Attention on Key over Sabin

Mike Sabin’s resignation yesterday was accompanied by a very brief statement in a press release.

Mike Sabin announces resignation as Northland MP

Northland MP, Mike Sabin, today announced he has resigned from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.

Mr Sabin will not be making any further comment.

Beyond that there has been widespread speculation as to why he resigned but details seem to have been suppressed.

Sabin’s online presence seems to have been quickly scrubbed. He was removed from National’s MP ‘team’ page yesterday. That’s understandable, he is no longer a National MP. His website is also no longer available.

With Sabin under wraps the attention is moving to John Key, what he knew about Sabin and when he knew it. There’s some awkward unanswered questions.

Claire Trevett: Key pressed over when he first knew Sabin was being investigated by police

Prime Minister John Key is facing increasing questions about his handling of the Mike Sabin affair after the Northland MP’s resignation a month after reports he was being investigated by the police.

It is understood some within National learned Mr Sabin was dealing with issues before the election but he had already been selected as a candidate and it was too late to change.

If that’s true the timing made thinhs awkward for National, especially if they didn’t have many details. Of course Sabin could have done something but chose to carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Mr Peters said Mr Key clearly thought he could ride out any trouble but he owed the public an explanation.

Whilen it’s far from certain Key just tried to ‘ride out any trouble’ I agree that explanations are owed the public.

Mr Key said yesterday his office was told on Thursday Mr Sabin intended to resign. He said Mr Sabin was not asked to step down.

“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.”

That’s a curious statement given suggestions about what this is all about.

Mr Key would not comment on when he first learned Mr Sabin had issues to deal with, including whether it was before the election. He would not express confidence in Mr Sabin’s character but said Mr Sabin had made a substantial contribution to the caucus and was well regarded as an electorate MP.

Key probably can’t comment on the specifics of what he knew and when.

After the election, Mr Sabin was made chairman of the law and order select committee over more senior MPs – a sign he could have been on the way to the ministerial benches.

That’s a potentially more concerning issue. Why he was appointed when there could have been a pending law and order issue with Sabin. And why Key didn’t stand Sabin down from the committee.

But Key could have been in the position of damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

The details surrounding Sabin have been heavily suppressed. It’s quite possible – many claim certain – that details are legally suppressed.

It would appear to have been untenable for Sabin to chair the Law and Order committee questioning of police scheduled for next week. That difficulty has been averted by Sabin’s resignation.

As for the rest of the questions facing Key over this, he may be on solid legal grounds for refusing to comment. It may look a bit tricky but there may be no legal alternative.

Bored with politics

Patrick Gower talked boredom and looked boorish when he dragged himself away from his holiday and launched his year in politics saying how bored he was with two political speeches.

Holiday over as Key, Little deliver speeches

The political year is well and truly underway, with both John Key and Andrew Little giving their State of the Nation speeches yesterday.

Political editor Patrick Gower is back underway too – he was at both speeches, and what a way to start 2015.

“One would have been more than enough, but two was truly demoralising,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“People call it the State of the Nation; I call it the holiday-wreckers.”

So who had the best start – Key or Little? And why?

Both Key and Little seem to have had a much better start to the year than Gower.  1/10 Paddy.

If he wasn’t aware until now that political speeches can be boring then maybe he has chosen the wrong profession. Of course the state of the nation speeches were boring.

Some journalists listened to and read the speeches and reported on the more pertinent and interesting points.

Gower chose to make his opening item for the year all about himself, sneering at those whose speeches msrked his return from holiday (in the last week of January, when most workers have been back at work for a week or two at least).

The problem with personality focussed journalists like Gower is that they are lured to mixing it with the power brokers, but wish for the excitement of sports or schmoodling with the ‘personalities’ of the entertainment industries.

Gower doesn’t get to report on massacres and disasters and what the Queen wore and what Lorde had for breakfast.

At times they try to make political coverage glamorous and exciting – silk purse out of pig’s tail stuff.

The fourth estate is supposed to doggedly hold our political elite to account. They should understand that when hard work leads to the uncovering of a big story it’s not them that the story is about.

And they should understand that even the biggest political stories are about politics, and most of the population doesn’t care.

If Gower wanted to feature in the most popular news delivery he should study the ‘Most Popular’ web site lists of what the plbes are interested in.

But he has chosen politics. And unfortunately Gower and some other journalists, mostly of the TV kind, try to make something exciting out of a mostly boring field.

Or they just make it about themselves.

If Gower is bored already it may be a long year for him. Paddy may have to plod away with a few speeches and ponderous Parliament punctuated perhaps by a by-election in Northland.

The public have long ago become bored with ‘cry wolf’ style political coverage. And self obsessed journalists who see themselvs as pseudo personalities.

A bored journalist just looks boorish and boring.

Eleanor Catton and the Greens

Eleanor Catton has raised a few ruffles with her criticiam of the New Zealand Government. See Eleanor Catton’s perspective.

NZ Herald on this – Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton throws the book at NZ

Winning author lets rip at Kiwi attitudes and political direction.

Her outburst has drawn a response from Prime Minister John Key, who said yesterday he was disappointed at Catton’s lack of respect for his Government and claimed the author was aligned with the Green Party.

Key said “She has been aligned with the Green Party, and that probably summarises the Green Party view of this Government”.

He’s correct on the first point, Catton has been closely aligned with the Greens.

Green Party the celebrities’ choice

Kiwi celebrities including Eleanor Catton and Lucy Lawless came out to show support for the Green Party at a star-studded campaign launch.


Author Catton endorses Green Party vote

Booker prizewinning author Eleanor Catton, whose novel thrust the spotlight on goldrush Hokitika, has publicly backed the Green Party, saying she would be happy to be taxed more.

The launch was attended by The Luminaries author Catton, who urged people to give their party vote to the Greens.

“I want my children and my children’s children to be proud of the steps I took on their behalf to protect this country and what matters about it. That’s why I’m giving my party vote to the Greens.”

And her criticism of the Government doesn’t sound to far off Green sentiments. She said:

At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (I dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.

Russel Norman endorsed this:

Eleanor Catton angry with ‘shallow’ New Zealand Government  via @nzherald

Battle of the speeches

John Key scheduled his opening speech of the year on the same day as Andrew Little’s, an obvious attempt to overshadow Little’s launch for the year.

Little is speaking at a breakfast, Key at a lunch.

While Key’s speech will demand attention from a refreshed political gallery he needs to produce something of substance in it.

He has been criticised for a lack of vision beyond the next internal poll.

This is Key’s third term. It’s time for something more than ‘steady as she goes’ from him. The flag debate is one exception but that’s a sideshow.

Key needs to come uip with something bigger and better this year. It should be signalled in his speech.

He has just said on Firtsline “we need to look at things more creatively”. I look forward to some creative vision from his speech.

It’s an important speech for Little. He made a promising start to his leadership late last year but he has to show that he’s done his homework over the break and is ready to hit the new political year running.

The critical aim for Labour this year must be to be seen to be rebuilding and working together, something that’s been glaringly lacking over the past six years.

Little is still a political novice and and leadership rooky. He doesn’t have to look ready to take Key on in a campaign.

It’s more important at this stage for Little to take his own caucus with him. That could be a bigger challenge than Key.

But the two speeches and the two leaders will inevitably be compared. It’s a bigger challenge for Little. He has to prove that he is capable of continuing to grow into his daunting task.

An accurate pollster on the payroll

David Farrar posted Is Key on drugs ask du Fresne? at Kiwiblog. He quoted from a column by Karl Du Fresne: John Key: Mr Nice Guy’s unbelievable aura of serenity:

I have never met John Key, but like anyone who follows politics I’ve been able to observe him via the media. And after studying him carefully, I think I now realise the explanation for much of his behaviour. He’s on drugs.

Not the illegal kind, I should stress, but the mood-calming type that doctors prescribe. This may sound flippant, but consider the following.

In the 2014 election campaign, Key was subjected to possibly the most sustained media offensive faced by any prime minister in New Zealand history. Day after day he was tackled by an aggressive media pack trying to trap him on dirty politics, illicit surveillance and other touchy issues.

His answers were often unsatisfactory, which served only to ramp up the media frenzy. But through it all, he appeared supernaturally imperturbable. He patiently batted away reporters’ questions and accusations with his familiar bland inscrutability. There were no meltdowns, no hissy fits, no petulant walkouts.

This was downright unnatural. No politician should be that unflappable. He can have achieved it only by the ingestion of large amounts – indeed, industrial quantities – of tranquillisers.

Cameron Slater explains at Whale Oil that the serenity is based on accurate polling.

No Karl, the serenity comes from having an accurate pollster on the payroll.

That way you know that, despite the baying pack of dogs that is the press gallery, your policy platform is being well received, your party is performing well and that Twitter and Facebook aren’t the real world.

This is why John Key thanked David Farrar on election night, he was the one who provided the information daily to John Key to let him know that Dirty Politics, the plot of the left-wing to unseat his government, wasn’t working as they expected.

I agree. Knowledge may not be power but it can help a lot, if it’s accurate knowledge.

Contrast that with the inept polling and claims by people who should know better like Rob Salmond and David Talbot. Salmond constantly inflated Labour’s real poll results, sometimes by up to 10%, giving his small band of readers and assorted hangers on, including the leadership of Labour at the time false hope.

Inaccurate knowledge can be worse than none.

Serenity comes from accuracy, panic comes from idiocy and losing your head.

Slater can still write insightful posts (if he wrote it).

It is said that Key relies heavily on his monitoring of public opinion as provided by Farrar’s Curia polling. It is certainly going to be more useful than reading blog opinions, which are slanted towards the vocal fringes (except here of course!)

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Cabell, 22 January 1820:

…my hopes however are kept in check by the ordinary character of our state legislatures, the members of which do not generally possess information enough to percieve the important truths, that knolege is power, that knolege is safety, and that knolege is happiness.

Key may not always be happy with what happens but he is safely in power for now.

Metiria Turei versus John Key (Ratana speech)

Metiria Turei continued a tradiotion of “the Māngai spent his life confronting politicians” in her prepared speech for Ratana yesterday.

In fact due to time constraints she didn’t get to make her speech but she distributed her speech notes.

Here is the part of Turei’s speech that referred to John Key.

I want to speak today about one aspect of that legacy, and that is the Māngai’s efforts to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Māngai spent his life confronting politicians and Pākehā society about the need to provide redress for past injustices and to move forward as a true partnership.

Even now, in 2015, we are still struggling to truly honour the agreement that lies at the foundation of our nation.

This came to a head last month, with the release of stage one of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into the Treaty claims of Te Paparahi o Te Raki. The decision reflected decades of scholarship and affirms what we, as tangata whenua, have always known: that the Māori text of Te Tiriti o Waitangi never ceded the tino rangatiratanga of Māori over our lands, peoples and resources.

To have this stated, once and for all, was huge. It was an enormous step forward. But the Prime Minister’s response was to knock us several steps back.

John Key had the gall to claim that NZ was settled “peacefully,” as if all Māori grievances evaporated into irrelevance on his command.

But he didn’t finish there. In an attempt to really put us in our place, John Key said Māori would have been grateful for the injection of capital early Pākehā brought with them when they settled in Aotearoa.

Māori would have been grateful. For the capital.

The Prime Minister’s warped and outrageous view of history is deeply offensive to Māori but it also undermines decades of effort by Māori and Pākehā, including even by his own Government, to address some of the historic wrongs and to encourage an understanding of Aotearoa’s true history, both the good and the bad.

While in recent times Governments have made significant progress in completing historical settlements, all too often these are undermined as Ministers resort to cynical dog-whistle tactics that play to the widespread ignorance of Te Tiriti and, in so doing, shore up their Government’s short term political goals.

Sadly, this has long term consequences for all of us, Māori and non-Māori, by entrenching prejudice and wedging us further apart.

We saw this when John Key allowed Pita Sharples to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples in New York, giving the Māori Party a token win and then immediately undermining that by telling journalists the declaration would have “no practical effect.”

And therein lies the rub. John Key can’t actually abide by that declaration because that would mean acknowledging that the Māori text of Te Tiriti is the only legitimate and legally binding text. That would mean conceding that tangata whenua never ceded tino rangatiratanga. That the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, was so quick to dismiss the Tribunal’s ruling and assert the Crown’s sovereignty, prove that National won’t do this.

I am proud that the Green Party has, for many years, held the Māori text of Te Tiriti as a core part of our party’s constitutional arrangements.

I was honoured, today, to walk on to this marae alongside Labour’s new leader Andrew Little. I am very much looking forward to working with, and getting to know Andrew better.

Our respective parties are focussed on changing the Government in 2017. The Greens are committed to creating a new Government which will be better for Māori and better for Aotearoa New Zealand.

That alternative stands in stark contrast to the current Government that believes New Zealand was settled peacefully and that our people were somehow grateful – grateful for the bloodshed, the loss of millions of hectares of land.

Grateful. For the capital.

From Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Rātana speech

Interesting to see that Turei (with Greens ap;proval presumably) has chosen to start the year in attack mode.

NZ Herald reported Ratana: Turei launches stinging attack on Key

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.

Green gloves are off.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is filling in for Mr Key and it was left to him to defend the PM.

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.”

Time will tell whether this is blast at the past from Turei or whether it signals an intention for an aggressive approach by Greens this year.

“Mass surveillance is being pushed on us”

Anthony Robins posted about The mathematics of surveillance saying it can’t work. Obviously it can never be 100% successful.

But Robins also implies that mass surveillance is “being pushed on us” and “that it is being used for unstated goals”.

But there’s not proof of mass surveillance in New Zealand and ikt is illegal.

Mass surveillance cannot accomplish its stated goals. It is likely that many within the security / government system understand this full well. But mass surveillance is being pushed on us anyway. This means of course, that it is being used for unstated goals.

It’s been stated a number of times that we don’t do mass surveillance in New Zealand.

Key releases GCSB documents

Prime Minister John Key has released a series of documents ‘setting the record straight’ over claims the GCSB had spied on New Zealanders.

Mr Key responded quickly to Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald’s freshest claims – that “if you live in New Zealand, you are being watched” – this afternoon.

“Claims have been made tonight that are simply wrong and that is because they are based on incomplete information.

”There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand.

“There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB.


And GCSB spies respond to mass surveillance allegations

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has responded to election week allegations it carries out mass surveillance on New Zealanders, denying its programmes are for anything other than cyber security.

It’s been likened to scanning of everything on your computer with virus protection but on a country scale. It’s also been said that large companies and organisations have been assisted in cyber protection.

Early September this year, somewhere in the world unknown computer hackers set their sights on New Zealand. Boffins in charge of security at Telecom, now called Spark, saw a cyber-attack coming in, a big one.

Its internet and email system went down on the Friday and stayed down for 72 hours.

The experts are still trying to work out exactly what did happen when foreign hackers took control of 120 home computers.

Cyber-attacks happen across the world every hour of every day. It’s these sort of attacks the GCSB says it is trying to prevent – shadowy hackers from all over the world, sending out complex viruses to damage big businesses or Government departments, or even getting inside and taking them over.

My guess is that most people would be happy to have their home computers protected from being taken over.

There is no direct proof that the GCSB is hovering up the metadata of ordinary New Zealanders, but the cable programme 7148 and the approach to Spark are possible indications that last year it was on the cards and it may be again.

Mass surveillance/collection of all metadata of New Zealanders by the GCSB is illegal. There are very specific legal processes involved in allowing targeted surveillance.

Not legal. No proof.

Mass surveillance is not being pushed on us. What is the unstated goal of implying that it is?

Barbed wire bum

It’s often amused me to see how political activists on the political extremes don’t understand how anyone can see things both left and right to praise and criticise. And they also don’t tolerate non-strongly aligned politics.

Vto at The Standard aimed this barb at me today:

I really don’t know how you manage to sit on the fence all your bloglife and not end up with numerous barbed wire gashes interrupting your thought processes on a daily, hourly, minutely basis ……………….

But I don’t have a barbed wire bum problem. I try to see both sides of arguments and the good and bad on both sides of politics. That’s quite different to sitting on the fence. I sometimes express strong views on issues and policies, but I don’t see them red or blue, black or white, left or right.

The vto’s of the blogosphere expect everyone to have one eyed views like them, either totally for or totally against.

Practical politics doesn’t work like that. Most politics involves finding common ground, compromising, and settling on policies far closer to the centre than the fringes.

‘Karol’ quotes Metiria Turei from Radio NZ:

Turei adds that politics goes in cycles, and she expects that over the current term, the pendulum will swing against Key’s government and their very radical policies.

There’s little radical about Key’s government, clling them that is laughable. National gets as much criticism for being non-radical (moderate conservatism) from the right as it gets for being extreme or radical from the left.

That means they are somewhere in between. It doesn’t mean they are sitting on the fence. It just means that most politics is done closer to the centre ground. And fringe activists remain frustrated.

Action needed on Sabin

The Sunday Star Times keeps revealing bits about the assault investigation into Northland MP Mike Sabin – Call for Nat MP to stand down.

They say a number of journalists have been investigating the investigation.

Media inquiries about Sabin have been ongoing for at least four months.

The National Business Review has been asking questions about assault allegations since before the election. Other media, including Radio Live and One News, have also been inquiring into the assault allegations.

Four months ago it was August, well before the election. It may have been too vague and too late to withdraw Sabin’s electorate candidacy. Or not.

Parliament’s committees were announced in October, two months ago, with Sabin appointed chairperson of the Law and Order committee – see Judith Collins on two parliamentary select committees (October 23).

John Key must have known about it by then. Or at least he should have.

He may be on holiday now but the longer nothing is done the worse it looks.

Judith Collins stood down as Minister pending the outcome of a non-criminal investigation.

If Sabin won’t step down Key needs to step up and do something.

National, Labour up in Herald Digipoll

NZ Herald reports on a Digipoll, probably the last political poll of the year. While it’s indicative of support it’s an odd time of year to run a poll, many people will have their minds on things other than politics.

They incorrectly claim:

…in the first political poll since Andrew Little took over the leadership and the first major poll since the September 20 election.

Roy Morgan have published three polls since the election, one of them since Andrew Little became leader.

You have to read through the article to find the key numbers:

  • National 50.4% (up 2.2 on last Digipoll, election result 47.04%)
  • Labour 28.9% (up 3.0, election 25.13%)
  • Greens 9.5% (down 1.6, election 10.7%)
  • NZ First 5.6% (down 2.8, election 8.66%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (“up a little”, election 1.32%)
  • Mana Party 0.2% (Internet-Mana election 1.42%)
  • United Future and ACT were not given poll results

It’s not surprising to see the two largest parties increasing at the expense of the smaller parties when most people’s minds won’t be very politically inclined.

National will be happy with their result considering they haven’t had a great start to their third term.

Labour and Andrew Little will be encouraged to see their support recovering slightly.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • John Key 65% (up 0.7%)
  • Andrew Little 13.6% (Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe peaked at 18-19%)

This result means little at this stage.

Rating Andrew Little’s performance:

  • Excellent 5.3%
  • Very good 19.4%
  • Good 24.7%
  • Adequate 23%
  • Poor 7%

That’s very encouraging for Little. I’d rate his performance so far as leader as very encouraging/very good. It will be important for him to start strongly in the New Year and not take too long. David Cunliffe had a poor and belated start to this year and he and Labour never recovered.

Source: Nats, Labour both on rise

It’s annoying that NZ Herald scatters incomplete results through and article and doesn’t provide at least a link to all the pertinent details of the poll. For all I know they could have only managed to poll 200 people this close to Christmas.

UPDATE: Full results apparently

National 50.4%
Labour 28.9%
Greens 9.5%
NZ First 5.6%
Conservatives 2.9%
Maori 1.5%
Act 0.4%
Mana 0.2%
United 0.0%


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