Phil Goff: “please explain” spleak

The media have now Phil Goff’s leaking of confidential information prior to the release of the Gwyn report, at the instigation of a “please explain” request to Goff after it was claimed and it was later admitted he gave information to journalists.

Stuff reports:

The inspector-general of intelligence and security yesterday issued a “please explain” request to Goff over why aspects of her report were given to journalists before it was released.

Gwyn said she was aware of Goff’s statements that he had disclosed some information concerning findings in her report.

She would be seeking further information from Goff and others. A conviction for a breach under the IGIS Act could trigger a fine of up to $50,000 against a company or corporation or a $10,000 fine and a year in jail, or both, for an individual.

Goff leaked selected parts of the report in an obvious attempt to pre-empt the publicity the report would receive. A classic spin leak (spleak).

Goff has a history of leaking – see “Goff is a serial leaker”. And that’s just significant ones that are known about.

Prosecutions for breaking the law involving politics are not common, hence the continuation of leaking with apparent impunity.

In this case it is very ironic as the Gwyn report looked in to the passing on of information for political purposes. It turns out that the report found nothing illegal about the information passed on to Slater, but Goff seems to have blatantly broken the law trying to set the narrative around the report.

Goff’s spleaking may have been counter productive anyway. Media and blogs got excited about the damage the report would deliver for Key and National and then the report delivered far less – and was called a whitewash by some.

“They still have standard bloggers on staff”

In a text to John Key on Monday Cameron Slater said “They still have standard bloggers on staff”. ‘They’ meaning Labour.

Lyn Prentice has long denied this has ever been the case, but while posts continue at The Standard from unidentified sources they will have difficulty batting this sort of claim away.

On Saturday I posted Attacker hides behind ‘Notices and Features’ and was attacked at The Standard for asking why ‘Notices and Features’ was being used for attack posts. The degree of attack suggested a sensitivity to this being raised.

Despite claims ‘Notices and Features’ was only used to “report” and not to post opinions it has continued to be used through this week to attack political opponents.

I would post proof of this but currently The Standard is out of action.

Prentice has also been involved in “Dirty Politics” and The Standard has promoted a one sided slant on who plays dirty.

Being devious and dishonest runs a high risk of blowing up in one’s face. Prentice may not care, he is likely to bluster on regardless.

But Labour should be very careful about how they deal with this.

“Dirty hypocrisy” is not a good look.

Key texts to Slater

John Key has released texts he exchanged with Cameron Slater on Monday – and admitted he made an incorrect statement in Parliament: Stuff reports in PM reveals Slater texts.

This evening, during the second reading of the Parole Amendment Bill, Key returned to the House to make a personal statement acknowledging his answers were wrong.

He claimed that he believed Woods was only talking about one of the reports, when in fact she had asked about both.

“On Monday the 24th of November I received an unsolicited text message from Mr Slater with a reference to the IGIS report. There was a very short exchange where I briefly acknowledged that text message.”

Stuff quotes from some of the texts but curiously leaves a name out. Here are the texts as published on Whale Oil:

The Goff leak (yet another) could blow up in Labour’s face. But there could be more explosions. Labour chief of staff Matt McCarten has been named as being involved in the hack of Slater in January.

New Labour leader is attacking Key on “Dirty Politics” strongly. On this he said (NZ Herald Key comes clean over Slater texts)

Labour Leader Andrew Little said there was “an air of unreality” about the texts. “Some of them look somewhat delusional.”

He scoffed at the claim Mr McCarten was involved in the hacking. “I don’t think his computer skills go that far.”

Slater didn’t claim the McCarten did the hacking, he said “he was involved in the hack”. Little and Labour are in very risky territory attacking on “Dirty Politics” This could come back to bite them. Hard.

“Goff is a serial leaker”

Keeping Stock comments at Kiwiblog on Phil Goff’s record as a leaker, the latest example the leaking of

Phil Goff was allegedly warned by the police recently for breaching a suppression order over the circumstances of the death of an NZDF member. Now it seems that Goff is responsible for knowingly breaching the embargo on the Gwyn report, in contravention of the instructions of Ms Gwyn when advance copies were released; potentially a criminal offence, punishable by up to one year in prison. Here’s how Bill English described it yesterday:

This is the man who leaked the findings of this report yesterday in direct breach of the confidentiality order that he signed, which states that it is an offence to leak it. So why would the public believe anything that the Labour members say about this report? This is the confidentiality order, and on the bottom it says: “Received and acknowledged”. That is, when you give evidence you sign it to say that you acknowledge that you are under a confidentiality order and that you acknowledge that it will be an offence if you breach it. Despite him personally acknowledging that, he leaked it.

Phil Goff is a serial leaker; “gone by lunchtime”, MFAT, NZDF suppression order and now this. I hope this matter is referred to the Police, and that on this occasion, it is decided that is IS in the public interest to prosecute Mr Goff, if for no other reason than to prove that NO New Zealander, even a 27-year veteran of Parliament, is above the law.

Will the media pick up on that?

Somewhere between Key and Goff/Norman/Hager

John Key hasn’t dealt with the fallout from “Dirty Politics” well. He has batted off many accusations, that’s normal for playing politics. But he should accept some responsibility for what has been played out of his office via Jason Ede.

Some of the claims against Key have been overplayed. Anthony Robins at The Standard in John Key vs the truth:

RNZ sums up:

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to accept there was a link between his office and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, despite the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) watchdog finding his official passed on information.

Key thinks he can simple lie and refuse to accept facts. He can’t get away with it. Can he?

It depends on what “link” means.

Certainly Key’s office – and Key himself – have had contact with Slater and have used him for playing political games – and Slater has used Ede and Key for his own agendas.

But there is no proof yet that an out of the ordinary smear campaign was orchestrated by Key through his office.

Many of the mainstream media are not neutral bystanders here. They have been used far more than Slater has been used for a long time, by Prime Ministers, their offices and by other party leaders and their offices.

The question that none of them seem to be asking is was the collusion with Slater any different to what politicians have done with journalists for yonks? He may have received favourable feeding in the Goff/SIS case but one channel or newspaper often get political exclusives from informants. So was this much different to politics/media as usual?

And how different was it to Hager playing the media when he released his book? And since?

And how different is it to Goff leaking favourable (to him) parts of the Gwyn report a day before it was due to be released? Did he leak to all media equally? Or did he feed journalists who he thought would promote his spin best?

“Dirty Politics” is supposed to be “Key evil, the Left exemplary”, and mainstream media are aghast – to an extent at Whale Oil stealing their thunder and doing little different to what they have done with politicians for much longer.

I’d like to see Key and Goff and Norman to all own up to playing politics, and playing it dirty at times. Hager and Norman won’t think they are part of the dirty brigade but they involve themselves in gamesmanship, promoting selective facts and over the top attacks as the other lot.

I don’t expect Cameron Slater to change his spots, but they are polka dot in effectiveness now anyway.

Will anyone in the media take a step back and look at their complicity in all of this? That’s just about as unlikely as Whale Oil becoming modest and reasonable.

Somewhere between Key and Goff/Norman/Hager there is some decent, honest and balanced politics, but it’s not evident at the moment.

Most of the public are likely to see this as “a pox on all their parties, press officers, journalists and bloggers”.

Judith Collins cleared

Judith Collins has been cleared of allegations she was involved in a smear campaign against former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley.

Dirty Politics: No evidence Judith Collins acted inappropriately – report

Again the Herald headlines “Dirty Politics” when the dirt has again backfired or been grossly overblown.

Ms Collins resigned her ministerial portfolios in the lead-up to this year’s election after an email emerged that appeared to link her to a blog campaign to undermine former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley.

Prime Minister John Key initiated a government inquiry into the matter, headed by High Court judge Justice Lester Chisholm.

The inquiry found that while Ms Collins had provided information about Mr Feeley to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater, “there was nothing improper about the provision of this information”.

Today Mr Key released the findings of the inquiry, saying he received the report yesterday and wanted to get it out at the earliest opportunity.

“I am pleased the report shows no evidence that Ms Collins acted inappropriately.”

He also said he would recommending to the Governor-General that Ms Collins she granted use of the title “The Honourable” for life.

The “Dirty Politics” campaign always looked like it was making more of snippets of information than the facts justified. That seems to be how things are turning out.

Gwyn report waters down “Dirty Politics”

While some of the media keep promoting the Gwyn report as “Dirty Politics” it has watered down the levels of dirt claimed by Nicky Hager’s book and his associates who yet again raised hopes that they could bring John Key down.

NZ Herald reports Dirty Politics: John Key won’t apologise to Goff.

A report on Dirty Politics allegations released this morning found former SIS director Warren Tucker failed to take adequate steps to maintain the spy agency’s political neutrality.

Speaking soon after the report’s release this morning, Mr Key said the Inspector General’s report had cleared his office of any wrongdoing and no apology was necessary.

“The report makes it absolutely crystal clear that my office did nothing that was either unprofessional or breached any of the requirements on them.”

He also countered Labour’s accusations he was using SIS information for political purposes, accusing Labour of leaking selected parts of the Inspector General’s report to the media yesterday in advance of its release.

“Yesterday I strongly suspect that the Labour Party did exactly that by leaking this report. The only reason they would have breached the confidentiality agreement and leaked the report 24 hours prior to its release is they know that the very strong allegations they made about my personal involvement weren’t stacked up in the report and they were trying to get their own spin on it.”

The lack of evidence to implicate John Key leaves him very much on the periphery. So much so that there are claims from the left that the  report is a whitewash (I can’t link to that because all the spitting at their keyboards seems to have crashed The Standard).

The Herald link includes the whole report.

And they quote Hager:

But Mr Hager told the Herald Ms Gwyn’s report “thoroughly” backed up the allegations he made in Dirty Politics that information provided to Mr Key’s office by Dr Tucker was used by Mr Key’s senior staff in a political hit on Mr Goff.

Mr Key’s statements this morning were an attempt to persuade the public his staff had done nothing wrong, he said.

“In fact the entire political scandal was initiated and organised and conducted by the Prime Minister’s office. When the Prime Minister’s office heard there was some bad news about Goff on the basis of what they were told by the head of the SIS, they then went about all the steps of organising that hit against Goff using Slater.

“That’s what my book was all about. So actually John Key’s carefully worded statement is just slipping around the fact that this report confirms the central allegation in the book.”

I think the report substantially waters down Hager’s claims.

We have the SIS reprimanded, the Prime Minister’s office on notice that they should play decent politics, Cameron Slater is substantially neutered and Hager and his left wing associates and fan club groping for substance.

Prime Minister’s office under an awkward spotlight

It will be hard to judge until the report is released tomorrow but this is looking awkward for the Prime Minister’s office.

PM’s office pushed Slater to dig up dirt on Goff – report

A report by New Zealand’s intelligence watchdog Cheryl Gwyn has found attack blogger Cameron Slater requested and published politically damaging material about former Labour Leader Phil Goff from the SIS after being instructed to ask for the material by Prime Minister John Key’s staff.

Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) Ms Gwyn has been investigating events around the declassification and release of SIS documents Slater used to attack Mr Goff in a series of blog posts in mid 2011 and will release her report tomorrow.

It will inevitably lead to some awkward questions for John Key to try and uncover how involved he was, if that doesn’t come out in the report.

It will be far from the first time the PM’s office (or any political office) has been guilty of getting third parties to try and embarrass opponents, but the degree of being caught out may be unprecedented.

The differences are a blogger has been used instead of the traditional media, and the SIS has been involved which increases the awkwardness for Key substantially.

The Herald understands that after being briefed on the material by Dr Tucker, Mr Key’s then deputy chief of staff Phil de Joux suggested to Jason Ede, another staffer in Mr Key’s office, that he contact Slater suggesting he request information about the Goff briefing.

It is understood the report finds that Dr Tucker’s briefing to Mr de Joux presented material about what Mr Goff was told about the Israeli agents in a way that was incomplete, lacked professionalism and risked giving the impression of political bias.

The report finds information Dr Tucker gave to the Prime Minister’s office was edited in a way that highlighted content about the Israeli agents when that material was only part of what Mr Goff was briefed on.

That sounds like a lot of understanding of a report that isn’t released yet.

Where is this information coming from and who is responsible for giving it to the media? I guess it won’t be Slater.

Little’s big reshuffle

Andrew Little has played his caucus reshuffle cars well, with some risks (there’s always risks).

1. Andrew Little
Leader of the Opposition
Security and Intelligence

2. Annette King
Deputy Leader

Good move having King as deputy, keeps some continuity with a lot of experience and should help get the Caucus onside and supportive.

3. Grant Robertson

A big play. Robertson wanted a top job, this isn’t what he wanted but this is perhaps next best. It will be a real test of his ability. If he doesn’t measure up Little has a couple of ex Finance spokespeople sulking but in a year may be ready to perform.

4. Nanaia Mahuta
Maori Development

Reward/conciliation here. Mahuta needs to show she can perform far more visibly and effectively than she has so far.

5. Phil Twyford

Not sure about this one, maybe he’ll be good enough. There’s one way to find out.

6. Chris Hipkins
Shadow Leader of the House
Senior Whip
Early Childhood Education

A good promotion of new blood, Hipkins has to learn to lead and not work in the shadow of fellow henchmen.

7. Carmel Sepuloni
Social Development
Junior Whip

I have no idea how she will go with this sort of promotion and only just back in Parliament.

8. Kelvin Davis
Associate Justice (Sexual and Domestic Violence)
Associate Education (Maori Education)
Associate Regional Development

A good move. One Labour candidate/MP with fairly wide support and respect and he eliminated a pesky Mana left flank for Labour.

9. Jacinda Ardern
Small Business
Arts, Culture, Heritage

Nowhere near where she wanted (deputy to Robertson) but lucky to get a chance under Little, she’s been a bit lightweight. If she performs she could replace King in a year – is she being mentored for this?

10. David Clark
Economic Development
Associate Finance
Associate Health (Mental Health)

Maybe in his second term he realises that hard work is necessary and he’ll be prepared for serious debate.

11. Su’a William Sio
Pacific Island Affairs
Local Government
Associate Housing (South Auckland)
Interfaith Dialogue

Reward for PI support. I don’t know if he otherwise deserves it.

12. Iain Lees-Galloway

Could be part of the new wave but needs to improve.

13. Megan Woods
Climate Change

Some rate her but I haven’t seen it. Her demeanour in Parliament hasn’t impressed, too angry/snarky.

14. David Cunliffe
Regional Development
Tertiary Education
Research and Development
Science and Innovation
Associate Economic Development

A fair placement for him. He needs to prove he can work hard with a team.

15. David Parker
Trade and Export Growth
Shadow Attorney General
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

Also fair placement after his sulking in failure. He has to prove he wants to help the cause or drop out.

16. David Shearer
Foreign Affairs
Consumer Affairs

Seems to be good with Foreign Affairs but not so good with party affairs.

17. Phil Goff
Veterans’ Affairs
Auckland Issues
Ethnic Affairs

About here he should be, if he wants to put the effort it.


Trevor Mallard:
Assistant Speaker 
Internal Affairs (excluding Gambling)
Sport and Recreation
Animal Rights
Parliamentary Reform

He might be better with his Assistant Speaker role requiring a more responsible performance – if he can leave his dirty politics in the past.

Ruth Dyson
Senior Citizens
Disability Issues
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

There for experience, not for future prospects.

Damien O’Connor
Primary Industries
Food Safety

Not likely to rise to greater heights.

Clayton Cosgrove
Building and Construction
Earthquake Commission
Associate Finance

Significant demotion deserved. He campaigned for electorate vote and blatantly ignored party responsibilities, and a fairly toxic brand that Labour needs to leave on the past.

Sue Moroney
Women’s Affairs
Associate Labour

She hasn’t been stellar but I don’t know why she’s been slid backwards so much. Mustn’t be seen as a future prospect.

Little has made some major changes. Labour needs major change.

Putting them on notice that  all positions are up for review in a year is smart – Little needs to change things but needs to not aggravate old and recent wounds too much as he gets himself established.

If the polls have recovered enough he will be able to assess things and then act decisively this time next year to prepare a credible team for the election in 2017.

Little has played his first hand with a good balance of old and new, carrot and stick. It’s up to all of them to step up.

Norman on China: Leader of Dissidents

Russel Norman was interviewed on Q & A yesterday.

What is your problem in general with Chinese trade?

Norman: Well I mean we basically you know New Zealand alonmg with you know Australia, Japan and a number of other countries through South East Asia, we’re trying to manage this relationship between these two superpowers, the United States and China.

Um and essentially the New Zealand Government strategy is to in a way head towards being a client state of the United States militarily so we align ourselves with the US militarily, and then being a client state of China economically, um so milk powder into China, and raw logs.

The problem is that’s quite a precarious situation to be in because of the tension between those superpowers, so our approach is we should have a much more independent foreign policy, and also that we need to diversify the New Zealand economy and invest far more in research and development and value add away from a simple commodity, milk powder into one market China which is a real danger to New Zealand.

Dumping China and the US and becoming major trading partners with the Dalai Lama may be a bit more precarious.

It would be ludicrous to not trade with a country because at some time in the future that market may diminish, that’s always a risk – and a far greater risk with vague “green economy” trade as proposed by the Greens.

We sell milk powder (and cheese and other milk products) all over the world. China is a major market but is far from the only market.

We are trying to improve diversification through trade agreements like the proposed TPPA but Greens strongly oppose that.

If you had the ability to change our relationship with China in any way how would you change it?

Norman: Well I think we need to change it in the sense I’ve just described which is investing in a much more diversified and resilient and broad based New Zealand economy, um so that we’re not just dependent on a single commodity into a single market.

We are not “just dependent on a single commodity into a single market”.

Is Norman suggesting we deliberately reduce our milk powder trade with China? He is vague.

I think it’s also important too that we speak out clearly on human rights and democracy issues.

I mean I’m sure President Xi is a nice guy but let’s remember he, you know there’s a seventy year old journalist called Gau Yu, um who’s locked up in China. She’s ah, for spreading state secrets which was that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like free speech. She was tortured in jail.

They took her son, and President Xi’s Government took her son, locked him up as well and said if you don’t give a false confession we’ll keep him in jail.

Um Liu Zaobo is a is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he, President Xi has locked him up.

Should we halt all trade with any country who’s human, civil and human rights don’t meet the Green standard? That would have a massive impact on New Zealand trade and our economy.

Ah so I think you know there is a contest between democratic capitalism and authoritarian capitalism if you like, you know I think it’s very important that we speak out in favour of democracy because China is only going to become more influential.

Speaking out in favour of democracy is finer, but what would Norman change in our relationship with China other than protesting with words?

What struck me as very interesting in this visit by the Chinese delegation was that Andrew Little as leader of the Labour Party was meeting with the Chinese president, but you were meeting with the Tibetans. Is there a problem with your priorities here? Should you not be doing the same thing as Labour and saying that you’re on the same page?

Norman: Ah, well we’re obviously an independent political party so what Labour does is Labour’s business and what the Greens do is their business.

Does it not illustrate how difficult it’s going to be for you guys to work together?

Norman: No, so um in terms I would have been obviously perfectly happy to meet President Xi but President Xi did not wish to meet us, ah because he doesn’t like hearing dissident voices.

I mean in China he literally censors the Internet. I mean you know you’re not allowed to publish things on the Internet that are critical or President Xi, um you will be arrested if you do that.

And meeting Tibetans in an obvious demonstration would not help Greens get an audience with Xi in the future.

Parties that are in Government have to balance politics with diplomacy.

Norman wants to be seen as the Leader of the Opposition but if he effectively insults visiting presidents It’s difficult to see how he can be anything more than Leader of Dissidents.

So you know it’s the nature of their authoritarian regime that they don’t want to hear dissident voices and clearly the Greens who speak out in favour of human rights, democracy, Tibet, the Falon Gong, um all those basic democratic issues, he’s not interested in hearing our voice.

Being a proud and loud dissident is a choice the Greens can make for themselves, but it doesn’t seem very compatible with being in Government, nor as leading the Opposition.

I don’t agree with some of the ways the Chinese Government does things. I don’t agree with things that many Governments do.

But it the real world (as opposed to the Green world) you have to associate with and trade with countries that don’t fit your ideals.

This doesn’t just make it difficult to see how the Greens could operate in as a part of a Government.

It makes it very difficult for Labour to present themselves as a credible alternative lead party in a coalition when they would have to rely on the Greens to form a Government in the foreseeable future.


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