Armstrong: “That must surely be to his political cost”

John Armstrong sums things up fairly well in PM’s behaviour ‘fun and games’ – pull the other one.

In the Court of King John, someone needs to tell the Prime Minister when he is behaving like a jerk.

Someone in John Key’s inner circle needs to take the traditional jester’s role of being the fool who can tell the sovereign he is a fool when everyone else is too obsequious, too obliging or too deferential to do so.

It would also be a good idea to suggest to the Prime Minister that he gets his pigtail fetish under control.

No one prepared to tell him to pull his head in (or pull his hand in) when it’s obviously advisable.

It goes without saying that Key’s repeated pulling of the hair of a waitress at an Auckland cafe he frequents was utterly inappropriate.

His claim that the “horsing around” was all meant to be light-hearted and part of the “fun and games” at the cafe does not wash. That is an excuse for something for which there is no excuse.

Despite the efforts of some here there is no excuse.

At the end of the day, any contact that a Prime Minister has with anyone involves a power relationship where the power is all or almost all weighted on one side.

That is just the nature of Key’s job. But many people find that intimidating and would feel powerless to act if they were likewise so harassed, as the waitress felt she was.

Key’s inappropriate behaviour put the waitress in a very uncomfortable and difficult situation.

Has she over-reacted? That doesn’t matter. Key overstepped boundaries repeatedly. He brought the repercussions on himself.

One reason why Key is so popular is that he has sought to cut through the barrier between Prime Minister and public by being approachable, never talking down to people no matter their status, and never letting his high approval ratings go to his head.

That is why people reading the waitress’ account of the hair-pulling will wince. They will find the whole episode odd, cringe-making and seemingly very much out of character for Key. His sending the waitress a couple of bottles of pinot noir from the Otago vineyard he part owns as an apology will be seen as equally crass.

From what I’ve seen there’s been a lot of genuine wincing.

Giving her wine may have seemed like a good way to express regret at what he did but what did he expect – that she get drunk and forget about what had happened?

While his behaviour is also a function of the kind of self-delusional belief in one’s invincibility that infects all politicians the longer they are in power, Key basically crossed a line between informality and over-familiarity.

His punishment is to be left squirming and stewing under a huge pile of embarrassment, including copious quantities generated by international media coverage.

Despite diversions and denials from many on the right – see Kiwiblog full of excuses and blame diversion – this is embarrassing for Key and the country.

the worry for Key and National is that this unseemly episode is of such magnitude and as something that forces people to take a position could severely jolt positive perceptions of Key, especially among female voters who flocked to National after he became leader.

David Cunliffe got into trouble for apologising for being a man. The Prime Minister has been forced to apologise for failing to be the man most people thought he was. That must surely be to his political cost.

There will be a political cost.

Picking your fights versus a ‘gotcha’ frenzy

There was a brief media frenzy over what John Key knew and when he knew about the Sabin police investigation. It was legitimate raising eyebrows over some aspects of Key’s handling of it.

Labour leader Andrew Little had a quick kick when he was pushed into saying he thought Key had lied. Then he wisely backed off. It wasn’t a fight worth getting involved in, yet at least.

In his weekend column John Armstrong says Frenzy over Key’s knowledge of Sabin affair pathetic. He has a point.

Put to one side reform of the Resource Management Act. Ignore the Reserve Bank’s warning that the Auckland housing “bubble” is about to burst. Stop trying to picture the Greens without Russel Norman. Don’t fret about the safety of our soldiers when they eventually head for Iraq.

It truly beggars belief, but when it comes to assessing what is currently the most pressing issue or matter dominating New Zealand politics right now, a visitor from Mars, observing the copious amount of coverage of the subject, would have to pick the frenzy which has the media and some Opposition politicians pointing the finger at John Key and demanding he reveal exactly when he was first told of the “personal issues” which prompted one of his lesser-known MPs to suddenly resign from Parliament a week or so ago.

With discussion of the actual story being apparently suppressed by the courts Key’s opponents set about thrashing trivial aspects.

They tried the well worn and rarely successful approach – little political damage could be inflicted through the main story so they tried to nail key on trivial points, especially on his handling of the story.

It became the classic attempt at ‘gotcha’ politics.

There is one word that adequately describes this latest instalment in Key’s enemies’ long-running fixation with typecasting the Prime Minister as being nothing more than money merchant turned political huckster who, at times, enjoys a strange and somewhat strained relationship with the truth.

That word is pathetic.

There’s certainly a degree of patheticness alongside ongoing desperation to demolish Key.

Cue Labour’s revival of the old game of “what did the Prime Minister really know and when did he know it?”

The same old approach that has failed far more than it has succeeded. And the accumulation of failures contributed to the big failure in last year’s election.

Sure, there have been times when Key’s behaviour has resulted in him falling well short of being Saint John.

He has fumbled and bumbled on the Sabin issue but that was never going to be career ending.

Key, however, is not the only one who could usefully take a lesson from Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics. It is a lesson that Labour and other Opposition parties seem reluctant to take on board: pick your fights with Key very, very carefully.

Given the centre-left was well and truly thrashed by John Key-led National in last September’s election – not to mention the two previous ones – you would have thought it would have dawned on those occupying that part of the political spectrum that devoting time and energy to catching the Prime Minister out has not been very productive. If anything, it seems to be counter-productive, reinforcing Key’s standing, rather than undermining it.

The common sense involved in picking one’s fights with care is lacking further to the left. It sounds like The Standard will be thrashing this again with yet another post today.

That Key gets away with things that trip up other (and lesser) politicians is a source of immense frustration for the centre-left.

It is one reason why Key is not just disliked by Labour activists. He is detested. Finding the means of destroying his seemingly hypnotic hold on Middle New Zealand has become an obsession for Labour.

And more of an obsession with the further to the left activists who are so desperate to strike a mortal political blow they fail to see the futiluity in fights that don’t really matter beyond a short news cycle.

As it is, the Labour leader called Key a liar – a sign that he thinks he must confront him on the strongest possible terms.

Key expressed disappointment that Little was going down the same path as other Labour leaders in choosing to resort to personal denigration.

Key’s “disappointment” was actually delight. In calling Key a liar, Little had effectively vacated the moral high ground.

Little realised he had gone too far and refused to repeat the accusation when questioned subsequently.

Little has shown a number of thimes he has the perceptiveness to realise when he pushes things too far, and he has an ability to learn from these over-eggings.

The paucity of information has wiser heads withholding judgment on Key’s handling of the matter.

More information may emerge that damns Key sufficiently to strike a damaging blow or two.

But rehashing bugger all is self defeating. If much ado keeps being made about very little when something worth holding Key to account over comes along there’s a risk of it being lost in the ongoing noise.

In fact Key is adept at capitalising on these ground hog day attacks. When something more embarrassing comes up he just shrugs it off as ‘same old’.

Key’s opponents have instead seized what might have seemed an opportunity to castigate him which was, in fact, never there.

They have allowed themselves to be dragged into a dead-end street by the seductive siren calls of the media whose threshold for news is still set at a silly-season low and whose appetite for politics is determined more and more by its capacity to be a blood sport.

Expect the left to continue trying to squeeze blood out of a stone.

Occasional fights well fought are far more effective than numerous skanky skirmishes.

‘Gotcha’ frenzies usually end up doing little more than frustrating the frantics.

Labour’s double edged social media

Social media plays a significant part in politics now, but  as John Armstrong says in Labour’s brutal week reveals Achilles heel, it can be a double edged sword.

With the left of the party running its own agenda which puts purity ahead of pragmatism, Labour’s appeal is shrinking. Those voters whom Labour needs to capture will see Jones’ exit as a further narrowing of Labour’s appeal.

Those voters will also view the disdain shown towards Jones and accompanying calls for the purging from Parliament of such Labour stalwarts as Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard as pretty solid evidence that Labour’s disunity is such that it is not yet fit to govern.

Much of the arguing of the past few days has taken place in social media and the blogosphere. Too late Labour has discovered these tools can be double-edged swords. They are fine when it comes to disseminating a message. But not so fine when the protagonists in a digitally-sourced debate start hanging out their party’s dirty washing simply to score points against a competing faction.

I’ve posted a comment on this at The Standard – the normal response there would be to diss the messengers and deny.

Hopefully they will also digest. Social media can help Labour but only if it dispels the image of disarray and damaging dissmania.

Another indication of the pros and cons of social media is a post at The Standard celebrating a very creditable 14,000 posts. I’ll voice my congratulations here, if I say anything there it’s likely to attract detracting reactions.

lprent comments:

I tend to view a site like this as largely to make people aware of how others of similar viewpoints are thinking. It means that the surprises are limited and people can make decisions based on how they know others will react.

Then they act on their similarities rather than their differences and despite their known differences. The effect is a more concerted action rather than dissipating effort in pointless dissension. They know that they will be listened to (and disagreed with) rather than simply ignored.

If that’s their aim then it’s up to them, but it probably explains why non-similar viewpoints are often unwelcome there, and reactions are often very negative if ‘similar viewpoints’ are challenged or criticised.

But if they want an effective ‘concerted effort’ they need to be able to deal with dissent that any political forum invites, and in particular they have to be aware that negativeness and nastiness can impact more on potential allies (and voters) than on opponents.

Miravox commented:

Thanks also to the well-reasoned, and sometimes very funny, commenters who provide great examples about how to discuss a political point in the real world.

There’s quite a lot of that, but it often gets clouded amongst the negative noise.

I guess I should also say I appreciate some of the heated debate as well – good for confirming, or not, certain views and being aware of the other sides of an argument.

This is a very good comment. Healthy politics needs healthy and robust debate. Some of the more vocal opponents of differing views at The Standard could do well to take this on board – for the good of their own impressions as well as the greater good of presenting a positive and effective edge to their political sword.

Voters (and especially non-voters tend to be repelled by the negative and nasty approach.

Poll pall for Labour after Jones exit

Labour have had a bad week, and it could get worse unless they make major improvements.

John Armstrong at NZH has bad news in Labour’s brutal week reveals Achilles heel:

Senior Labour figures are bracing themselves for an expected hit in the opinion polls, but are confident it will be shortlived.

Before this week’s disasters, Labour’s own pollsters were said to have been registering the party’s vote at around 30 per cent. That is very close to the 29.5 per cent recorded in the most recent Herald-DigiPoll survey.

However, usually reliable sources say National’s private polling over the past week points to the real scale of Labour’s horror story with support crumbling to a mindblowing low of just 23 per cent.

Even thirty is not flash, and not enough. If Labour take a hit in the next poll or two – and Roy Morgan will have been polling right through this week – it could be shortlived, but that will take a lot of work and a significant improvement from Cunliffe, his PR team and the Labour caucus.

Shane Jones will be out of the picture by the election. An inability to manage things well will be the big picture unless it is rectified.

Labour from top to bottom need to stop denying their faults, they need to stop lashing out and blaming others. They need to own the problem and address it positively. It will take time, effort and a bit of luck, but somehow they have to stem the haemorrhaging.

Internet Party faces questions on extradition

The Internet Party and it’s motives (or more particularly Kim Dotcom’s motives) regarding Dotcom’s pending extradition are being raised, and are likely to keep being raised.

Judith Collins explained the extradition process.

Once the court has determined an individual is eligible for surrender, the matter is referred to me, as Minister of Justice, for the final decision on the surrender. As Minister I decide whether to issue a surrender order, taking into account humanitarian considerations and other factors contained in the Extradition Act.

If this decision is not made until after the election in September and if National doesn’t form the next government then there is likely to be a Labour Minister of Justice who decides whether to issue a surrender order.

This issue is already being raised. John Armstrong in Step right up for the Dotcom political joke:

Even more dangerous in political terms is the suspicion — quickly fuelled by National — that Dotcom’s purpose in setting up the Internet Party is solely to make it a bottom-line of any post-election talks that whoever is Minister of Justice quash any court ruling which would force his extradition.

Fran O’Sullivan in Dotcom puts Harawira’s principles on the line:

Dotcom is clearly gambling that a successful foray into national politics could result in a post-election outcome to stop his extradition to the United States to face charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright piracy.

Chris Trotter in The Orchestration Of Hate: Why are the elites so afraid of Kim Dotcom?

Let us not forget that the reason New Zealanders know so much about Dotcom is because he is the target of a major investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Few other organisations on the planet possess the investigative capabilities of the FBI and even fewer are as sensitive when it comes to institutional failure and humiliation. But, failure and humiliation are precisely what lies in store for the FBI should Dotcom succeed in delaying the extradition procedures initiated against him by the US Attorney-General long enough to allow an electorally successful Internet Party to negotiate favourable political interventions on his behalf.

While Labour might have some sympathies towards some aspects of Dotcom’s case it would be extraordinary if they negotiated politically to direct a Minister of Justice what to do in a specific case. It would be an extremely bad look for a new government domestically, and it wouldn’t be good for NZ-US relations.

The Internet Party needs to make it clear what their position is on Dotcom’s extradition.

UPDATE: Kim Dotcom has just been on The Nation in a recorded interview saying that he’s disappointed that his extradition case has been linked to the party. He stated that if the court determines he is eligible for surrender to the US the Minister of Justice should not overrule that ruling.

 

Winston Peters versus John Key

Last week John Key said he would consider working with NZ First after the election but that it was “very unlikely” to happen.

In the weekend John Armstrong started some debate with Winston for PM? Don’t bet against it.

The big question is whether National will be willing to trade the one bauble of office which Peters has never enjoyed (and which Labour cannot realistically offer) to secure his signature on a confidence and supply agreement.

Peters has been a finance minister, a foreign minister and a deputy prime minister. That leaves one large and obvious gap in his CV.

Will National seek to find ways around the significant constitutional obstacles to enable the leader of a minor party to do a stint as prime minister – obstacles such as could he realistically sack a Cabinet minister from the majority party?

Then yesterday also in NZ Herald Audrey Young –  Key: Power-sharing off the table

John Key this morning scoffed at speculation that National might consider any power-sharing arrangement with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as though it were complete fantasy.

But the notion is not that off-the-planet that is hasn’t been contemplated. 

Young then details some of the context and then concludes.

In light of John’s column, I asked the Prime Minister this morning if he would rule out a power-sharing deal and he said “that’s not on the table.”

Pressed further, he said ”No, Winston Peters won’t become Prime Minister.”

ZB’s Barry Soper asked him if it were put on the table, would he consider it, and Key said No.

Also yesterday in Parliament’s first debate for the year Winston Peters blasted Key and National.

The plan outlined by the Prime Minister for 2014 brought to mind the word “hoover”. Not the great water dam in the United States, not the first FBI boss in the United States, but the vacuum cleaner. You know why? Because it sucks. John Key has spent too long running around after the movie moguls. He is in his own fantasy land. His speech had the most confused start of any speech that I have ever heard in this House by a party leader—the most confused start that I have ever heard.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s of the past would have been embarrassed to have spouted such dribble. I think that a leadership spill in the National Party is not long away.

National is a Government of non-achievers with a woeful record of failure. It always puts the interests of foreign big-business ahead of ordinary New Zealanders.

Mr Key made a speech last week, if you recall, and all of sudden, he says “Oh, we will be happy to talk to New Zealand First.” It is a bit like that famous quote from Jesse Jackson: “Now, Santa Claus running into heavy weather, and he calls for Rudolph.” It is unbelievable— unbelievable. There is no basis for this National Government to boast about its economic record.

The stark, ugly truth is that New Zealand is nowhere near paying its way in the world, Mr Bennett. It is clear that this Government is clueless as to how to address that. Young New Zealanders have been betrayed by this Government.

Two minutes to go, Mr Speaker? One minute to go? Wonderful. That will be enough to finish off this party. What we have heard today, if you look at the penultimate page, is a statement about taking steps this year to introduce a National match-fixing policy. That is what we heard today. It was National’s match-fixing policy for the election.

If you cannot win the game, cheat—fix it. Well, we are on red alert and ready to hand out a card. We cannot say it will be a red card. We cannot say it will be a green card. We cannot say it will be a yellow card. But we most definitely can say that it will be a white card. As soon as they fly, it will be a white and black card, as soon as they—as they will—fly the white flag.

One last statement: remember what Mr Key said about the SIS raid last year? He said he did not know about it. We will prove in this House that he did.

(from draft Hansard DEBATE ON PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT 15:19:04~Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First)

National would be nuts to try and work with Winston in a coalition or with a confidence and supply agreement.

Prime Minister for Peters would be preposterous. As would deputy. And any other ministerial responsibility would be very risky and unwise.

Peters last comment was “One last statement: remember what Mr Key said about the SIS raid last year? He said he did not know about it. We will prove in this House that he did.”

Peters has a record of claiming to have proof  when trying to bring political opponents (or eject them from his party as he did with Brendan Horan).  And he has a record of not producing any proof despite his claims of having it.

I don’t know how Key or National could consider trusting him. Despite what Armstrong and Young say, Peters is off the planet.

Which Cunliffe?

Sometimes David Cunliffe sounds decisive. Often he seems decidely duplicitous.

Which Cunliffe

John Armstrong writes in NZ Herald Two Cunliffes … but only one is a winner.

Allies and enemies of David Cunliffe are quickly discovering that Labour’s leader of two months is something of a two-headed hydra.

It seems at times as if there are two David Cunliffes – the one who speaks from the heart, and the one who speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

Cunliffe can speak with intelligence and passion, but he also often sounds contrived, a try hard. And sometimes with a nasty streak.

The first Cunliffe is supremely confident, assertive, decisive, and a straight talker. He leaves those listening in absolutely no doubt that he will do what he is says he is going to do.

Then there is the other Cunliffe. This is the slightly too brash, but still decisive-sounding version who – when his statements are subject to scrutiny – leaves the listener none the wiser as to what he really thinks and where he stands.

This is Cunliffe the professional politician who either refuses to or cannot give a straight answer. Instead, the listener is served up rhetoric and bluster.

After an initial bump in the polls when he took over the leadership Labour under Cunliffe has now settled back into Shearer levels of support. This should be a worry for Cunliffe. Labour can’t afford to switch leaders again before next year’s election.

Perhaps Cunliffe has been trying too hard to be many things to many voters. A two faced, forked tongue impression is becoming established.

He has to learn to be himself – as long as there is only one of him he should then come across as someone who’s words and positions we can understand clearly and can trust.

Otherwise National will rule again after next year’s election, or if Labour squeak in they will be Greened far more than they would want – and far more than most voters would want.

Labour has bet it’s future on David Cunliffe. Which Cunliffe?

(Arm)Strong advice for David Shearer

Another couple of demoralising pundit opinions on David Shearer’s leadership.

Felix Marwick takes a measured look in Leadership back under the spotlight.

And John Armstrong is more blunt in 90 days to save Shearer’s bacon.

But Armstrong also offers some very good advice to Shearer.

  1. Shearer needs to relax. When he tries to sound forthright, he sounds uptight. He sounds like he does not believe what he is saying. He needs to choose the right words and let them make his point.
  2. Shearer should be delivering speeches which reveal exactly what he stands for. The public does not have the foggiest. The public might not turn up to hear him. But the media will.
  3. Shearer needs to relentlessly target the middle ground. That will at times mean taking conservative stances that annoy the Labour left. Too bad. The centre is where many conservative-minded Labour voters now sit.
  4. He needs to get his caucus talking about the issues which matter to the average person. Shearer’s biggest success has been Labour’s promise to build 100,000 affordable houses over 10 years. He needs to ask himself why that has been popular and replicate that across other portfolios.
  5. He needs to be more strategic when it comes to picking fights with National. But he needs to pick some fights with the Greens to show who is going to be the boss in any governing relationship.
  6. He needs to bang a few party heads together and take control of this year’s Labour conference so it becomes a platform for him rather than an embarrassment for the party.

Can Shearer re-invent himself and show some confidence and ability to repair a severely damaged Labour caucus?

And if not, as Marwick says, “will anyone in his caucus be prepared to take up the poisoned chalice that Labour’s leadership appears to have become”.

Ominous for Dunne

The writing is on the wall for Peter Dunne. It’s on a number of walls, especially media walls.

Yesterday John Armstrong was clear in Gravity of situation seems to escape Mr Sensible’s notice:

Maybe the enormity of it all has yet to really sink in. Maybe Peter Dunne is in a state of complete and utter denial. Maybe in his mind he has convinced himself that he did not leak the Kitteridge report on the GCSB despite the evidence – although circumstantial – pointing unerringly in his direction.

With Vance and her employers adopting the standard response of never commenting on sources, it is a fair bet the answer as to who leaked the document lies somewhere in the pile of 86 emails Dunne exchanged with the journalist over a 14-day period.

The public may never know exactly what happened. But Henry’s short report is long enough for people to be able to draw their own conclusions.

And Colin Espiner has just blogged Captain Sensible got too near the flame at Stuff:

Former Revenue Minister/former UnitedFuture leader and possibly soon-to-be former MP Peter Dunne says he looked at but did not leak the GCSB report that found our security services had engaged in illegal spying on New Zealanders.

That wasn’t good enough for Prime Minister John Key who considered Dunne’s faint denials that he was responsible, together with his refusal to release all of the 80-plus emails exchanged with the Fairfax reporter who broke the story, was as close as anyone was going to get to an outright admission of guilt.

And fair enough, too. Even though I also work for Fairfax I have absolutely no idea who Andrea Vance’s sources for her story were – journalists protect sources absolutely, and wouldn’t tell their own mother or partner let alone their editor or a colleague.

But as someone who worked as a political editor in the press gallery for eight years, I’m 99 per cent convinced Dunne was responsible, based on his behaviour since, his refusal to co-operate with the inquiry, and my knowledge of how these things work.

And how these things work is that almost everyone does it. The only difference is that Dunne got caught because he didn’t cover his tracks well enough.

And also from Stuff with Is politician is done and dusted?:

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams said the situation is “end-of-career stuff”, and he expects Dunne to “lick his wounds, then go gracefully”.

It is going to be nigh on impossible for Dunne to argue against this weight of opinion.

About the only remaining question is how long it will take Dunne to come to terms with his situation. It’s a huge step for him to take after three decades in Parliament.

Ironically if he were to resign and champion GCSB and privacy issues that were likely to be involved in the decision to “consider leaking” the Kitteridge report he could end his career with a more enduring legacy than if he had just faded away. There is growing support for leaking the report.

Should Peter Dunne be New Zealand’s Bradley Manning?

Labour and the Greens should be thanking Dunne for having caused the report to be released.

Harping on about the leak of a taxpayer funded report on illegal spying, though, could have the potential to backfire, particularly on the Greens, who have long been ardent campaigners against this country’s entanglement in intelligence alliances. I suspect that Russel Norman will have to explain his position to some pretty angry Green activists in the near future.

And as for Peter Dunne being our Bradley Manning – probably to an extent, yes, as like that truly brave American soldier he risked everything and still got caught, albeit, in the service of a greater cause – freedom of information.

That might be taking it a bit far but Dunne could certainly exit his parliamentary career with higher honours than ex Minister of Revenue.

It would be ironic if Dunne exited parliament as a champion of the left.

And there seems little stigma in being a labelled leaker. Espiner says “almost everyone does it”, and details:

  • Peters is the king of leaks
  • Former Labour prime minister Helen Clark leaked like a sieve
  • There are very senior people sitting around Key’s Cabinet table who have leaked information to me in the past.

As usual there is much hypocrisy surrounding Winston Peters, in this case “the king of leaks” pursuing a leaker.

But the biggest  surprise seems to be that Dunne went so long without leaking. No wonder media didn’t pay him much attention.

The media rewards leaking by giving politicians the publicity they crave. Except Dunne, who doesn’t seem to have benefited in that way. And except when media discard them and throw them to the wolves – see Fairfax leaked or Peters is lying.

Peter Dunne – an unlikely leaker

Winston Peters has made a serious accusation – that Peter Dunne leaked the Kitteridge report the day after he returned from an overseas trip.

Like many I would be very surprised if Dunne was the leaker.

John Key has strongly backed Dunne’s integrity. In PM backs Dunne over Peters’ GCSB leak claim:

Key told reporters that Peters has produced no evidence to back his claim.

“All I’m saying is that he’s using Parliamentary privilege. Mr Dunne’s given a categorical assurance that he didn’t’ leak the report and I accept him at his word,” Key said.

Key in Parliament on Wednesday in Questions for oral answer:

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who was investigating the matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to any member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not party to any conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry, but what I have seen is Mr Dunne’s categorical assurance that he in no way leaked that report.

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who is investigating this matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to a member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To repeat my first answer, I am not privy to the conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry. I am aware of the statements that Mr Dunne has made where he has categorically ruled out that he had played any part in leaking the report. If the specific question is about Mr Dunne’s staff, I have had no conversations with them at all nor seen any statements, because they would not be requested. But you are inquiring about the chief of staff for Mr Dunne, who is Rob Eaddy. He is person of absolute integrity and I would be absolutely stunned if he played any part in leaking the report.

John Armstrong in Who-Dunne-it adds spice to dreary day:

He is the most unlikely leaker.

Jane Clifton in An inquiry into the inquiry over the leaks:

Parliament was still agog over quite what magnitude of midlife political crisis Revenue Minister Peter Dunne would have to have had for Mr Peters’ earlier assertion, under parliamentary privilege, that Mr Dunne was the source of the original leak to be true.

Generally regarded as being on the goodie-two-shoes side of the political ledger, Mr Dunne has stoutly denied leaking his copy of the spy report to anyone.

So while it can’t be ruled out it would shock many (including me) if Dunne was the leaker. It just doesn’t make sense, there seems no reason why he would have leaked or that he would risk his career on something that this.

Disclosure: from time to time I have some communication with Peter Dunne on political issues, always at my instigation. He usually responds to questions I put to him.

I asked Dunne some questions about this story when it first broke on Wednesday. I have only had this response from him, when I asked “To me it seems Peters was totally off topic in the finance and expenditure select committee- is that sort of unrelated questioning allowed? Accepted practice? Common?”

His reply:

The questions were certainly beyond the committee’s scope, which was to examine the 2013/14 Estimates for Inland Revenue.

I haven’t had any communication with Dunne since then.

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