National plans to replace Sabin

While the police and the Prime Minister’s office are not saying anything about the investigation of MP Mike Sabin for assault there is some information being eked out, including possible plans to replace Sabin in the Northland electorate.

Mr Sabin, 46, is understood to be receiving support from a caucus colleague.

They should be supporting each other in general anyway, that support is presumably in relation to the investigation or about moving Sabin on.

Party president Peter Goodfellow told the Herald National’s hierarchy was unaware of any allegations, historical or recent, against Mr Sabin before this year’s general election. He refused to comment further.

Covering themselves for allowing Sabin to stand in the election. It doesn’t answer whether the allegations were known before Sabin was appointed chair of Parliament’s law and order committee. Cameron Slater claims that National have sat it “for weeks”.

Slater also said “there is little doubt that there will be a by-election in Northland”.

Nevertheless, the Herald understands senior Northland National Party figures have already been discussing potential candidates to replace him in the event of a byelection.

So Sabin’s future as an MP looks shaky.

Caution – serious Slater allegations

While Slater is prone to over selling and under-delivery on scandal stories but he claims that the Mike Sabin assault story will lead to a by-election in Northland and there is another serious claim against a different National MP.

if there’s any truth to The coming by-election in Northland

The story itself, which National have sat on for weeks, is almost too horrible for words, and there is little doubt that there will be a by-election in Northland.

Word from Fraser House is that senior whip and pink cocktail drinker Chris Hipkins is sitting on another ethics story where a senior National Party figure has been nailed for wife beating, and doing a whole lot of things that are not OK. Combine that with the Sabin story and it really looks like John Key doesn’t care about ethics.

…then National have more major problems to deal with.

But when Slater says…

This is the problem you get when you have an ethically challenged party hierarchy.

…then you have to take the irony into account when considering his claims. Slater has National MPs he supports (sometimes for money) and those he acts against.

And another warning directly from Slater:

It’s politics, the court of public opinion rules.

He has a record of framing the narrative hoping that mud will stick regardless of the full facts of a story.

Obviously there is something to the Sabin story. If it’s subject to police inquiry then National can’t front foot it.

The “wife beating” rumour is more of a problem to deal with because there is nothing in the public about it.

But if these are swept under the holidays rug then Key could find it challenging starting 2015 positively.

UPDATE: Radio NZ reports PM’s office confirms complaint about MP

The Prime Minister’s office says it is aware of a complaint that has been made to police about the National MP for Northland, Mike Sabin.

National’s Sabin in assault inquiry

Mike has been National MP for Northland since 2011. He got 18,188 votes to the Labour candidate’s 6,826 in the recent election.

Stuff reports that police have been investigating an assault charge against him – Nat MP in police assault inquiry.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

The investigation was moved south from Whangarei because Sabin was a police officer based there until 2006.

The officer in charge, Detective Inspector Kevin Hooper, refused to confirm Sabin was the subject of an investigation.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott, the crime service manager for Waitemata police, referred inquiries related to Sabin to the police media section.

“We have no comment on any investigation that could or could not be happening,” he said.

Sabin also won’t say anything about it.

When approached Sabin at home at Coopers Beach, in the Far North, he immediately demanded the reporter leave his property.

“I have got nothing to say,” Sabin said.

Asked if he would comment on the police investigation, he replied: “No, no I have nothing to say – I want you to leave my property.”

Not commenting suggests he doesn’t want to talk about it rather than there being nothing to talk about.

But there would appear to be something known to journalists about the investigation:

A relative of a complainant also would not comment. “I can’t say much mate, sorry,” he said. “I just don’t need the grief at the moment.”

This is the only media article I can find on the issue.

An investigation is just an investigation. Assault can range from minor to serious.

Sabin is an ex police officer and has been a prominent spokesperson on methampthetamine.

He is Chairperson of Parliament’s Law and Order committee and is a member of the Justice and Electoral committee.

If he has been involved in an incident that has resulted in a police inquiry into assault then it’s newsworthy, but with a lack of detail it’s not possible to make any judgement on it.

Tiso versus senior political journalists

In Tending Fascist Giovanni Tiso blasted Patrick Gower and Jane Clifton for not investigating “the scandal of their careers” (yeah, right) – dirty politics.

As senior political journalists who failed to uncover the scandal of their careers, Gower and Clifton may have a vested professional interest in arguing that it wasn’t in fact a real scandal, or that it wasn’t worth uncovering if one couldn’t also uncover what the Left has undoubtedly been doing.

But theirs is also part of the continuing and increasingly brazen attempt to normalise dirty politics, which is also the overt significance of the hiring of Collins (and the reason why Phil Goff provides no balance – although to be fair Goff would struggle to drag leftward a panel with Tomás de Torquemada).

There is no role of the media establishment to re-examine, no collective conscience to interrogate: just old prerogatives to re-establish and a fragile status quo to defend.

Putting the harsh criticisms aside, I would be appalled if senior journalists like Gower and Clifton used illegal hacking as a means of investigating stories.

Tiso campaigns very strongly against legal and court approved surveillance.

But he blasts journalists for not doing the job a hacker and associates did.

So he’s against legal surveillance but supports illegal hacking.

This looks like a continuing and increasingly brazen attempt to normalise dirty politics, as long as it’s the ones he agrees with doing the dirty digging.

Slater versus Hooton on Dirty Politics

Cameron Slater has kept saying he will reveal all about the ‘Dirty Politics’ plot against him when the time is right, but he doesn’t seem to be able to resist either dropping big hints or fishing and stirring.

Yesterday he posted With friends like Matthew Hooton who needs enemies?

There’s a certain irony in that.

Slater seems to imply that Hooton is “donkey deep” on the plot against him.

Matthew Hooton is a friend of Laila Harre (  Still I assume ) as they went/or are still to go on a skiing holiday to Whistler together. The trip has been planned and paid for, for months. It will be/should’ve been an interesting trip if it was the source of Matthew’s statement on Paul Henry yesterday about The Labour Party and The Internet Party.

He stated that the Labour Party’s  “Vote Positive” campaign slogan was designed to complement Kim Dotcom’s Moment of Truth as the idea was to provide a contrast between despicable John Key and The Labour Party. This confirmation, from a confidant of Laila’s, confirms what we have said all along here on Whaleoil about Dirty Politics being a hit organised by not one but two political parties ably assisted or led by the Machiavellian Matt McCarten, a long time friend and Alliance pal of Laila Harre.

That McCarten and Harre might collude is no surprise, it hasn’t been hard to suspect what might have been going on behind the political scenes.

But Hooton is an unlikely partner in that mix. Unless the price was right? He does PR campaigns for a living.

This is the first time that Hooton has dropped the veil. Of course he was donkey deep in pushing the left-wing slant on Dirty Politics…he constantly claimed that this MP or that MP was next, and that John Key would have to resign, and that National would lose the election.

Hooton’s stance at the time, especially calling on Key to resign, looked very curious.

He was drinking the Kool-aid of the Dirty Politics crew, literally, from the horse’s mouth. He is as complicit as the media, and perhaps more guilty than most.

I still find it interesting that there is nary a mention of him in Dirty Politics…and certainly nothing about his own business practices…very interesting indeed.

Slater has often claimed that what was left out of Hager’s book was as telling as what was included.

However the collusion between Labour’s inner sanctum and Dotcom’s criminal political conspiracy is now established.There is no longer any doubt that Labour via the cosy relationship between Matt McCarten and Laila Harre colluded with and plotted with Kim Dotcom in order to subvert our democracy and hijack an election through a criminal enterprise.

For someone not yet ready to blow the lid on the plot this is continuation of being openly accusatory.

This now makes the story I heard from one National MP that saw McCarten approach Mark Mitchell, and stop and say “Ahhh, so I finally meet the puppet master” make complete sense.

Now what on earth could McCarten have meant by that statement? It means nothing unless you also watched Martyn Martin Bradbury claim constantly via his left-wing hate speech blog that Mark Mitchell ‘s election was going to end in tears and that he should have shut up about Kim Dotcom.

Slater has provided political promotion services to National MP (Rodney electorate) Mark Mitchell. There have been claims that Mitchell was also hacked.

Dirty politics doesn’t look like dissipating any time soon. Both sides are still fighting tooth and nail. And seemingly the same side is in open combat too.

When it comes to politics power, dirt and money seem to be far thicker than friendships.

Summary of “Dirty Politics” and dirty politics

A detailed summary by Bryce Edwards: A year of (neverending) Dirty Politics.

This gives an extensive overview of the “Dirty Politics” campaign that tried to swing an election and failed, and dirty politics surrounding it and dominating the political year.

Edwards quotesd a wide range of bloggers but some of the best commentary comes from seasoned journalists like Rob Hosking at NBR.

In fact, wasn’t the problem with the delivery of Dirty Politics that it became too enmeshed in partisan politics? This is the argument put forward by Rob Hosking:

‘The country’s opposition partisans – and I include Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager himself in that group – have screwed this up royally. A mix of arrogance, self righteousness and incompetence have allowed important questions to go largely unanswered.

So convinced of their own righteousness and so convinced of the self-evident evil of Prime Minister John Key, they have, throughout this entire saga, opted to shout and sneer rather than seek to convince’ – see: Dirty Politics: the aftermath (paywalled).

That sums it up well. “Dirty Politics was a partisan campaign plonked into an election. This approached detracted from the much wider and very important issue of dirty politics in general.

Some in politics thinks that dirtiness is just the way things sometimes work. I don’t think we should accept this in a modern democracy. We should demand better of all parties and politicians.

Hosking says that the revelations in Dirty Politics were too important to become partisan fodder: ‘You will never get any point of principle across if you drench your point in partisan bile and personal attacks. All you will do is make it look like politics – dirty politics – as usual’.

He calls for a more principled approach on the issues: ‘It is time they were treated as matters of principle, and not just ways of achieving partisan advantage’.

There is no sign of a more principled approach in the wake of the election – and for those still campaigning with “Dirty Politics” post-election was a virtual wake, the death of their hopes of a change of government.

And Simon Wilson in Metro:

But one of the best accounts of the impact – or lack of impact – of Dirty Politics comes in the latest Metro magazine out today. Simon Wilson has a feature on John Key, which argues that the PM ‘rode the wave of discontent brilliantly. His consistent message was that New Zealanders would far rather discuss “the issues that really matter”: jobs, growth, economic and social wellbeing’. 

What’s more, according to Wilson, ‘when the book came out, National quickly refocused on Hager. Their claim that he’s a conspiracy theorist not only belittled him and distracted attention from the accusations in the book, it served to smear anyone else who asked about dirty politics: were they part of the conspiracy too? By the time the last week arrived, even Hager had been sidelined’.

Wilson shows how after the election, National has actually managed to turn the tables, and ‘invoke the “dirty politics” smear’. And in contrast, a strong line is being pushed about Key being the most honest and transparent politician around.

I don’t think Key is “the most honest and transparent politician around” by a long shot, but he is far from alone in being involved in doing dirty politics.

Because “Dirty Politics” was used as a partisan election campaign it has been easy to turn it back on it’s promoters, especially as they’re playing dirty against critics or criticism of their one sided approach.

Unfortunately this all leaves the issue of confronting crap and improving political behaviour still inadequately addressed.

Politics not popular

It’s well known that politics isn’t a popular topic with the general population. This is demonstrated by the Top Kiwi Google searches of 2014 (Stuff).

Overall top New Zealand Google searches:

1. Fifa World Cup

2. Robin Williams

3. Commonwealth Games

4. Malaysia Airlines

5. iPhone 6

6. Jennifer Lawrence

7. Charlotte Dawson

8. Flappy Bird

9. Spark

10. Ebola

Top news item searches:

1. Malaysian Airlines crash

2. Cyclone Lusi

3. Scottish Independence

4. Alex from Target

5. Ukraine news

6. Robin Williams’ death

7. Ebola outbreak

8. Wellington earthquake

9. Cyclone Ita

10. Lunar eclipse

Top Kiwis searched:

1. Lorde

2. Aaron Smith

3. Rachel Smalley

4. Lisa Lewis

5. Mark Hunt

6. Joseph Parker

7. Benji Marshall

8. Chris Cairns

9. Mona Dotcom

10. Stephen Donald

No John Key. No Kim Dotcom. No David Cunliffe. No Judith Collins. No election. No dirty politics or Nicky Hager. No Whale Oil or Cameron Slater.

Winston Peters can only play a very narrow part of the media.

And no, Spark is not Bill English and Flappy Bird is not Metiria Turei

The closest to politics is Rachel Smalley who sometimes comments on politics, but it’s probably not politics that has made her an attractive search subject on Google.

Relative to general news, sport and celebrity puff politics is not very popular.

The elusive surplus threatens poverty measures

It looks like the Government won’t make their promised surplus next year due to reduced tax take and pressure from reducing milk prices.

NZ Herald reported No surplus this year – Treasury

Treasury this morning delivered a body blow to the Government’s hopes of returning to surplus, saying it now expects a deficit of over half a billion dollars for the June financial year.

At this morning’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update, Acting Treasury Secretary Vicky Robertson said despite solid growth in the economy, the Crown’s finances would take a hit from lower than previously forecast tax take.

That had seen Treasury change its forecast operating balance before gains and losses (Obegal) for the 2014-15 year from a slim surplus of $297 million to a deficit of $572 million.

Treasury said softer outlook for economic drivers of the tax such as lower dairy prices and interest rates had seen the expected tax take for the year fall by $600 million.

The changed forecast isn’t a big deal on it’s own, changing economic conditions and revisions are to be expected.

Unless there’s a significant turn around and the surplus is achieved this is embarrassing for National and Bill English who have put a lot of emphasis on reaching a surplus after some very difficult years since the Global Financial Crisis.

Generally English deserves a lot of credit for managing the country’s finances prudently, this played a significant part in National doing so well in the election.

But English has not been so prudent on two counts – staking so much of his reputation on reaching a surplus by 2015, and leaving no room for mistakes or unexpected changes in his last budget.

English cut the surplus too fine, leaving virtually no margin for a negative change. Mr Reliable gambled and looks like losing this bet.

It isn’t a major problem for National at this stage of the electoral cycle. But it will make their promise to address poverty in next year’s budget challenging.

Goff fibbed again?

In trying to diminish his responsibility for leaking the Gwyn SIS report Phil Goff has highlighted a discrepancy between his and Andrew Little’s claims.

Goff fibbed to Radio New Zealand about not lying or he has put his leader Andrew Little in an embarrassing position – actually this is awkward for Little regardless.

This what he said to Radio NZ yesterday:

“I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments and I apologised for being in breach of her embargo. I should have honoured it to the letter.”

- Goff off the hook over leak

And this is what Andrew Little was reported as saying in defence of Goff last month:

“He’s given me those assurances, I’m satisfied with that,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“He hasn’t given the report to anybody, he declined media interviews until the report was released at 10am yesterday, so I don’t know where they came from and I’m satisfied they didn’t come from Phil Goff.”

- Goff: SIS report leak ‘perfectly appropriate’

Someone has not been truthful.

Goff had presumably have talked to Little about whether he had leaked or not and will have known that Little defended him. Emphasising now that “I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments” highlights the discreoancy between Goff’s and Little’s claims.

Goff has put Andrew Little in a very difficult position here. The time of year might reduce the spotlight but it’s not a good look for a new era for Labour’s caucus under Little’s leadership.

It also makes Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn letting Goff off look weak when he then appears to mislead with impunity.

UPDATE: I posted on this at The Standard and a typical response – they have launched into attacks on me with little attempt to contest the facts.

One thing they’re expert at is drawing attention to things they don’t like.

After a pile of petty dirt it probably won’t be long before they accuse me of disrupting the thread.

UPDATE2: Tracey calls it as it is

When it was confirmed yesterday by goffs apology, i rolled my eyes. Just as I did when I saw he has a SST column. Little needs to do a Key and get Goff to state NOW that he is NOT standing at the next election.

IMO, Little saying nothing yesterday, to my knowledge, leaves open the strong suggestion that Little knew about the leak and it was part of a strategy.

So, PG, I deplore dishonesty in our leaders, and every elected MP imo is supposed to be a leader. It undermines our democracy and the trust people have in our systems.

If I were Little I would have announced yesterday that Mr Goff is gone.

And:

Unless Little intends carrying on the awful tradition of planned leaking that some of our pollies indulge in, this was a chance to put his foot down.

It is unfathomable that Goff didnt know exactly what the media would do, sack him, show you have a genuine standard.

Goff, leaks, lies and sincerity

(Further to Goff apologises, media warned over leak)

Last month details of the Gwyn/SIS report were leaked to media the day before it could legally be publicised. Phil Goff was an obvious suspect but he was cleared by new Labour leader Andrew Little.

“He’s given me those assurances, I’m satisfied with that,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“He hasn’t given the report to anybody, he declined media interviews until the report was released at 10am yesterday, so I don’t know where they came from and I’m satisfied they didn’t come from Phil Goff.”

- Goff: SIS report leak ‘perfectly appropriate’

However it was later revealed that Goff had been the leaker, so either Goff lied to Little or Little lied to media. And Goff was unrepentant.

“What I did was perfectly appropriate, if the journalists decided to run information given to them in confidence then you should raise it with your colleagues,” Goff told Radio New Zealand at the time.

Goff had changed his stance by last week.

Goff signalled in an interview last week, that he had apologised .

“I beat the gun on the embargo. I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“I’ve apologised to the inspector-general. The ball is in her court [as to legal action]. I’ll take it on the chin, whatever her decision is. I haven’t tried to lie about it or mislead people on it.

“[I] shouldn’t have done it…I’ll accept any consequences.”

Today Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn said Goff’s leak was no appropriate.

“All witnesses, including Mr Goff, were subject to a confidentiality order of the inspector-general,”  IGIS said in a statement.

“The order was made to ensure fairness and the integrity of the inquiry. The disclosure of the report by Mr Goff was in breach of the order.”

And Goff has ‘unreservedly’ apologised.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has accepted Labour MP Phil Goff’s “unreserved apology” for leaking a Security Intelligence Service report to media.

Mr Goff gave a verbal and written apology and Ms Gwyn says no further action will be taken.

Goff apologises for SIS report leak

And Goff has said:

And I guess my enthusiasm led me to make some more comment than I should have.

That downplays the fact that he breached a confidentiality agreement.

I gave information that was not going to damage anybody.

In his opinion. Is that Goff’s Law of Leak Justification?

Ah what happened in John Key’s office was that that was part of a smear campaign.

So when someone else does it they are smearing, when Goff does it he’s just a bit enthusiastic.

The sincerity of Goff’s apology looks very dubious. First he (or Little) lied about leaking. Then he was unrepentant. Then he “unreservedly apologised”, followed soon afterwards by making excuses and turning it into political point scoring.

Andrew Little has a bit of work to do to reform his caucus.He generally sounds sincere but he will be damaged by association and collaboration with leaks, lies and insincerity like this.

Little shouldn’t be satisfied with what has come from Goff on this both last month and today.

Today Goff has apologised ‘sincerely’ to the

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