactions

Bhatnagar: fuck me, I hadn’t been that forensic myself. This will be huge

Slater: got the whole of their email database

Bhatnagar: oh no, LOL…. this is violence writ large

Slater: I think some teaser videos of screenshots and stuff drip fed over a few days , then drop the bomb say wed morning so [Parliament’s Wednesday afternoon] general debate is awesome

… The media are far too lazy to do what i have already done… so prob best to package it into bite size pieces.

Bhatnagar: unreal. I knew there was heaps there, but I hadn’t actually leached it all. Credit card info? That’s insane. Labour will be ruined…

I’m sure Chaos and Mayhem Ltd [Slater and his friends] will find a way to use all this left wing online data

Slater: got First name, Last Name and email, in 3 files, main labour mail list

Bhatnagar: could set back the online left wing  community for three years…. I’ve told no one

Slater: and don’t

Bhatnagar: I wouldn’t wreck what might potentially be your greatest story…. – “Dirty Politics”, pg 30, 31

At no point during that conversation does Bhatnagar even raise a question of ethics regarding Slater’s intentions to public data from the Labour Party computer. On the contrary, he is clearly supportive.

On 12 June 2011, Slater began publishing details from the Labour Party computer. As Nicky Hager related;

The attack began on Sunday 12 June with an article Slater had arrangedin a Sunday newspaper. He simultaneously began publishing a series of posts on his blog with the tag line ‘Labour Leaks’, announcing a long list of ‘rorts’  that would be progressively ‘outed’ on his site over the following days…

[…]

… Early on that Sunday morning Bhartnagar contacted Slater again. Their conversation is very revealing. ‘And so it begins…,’ Bhatnagar wrote. ‘Yep and it is going to hurt,” Slater replied, ‘that document is devastating… this is going to be a feeding frenzy, especially when I publish all the credit card transactions, then the membership lists, then the 18000 emails’. Thinking of the media reaction, Bhatnagar advised Slater to ‘keep your phone charged then – you will need the battery life!’

Slater then set out in writing the motivations  underlying the leaks. It would be, he said, ‘death by a 1000 leaks’.

I have… cross referenced names with letter writers. I will have the definitive list of labour activists.

it will shut down their donors, shut down their IT systems

shut down their membership flow

and shut down their online campaigns

Bhatnager joked back: ‘Join the Labour Party and the Whaleoil email loop at the same time. Not a compelling message for left wing voters.’ “Dirty Politics”, pg 33

As Nicky Hager pointed out, “the aim was not to expose  poor Internet security or some wrong-doing or to prove a political point, but to do as much damage  as possible to the Labour Party“. Clearly, Bhatnagar was revelling in Slater’s damaging attack on the Labour Party;

Later that evening Bhatnagar  got in touch as well, suggesting a celebration lunc: ‘yum char thursday midday”. Slater said he’d be there. Bhatnagar asked, ‘What’s next in the death by 1000 cuts?’ ‘I haven’t decided yet,’ Slater replied. “- “Dirty Politics”, pg 36

In fact, on one occassion, he positively gloated over it, as this exchange showed on 26 November 2011;

“… The anti-MMP campaign failed, but Slater felt empowered by his successes. ‘I feel like this election campaign has been mine, plus my loyal tipline submitters,’ he told Bhatnagar. ‘Well, I am tempted to say that ripping open Labour’s website was a big part of it,’ Bhatnagar replied.“- “Dirty Politics”, pg 75

This is the same man – Aaron Bhatnagar – that Cameron Slater’s friend, and Minister of the Crown – Judith Collins –  had appointed to the government body, the The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) on 26 April last year;

Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced the reappointment of five members of the Real Estate Agents Authority and the appointment of one new member.

Those reappointed to the Authority are:

  • John Auld of New Plymouth
  • Barrie Barnes of Auckland
  • Denise Bovaird of Auckland
  • Joan Harnett-Kindley of Wanaka
  • David Russell of Wellington

The new appointee to the Authority is Aaron Bhatnagar of Auckland. 

The REAA is a watch-dog for Real Estate agents. It’s mission statement is crystal clear;

The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand.

Our job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers.

Aaron Bhatnagar does not fulfill any of the Authority’s mission statements;

He is not independent – he is a member of the National Party and a government appointee.

He is an associate/friend of Cameron Slater, who, in turn is a close confidante/friend of Judith Collins.

His past activities over the last six year make him an inapproprite choice to sit on the Board. From his behaviour over the years,;

  • whether posting derogatory information on Wikipedia;
  • illegally accessing another computer;
  • aiding and abetting unauthorised downloading of data from that computer
  • writing a “puff piece” for a blog advocating for a company’s share value (Ryman Healthcare) – whilst not disclosing his conflict of interest as a shareholder

– it is clear that Mr Bhatnagar’s judgement is poor; has questionable ethics; and is the last person who should be serving on the Board of the REAA.

Bhatnagar also appears to have a “conflict of interest” by sitting on the Board. In an interview with TV3’s Brook Sabin, on 18 August, Collins stated  that if Bhatnagar had real estate interests, it would be a conflict of interest;

@ 4.35

Sabin: “What real estate qualifications does he have?”

Collins: “You don’t have to have real estate qualifications to be on the board. [Prompted by aid] In fact exactly the opposite or otherwise he would have a conflict of interest.”

That conflict of interest exists. According to Bhatnagar himself, he is a property investor. He is quite candid about his investments, including “ commercial property through other entities“.

By the Minister’s own words there appears to be a prima facie case for a conflict of interest.

Accordingly, I have written  to  Minister Judith Collins and to the Chairman of the REAA;

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from:       Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:             judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz
cc:            Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
                 rnz@radionz.co.nz,
                 NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
                 TV3 News <News@tv3.co.nz>
date:       Sun, Aug 24, 2014
subject:  Conflict of Interest – Aaron Bhatnagar

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Kia ora Ms Collins,

On 18 August, you stated in an interview with TV3’s Brook Sabin that if Aaron Bhatnagar held interests in property, that would constitute a conflict of interest with his current position on the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) whom you appointed on 26 April last year.

Mr Bhatnagar does indeed seem to have investments in commercial property, and according to your assertions, this is a clear conflict of interest.

There are also other matters that demonstrate that Mr Bhatnagar’s position on the REAA is no longer tenable, and the full story will be presented tomorrow (Monday) on “The Daily Blog”.

I have also written to the Chairperson of the REAA on this matter, seeking that he remove Mr Bhatnagar from the Board.

I also call upon you to remove Mr Bhatnagar from the REAA, as he is clearly not fit to be on the Authority’s Board in any capacity.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

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And;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: John Auld <info@reaa.govt.nz>
cc: judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz
date: Sun, Aug 24, 2014
subject: REAA Board member – Aaron Bhatnagar

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John Auld
Chairperson
The Real Estate Agents Authority

Kia Ora Mr Auld,

I am writing to you in regards to one of your fellow Board Members, Mr Aaron Bhatnagar.

It is my contention that the REAA is not well-served by having Mr Bhatnagar on the Board of the REAA. He has demonstrated a clear lack of sound ethical decision-making and has engaged in behaviour that is both unprofessional and unscrupulous.

In 2008, it was reported that Mr Bhatnagar had been found to be tampering with  the internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, to discredit  his political opponents in the 2007 local body elections.Employing an alias (“Barzini”), Mr Bhatnagar created negative entries for his political opponents in the Hobson ward and made damaging alterations to the Wikipedia entry for then-Mayor Dick Hubbard.

Mr Bhatnagar then tried to remove all evidence of his on-line activities.

Source material: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10531375

Just recently, it has been confirmed that  Mr Bhatnagar was involved in illegally accessing the Labour Party’s computer in 2011 with other persons (Jason Ede and Cameron Slater). The personal information of thousands of people, plus credit card details, was downloaded and used for political purposes as part of an on-going smear campaign.

Source material: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11311371

The  Real Estate Agents Authority’s mission statement reads, in part,

“The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand.

 
Our job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers.”

 

Source material: http://www.reaa.govt.nz/AboutUs/Pages/AboutUs.aspx

Mr Bhatnagar has demonstrated poor judgement and engaged in activities that whilst not resulting in criminal prosecution (yet), show a poor character when it comes to ethical decision-making.

Considering that your organisation’s central responsibility is to monitor and discipline for   ethical behaviour, I have arrived at the unalterable conclusion that Mr Bhatnagar’s position on the Board of the Authority is no longer tenable.

 

I ask that his resignation be sought forthwith.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Bhatnagar  must resign or be sacked forthwith.

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References

NZ Herald:  Councillor uses Wikipedia to discredit rivals

NZ Herald:  Councillor uses Wikipedia to discredit rivals

TV3 News: Bhatnagar – Epsom experience advantage over Banks

Whaleoil:  Incompetent business reporting by the Sunday Star-Times

Real Estate Agents Authority:  Board Members

National Party: Appointment of members of the Real Estate Agents Authority

Real Estate Agents Authority: About Us

TV3 News: Full interview  – Judith Collins on Aaron Bhatnagar

About.Me: Aaron Bhatnagar

Previous related blogposts

Key’s ducking for cover – utterly unbelievable!!!

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

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

Other blogs

Liberation: Winners and losers in the Act Party leadership coup

The Jackal: Who is Aaron Bhatnagar?

Public Address: Postmodern Banks Anxiety

Public Address:  Surely not

Public Address: Meanwhile in Epsom

The Standard: Aaron Bhatnagar – I barely know the guy


 

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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 25 August 2014

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