Backlash against Whale Oil continues

Two things significantly affected Whale Oil over the last couple of months.

One is obviously Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics – for all it’s flaws the book seems to have initiated major reassessments on the risks of being associated with Cameron Slater, especially by media and journalists, and also apparently by the National Party.

Another is the prolific banning of commenters at Whale Oil, often for seemingly very trivial reasons.

Slater keeps repeating that “Dirty Politics” was just a plot to silence him. He tweeted about it yesterday:

it’s a slogan designed to try to shut up opponents, and its not working

A slogan like “Politics is mean, it is dirty, it is often like wrestling with pigs and more importantly nice guys finish last”? (from Why the saying “play the ball not the man” is gay)

that isn’t a slogan, it is the truth

Apart from the obvious irony about trying to shut up opponents Slater also contradicts himself. He plays mean, he plays dirty, but if someone tries anything similar against him it’s unfair.

There’s another garbled post by Slater today – In times of trouble you find out who your real friends are, often they are the ‘enemy’.

What was most interesting about ‘Dirty Politics’ was most of my calls for support and checking on my health and well beings while under the cosh from a politically motivated criminal conspiracy were from members of the opposition.

The ones who have previously curried favour, sucked up and generally used my acquaintance were nowhere to be seen and still aren’t.

More interesting was the lack of support from those who had built their careers off the back of my tips, sources and accurate information. Watching them scuttle and lie to defend themselves has been amusing. Unfortunately for them one must tell the truth to inquiries and more importantly provide evidence, there really is no hiding from the evidence.

That said I have been very and pleasantly surprised by those who rallied for support, often despite being political foes, and those who cut and run.

I will remember that support in coming years.

He seems to be wallowing and floundering.

Reading between the lines it sounds like MPs may have been warned that continued relationships with Slater may have a negative impact on political prospects, and some of his business has subsequently dried up. Vague threats are unlikely to reverse that.

And comments on Whale Oil indicate that Slater is losing the support of those who remain able to post there. This in General Debate today from ‘la la land':

I have mulled over the latest posts etc this weekend and have come to the decision that I don’t want to stick around to watch Cameron go after John Key like he did Dotcom. John Key is our Prime Minister not some German crook and I for one still rate him. If it goes badly for him further down the track well that’s that but I don’t want to be a part of bringing him down. I have really enjoyed reading this blog and all your comments. Thanks and goodbye.

It is significant that this has so far received 30 positive ticks. It was responded to by yet another lengthy defence by moderator Pete Belt which received some replies:

The decision to put Key under some scrutiny was taken before the election. As a blog, we wouldn’t be honest with ourselves and our audience if we continued to artificially suppress what we want to talk about. We did so to get past an election. That’s pragmatic enough. But we’re not a National Party mouthpiece. In spite of many rumours to the contrary, we neither receive money nor do we work for them. At times the National Party and Whaleoil’s aims align. At that point, it looks like we’re working together. Funny that.

To Jason Ede’s eternal frustration, he couldn’t control a bloody thing about Whaleoil. All he could do was make us aware of certain stories in the media or perhaps a poll that was coming up – that sort of thing – and we would pick and choose what we were interested in.

(Now there is a shocking revelation!)

The alternative is to end up at a point where it all comes out anyway (as it will), and people will look to us and go “well, you kept THAT quiet, haven’t you?”

If you’re scared of the truth, then perhaps it’s better to go hide. John Key isn’t a saint. He’s a good bloke, but he can do with a bit of scrutiny. I honestly don’t see why we should pretend he poops diamonds to keep people like you in your comfort zone.

Nobody cringed when we get stuck into Hekia Parata or Murray McCulley, but somehow John Key is untouchable?

No way. Not on this blog.

kiwibattler:

As long as any questioning of John Key is done in a manner that doesn’t appear just plain vindictive then I think most readers of the blog welcome some insight into the inner workings/ possible issues within the National party. No one is exempt from informed criticism.
With Cam’s connection to Judith Collins it all comes down to how this criticism of Key is delivered.

Mrs_R

Criticism of Parata and McCulley didn’t raise eyebrows because it was justified based on their performance. I would expect very few here would complain if negative revelations concerning JK were brought to light if they were factual and truthful. The real concern is that if it is only a smear campaign without substance, then many will see it for what it is and make a decision accordingly.

Pete Belt:

How can they not be factual and truthful? This is the same problem the left have with this concept.

Factual and truthful = things you agree with
Smears = things you don’t agree with, yet still factual and truthful

This was all triggered by a post on Saturday – Beware the cult of personality, and the legacy they leave – addressing criticism of John Key.

Apparently my audience will be affected negatively by criticising John Key. He also is the saviour of the National party and without him National would be stuffed.

Ignore the fact that he shamelessly used one of my private emails to conduct a personal hit on a friend, and ignore the fact that he thinks I should just accept it as “mo hard hard feelings”. I say ignore those because they have absolutely no bearing on my criticism of John Key.

I criticise him because I am alarmed that National is falling into the same traps that Helen Clark fell into.

The trap of creating a cult of personality.

A number of vague claims were made:

Caucus meetings have become tedious and one way traffic. I know this because many caucus members are whining about it and if they are whining about it in the open then there is a problem. Caucus meetings are a forum to debate issues but have actually become a lecture from the throne with Steven Joyce or Bill English deputising. Many members of caucus wonder why they even bother turning up now.

Anyone who speaks against the utterings of John Key or even offers a slightly contrarian opinion is usually sent a message…from someone senior…and told how their career could be in jeopardy if they continue.

“Many caucus members”, “anyone who speaks against” – all vague and unsubstantiated.

Some caucus members have received calls from Bill English and told to get new friends. These are all the hallmarks of a caucus under the thumb of a dictator, one who will brook no nonsense and has his stasi member enforcing discipline when none is needed.

Again the irony considering Slater’s approach to quashing disagreeable voices at Whale Oil along with the help of his helpers “enforcing discipline”.

Caucus members shouldn’t need to be advised by Bill English to “get new friends”. They should have already figured out that being too closely involved with Slater is not good for their political future.

And if it hasn’t dawned on them yet it will when he does the dirty on them if he thinks he’s being hung out to dry. Vindictness and utu are just more strings to Slater’s “”Politics is mean, it is dirty” bow.

Slater has been innovative, ground breaking and in some ways very successful with his political campaigning and his blogging.

But he has stomped on too many toes. For someone who claims to be so politically astute it’s surprising to see him sound so bewildered now he is getting the boot.

As he inevitably continues to lash out it is likely the backlash against his brand of dirty politics continues.

Disgraceful Key admission on OIA delays

John Key has admitted delaying the release of official information as long as possible if the Government thinks it’s in it’s interests to do so. This is very disappointing.

Radio New Zealand reports PM admits using delaying tactics.

Prime Minister John Key has admitted the Government sometimes delays releasing official information right up to the deadline if it is in its best interest to do so.

Legally, it must respond to requests as soon as reasonably possible.

…ministers and government departments must respond to a request as soon as reasonably possible and no later than 20 working days.

The principal of deliberate delays is bad enough, that it is flaunting clear legal and moral requirements is disgraceful.

Mr Key has always maintained that when it comes to requests for official information, his ministers act within the law.

But he has now revealed a strategy which appears at odds with that.

“Sometimes we wait the 20 days because, in the end, Government might take the view that’s in our best interest to do that,” he said.

It appears to be much worse than delaying releases up to 20 working days.

Mr Key’s admission comes just days after the release of official advice on child poverty which Radio New Zealand requested 17 months ago.

That sort of delay is a huge concern. The public deserves much better than this from Government (and from Key and National).

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem said they were not allowed to delay right up to that 20-day deadline for political purposes.

“It’s pretty clear. It couldn’t be much clearer than that… As soon as you have made a decision as to whether you’re going to respond to the request or how you’re going to respond to it, you ought to convey that.”

However, there are no sanctions for deliberately delaying the release of official information.

There shouldn’t need to be sanctions, the public should be able to expect that Government will comply with the law – and be willingly open and transparent.

She stressed she had not heard of ministers delaying responses within the 20-day timeframe but said it would be hard to prove.

“That’s the sort of thing that I expect we’ll pick up as we consult. And we’ll be consulting widely, including media, so that we can identify any blatant or egregious attempts to dodge responsibility, but… I’m not aware of any of that sort of thing going on at all.”

Dame Beverley said her review would not be a witch hunt but would look into agencies’ practices and highlight any misinterpretations or difficulties.

Highlighting “misinterpretations or difficulties” might be worthwhile.

But it’s not good enough. The public deserves better.

I think we should get a genuine assurance from John Key that his Government will fully and willingly comply with the clear intent of the Official Information Act.

If he doesn’t assure us – and demonstrate that he’s serious in practice – then this third term Government will be burdened by suspicions of being cynical, manipulative and abusive of laws that are there to promote the public good.

Hide versus Hager, and poxy houses

Rodney Hide speaks some truths about the “speaking truth to power” of Nicky Hager and the supporters that think Hager can do no wrong.

To the anointed left, Hager is an investigative journalist. He is good and true. Blogger Cameron Slater is a smear merchant and paid shill. He is evil and false.

That’s how it appears. To an extent it’s true, Hager is an investigative journalist at times – but so is Slater (at times). And both sometimes speak “truth”, but they also both speak falsely at times, despite claims from some that Hager has never been proven incorrect.

An anonymous hacker stole Slater’s emails and Facebook messages.

Hager then published them in Dirty Politics to implicate Prime Minister John Key in dark and evil plots. The links were tenuous at best.

Some have taken Hager’s claims against John Key and National as gospel but they are tenuous and have not proven much apart from the nastiness of Slater and associates – which was already known.

I warranted a brief chapter myself. Hager alleges Slater blackmailed me to resign the Act Party leadership. It’s not true.

The first I knew of any allegation or blackmail was Hager’s book.

Hager never rang to check his allegations. He published them without a rudimentary check. Left-wing commentator Chris Trotter publicly defended Hager’s not checking his allegations. That would alert those he maligned who might then injunct his book. And so Hager denied his victims the usual rights and legal protections.

Hager made allegations which Hide has strongly denied. Hager didn’t fact check, he made a case without checking both sides of the story. At best that’s sloppy journalism.

The extreme left has no problem with that. The anointed have no need for legal process. They have no need to provide rights of reply. They have no need to check facts. They are right. The rest of us are wrong.

To an extent at least that appears to be true, you just have to read threads at The Standard and Public Address to see this.

Hager pored through stolen private and personal information. There were emails to the wife. Messages about a sick and dying mum.

Hager then decided what was public interest and published it. We do not know what became of what he regarded as personal and private.

To me, it’s clear a crime was committed. Slater duly complained.

The police are investigating. In the course of their investigation they convinced a judge to grant a warrant to search Hager’s house.

The search was subject to the law. It was authorised. Hager’s personal information is to be protected. It won’t be made public.

Presumably the raid on Hager’s house was done correctly and lawfully, but there remain questions about whether it was on a scale that was justified.

Any alleged wrongdoing will have to be backed by evidence to be tested in court.

Those alleged to have done wrong will be presumed innocent. They will have their day in court.

Yes – but police action can have a major effect on their targets, including legal costs and in this case the confiscation of computers and information that Hager requires to do his work can be significant.

If only Hager’s victims had been afforded such rights.

Of course, there’s no need: his victims are made guilty by their politics.

Slater’s computer was ransacked. Information was taken. The hack was illegal, furtive and anonymous.

Hager then published the stolen information, wrapped his own story around it, and gave no right of reply.

Hager tried to convict Slater, John Key and associates in the court of public opinion. He failed to do what journalists are usually expected to do – allow those being accused to give their side of the story.

It has been claimed that this was necessary so those being accused wouldn’t injunct Hager’s book.

Journalists don’t usually package a grand conspiracy claim in a book and inject it into an election campaign. Journalists should normally check both sides of a story, give a right of response and publish revelations as they come to hand. Then there can be immediate reactions and follow up additions, corrections and counter-claims.

Journalism doesn’t start and end with a one-sided book that it’s supporters claim is beyond reproach.

Hager raised some important issues in his book, but it was not good journalism, it looks more like political activism.

His evidence was never checked or tested.

That’s not true.

Martyn Bradbury claims to have been interviewed while the book was being written. Bradbury is a far left activist and an adversary of Slater.

Lyn Prentice is a left wing activist and a long time strong critic of Slater. He claims to have been involved in researching the book. He sponded to a comment by RRM at The Standard:

Big old BS – the e mails were STOLEN, it is as simple as that.

Political-type people will make of that what they will.

Perhaps if Hager had interviewed a few people, instead of just writing a book of one-sided allegations ABOUT them, based on STOLEN e mails, and published at a slightly less cynical time than a few weeks before the election, he might not be in this position today?

[lprent: Based on reading the blog posts of the various people that were referred to in the emails passed to him. You really can't get much more independent that the actual actions of arseholes.

Plus doing a pretty widespread verification among many people who read those blogs and keep an eye on Slater, Odgen, Farrar, Ede, and others of that dirty brigade. Like me and the score of people that I pointed to and introduced to Hagers people.

Why would you ask Slater? He is currently saying that yes he made those statements in those emails, but that he was lying and bullshitting. What makes you think that he wouldn't lie or bullshit to a journo or for that matter the police or a judge?]

Hager appears to have got “verification” from “various people” who were the political opposite of Slater and had been feuding bitterly with Slater for years.

Hide concludes:

But that’s okay. That’s because those he attacked have their politics wrong.

What’s not okay is the police investigating the crime and exercising a lawful warrant.

As far as the extreme left is concerned, Slater has no rights and Hager enjoys super ones.

And they wonder why we laugh at them.

I don’t laugh at them. I think it’s a sad reflection on politics and those involved at the extremes.

Has Hager used the left in a major political hit job? Or has he been used by the left? Possibly a bit of both.

Some of the revelations in Hager’s book bring attention to the very sad side of Slater, Whale Oil et al. But the nature of the book and it’s political one-sidedness and it’s attempt to bring down a government doesn’t look flash either.

Hager’s hit job was a poor advertisement for both political activism and for journalism.

All their houses look poxy.

“The Downfall of Kim Dotcom”

Political junkie Geoffrey Miller details The Downfall of Kim Dotcom – How the Internet entrepreneur’s venture into New Zealand politics went off the rails.

Kim Dotcom’s foray into the tiny and normally rather placid world of New Zealand politics brought global interest to the South Pacific nation’s recent election – culminating with the involvement of other outside heavyweights, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Ultimately the über-wealthy German immigrant went head to head with the country’s prime minister – and lost. Dotcom ended up failing spectacularly – describing himself as political “poison.” His Internet Mana alliance, personally bankrolled by Dotcom to the tune of nearly NZ$5 million ($3.9 million), failed to win a single seat in New Zealand’s 120-seat parliament in elections held on September 20.

He summarises:

In May, Kim Dotcom described his pet political party as his “gift to New Zealand.” On election night, he was forced to concede that his very brand had been toxic. For John Key, Dotcom turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. New Zealand voters’ loathing of Kim Dotcom and his tainting of the country’s left played no small part in delivering Key’s center-right National Party a landslide victory.

After the election, a jubilant Key had only one piece of advice for the defeated Dotcom. “Go away.”

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/the-downfall-of-kim-dotcom/

Key’s intention “in the interests of every New Zealanders”

An open letter from John Key outlines the Prime Minister’s aims and aspirations in his third term of Government:

Elections are a chance for people to assess what party has the best plan, policies and vision for the future. My assessment is that voters remain focused on the issues that matter to them and their families — the economy, law and order, health, education and the environment.

So although a lot of media attention can focus on peripheral issues, it takes a lot to distract voters from these core issues.

I am very grateful to the million plus voters who gave their party vote to National. Thank you for your support and encouragement — and the endorsement of the past six years.

An election is when people vote for a particular party; however the elected Government should work in the interests of every New Zealander and it is my intention to do so.

There will be times when people will disagree with decisions we make, but that is true of core supporters as well.

Over the past six years we have been transparent and straightforward about our decisions and the direction we have taken.

Although we are likely to have an outright majority in Parliament, that won’t change. We’ll continue to do what we said we would do, and will not embark on any agenda we have not campaigned on. We have been, and will remain, a centre-right Government.

Now we are reaching out to other political parties to form a bigger buffer than the one-seat majority from election night. This will give the Government depth and breadth.

Once we successfully negotiate the Confidence and Supply agreements, I will look at forming a new Cabinet. There are two vacant spots in the existing Cabinet, which gives us room to bring in new talent, and in some cases it makes sense to change portfolios around.

Although the core economic team of Bill English in Finance and Steven Joyce in Economic Development won’t change, there are options for Ministers looking for new challenges.

Once the Government is sworn in, we will be getting to work quickly on our priorities. These include implementing our education reforms to lift professional standards, and our housing programme, which will see young first-homebuyers build a deposit through KiwiSaver HomeStart.

We will also continue to fast track the release of land and building through special housing areas.

We will continue to diversify and build productivity in the economy. That’s about more training places and apprenticeships in high-skill areas.

We’d like to finalise our Free Trade Agreement with Korea and will work hard on an FTA with the United States and other partners who are looking to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The country’s infrastructure build will continue at a rapid rate, including the expansion of ultra-fast broadband and the rural broadband initiative. We will work tirelessly on Christchurch’s rebuild, finalise those unsettled Treaty of Waitangi claims, and I want to work on the referendum process for a potential change to the New Zealand flag.

Welfare reform will continue to be a priority, as will health. One of our first targets will be to see hospice funding increased to 70 per cent, and we will also speed up the cancer treatment process so 90 per cent of sufferers receive treatment within 62 days of their first referral.

One of the messages we picked up on the campaign trail was that New Zealanders want us to do more for the most vulnerable children in our society. We will continue to try to move people from welfare-based homes to work-based homes, however we acknowledge there is potentially more we can do and we will be looking at ways to do that.

There is enormous opportunity over the next three years to continue to develop the job market in New Zealand. Over the next two years we expect to see about 150,000 jobs created.

Over the next three years we expect the average wage to move from $55,000 to $62,000 and expect to lift the minimum wage every year we are in office. We want to finalise our tax-cut programme and implement modest cuts for low and middle income New Zealanders from 2017.

This is while we continue to build surpluses, pay off some nominal debt by 2017 and reduce ACC levies.

In the time I have been Prime Minister I have marvelled at the creativity, ingenuity and generosity of New Zealanders. This is a remarkable country and there are enormous opportunities for us all. I am optimistic and ambitious for this country — and you have every reason to be as well.

- Herald on Sunday

On changing the flag

One of John Key’s third term ambitions is to change the flag. I support this. I think a distinctive New Zealand flag will give our country a proud identity.

Stuff reports Key moves for poll on change to flag:

Prime Minister John Key has started laying out his third term agenda, including a vote on changing the flag next year.

Key flew into Wellington’s gale force winds yesterday with the intention of putting his third term government together by the end of the week.

He confirmed a flag debate next year, the same year Kiwis mark Anzac Day 100-year anniversary commemorations at Gallipoli.

“I’d like to complete the whole process next year. I don’t think it’s one of those things we want to hang around,” Key said.

The debate will be decided by referendum, and Key has already started making the case for change, labelling the current design of a Union Jack and the Southern Cross a relic from New Zealand’s colonial past.

But the Returned and Services Association has already lined up against any change.

The flag will be keenly debated.

NZ Herald report Key wants flag vote by 2015:

Mr Key had made an election promise to hold a referendum before 2017 if re-elected and said yesterday that he would bring it forward.

He had outlined a plan for a cross-party group of MPs to recommend the best process for referenda and a steering group to ensure the public had the opportunity to engage in discussion on the flag, and submit designs.

Mr Key suggested a two-stage referendum; first a vote for the best alternative flag from three or four options. Then, the winning design would run off against the existing flag.

Critics argue that the present flag is easily confused with those of other former British colonies, including Australia.

See flag examples below.

But supporters say it would dishonour the memory of New Zealanders who had fought and died under the flag if the design was changed. The Returned Services Association had said it would oppose any change.

National president Don McIver, who could not be reached yesterday, had earlier said the flag held a special status for soldiers who had fought under it and it should not be changed.

I’ve posted on how closely related the silver fern has been in our military history:

And here’s a repost on flag alternatives:

There’s been a number of alternative New Zealand flags suggested in the past.  One popular version is this Kyle Lockwood design.

Kyle Lockwood flagDavid Farrar has posted Another flag design at Kiwiblog:

NZ-flag-suggestion-600x330I prefer the latter with black, this connects more with the very familiar fern on black but still retains connections with the current flag colours and design.

The Lockwood design was also featured in An alternate flag design at Kiwiblog:

New-Flag-LineupThe distinctive Canadian maple leaf was a successful change from one of many similar designs. That’s the Australian flag at the back, which is often confused with this:

NZ flagThat shows one of the main drawbacks with the current flag, many people find it hard to be sure if it is our flag, the Australian flag or one of the other similar flags.

Predictable result

In the main the election result and sub-results were quite predictable.

Polls were a reasonable indicator but only look backwards so show trends that have happened. They can’t predict to late campaign shifts that are common.

This election was peculiar in that many decisions were put on hold until Kim Dotcom’s big reveal. When it came to nothing it strengthened resolve of swing voters to ensure National retained it’s hold on Government.

Labour dropping below poll results was not surprising. They were obviously not going to do well and non-committed voters either change their minds or simply don’t bother voting.

Claims like “but Cunliffe ran a good campaign” have been proven wrong. As David Shearer said, the end result was tragic for Labour. Cunliffe may have appeared to be campaigning strongly but he puts on a variety of acts. While they might be slick acts voters see through this lack of genuineness. Cunliffe also has a problem that is probably unresolvable – too many people simply don’t like his persona (or personas).

Greens will be disappointed to have struggled to maintain their level of support while Labour were shedding votes. Greens weren’t able to pick them up. This suggests that 10-12% is the upper limit for them. This also shouldn’t be surprising outside the Green bubble. People like to have a party promoting environmental issues but most don’t like the extreme Green stances like no drilling, no fracking, no motorways.

And Greens misread public sentiment if they think that handing out more money to poor people with no responsibilities applied will be popular. Middle New Zealand see this as imposing costs and taxes on them. Socialism is fringe ideology these days.

Winston Peters is adept at picking up protest and shedded votes. NZ First gained vote, gained MPs but otherwise gained nothing. Most of the 91% who didn’t vote NZ First will be happy with this outcome.

The 5% threshold always looked a very high hurdle for Conservatives and so it proved. This was a failure of MMP. The threshold should be no higher than 3%. I don’t personally support the Conservatives but their missing out is a travesty of democracy.

Hone Harawira losing his electorate was a bit of a shock but not really surprising given the severely compromised position of Harawira and Mana hitching their ambitions to Kim Dotcom. Dotcom’s expensive disaster was Harawira’s failing.

Internet-Mana was always a high risk alliance. They might have succeeded as a combined party but Dotcom realised too late that his brand was toxic and he couldn’t resist being prominent. His final week failure to deliver on his promises to hit John Key compounded the problem.

Laila Harre severely compromised her credibility and was still blind to this yesterday, blaming everything but reality. Her political future is very limited.

The Maori Party lost two of their three electorates as widely predicted. For the first time they had sufficient party vote to pick up a list seat to go with Te Ururoa Flavell’s retained seat. Flavell was a minor star of the campaign but will have a difficult job keeping the Maori Party afloat.

David Seymour retained Epsom as expected but also as expected ACT failed as a party. Jamie Whyte failed to step up as leader in a challenging attempt to rebuild a battered brand.

Peter Dunne held is Ohariu seat. That didn’t seem to surprise anyone but unrealistic Labourites from the electorate. As a party United Future was nowhere to be seen, and accordingly votes were nowhere to be seen, dropping to a third of the low return they got in 2011.

Just two more seats for National but this strengthens them substantially, giving them a majority vote on their own as long as they don’t lose any seats this term. They also have ACT, Dunne and Maori Party support options on standby.

Just two less seats for Labour and this weakens them substantially. The result is tragic for them and the outlook is no better. They have done very little to move on the old guard and bring in new talent. They seem out of touch with their constituency of last century. They have yet another failed leader with no obvious replacement. This was also predictable.

Labour have failed for six years to rebuild from the Clark/Cullen era. Unless someone out of the ordinary steps up their future looks bleak.

National campaigned on ‘steady as she goes’ and the voters delivered the platform for National to be a little more politically steady than expected providing outstanding issues don’t impact too much.

Judith Collins has already been sidelined and is expendable should inquiries further damage her.

Now the election is over ‘dirty politics’ should be addressed by Key. And by Labour. And to a lesser extent by Greens. Peters won’t change from his habit of attack without evidence but he will be largely impotent unless the media keep pandering to his baseless allegations.

Some embarrassments may emerge for Key and National out of surveillance and GCSB issues but they look to have been overplayed, and most people accept the need for some surveillance protection.

The simple fact is that most people don’t feel threatened by surveillance and they are concerned about about terrorism.

And it’s ironic that the supposedly net-savvy who campaign strongly against surveillance must be aware that the Google and Twitter and Facebook social media tools they willingly use are tracking what they do far more than any government.

But we can predict they will continue to fight for a free internet that gives them far more public exposure than they ever had. They claim that privacy is paramount in a very public online world.

Otherwise we can predict have much the same Government as we’ve had over the past six years. Most people will be comfortable with that.

It’s harder to predict if Harawira will make a comeback or if Mana will survive their battering and their harsh reality check.

If Dotcom pulls the plug on Internet Party funding it’s demise can be predicted. If that happens it can also be predicted that Laila Harre will find it very difficult to find another party that would risk being tainted by her lack of loyalty and sense.

It is not hard to predict that Labour’s struggle to be relevant and their lack of connection to anyone but some special interest groups will continue.

John Key has shown he is aware of the dangers to National of complacency and arrogance – it can be predicted that some of his MPs will struggle to heed his warnings. But most likely things will continue much as they have.

Greenwald speech (2) – surveillance versus interference in a country’s election

The second part of Glenn Greenwald’s speech at Kim Dotcom’s “The Moment of Truth” event on Monday night was on the alleged planning of mass surveillance.

The second really extraordinary thing, and this is genuinely really stunning to me, was on the very first day that I began doing interviews about the reporting that we were here to do, the Prime Minister, in the words of the New Zealand Herald, for the very first time admitted that his Government had in fact planned a programme of mass surveillance aimed at New Zealanders.

That appears to be an inaccurate representation of what Key said.

NZ Herald on Saturday in He’s Dotcom’s little henchman: PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

Greenwald said that New Zealand’s spying agencies had been conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders as part of the Five Eyes arrangement between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Key said that was wrong. “There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB and there never has been. Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

He believed Greenwald was jumping to conclusions based on partial information.

NZ Herald on Sunday in Spying claims force PM to release classified documents

Prime Minister John Key will declassify highly sensitive documents to prove the GCSB pulled the plug on plans to spy on New Zealanders.

Last night Key said he suspected that former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald’s mass surveillance claims were “part of a conversation” of a surveillance plan that was never formulated.

“I am prepared to declassify documents and release proof in the coming days,” said Key.

“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB [Government Communications Security Bureau] and there never has been.

“Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

Key told 3 News the mass surveillance plan was in response to cyber attacks targeting New Zealand businesses in 2011.

3 News on Saturday in Key hits back at Greenwald’s claims of mass surveillance

The Prime Minister has admitted for the first time that New Zealand spies did look into a form of mass surveillance on Kiwis, but never actually went through with it.

Mr Key has admitted for the first time that yes, New Zealand spies did look into what he calls a “mass protection” option that he concedes could have been seen as “mass surveillance” or “wholesale spying”, but that, and this is the important bit, he says it never actually went ahead.

Mr Key has revealed that after two major cyber-attacks on New Zealand companies, in late 2011 and early 2012, the GCSB stared to look at options with the help of partner agencies like the NSA.

But Mr Key says this idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.

Key said the Government investigated an option of a programme of mass surveillance rather than what Greenwald claims – “his Government had in fact planned a programme of mass surveillance”.

Back to Greenwald’s speech.

He admitted that for the very first time on Saturday after my arrival when he started to have suspicions about what it was I was going to expose.

I’m sure Key considered what Greenwald might try to expose and would have prepared responses long before Greenwald arrived here.

And the reason that’s so stunning to me is if you think about what has happened in this country over the last eighteen months there has been a very serious and sustained debate over surveillance policy, probably as much as if not more than just about any other country on the planet.

It began with the revelations that the Government had illegally spied upon the communications of a legal resident of New Zealand, Kim Dotcom, as well as several dozen other at least citizens and legal residents.

It then was followed by a very intense debate, one media outlet here called it one of the most polarised debates in decades, over a new Internet law that the Key Government insisted on enacting that would vest the Government with greater powers and this all took place within the context of the Snowden revelations, and the global debate about electronic surveillance and Internet freedom and individual privacy that those disclosures provoked.

Key claims he pulled the plug on the GCSB investigating mass surveillance months before the Snowden revelations and the global debate.

The law that was passed was claimed to clarify and tighten up loose legislation to prevent repeats of misinterpretation and potential illegal spying, and it increased oversight of New Zealand’s spy agencies. It’s highly debatable whether it gives the Government greater powers so Greenwald is taking one side of the argument.

And so as this country was immersed in this very serious and sustained debate about surveillance, a debate in which the Prime Minister himself actively participated.

He concealed from the citizenry all of that time the fact that by his very own admission, which is actually inaccurate, but even he admits that he concealed the fact that his own Government over many months was developing a programme of mass surveillance aimed at the citizens of this country.

Greenwald is fudging timing here. The “many months” were up to a year before the debate. 3 News reported:

But Mr Key says this idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.

This was before the Snowden leaks, and Mr Key says the fact he said no is why he has been able to be so resolute that there was no mass spying on Kiwis.

Key says it was an investigation that stopped well before the Snowden leaks and the debate in New Zealand. They weren’t happening concurrently as Greenwald implies.

Greenwald:

What possible justification is there for having concealed that for well over a year, until my arrival compelled him to finally admit it because he knew it was going to get exposed anyway?

I find that genuinely stunning.

It could be justified because by the time of the debate it was one option (presumably the GCSB investigates other options that it never implements) that had been ruled out by the Government.

During the debate Key kept claiming there was no mass surveillance and there would be no mass surveillance. If he said “we thought about it but decided against it” it would have made little or no difference to the outcome of the legislation. If anything it would have further inflamed the debate by raising an issue that was no longer in the frame.

Key presumably chose to talk about it now because he believed Greenwald would make claims about mass surveillance that needed to be addressed and countered.

Did Greenwald think he could come to New Zealand and make claims and accusations during the last week of an election campaign without them being challenged?

Fran O’Sullivan in Key wins – now let’s focus on real issues:

Key has been roundly attacked for declassifying documents to prove his point that the GCSB has not been involved in widespread surveillance of New Zealanders.

Bizarrely, it is somehow seen as perfectly all right for Dotcom and his associates to use stolen National Security Agency files to try to prove the Prime Minister a liar on how his Government has administered national security, but not for Key to declassify New Zealand’s own files to prove he isn’t a liar.

This is utter madness.

Key saw Dotcom coming and released the Cabinet document which backed his statements before the Internet Party visionary’s Moment of Truth fiasco.

He had lined up former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and self-styled adversarial journalist Glenn Greenwald to undermine Key’s credibility and use their combined influence to swing voters against National five days before the election.

But Dotcom’s associates failed to produce any clear evidence to show Key had lied when he said the GCSB had not indulged in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Nothing concrete was produced to prove New Zealanders have been illegally spied on.

Not only has nothing concrete been produced to back his claims, for a journalist Greenwald seems to have been making misleading assertions, possibly either deliberately or negligently misrepresenting what has happened.

Greenwald is openly anti-surveillance. He accepted an invitation to speak at a meeting organised by a political party that wants to take down the ruling Government. He has voluntarily participated in the democratic process of a country he has no connection with.

Greenwald seems to see a change of Government in New Zealand as a way of reducing surveillance in New Zealand so he is backing a party and a campaign that wants to achieve that.

What’s a bigger issue to Kiwis, surveillance or interference in a country’s democratic process?

Greenwald’s speech (1) – bickering about bickering

The opening four minutes of Glenn Greenwald’s speech at “The Moment of Truth” was little more than playing politics with John Key – bickering about bickering.

Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thanks to everybody for coming tonight and thank you so much as well to the Internet Party for organising such an impressive event and inviting me to speak.

Greenwald was introduced by MC and leader of the Internet Party, Laila Harre. Sitting on his left on the panel is organiser of the event and founder and funder of the Internet Party. Greenwald later claims it isn’t political.

I am extremely excited to be here and by be here I mean both this event and New Zealand generally.

I’ve only been here for a very short period of time, ninety six hours, but it has been very eventful.

There has been a lot that has happened in that short period of time but there are three episodes that I have found particularly extraordinary since I’ve been here that I want to highlight because I think it has some important meaning for what we’re here to talk about and for the upcoming election.

He thinks what he is saying is important “for the upcoming election”.

The first really extraordinary event is that you know is not all that common to arrive in a country, and within less than twenty four hours literally find oneself being publicly maligned and attacked by the nation’s head of state using the most adolescent epithets imaginable.

Minor misunderstanding – Queen Elizabeth is New Zealand’s head of state, represented in New Zealand by the Governor General.

It is an extraordinary event, in New Zealand at least, for a foreign journalist to make a very public anti-Government appearance at the behest of a political party founder and funder with an open aim of bringing down the current Prime Minister Government.

Has Greenwald done anything like this before? Did he expect no reaction or opposition being so political in a country he has little or no connection with in the last week of an election? or is he playing politics as much as the Prime Minister.

You know Saturday was my first full day here in New Zealand and I was welcomed by being called literally on no less than a dozen occasions a henchman, um, by the nation’s Prime Minister, and today earlier this morning he descended even a little bit further into the muck crowning me a loser, something that I don’t think I’ve been called since I was like fourteen years old so it brought back a lot of really good memories.

And the really amazing thing about it is I’ve done reporting over the last year and couple of months on the NSA and then on global surveillance as a result of the documents I was provided by my source, Edward Snowden, and the New Zealand Government certainly is not the first Government that has disliked the reporting that we’ve done.

And they are not even the first Government that has tried to distract attention away from the substance of the disclosures by trying to attack the journalist personally in order to discredit the journalism.

Greenwald seems to have trouble differentiating his journalism from his political activism.

But what is unique about New Zealand is that in every other country where that was done it wasn’t the Head of State that actually spouted those insults, um they get underlings or representatives or minions to do it because generally Heads of State are very concerned about appearing dignified and statesmanlike.

Spouting insults like ‘underlings’ and ‘minions’, and opening his speech with this counter attack on John Key was a distraction from the substance of his disclosures. Greenwald’s initial approach was playing politics and playing the man – during an election campaign – just like Key.

But I don’t know I guess in some warped way New Zealander’s should consider themselves blessed to be led by a person who has completely unburdened himself with those concerns, I mean he has no interest at all in dignity or statesmanlike behaviour whatsoever, and….

Greenwald has unburdened himself, seeming to have no interest so far in dignity or journalist-like behaviour.

Dotcom, seated right beside Greenwald, keeps reminding of his own undignified presence with frequent and distracting loud laughter.

You know I never thought that I would actually hear myself saying what I have said multiple times in interviews over the last four days which is, it’s a very weird thing to hear one saying, which is I’m not going to lower myself to the Prime Minister’s level by getting into the mud with him and name calling.

And I’ve tried really hard to adhere to that over the past four days and I’m going to try hard although I might not completely succeed but I will try hard to adhere to that tonight as well because there are a lot of really important substantive issues that we shouldn’t allow to be overwhelmed or distracted by what he’s hoping to be this kind of bickering match.

He has already failed. Up to now, in the first four minutes almost exactly of his speech, Greenwald has said nothing substantive, instead being distracted and lowering himself into the political bickering mud.

Video: “The Moment of Truth”  – approximately 28:30 to 32:30

D-Day versus Key-Day

Tonight Kim Dotcom will have his big time in his own spotlight, an event he calls “The Moment of Truth”. He is trying to place himself on the same pedestal as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden – they have one thing in common, they are all being sought by countries for extradition and prosecution, but beyond that Dotcom is an odd associate.

John Key has created a climate of doubt that it will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so media will not just be broadcasting the supposed revelations unchallenged, they will be looking for Key’s response. That was a smart play by Key who has had months to prepare for this.

Dotcom may have sidelined himself by bringing Glenn Grenwald to New Zealand to headline his show with supposed revelations that our GCSB has been undertaking mass surveillance on us.

Greenwald is usually labeled a journalist – and his Pulitzer prize is often mentioned – but he is also a side taking political activist. In his own words in a recent interview for Metro:

I’ve been very clear that I’m not neutral on the question of mass surveillance. It’s dangerous and I oppose it. I’m supportive of political parties around the world that have made it an important part of their platform to work against it, whether it be the Green Party in Europe or the Green Party here, or the Internet Party, or the Techno Pirate party in Sweden.

He has deliberately chosen to reveal what he claims during our election for “maximum impact”.

I think it’s entirely legitimate for a journalist to think about how to maximise public awareness of the reporting that you’re doing. And I knew that by physically travelling here, at this time, when the citizenry is most engaged politically, that would present an excellent opportunity to bring as much attention as possible to these matters.

That sounds more like political activism, and interference in a country’s democratic process.

Key has upped the ante prior to the show, putting his political credibility and probably his political future on the line. Andrea Vance reports at Stuff:

Greenwald says the Government hasn’t been truthful about the GCSB legislation, which passed into law in August 2013.

Key insists Greenwald is “absolutely wrong”.

“He said the GCSB is undertaking mass surveillance against New Zealanders. They are not. There is no ambiguity, no middle ground. I’m right, he’s wrong.”

He says he has documents, including a Cabinet paper, to back his claims. But he won’t release them until Greenwald reveals what he has. And he accused the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of playing politics, by staging a “sound and light show” with Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, just days before the election.

Greenwald will join Dotcom at a “Moment of Truth” event tonight in Auckland, where he is set to detail his claims about the GCSB.

Key claims the Snowden documents tell only half the story – that Cabinet signed off proposals for the GCSB to investigate “widespread cyber protection” in early 2012 after two “significant” cyber attacks on Kiwi companies.

But he says that after a year he stopped the work as an internal review unearthed a raft of problems at the agency.

Despite Key’s counter attack Greenwald remains staunch that what he doesn’t know won’t affect the impact of his accusations. He is backing is part of ‘the truth’ being enough truth.

Despite no other world leaders disputing Greenwald’s previous disclosures about other countries in the Five Eyes alliance, Key said: “He’s absolutely wrong . . . he’s releasing hacked information which is presenting a picture which is completely incomplete . . . what I can say to New Zealanders is do not believe them.”

Key looks to be well prepared. It’s not known yet how well prepared Greenwald is to have his allegations strongly challenged. He may have come here thinking New Zealand would be an easy hit after his efforts with the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

We will have to see what Greenwald produces tonight, and then what Key counters with. Waiting for Key’s response will diffuse the impact of the show tonight.

Dotcom is also going to try and prove Key wrong, but his cases have been overshadowed by his big-noting with international anti-surveillance activists. Whether Key knew Dotcom before he has claimed, just prior to the Dotcom raid, seems relatively trivial.

Dotcom also wants to prove he was granted residency in New Zealand to make it easier for the US to extradite him supposedly at the request of Hollywood.

John Armstrong says that Dotcom’s credibility is also on the line in Dotcom’s last chance to shine.

It is delivery time for Kim Dotcom. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. He must deliver the irrefutable evidence that he has repeatedly promised to show that the Prime Minister has not told the truth.

Dotcom’s “moment of truth” must be a moment of proof. He must prove that the Prime Minister has not been straight with the public, firstly regarding exactly when he became aware of the Megaupload mogul and, secondly, that the intelligence agencies for which John Key has ministerial responsibility have conducted mass surveillance.

There can be no room for doubt. There can be no reliance on the circumstantial. There can be no shifting of goalposts by saying the fuss is all really about New Zealand spying on other countries.

If tonight exposes Dotcom as nothing more than a big-noting charlatan who has attempted to hijack the electoral system, then the public backlash could be withering.

Dishing the dirt on Key in the last week of the campaign may have seemed a clever move when the idea was first mooted within internet-Mana. It may yet be the the final humiliation for the parties of the left in an election campaign that has been turning into a disaster for them.

Key will also be prepared for this.

In founding and financing a political party Dotcom has a stated aim of bringing down Key and the National Government. This already looks like having backfired, with National looking reasonably strong and the Internet-Mana Party failing to attract substantial support.

It’s possible Dotcom will land a big hit on Key tonight, but it could as easily benefit Key and National more than it hurts them, especially if Dotcom’s fireworks are a fizzer.

This campaign circus will make it very difficult for an already failing Labour and other parties to get any worthwhile attention in the final days leading up to the election.

Some on the left are hoping Dotcom will rescue a desperate situation for them. They are betting the election on Greenwald’s cards and have already shown they are prepared to take Glenn’s gospel as the whole truth and the only truth. They are already convinced Key is a liar so will disregard anything he says as usual.

The election that has been taken over by international political activists and a German trying desperately to stay in New Zealand to avoid prosecution in the US.

But voters across the spectrum get to make the final judgement on Saturday. The final polls over the next couple of days may be less able than usual to predict what might happen, they will not reflect what comes out of tonight’s “moment of truth” and the ensuing counter truths and arguments.

Dotcom’s big day has arrived. Key looks confident and well prepared.

We will never get the full truth from either side, but the country will judge Dotcom and Greenwald (most Kiwis won’t have heard of him) versus one of New Zealand’s most popular Prime Ministers ever.

Today is D-Day. Saturday is Key-Day, one way or another.

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