Misuse of OIA and censoring

There’s been growing concerns raised about the abuse of the Official Information Act (OIA) processes, with allegations Ministers and Government departments are wothholding information that should be made available.

In other words they are censoring infoermation, possibly ilegally or at least against the spirit of the OIA.

Vernon Small writes Public watchdogs need to bare their teeth over misuse of OIA, taxpayer events.

Let’s hope the Auditor-General, the State Services Commission or even the Ombudsman have a handy tonne of bricks.

Because something ought to be brought down hard on the officials involved in the preparation – and subsequent censoring – of information relating to various KiwiSaver HomeStart “roadshows” held around the country this year.

he offending sentence was cut from several of the documents, but left – inadvertently it seems – in one of the email trails released under the Official Information Act.

Minister Paula Bennett called it a mistake by an official (though it’s not clear whether including the comment in the first place was the mistake, or the failure to redact it from all the documents). And Parmar herself has denied attending the roadshow, held in the neighbouring electorate of Maungakiekie with MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, in order to raise her profile.

But it’s hard to see why an official in Smith’s office would put in writing Parmar’s interest – and the overtly personal and party political reason for it – unless someone had said it. If it wasn’t Parmar who indicated that, who was it?

The reasons given for the redaction elsewhere in the documents was that it was either “out of scope” or to protect “free and frank advice”.

Faafoi had asked for any correspondence sent or received by Housing NZ, ministers, MPs, and local government relating to the hosting and payments for the roadshows. And the comments about Parmar are directly related to hosting.

So neither reason stacks up.

But it doesn’t end there.

Also redacted from all but one document as “out of scope” was the advice that:

And Small says it’s an outrage:

Now, there is always a fine line between MPs (and government departments) promoting the government’s programme and what is overtly political. But the reference to Parmar’s political ambitions and the close liaison with National Party headquarters takes the whole thing well outside the bounds of acceptability.

That officials should then move to withhold that information doubles the outrage.

Tucker’s worst blunder was a conversation with Prime Minister John Key’s deputy chief of staff where they discuss a conversation with Labour’s then-leader Phil Goff about the timing of his release of information and how Goff might not use it “politically” and “call off the Annette Kings and Maryan Streets”.

Gwyn said she found it “surprising that the director thought it appropriate to discuss his conversations with the leader of the Opposition, in respect of whom he had significant responsibilities (under the NZSIS Act) with a political adviser without considering the conflict that entailed”.

This latest saga is by no means as serious, but the issues – and the threats to public service neutrality (or at least the appearance of neutrality) have not gone away.

Earth to Rennie. Come in please.

It sounds like one of our watchdogs needs to start watching more closely and baring some teeth.



Russia versus Turkey

Russia and Turkey continue to exchange conflicting claims after a Russian jegt was shot down and the surviving crew member is rescued.

Surviving crew member of shot down Russian jet says no warnings from Turkey

Navigator Konstantin Murakhtin was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces after ejecting from the plane but the pilot was shot dead by rebels as he parachuted to the ground.

“There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever,” TASS quoted Murakhtin as saying at a hospital in the Syrian province of Latakia, where Russia has an airbase.

“If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by taking a parallel course. There was nothing. And the missile hit the tail of our aircraft suddenly, we did not see it in time to do an anti-missile manoeuvre.”

Murakhtin also said his jet did not leave Syrian airspace.

Ankara has said the plane was repeatedly warned to change course after encroaching on Turkish air space but Moscow has denied that its warplane flew over Turkish territory.

Just what the Middle east didn’t need, anotheer conflict within the myriad of conflicts.

So much for an Anti-ISIS coalition.

ADDED: a map provided by Turkey to support their claim:

Radar map published by Turkish armed forces purportedly showing track Russian Su-24 crossed into Turkish airspace before being shot down on 24 November 2015


Sanity prevails

After a couple of weeks of escalating incursions and disruption here from certain parties it looks like sanity has prevailed, for now at least.

Perhaps it finally dawned on them what damage they were doing to their own cases.

It was interesting that after a bit of a frenzy on Monday Spanish Bride posted at Whale Oil on Tuesday about how moderation wasn’t working here. I think it worked ok a number of numpties attempting to disrupt and compromise this site. Your NZ kept operating, unlike Whale Oil when at times they have claimed to be under attack and have been unloadable.

Something interesting was pointed out last night after someone linked to an interview of Cameron Slater by Heather du Plessis-Allan shown in July last year on Seven Sharp.

Note that this was the month before Nicky Hager launched Dirty Politics and Slater’s world and probaly his contact list changed substantially.

Intro: Recently the Prime Minister told us where he gets some of his gossip from, one of the most controversial bloggers around. John Key and the guy known as Whale Oil apparently chat on the phone.

Apparently that is now history.

You may remember Whale Oil as the man who kept breaking name suppression orders or indeed revealed those details, remember this he revealed all the details about Len Brown and his penchant for the Ngati Whatui room.

So what’s the PM doing talking to him? Well Heather du Plessis-Allan found out he’s actually a changed man, sort of.

HPDA: I wouldn’t want to get on your bad side, I tell ya that.

Slater: That’s a very wise thing, you know you should put that, you know, you should put that in the show, now I don’t want to get on your bad side.

HDPA: Cam Slater has powerful friends.

Shots of Slater’s phone list were shown:


There’s some familiar names there.

HPDA: Judith Collins. Patrick Gower. Ooh, Paul Henry. Very nice.


HPDA: These are just his favourites, you know the ones he calls all the time.

He won’t be on the Favourites list of some of those names any more, including John Key given the amount of complaining Slater has done since about being cut adrift since he became politically toxic.

One or two of those at least would appear to be still working with Slater.

DISCLOSURE: I have never been on Slater’s unfavoured list let alone his favourite list.

The only list of is I’ve been on is his hit list, having got on his bad side around about when this interview was done actually, and he seems to hold grudges for quite a while.

He and his associates have chosen to “fuck over” (a term Marc Spring seems to like) many people. It was inevitable that eventually some of them would fight back.

Something else was raised here recently – a term Slater has often repeated about wrestling with pigs, like.

Politics ulimately is akin to wrestling with pigs. Two things are absolutely certain when wrestling with pigs, you’re going to get dirty and the pig will enjoy it. I suggest it is time for the Libertians of our nation to get a little bit dirty and learn to wrestle with pigs. Then we can truly get some of their fine ideals into the mix.

Slater only seems to know one way, doing politics the dirty way. It doesn’t have to be that way, and in my opinion it shouldn’t be.

If don’t allow political pigs to drag you into their mire they end up wallowing in their mud on their own.

If you fight them on your own terms using sunlight and a cleansing of the muck they don’t know how to deal with it. They seem unable to function without mud on their hands. Alongside rancid bacon on their plate they end up with egg on their faces.

Sanity can prevail if you don’t let them drag you down into their mud, and if you allow them to reveal themselves for what they are.

Syrian situation worsens with Russian jetshot down

The situation in Syria has taken a turn for the worse after Turkey shot down a Russian jet  and rebels shot one crew member and took the other captive.

NZ Herald reports:‘Stab in the back’ – Vladimir Putin’s fury after Russian warplane shot down and rebels ‘reportedly kill pilots’

Turkey has confirmed it shot down a Russian fighter plane – a long-feared crisis in Syria’s civil war and apparently the first time a Nato member has downed a Russian plane in a half-century. At least one of the pilots was killed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkey’s action a “stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices” and warned of “significant consequences”, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled a visit to Turkey which had been planned for this week.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted his country has the right to take “all kinds of measures” against border violations, and called on the international community to work toward “extinguishing the fire that is burning in Syria”.

Turkey said the Su-24 ignored several warnings that it was nearing, then intruding, into Turkish airspace. Russia insisted the plane stayed over Syria, where it was supporting ground action against rebels.

“We will never tolerate such atrocities as happened today and we hope that the international community will find the strength to join forces and fight this evil,” Putin said.

Rebels said they fired at the two parachuting pilots as they descended, and that one had died. A rebel spokesman said they would consider releasing the body in exchange for prisoners held by Syria. The fate of the second pilot was not immediately known.

It’s hard to imagine how this mess will end up. Quite possibly a whole lot messier.


Rachinger public apology

Ben Rachinger has been pressed to at least apologise for sending pictures of a journalist that ended up being published by Lauda Finem.

He responded on this on Your NZ yesterday:

I’ve already acknowledged to JW as much as I can say. I don’t see that relitigating it in public for white knights helps her. She can raise the issue in public as she sees fit.

Insofar as Slater received the pictures and forwarded them to Lauda Finem?

That’s a whole basket of can’t comment. For obvious and very good reasons. A lot of people have been up to some very dodgy stuff. In some cases, criminal.

What I’m supposed to have done is unethical but not illegal. What Slater has allegedly done?

That’s definitely criminal :-)


This morning in what appear to be authentic tweets:

Unconditionally apologise to for sending pictures to who then sent them to . Worst thing I’ve ever done

I have no excuses for what is extremely shithouse and immoral behaviour. I can only make amends by writing and by taking Slater down.

Would like to say that my ex had no knowledge of any of pics. She’s her own person. We don’t speak anymore. Onwards to literary infamy! :)

Ben has said he is writing a book.

He can confirm if these tweets are from him but to me it looks authentic.


Slater used Craig poem without permission

A bizarre twist in Colin Craig versus Cameron Slater – Craig has admitted he wrote a poem to his former press-secretary Rachel MacGregor but has invoiced Slater for publishing the poem without permission.

Stuff reports: Colin Craig claims $15,000 from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater for publication of ‘Two of Me’ poem

Colin Craig appears to have admitted a poem allegedly written for his former press-secretary Rachel MacGregor, is one of his original works.

He is now attempting to invoice WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater $15,000 for it, after Slater published the leaked poem on his site.

In the latest twist of a drawn-out series of events, Craig is also demanding Slater retract the blog post, and “provide written apology to me for using my work without permission”.

In an email on Monday to Slater, Craig appeared to admit the poem was of his own pen, claiming a “copyright dispute”.

He said he “withdrawn” a “previous offer” and demanded payment of “$3000 per month for the display of my work to the public in clear breach of copyright”.

Slater, who copied media into the email exchange, responded by saying it was “the most bizarre email I have ever received.”

“Firstly there was never an offer to settle from you, just a list of demands with nothing in return.

“The irony of you now invoicing me for the Two of Me poem (which you originally alleged was a fabrication) from a company called Craig and Craig is comically genius.”

It’s hard to believe this saga could get any more bizarre.



“Best press release ever”

On the lighter side of politics, albeit from the US.

Keren Tumulty, Washington Post national political correspondent, tweeted:

Karen Tumulty @ktumulty

Packing up things to take to new office. Another keeper: best congressional press release ever.

YellowHammer News with details in The time an Alabama senator mistook his wife’s panties for a handkerchief, in public

“There are some artifacts that you come to realize are real treasures,” Tumulty explained on Time Magazine’s blog. “Like my favorite press release of all time. It is dated July 19, 1994, and was issued by then-Senator Howell Heflin’s office.

That morning, the Senator had been dining in the Capitol with some Alabama reporters, and suddenly felt a sniffle coming on. The reporters were aghast when the Senator reached into his pocket, pulled out a bit of fabric and began to wipe his nose with … a pair of ladies underwear. Hence the following:

JULY 19, 1994

I mistakenly picked up a pair of my wife’s white panties and put them in my pocket while I was rushing out the door to go to work.

Rather than take a chance on being embarrassed again, I’m going to start buying colored handkerchiefs.

Embedded image permalink

“Yep,” Tumulty concluded, “that’s one press release that I’m hanging on to.”

A bit embarrassing for sure. I haven’t done anything like that but can imagine how easy it would be – if handkerchiefs were in the same drawer as panties.

Most people use tissues now anyway.


On suppression

There’s been quite a few comments on suppression lately, most trying to compromise this site, but some seem to not understand how suppression works.

This is as far as I understand it.

Courts can order name suppression up to blanket case suppression.

With name suppresssion you can publish details of a case as long as you don’t name or identify the persion with suppression.

With blanket suppression you are unable to publish any details of the case or name or identify anyone involved in the case realtive to the case.

But this shouldn’t stop you publishing about things that are unrelated to cases.

For example if John Key was involved in a case in the 90s and was granted permanent name suppression that doesn’t mean you can’t name him in political stories and commentary now.

Most people are completely unaware of suppressions that are in place so we have the strange situation where you are supposed to avoid publishing on things you don’t know about.

I think all regulars here are well aware of the responsibilities on suppression and are appropriately prudent.

When you get a new name show up posting a potentially actionable comment and then disappearing it’s kinda obvious that the intent is malicious.

PLEASE NOTE: if you want to discuss suppression in general terms then go ahead. But don’t mention any names or details about any cases that you know or think could be subject to suppression.

If anyone comments here and compromises this site by deliberately breaching any court ordered suppression then you will be held responsible for your actions.

Response to’Pro Bono’

A comment made by “Pro Bono’ requires a response.

Pete George has let her/”Mike C” roam free here and allowed to make wild statements about people on an almost daily basis.

Everyone is allowed to “roam free and allowed to make” statements to a large extent.

He posts there is only to be one account per person, and he damn well knows Mike C is operating a number of them.

That’s false. Mike C initially used several names but then settled on ‘Mike C’. I think I asked for consistent naming.

If you can point to any multiple names then say so, otherwise please retract this accusation.

He is complicit in all this by acting against people he doesn’t like but lets Mike C run amok. They are like a tag team.

The “people he doesn’t like” have tried to deliberately compromise me and this a site legally so I have to act against them.

Some of the hit pieces are clearly not George’s own work. I won’t speculate as to their source, but I have my ideas.

That’s false. Everything I write here is my own work unless attributed to someone else.

Please retract this accusation.

Here’s my theory on how this all came about:: Mike C got booted from Whale Oil and has teamed up with George to attack them on an almost daily basis, mostly unprovoked, especially for the first many months.

That’s false. There’s been no teaming up with anyone. Of course I have interacted with a number of people here, that’s what happens on some blogs.

Then when they get unwanted attention from Spring, Nottingham and Lauda Finem they suddenly cry foul and pretend they are the victim here. I’m not buying it.

Many people have received unwanted attention from Spring, Nottingham and Lauda Finem, over many years. It’s not as if this is a unique situation.

There is something that can’t be said due to court orders that is happening between George and someone that has nothing to do with Whale Oil, yet he is on a daily mission to try and prove there is some link.

There are people, yourself included by the look of things, on a daily mission to attack and harass me and to compromise this site.

I make no apology for responding.

There seems to be some people who are squirming in the sunlight.

I note that while the IP address associated with Pro Bono’s comment is from the Ukraine.

And a check of the given email address: Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

‘The Message’ is clear

Russell Brown has posted The Message at Public Address, giving an account of sorts of Phil Goff’s launch of his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

They message he is trying to convey is quite clear. His intro:

The announcement of Phil Goff’s intention to seek the Auckland mayoralty yesterday was able and organised. Various important constituencies were represented in the room, the messaging was precise and the first person to be greeted by name in the candidate’s speech was the present deputy mayor, Penny Hulse. So she’s on board.


Goff was at pains to emphasise that yesterday was not a campaign launch, merely the announcement of his candidacy. Policy will come with the launch proper, next year. He has already drawn some clear lines: finance the CRL more quickly, prevent Port expansion into the harbour, don’t privatise Watercare. But he will need to take good advice on what he chooses to say around the complexities of the Unitary Plan, the Auckland Plan and the Long Term Plan before having to actually state policy on them. Populism gets very perilous in that area, especially when you’re promising “protection for areas of high heritage value.”

But yesterday’s launch was competent and confident. After he spoke, Goff circulated easily for photographs while the press waited at the door of the room. His meeting and greeting completed, he turned, strode to the door and delivered his lines. He clearly does know how this is done.

Is Russell Goff’s media adviser? Did he arrange the media event? Whether he did or not his message is quite clear.

I can’t see any dosclosure so he must just be a interested observer, albeit quite keen on Goff’s bid for the mayoralty.



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