For and against Chris Brown

There have been a number of arguments for and against allowing musician Chris Brown to come to New Zealand for a concert due to his history of violence, including a brutal attack on then partner Rihanna in 2009.

A number of Maori dames have supported Brown’s tour. Radio NZ:

Dame Tariana Turia gets behind Chris Brown’s NZ tour

Dame Tariana Turia says Chris Brown has a lot to offer to offer New Zealand and she was supporting his visit to this country.

She said she was sure he had learned from his mistakes.

It doesn’t say how she is sure.

Dame Tariana said she would write to the Immigration Minister in support of the performer’s visit.

“He would like to come here; he’s prepared to give a particular message to our young people. Our young people listen to people like Chris Brown. They don’t listen to me.

“I mean, I was involved in family violence [prevention] probably for a good 12 years of my time in Parliament. All the programmes that we put out there, nothing changes.”

Promoting people like Brown may suggest attitudes on change haven’t been optimal.

But Te Taitokerau MP Kelvin Davis said Brown’s presence in New Zealand would do nothing to reduce this country’s rate of domestic violence.

“Do we really want our young people to be entertained by someone who has committed domestic violence?”

Mr Davis said domestic violence was a massive issue in New Zealand, and domestic violence crime statistics continued to rise.

Brown has already been banned from the United Kingdom and Canada.

An editorial in the Wanganui Chronicle (Mark Dawson) supports Brown:

Time to forgive hip-hop artist

I am sure Brown is still far from the perfect gentleman but if he seeks rehabilitation and redemption, let’s give him that chance in New Zealand.

One of the big questions is does he genuinely seek rehabilitation and redemption or is he saying what he thinks he needs to so his tour can go ahead.

After all, our political masters put out the welcome mat for foreign leaders with far bigger criminal pasts – it is just they haven’t actually been convicted.

That’s one of the silliest arguments I’ve seen on this.

Brown should be rehabilitating and redeeming in his own country.

If Brown had a record of genuinely speaking out against violence and proposed to come to New Zealand just to speak out against violence it would be different. But he wants to perform here.

Andrea Vance doesn’t think Brown should come -from Let’s not bend the rules for ‘breezy’ Chris Brown:

Rape culture is everywhere. It’s in Chris Brown’s misogynist lyrics and overly sexualised videos.

It’s reflected in the vulgar tweets he fired off to US comedian Jenny Johnson, calling her a bushpig, worthless bitch; he threated to defecate in her mouth and eyes, following it up with the charming offer to “suck my d***, YOU HOE.”

To bargain his case, Brown offered to “raise awareness” of domestic violence if he’s allowed into the country. Supporters claim his words carry weight with his younger fans.

But Brown’s message is one of insincerity. It’s a bargaining chip – and one that cannot be taken seriously while he continues to refer to women as bitches and hoes.

The gesture is cancelled out by his attitude, lack of genuine remorse and – frankly rapey – lyrics like: “I want your body/Let me get it from the back/girl, I’m about to attack.” Or “She’s more than a mistress/enough to handle my business/now put that girl in my kitchen.”

And a harsh cartoon in NZ Herald:

Vance fans Hughes’ leadership chances

Kevin Hague is a clear favourite in the Green leadership contest (in May, nominations don’t close until mid April). James Shaw is a newbie MP who will interest some, but may struggle to get support from party faithful.

Vernon Tova is prepared top argue outside the Green square – this may appeal to the wider voter base Greens desperately want but is unlikely to win him Green backing.

Gareth Hughes is as party faithful as you can get. He knows how to pander to the Green-wow crowd.

All four current leadership contenders were in a panel interview on The Nationa.

And Hughes has a Fairfax journalist fan, Andrea Vance. She praised his chances on The Nation panel in the weekend, although inadvertently highlighted a significant anomaly.

You’ve got Kevin and James who are considered the front runners. I was actually very impressed by Gareth Hughes because, as you say he lacked gravitas, but he actually has probably the best message to win over new voters.

I thought Hughes would appeal more to the party faithful than new voters, being one of the party faithful himself. But Vance echoed Hughes’ introduction.

Hughes: I want to be part of the most progressive government this country has seen in generations.

That doesn’t sound like winning over middle New Zealand voters.

Hughes: The Greens under my helm would be larger. My mission is to excite and inspire, to reach out and represent a new generation of voters. We’d be making sure we’re seeing action on climate change. What I want to see is a bigger, more powerful, more influential Green Party, because the issues we work on, they’re more important than ever.

Do you have the gravitas, the credibility to be a co-leader?

Hughes: This is my opportunity over the next two months to stand up and show the members of my party what I know I have inside, which is I know who I am, I know what I stand for, I know where I want to go. This is my opportunity, and the members have a fantastic choice. I’m standing as someone who’s been a campaigner for 15 years. I’ve got the experience, I’ve got the wins under my belt, and I want to lead our party to a bigger Green Party.

He may have a job to convince that he can lead.

We’re something new, we’re something different, and we’re something better.

I’m a Green because I support our new, different, independent party.

And he has to think up some convincing slogans. He repeated the ‘new’ theme – Greens have been around since last century.

Hughes showed a number of times how entrenched in Green procedure he is.

I stand by our party’s decision.

I’m stuck on the green.

I support what the members want. They make the decision, not the leader.

Our members look at what’s the level of agreement…

Well, I support what my party’s policy is.

Well, Lisa, in my party the leader and the caucus do not decide the policy. It’s our members.

Give me your opinion.

Hughes: I would have a discussion with our members…

Bit of philosophical discussion, but I think what voters and our members want to see from us is pragmatic solutions.

Greens have an admirable system of party wide decision making. But most people look to politicians to lead, and especially to leaders to lead, not just follow the crowd.

The Hughes approach will please many Green members, but it is unlikely to enthuse more voters. But Vance wasn’t enthused by Hughes’ lack of knowledge.

Now, coming to you, Gareth, what about the rate of inflation?

Hughes: It’s less than 2 percent.

Would you like another crack at that?

Hughes: Well, it’s around 2 percent recently.

0.8 percent.


I mean it’s basic 101, you do your prep if you’re going on the telly to give your first national pitch.

An MP knowing the current inflation rate should require any prep, it’s something they should know.

You know you’ve gotta know what the inflation rate is, that was just appalling.

And on party renewal:

I think that also Green members have gotta look for someone who’s gonna be a little bit ruthless in terms of cleaning out the Greens. There’s definitely, in the way National has,  and Labour might well start to. There needs to be renewal  in the Green party for them to move forward.

It’s hard to see Hughes being ruthless. He seems very committed to discussions and listening to party members. The party members have a lot of say on the green list, and therefore on renewal. There was little sign of this in their last election list.

But despite these obvious drawbacks to his leadership ambitions Vance closed with more praise of Hughes.

I think that Gareth Hughes, and perhaps it didn’t come through quite as well today…

As well as what?

…but I think he has got quite an appealing message to middle New Zealand. He’s talking about people in the suburbs, he’s talking about people with young families that are you know sort of struggling day to day.

You know he’s pitching to that. He’s not talking about macro economics and sustainability, he’s actually talking about back pocket issues. And I think that would actually have a lot of appeal.

It’s just that Gareth sort of needs to work on his image a little bit I think.

So she twice singled out Hughes above the others for praise, despite several shortcomings. I’m not sure how well in tune with middle new Zealand Vance is.

I’m fairly sure Hughes will appeal more to Green Party faithful far more than wider voters.

And even they may prefer someone with some sign of leadership.

Hughes can’t always ‘Hey party/Clint’ at a leadership level.

Sunday Star Times – next installments of Hager/Snowden

It’s the Sunday Star Times turn to publish Nicky Hagers selection of material from the Edward Snowden files.

Snowden files: NZ’s spying on the family

In the Cook Islands they hold New Zealand passports, are eligible for New Zealand social services and New Zealand is responsible for their foreign affairs. The same in Niue.

Leaked Edward Snowden documents, published for the first time today, reveal New Zealand is spying on them anyway – despite residents being New Zealanders.

Snowden files: Inside Waihopai’s domes

The Waihopai intelligence base looks oddly alien and out of place: huge white “golf ball” radomes like a moon station and silent buildings within two fences of razor wire, all dropped in the midst of vineyards and dry hills in New Zealand’s Marlborough landscape.

Documents about the Waihopai station leaked by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the facility is as alien as is seems.

Everything inside the top secret station except the staff is foreign.

The electronic eavesdropping systems, the computer programmes that automatically index and search the captured communications, and the databases where details of a whole region’s communications are stored: they are all standardised parts of the global surveillance system run by the NSA.

Snowden files: which satellites are targeted by Waihopai?

Visitors to the Waihopai Valley can see several large satellite antenna dotted around the Waihopai operations building.

They tune in to legitimate communications satellites sitting in space above the Asia-Pacific region and intercept the huge volume of communications being relayed between the region’s countries.

This includes phone calls, data transfers by companies and banks, and all the types of private and government communications that flow across the Internet.

The GCSB has refused to say anything about which satellites and countries are being intercepted.

Secret Waihopai reports in April 2010 and March 2012, provided by Snowden, answer this question.

Andrea Vance also gives her two bobs worth in Silence on surveillance not healthy.

Nicky Hager must wonder why he bothers.

The journalist brought the Snowden documents to New Zealand in the last week, to be met with a collective shrug of shoulders. Maybe you are unmoved at the Government Communications Security Bureau spying on Pacific neighbours. Perhaps you don’t care if your emails, texts and Facebook messages are hoovered up and stored in a US data bank. Or that the GCSB is little more than an outpost of the US National Security Agency. But, with a pending significant review and a likely increase in their electronic reach, there are still a few reasons to take the leaked papers seriously.

This latest release is likely to also be met in the main a with collective shrug of shoulders.

Spies spy. Satellite tracking stations track satellites. Nicky Hager promotes controversies that most people don’t care much about. New Zealand play Afghanistan in the Cricket World Cup today and Lydia Ko is two shots off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open.

Here is Stuff’s current ‘Most Popular’ news.

That may change today – Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop may not hold it’s position – as New Zealand wakes up to the next instalments of the Snowden spy scandal but reading endless articles about spying is about as boring to most people as listening in to the world’s phone calls.

The simple fact is that most people would prefer not to be spied on but can’t see why anyone would bother to spy on them anyway.

That’s Nicky Hager’s problem.

UPDATE (midday Sunday): Stuff’s most popular now:

One of the Snowden stories makes it to number 10 position.

UPDATE 2 (7 pm): And as expected lightweight news and cricket took over (it looks like  Ko won’t win but too son to cover that yet anyway).

Vance on Sabin

Andrea Vance indicates that the media knows the story behind Mike Sabin’s resignation but can’t tell it in Five unanswered questions from the Beehive (but some of her questions aren’t really Beehive questions):

3. Does a politician ever really step down for family reasons?

In Russel Norman’s case: it’s complicated.

In Mike Sabin’s case it’s even more complicated.

All Sabin has indicated was ‘personal reasons’ via a press release: “Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.”

John Key, who should by now know most of what it’s about, said:

“Mr Sabin reached that conclusion himself on the back of personal and family reasons he is pursuing.

“He’s obviously made the best decision for himself and his family.”

In what looks like one of the worst kept secrets ever it is widely believed that Sabin has now been been charged of an offence or offences by police and has made a court appearance.

4. Why was the usually loquacious Key acting so weird on Sabin?

Like I said, it’s complicated. When a job is a stake, natural justice is always a consideration. That is less easy to hide behind when an MP is at the centre of a police investigation. Key clearly didn’t want to be anywhere near this damaging scandal and all but threw Sabin under the bus with his taciturnity. Less than 24 hours before the resignation, Key told reporters Sabin would be at a Tuesday caucus meeting – suggesting that behind the scenes things weren’t under control in the way he would have liked.

Key shouldn’t have had a police matter under control, and he was bound by principles of natural justice and confidentiality.

The whole issue will not be something Key will have liked at all. But as a party leader you often have to deal with things largely outside your control, including MPs getting into trouble in their private lives.

I suspect that if a colleague of Vance’s got into trouble like Sabin appears to have she or her boss wouldn’t have much control over it either, and I also suspect they would be very careful about what they said about it. Probably more careful and less critical than they are with Sabin’s case.

But on Sabin the media have let out enough information and hints over the last six weeks to enable us to have a good guess about what is going on.

Sabin was under police investigation, it was serious enough to use an investigation team outside Sabin’s home province and old workplace (he is an ex Northland detective) and is likely to have now been charged over something serious that appears to be family related.

A sensible game plan for Little

Andrea Vance writes about A game-plan that may just work for Little, and talks about two plans.

Tripping up Labour leaders on policy detail has become something of a bloodsport for the political media, egged on by National.

It is a dark hole newbie Andrew Little is determined not to fall into. He plans to do away with the deep-level policy development that caused his predecessors so much grief.

This is sensible, especially in the first year of a term. Labour has three years to review their policies and Little has the same time to become famikliar with the key policies.

With a post-election review underway, no great policy shifts are imminent.

It’s more important to set up his Leader’s office (he is currently recruiting a press officer) and get the Labour caucus working together effectively. Compared to the latter brushing up on somne policy detail should be a doddle.

And secondly:

For Labour, 2015 will be less about sticking it to National. Little’s goal is to re-define Labour and then win on its terms, rather than because the electorate grew tired of National.

Labour have looked like they spent too much time and effort into trying to stick it to National, largely unsuccessfully. In fact it’s an alpproach that’s been not just unsuccessful, it has kept highlighting negative politics. Voters tend not to respond to negatives.

Looking like a functional team will be a good place to start in re-defining Labour. A positive change will flow through to policy development and delivery.

Little and Labour have a big job to do to repair the damage of the last six years. They finally look like they are on a track that at least stands a chance of working for them.

Little will give his state of the nation speech on January 28. Hopefully he hasn’t been over-polished by media advsiers or over-palevered by speech writers and delivers a decent start to his first big year as leader.

His first step up to leadership level was promising. He has to start to deliver on his promise – but remember that he has nearly three years and needs to pace himself.

Vance’s “Crass opportunism” provokes

Andrew Vance has provoked a lot of comment with Crass opportunism in wake of siege.

OPINION: Is there a better time for political opportunism than in the wake of a “terror” attack?

For Prime Minister John Key it seems not.

The gunsmoke had barely cleared from Sydney’s Martin Pl, than he was doing the rounds of the media this morning.

The Government tried to cash in on public fears when few facts were known regarding the events or gunman Man Haron Monis’ motivation.

She took the opportunity to compare to ‘Five Eyes’,  something she has shown in the past feels very strongly about.

Just last week, Nils Muižnieks, The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, offered a compelling counter-view.

He condemned “secret, massive and indiscriminate” surveillance being undertaken by the Five Eyes intelligence network, of which New Zealand is a part,saying it “cannot be justified by the fight against terrorism or other important threats to national security”.

She then slams Key.

Now Key is attempt to shape the debate again –  he needs to earn sympathy for a military deployment to Iraq early next year.

His grave tones on breakfast television this morning were reasonable. But he used rhetoric and sentiment commonly employed by US politicians justifying the War on Terror post-9/11, portraying those in his sights as irrational, barbaric and beyond compromise.

It dissuades critical examination and argument, with those questioning him labelled soft or naive.

Other than furthering his own political ends, his comments  were unhelpful and serve only to unnecessarily heighten anxiety in the community.

I think she is misjudging public sentiment after the deaths of the hostages in Sydney.

She concludes:

Key’s crass opportunism is a jarring contrast to the simple generosity of Australians who adopted #illridewithyou.

Some comments supported Vance’s stance but were heavily down ticked. The first by BenM:

Spot on. Thank you Andrea.

Currently -73 ticks.

Jim Smith:

So let me get this right, the media questions him, he answers and now it is him taking an opportunity???

If he didn’t speak at all about the incident you would chastise him for that as well!

Journalists these days make me sick. If anything, the only thing that was crass was fairfax;s reporting of the incident.


There were a number throwing “crass opportunism” back at Vance. Responder:

And as usual Andrea Vance loses no time in making her opportunist attack on John Key.


‘Bcom77’ points out:

I think the media, this site included, do a better job of spreading fear and heighten public anxiety than you accuse John Key of doing.


A few more supported Vance – Havid Dornblow:

Keep the heat on Andrea, this regime deserves no slack. Question all decisions, investigate all motives.


But the thread was dominated by criticism. Christie:

I’m sorry Andrea, but this type of journalism is, quite simply irresponsible. There has just been a siege in Sydney, with 2 hostages dead at the hands of an Islamic radical, who considers himself a member of ISIS. We know there are people of similar ilk in this country.

It follows that it could happen here. Maybe unlikely – but then again, we never thought it would happen in Australia either. This is not political opportunism. This is the PM answering questions about the likelihood of it all happening here.

What is he supposed to say – “No, no – everything is fine – just carry on, there is no big bad wolf here”. What is it going to take to make people like you realise that the threat is real? That we are not immune? Beheadings in Aotea Square?

And for the record, Andrew Little has come out and said much the same thing – but you are not attacking him – are you?


Vance took the opportunity to relate Key’s comments to an international spying hobby horse of hers but yesterday was not a good time to attack surveillance of terrorists and people at risk of doing something crazy.

Key’s response to the deaths like Sydney gave Vance an opportunity to attack Key over wider issues. Whether either was crass is debatable but the backlash against Vance was not surprising in the circumstances.

Most people, especially at times like this, would accept more surveillance of people at risk of doing something stupid and dangerous.

Maintaining security measures versus the possibility (albeit very unlikely) that someone would see their online wafflings is not a big deal to most of us.

A cafe is Sydney is quite close to home for Kiwis.Vance’s stance is a long way away from most sentiments. It’s not surprising to see she provoked a strong backlash against her comments in the wake of the Sydney horror.

(For some more anti-Key opportunism see Vance on Key’s “crass opportunism” at The Standard)

Key gives Hauiti transparency the finger

National list MP Claudette Hauiti has withdrawn from standing in Kelston and from the election. Whether she walked or was pushed it doesn’t matter, she had to go.

She hasn’t been in Parliament long, replacing Aaron Gilmore off the list last year, but she has tripped up badly twice.

Earlier this year Hauiti employed her partner in her office which is against Parliamentary rules.

Last week Fairfax reported…

… former broadcaster Hauiti surrendered her charge card after using it for unauthorised spending.

At first she blamed her staff, before admitting she’d used it to pay for a Christmas trip across the Ditch.

Since then she announced she would be withdrawing from standing again, but it’s unlikely she would have got a winnable list position and she wasn’t expected to come close to winning Kelston.

While National have dealt with her exit quickly and efficiently (one the credit card spending went public) they have been far less willing to be transparent about the level of spending, as Andrea Vance reports in Hauiti protected to the bitter end.

What she hasn’t admitted to is how much personal spending went on that card.

Incredibly, National leader John Key and party Whip Louise Upston say they don’t know.

They knew enough to get rid of her.

Insiders say the party was worried more would leak out and Key took charge when he returned from his Hawaii holiday.

But the party is refusing to answer questions about further allegations of misspending and Hauiti has gone to ground.

The episode has made a mockery of Key’s boasts about being transparent on MPs’ spending.

Yes, it’s very poor from Key and National – first for allowing a new MP to make two such basic mistakes, and now for hiding the details.

Hauiti and the National Party are exploiting an obstinate interpretation of the Parliamentary Service rule which prevents the release of information about MPs.

This is reasonable when it applies to private details such as pension schemes, phone records or that would identify constituents. Where it should not be applicable is the use of taxpayer cash, particularly where there are irregularities.

It ignores the reality that we, the taxpayer, are MPs’ employers – not the back-office Parliamentary Service.

Both National and Hauiti have not responded to a request for a privacy waiver to allow the records to be released.

This creates the impression there is something more to hide.

Whether Key has something else to hide or not if he is not prepared to be open and transparent on this he leaves himself and National open to speculation – and most likely more media digging.

This sort of secrecy would be poor at any time but it is a bad look coming into an election campaign, particularly one where National are deliberately risk averse. If this blows up into a bigger issue Key can only blame himself.

Henry inquiry cluster muck

The Privileges Committee investigation on the David Henry inquiry into who leaked the Kitteridge report confirms what was already known – it was a cluster muck up.

The Henry inquiry and Parliamentary Services have been strongly criticised.

Inquiry methods heavily censured

An investigation by Parliament’s privileges committee slammed as “unacceptable” the inquiry being handed information including emails, phone records, and swipe card records when it had no formal powers to demand them.

Parliamentary Service was also heavily criticised.

The committee’s report centred on Parliamentary Service, and also the Henry inquiry for over reaching its powers.

“It is clear from the evidence we heard that the inquiry’s persistent pressure on the Parliamentary Service and approaches to third-tier and more junior staff had a part to play in the releases which resulted,” it said.

Privileges committee chairman Chris Finlayson said the way the information was handed over was “totally unacceptable”.

There had been no consideration given to the special status of both MPs and journalists.

Despite overreaching it’s powers the Henry Inquiry still failed to find any evidence of anyone leaking the Kitteridge Report.

Despite failing to find any evidence Henry made it clear in his report that he thought Peter Dunne was guilty in his report. His investigation was very narrow, severely flawed and failed.

If Henry’s inquiry had not overreached it’s powers Dunne would not have been put in a position where he felt compelled to resign as a minister.

Dunne yesterday claimed he had been vindicated by the report, which had upheld his belief that MPs should not be compelled to hand over their private communications.

He was forced to resign as a minister after refusing to hand over his emails to the inquiry to prove his innocence.

“In accessing my electronic records without my approval the Henry inquiry grossly exceeded its authority and acted quite improperly.”

Journalist Andrea Vance

Fairfax group editor John Crowley said the media group took some comfort from the committee’s finding.

“The committee found that the release of confidential information relating to the work and movement of one of our senior parliamentary journalists, simply going about her job, was unacceptable. We have known that from the outset.”

The rights of Vance and the role journalists played in a democracy had been trampled over as a result.

Andrea Vance was collateral damage with both her work as a journalist and her personal reputation being severely attacked.

And Winston Peters is still making insinuations he has never backed up with any evidence.

This has been a cluster fuck of muck and injustice.

Henry versus Dunne revisited

I was quizzed again yesterday on Kiwiblog on the David Henry investigation of and accusations against Peter Dunne on leaking the Kitteridge report.

While nothing can be ruled out completely I have seen no evidence that comes anywhere close to proving Dunne leaked the report, Dunne’s denials and explanations have been consistent and believable, and I have seen no reason to disbelieve Dunne’s claims of innocence.

Some points from the Henry report:

25.The news article was printed early on Tuesday 9 April and occupied the front page. Writing the article, and preparing the accompanying graphics, would have taken some hours and would have had to have been completed by the evening of 8 April. As a major scoop I think that both the writing and publication would have been given priority. On that basis I think that the reporter gained access to the report on Sunday 7 April or Monday 8 April, with the Monday being the most likely.

This is a narrow assumption by Henry. He doesn’t consider the possibility that Vance would have needed time to read the report, research it, contact people to verify and comment with various people (and Dunne has admitted discussing it by email), write it up, have editors check it etc etc. Henry has implied Dunne gave Vance a copy at midday on the Monday. That leaves a very short time-frame.

Dunne returned from holiday on the Sunday. Henry initially told Dunne that he thought Sunday was the most likely day it was leaked – until he was told that Vance was away in the South Island for the weekend.

26. It is not possible to be definitive but it is likely that the report was provided directly to the reporter by the leaker.

Some people have claimed Dunne could have drip fed bits of the report to Vance via email. There wasn’t time for him to do this, and Henry thinks Vance had a full copy.

41.l requested the return of all copies. All but two have been recovered. I was advised that the two missing copies had been shredded: One copy had been returned to the Cabinet Office by a DPMC officer and shredded. The other had been held by a cabinet minister whose staff tell me had not accessed the report prior to the leak

Henry simply accepts their word that the copies were shredded and appears to have not investigated further.

59.For completeness I record that I had no access, nor did I seek any access, to private email providers or private telephones.

Any smart leaker would not have communicated via logged parliamentary communications, but Henry does not consider this or private meeting at all except for one Dunne-Vance meeting that Dunne says didn’t happen.

68.As part of that preparation the officer had the report at home over the weekend of 6 and 7 April. The report was not kept in a safe or locked cabinet at the home but the officer states that it remained in the officer’s possession at all times.

Henry takes the officer’s word for it, apparently without further investigation.

82.l remain of the view that I need to have full access to all eighty-six emails.

Henry was focused on Dunne and after the phone logs proved nothing and the security data proved nothing and after the photocopy and printer logs proved nothing he saw the emails as the proof, and we know he tried to access the email contents.

Natural justice

86. Mr Dunne has been provided with relevant extracts from drafts of this report and his comments have been taken into account.

No, Dunne’s comments – including strong denials – have been ignored. It’s very likely a travesty of justice has occurred.

Without Mr Dunne’s permission I cannot take the matter any further.

No, he cannot take the matter further with Dunne, for whom he has no evidence and adamant denials. He could have investigated other possibilities but chose not to. He was under tight time pressure which may have contributed to him doing a very narrow investigation.

This doesn’t rule out Dunne, but after extensive investigation of him no evidence was found.

It also doesn’t rule out many other possibilities that were barely considered or ignored.

All the accusations against Dunne have been lacking in facts and absent any evidence (as mikenmild demonstrates in his comment) and seem to be mostly based on loose assumptions or through spite of Dunne and attempts to smear him.

There is body. There is no smoking gun. There isn’t even a gun. There is no evidence a gun was involved. Poison and knives appear to have no even been considered.

The investigation and deliberate accusation were nowhere near the standard of a police inquiry or standard of evidence in a legal case.

The investigation seems more along the lines of an IRD investigator who makes very narrow targeted investigations and who has the power to rake through any information they like when the target an individual. Except in this case an ex IRD officer didn’t have that power, but tried to use it anyway.

This remains at little more than:

Henry: I think you did it.

Dunne: I didn’t do it.

Keeping in mind that Henry’s inquiry was very narrow (targeted mostly based in assumptions of guilt targeting Dunne) and found no evidence, and Dunne’s denials and explanations have been consistent and backed by facts.

Kibblewhite apologises, Key’s image erodes

I’m not a fan of resignations every time a politician or public servant is accused of making a mistake. If all calls for resignations were heeded we would have a gutted and paralysed democracy.

There were predictable calls for the Prime Minister’s chief executive, Andrew Kibblewhite, to resign over failing to advise the Prime Minister or the public about the sending of the  contents of emails between Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance to the Henry inquiry without authorisation.

Kibblewhite has apologised and offered his resignation, but Key hasn’t accepted it. NZ Herald reports:

The Prime Minister’s chief public servant, Andrew Kibblewhite, offered his resignation to John Key for breaching the no-surprises rule in matters crucial to the David Henry inquiry, but it was rejected.

Mr Kibblewhite, however, has apologised to Mr Key for failing to tell him that the content of emails between United Future leader Peter Dunne and reporter Andrea Vance had been sent to the Henry inquiry into the leak of a report into the Government Communications Security Bureau spy agency.

“It was implicit in the conversation he was having with me that if I wanted his resignation it would have been there,” Mr Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference yesterday. “I certainly wouldn’t accept his resignation.”

An apology and acknowledgement of a serious mistake at least.

Mr Key found out last Friday that the inquiry had been sent email content; Mr Kibblewhite, chief executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, knew about it for about a month.

Mr Key said Mr Kibblewhite should have put what he knew in the public domain several weeks ago, when it became clear that the Speaker, David Carter, had to correct answers previously given to him from Parliamentary Service about Andrea Vance’s phone records not going to the inquiry when they had.

It seriously embarrassed David Carter, and was a major failure to disclose.

“In his defence, he was on bereavement leave,” said Mr Key.

“It was a very challenging set of circumstances for him but nevertheless that information should have been out in the public domain.”

Sympathies for the bereavement, that can be a difficult time, but that is a poor excuse from the Prime Minister. A highly paid ($600k apparently) high level public servant should be able to manage their responsibilities alongside personal issues.

The maximum bereavement leave I can get in my day job is 3 days. Kibblewhite tried to hide this information for about 30 days.

Mr Dunne was forced to resign as a minister because he refused permission to hand over the contents of his emails.

And Mr Dunne is understandable fuming over this.

David Henry sought permission from Mr Dunne for access to the email content but did not mention they had already been sent.

They were apparently not opened because the email system the inquiry used could not open the personal storage files sent from the Parliamentary Service Outlook system.

Mr Key said Mr Kibblewhite took the view that because Mr Dunne’s email content was never opened or seen, it did not form part of the inquiry. “I think that is a very narrow definition but it is looking at it from a bureaucracy perspective, not looking at it from a political perspective.”

A very narrow definition? Or a cover up? In any case it was a bureaucratic blunder. The emails were requested on a Monday and obtained on the Wednesday.

Henry email 22 MayOn Thursday morning the Henry inquiry said they couldn’t open the emails – they must have tried.

Henry email 23 May 1

There are claims that the email containing the emails was recalled within an hour.

Henry email 23 May 2

But an hour later discussing obtaining the required authorisation and still discussing how to access the emails.

And remarkably discussing getting the required permission.

If they weren’t so incompetent at opening the email file that was sent they would have accessed the emails, there was clear intent to do this –  and clearly they were seeking permission after the fact, unsure if they would get that authority.

Kibblewhite has apologised for not advising of the sending of the email contents, but there were also seriously lax procedural problems.

The Prime Minister should ensure (and be seen to be ensuring) that such proper procedures are followed in inquiries initiated by him.

The Prime Minister has refused to apologise “because it wasn’t his fault” (according to 3 News on Firstline as I type this). And he has refused the resignation of his chief executive who offered to accept responsibility.

John Key is reinforcing an impression that he can be authoritarian without caring about proper procedures – cowboy politics, where the power of his position rules.

And remember that Andrea Vance was not even considered in any discussions of permission or propriety. There is major angst over this amongst journalists about this, and Key has suffered much direct indignation. He is likely to also suffer from a less sympathetic media, and that could turn out to be costly.

Key’s arrogance, excuses and refusal to accept responsibility are eroding his credibility. He may not care as it will probably be just a little slip. But he will care when his accumulated slips reach a tipping point in voter tolerance. And when that hits him the media won’t help.

UPDATE: Key is just talking about this on Firstline, still playing down the severity of the problem, saying that while the emails were sent they were recalled within an hour. The above shows there was more going on after the hour (whenever that was).

He has repeated that while an apology is appropriate, not from him, from Parliamentary Services and the Speaker.


It’s not a lot more complex than “yeah, they made a mistake”.

It wasn’t just a mistake. It was blatant disregard for proper process.

And the repercussions could be far more complex for Key than he realises.

Stuff have been running an online poll – yes, online polls should be viewed with caution, but there must be some here who have indicated a genuine lack of confidence in Key:

How is the prime minister handling the Parliamentary phone records scandal?

  • Well – 368 votes, 8.7%
  • Badly – 3016 votes, 71.5%
  • It’s more a Parliamentary Service issue – 453 votes, 10.7%
  • Don’t really care – 384 votes, 9.1%

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