John Key on ‘Rawshark’

The biography John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister has been updated with a new chapter. In it Key claims to know the identity of ‘Rawshark’, the hacker who illegally obtained data from Cameron Slater.

John Armstrong at NZ Herald reports John Key ‘given Rawshark’s name’.

The Prime Minister believes he knows who hacked Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater’s computer and produced the source material for Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics, according to a new edition of a recently published biography of John Key.

In a new chapter in John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister devoted to this year’s election campaign, Mr Key is quoted as saying: “Someone phoned and told me who the hacker was, but other than having a look at this person, I thought, ‘Oh well … nothing will come of it. Life goes on’.”

Mr Key did not divulge the name of the person to the biography’s author, senior Herald editorial writer John Roughan.

Asked yesterday whether the PM had referred the name to the police investigation into the stolen emails, a spokeswoman for Mr Key said that though he believed he knew who the hacker was, “he cannot be certain”.

The spokeswoman said the PM had had no involvement in the police inquiry, which has included a lengthy search of Hager’s Wellington home.

If Key has been advised of the identity of “Rawshark’ it would be surprising if the police haven’t been given the same information.

“Someone phoned and told me” is sure to raise questions and accusations about who phoned Key, with Cameron Slater being an obvious candidate.

However a lot of people will have some sort of contact with Key so it could be any of many.

And with an apparent identity in circulation it seems likely the police will know about it, there have been rumours for weeks that they know who it was.

Air shot #3 – Peters versus Key

Winston Peters was the third in line to take a swipe at John Key over “Dirty Politics” yesterday and he was the third to miss the mark. He sounded more like Mr Cranky than the leader of the opposition he claims to be.

4. Government—Transparency

[Sitting date: 28 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader – NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Is he committed to an open and transparent Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Consistent with an open and transparent Government, when will the Prime Minister assure the public that at no time did his staff provide inappropriate services to the National Party whilst employed at the public expense?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : That would be a matter for the party, but I do not have any advice or any evidence to support the idea that they have done anything other than act totally professionally.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am asking the Prime Minister about his staff. That is not a matter for the National Party. It is to do with his staff, for whom he is responsible.

Mr SPEAKER : The difficulty I have with the question that has been asked and the answer that has been given is that it is asking now for a level of specificity that cannot be expected to be given by the Prime Minister in light of the very open and general question that was asked in the first place.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked whether, consistent with open and transparent Government—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have heard the question. [Interruption] Order! Resume your seat. I have already ruled, in respect of the first supplementary question, that in light of the generality of the primary question that the question has been addressed by the Prime Minister. The way forward is to continue to ask further supplementary questions but not to question the Speaker on the adequacy of the answer that has been given. I invite the member, if he wishes to, to ask further supplementary questions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not contesting your ruling on the adequacy—

Mr SPEAKER : Then I will hear the fresh point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : My point was that the Prime Minister’s answer was that it was a National Party matter. In my supplementary question, if you look at it, I am asking for an assurance about his staff, so it cannot be a National Party matter—or is he condemned by his own statement?

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You would have to consider the entire answer, in which the Prime Minister said that he expected them to maintain professional standards at all times.

Mr SPEAKER : The way forward is the advice that I have given to the member. If he has further supplementary questions, he should ask them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Consistent with an open and transparent Government, when will the Prime Minister advise the public of all the facts pertaining to Mr Jason Ede’s services to the National Party whilst employed at the public’s expense?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : When questions are appropriately asked, they will be appropriately answered.

Peters must know this sort of question is easily avoided.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Consistent with an open and transparent Government, when will the Prime Minister give the public all the facts about—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The difficulty I have is that it was only during about question No. 3 when a Government member again asked a supplementary question without leading with a question word. We cannot have one rule for Mr Peters—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : Yes, but he knows better. He’s been here a long time.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I accept the right honourable gentleman should know better, but equally Mr David Bennett has been a member of this House for some time as well.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Consistent with an open and transparent Government, when will the Prime Minister give the public all the facts about his staff’s services to the National Party’s Jo de Joux whilst employed at the public’s expense?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have not seen any advice that would confirm that the National Party has done anything other than spend taxpayers’ money appropriately and legally.

Hon Dr Nick Smith : What did Brendan Horan say? Look at your own house.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Is it not a fact—well, actually, we were exonerated, turkey.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! That is a good lesson to that quarter of the House of what happens when you get an interjection through a question. Would the right honourable gentleman simply ask his supplementary question?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Is Jo de Joux, a National Party campaign manager, deeply implicated in improperly acquiring services from his office’s staff?

Mr SPEAKER : I invite the Prime Minister, if he wishes, to answer, but I cannot see any prime ministerial responsibility in that question. I will leave it for the Prime Minister to answer it.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have no authority for that, and I refute the proposition.

Maybe Peters is playing a longer game, or he is not as sharp as he once was, that didn’t seem to get anywhere.

He looks cantankerous and toothless. So far he has failed to step up into the opposition leadership vacuum.

Key had little difficulty batting away the third air shot at him of the day.

Air shot #2 – King versus Key

Annette King was the second to try and hit John Key over “Dirty Politics” in Parliament yesterday but she also missed the mark.

King is currently Labour’s interim deputy leader and is acting leader in the House.

2. Prime Minister—Communication with Blogger

[Sitting date: 28 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Acting Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Did Cameron Slater provide him with the information that led him to say on 12 February 2014 in Parliament regarding the Rt Hon Winston Peters that “I will accept that member’s word that he did not discuss untoward things when he went to the Dotcom mansion three times.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): No. As I said at the time, I can read. I believe the reference came from an item I read in the New Zealand Herald on 7 February 2014.

This refers to Rachel Glucina’s The Diary which asked:

Questions of the week

1. Did Winston Peters visit the Dotcom mansion for secret meetings? Don Brash and Russel Norman have confessed to get-togethers in Coatesville, but Peters was playing coy yesterday when The Diary phoned. Rumours that he went there three times are “false”, he says, but he refused to specify if he’d been there at all.

Hon Annette King : When he said on 14 February at a press conference regarding the specific details of calls he made to Cameron Slater that he would “have to go and look at my files”, were those files ministerial files or does he hold files regarding his interaction with Cameron Slater in his capacity as a husband?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I can certainly confirm that I am not married to him and I do not have any files.

The flippant husband comment made it easy for Key to parry this question off.

Both Peters and Dotcom claimed that they had been spied on. NZ Herald report on this and Key’s media conference in PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

Mr Key has earlier denied it was a spy agency, but would not say who told him, although he said it was not someone in the National Party. He said somebody had contacted him about it, and there were reports of the visits in the Herald by Rachel Glucina and on Cameron Slater’s Whaleoil blog a week ago.

“Contrary to what [Peters] might want to believe, I can read. A member of the public, for want of a better term rang me up and said what was the case. I assumed it was right. I said it, it turned out to be right. I didn’t think it was that controversial, to be honest.”

He would not confirm it was Mr Slater, but said he did speak to Mr Slater “every so often,” and had called him earlier this week during which they briefly discussed Kim Dotcom. He said that did not mean he agreed with everything Mr Slater wrote on his blog. “I speak to lots of blogsters [sic].”

He said no public agency was involved. “And if there was, it would be an immensely serious thing. It would see the end of myself as Prime Minister and the end of the Government.” The NZ SIS are not supposed to spy on or have files on sitting members of Parliament.

Mr Key said he would be happy to see any evidence Mr Peters had that it was a spy agency and was happy to comply with any inquiry into it. However, he did not believe Peters’ genuinely thought he had been spied on.

“It might suit Mr Peters to try and set some little squirrel off to ensure nobody looks at the issue of why he misled the NZ Herald or why he wouldn’t answer the questions.” On February 7, Mr Peters had dismissed Glucina’s questions about three visits as “false”.

Mr Peters has said that surveillance was the only way Key could have found out about all three visits.

Slater claimed to have informants from Dotcom’s staff. I don’t think has pursued his spying claims.

Hon Annette King : Was Cameron Salter correct when he wrote last week that the Prime Minister is always the Prime Minister or he has double standards; if not, does he explain to Mr Slater when he texts and calls him that he only talks to him as a private citizen?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Actually, Mr Slater is correct about one thing: I am always the Prime Minister for areas where I have prime ministerial responsibility. I am also always the leader of the National Party. I am surprised that the member does not know that, because Helen Clark used to lecture this House about that difference all the time. But maybe the member does not remember that, or maybe this is the reason why Labour is polling so badly—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That answer will not help.

Hon Annette King : That’s right, get stuck in.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have not called the member yet. Supplementary question—Hon Annette King.

Hon Annette King : Well, has he ever called or texted Cameron Slater in his capacity as Prime Minister?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, I do not believe so.

Hon Annette King : Well, try this one, Prime Minister. Did he give instructions to his ministerial colleagues to avoid ministerial responsibility when asked embarrassing questions about contact with Cameron Slater; if not, is he aware that Judith Collins in July this year denied texts, phone calls, and correspondence with Mr Slater in her ministerial capacity?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In answer to the first part, no. The only embarrassing thing is the way that Labour performed in the election campaign.

It has been claimed by a number of people and implied by Slater that National MPs have been advised to avoid association with Slater. Most shouldn’t need the risks pointed out.

But King’s question was more snarky than probing and was again easily dismissed.

Hon Annette King : In light of the review that is now under way into Judith Collins and the release of information to Cameron Slater, will she be excused if she uses the Prime Minister’s excuse that she was not acting as a Minister when she passed on information but she was acting as a private citizen?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : That is not what the review is in relation to.

Again King seems to be trying to make a political point rather than probe Key with questions.

King swung and missed.

Air shot #1 – Norman versus Key

Three questions in Parliament yesterday tried to hit John Key over “Dirty Politics” but they all missed the mark.

The first was by Russel Norman, who was primed by a Speaker ruling last week that described what sort of questions should get a response from Key rather than avoidance.

Norman sharpened his spear and was careful to relate the question to Key’s job as Prime Minister, but a well prepared Key parried it off easily.

1. Prime Minister—Communications with Blogger

[Sitting date: 28 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]

1. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister : Did he tell Cameron Slater that he recognised the mother of a car crash victim—a young man described by Mr Slater as “a feral”—from his Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, as I stated publicly when this matter came up during the election campaign. I would note that I did not use the language paraphrased in Mr Slater’s stolen emails.

Dr Russel Norman : Was Cameron Slater correct to tell Television New Zealand that the Prime Minister texted Mr Slater to say that the Prime Minister recognised the mother of the dead car crash victim Judd Hall as being the same person he had encountered at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not believe that to be correct. I believe that the only conversation I had with him in my capacity as leader of the National Party was one on the telephone.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did the Prime Minister text Mr Slater to say that he recognised the mother of the Greymouth crash victim Judd Hall, described by Mr Slater as “a feral” who did the world a favour by dying? Why did the Prime Minister give that information to Mr Slater?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not believe I did. As I said, I had a phone conversation in my capacity as leader of the National Party and as part of that phone conversation the particular woman in question was raised. From memory, I said to him that I recognised her from Pike River. That was the extent of it, as I recall it. I do not have a copy of my text messages.

Dr Russel Norman : Is this the correct sequence of events: he was notified that Whale Oil had posted an answerphone recording of Mrs Hall on Slater’s blog, he listened to the recording and recognised Mrs Hall’s voice from the Pike River meetings, then he contacted Cameron Slater to tell him he recognised her?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.

Dr Russel Norman : Given that he recognised Joe Hall as a mother from Pike River who had lost a son in a mining tragedy, why did he not put on his prime ministerial hat and offer his condolences over the death of another son rather than contacting his friend Cameron Slater to gossip about her instead?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I made it quite clear at the time that I did not know the particular details of this story. I just simply said in passing that I recognised her.

Dr Russel Norman : Will he now admit that he was the Prime Minister when he texted or phoned Cameron Slater to talk about a women who had lost all four of her sons; and will he say sorry to Mrs Hall?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No; I was leader of the National Party. What I said was that I recognised her, and that does not deserve an apology, just as the member himself was the leader of the Green Party when he went grovelling up to the Dotcom mansion.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did the Prime Minister not behave like a Prime Minister on hearing that this was the mother who had lost four sons and actually offer condolences to that women, instead of contacting the attack blogger Cameron Slater to offer him information about this woman—instead of behaving like a Prime Minister who should have offered condolences?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member should stop making things up.

Norman’s problem, as was Nicky Hager’s, is that he doesn’t have damning evidence that directly links Key to specific actions.

So he has resorted to trying to guess what might have happened and hope that Key might admit to something.

Key will be confident that Hager used the worst of the illegally hacked communications and there is no whammy waiting to wallop him.

With a lack of success so far it will be interesting to see if Norman keeps trying on this. Without coming up with anything new it is starting to look like futile flailing.

Whatever Key may or may not have done there is just not enough evidence to nail him.

Dirt and “Dirty Politics” yet to come

This is the third related post, following On Slater and dirty politics and “Dirty Politics” and On Hager and “Dirty Politics and dirty politics.

If Cameron Slater follows through on claims he has made then his brand of dirty politics looks set to continue, that’s how he sometimes does things.

Related but separate to that is what is yet to come about Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics”. Hager and whoever else has been involved in the illegal hacking of communications data have themselves been involved in some dirty politics.

“Dirty Politics” both exposes and practises dirty politics.

While Hager seems to have exposed all he has (or had up until the publishing of his book) there is an inquiry under way into whether Judith Collins was too involved in dirty politics – she certainly seems to have been to involved with Slater for her political good.

And Slater is promising that after that inquiry there is much more to be revealed. Time will tell.

He indicated what could be in store over the next few months in a post yesterday at Whale Oil – Fran ‘O on Key’s awful handling of the “Slater” issue. I agree on some points and disagree on others.

He starts with a dig at John Key.

That’s the point really.  And funnily enough, by not talking to me Key is totally off the pace on certain critical issues – including developments around Dirty Politics.

Key has been publicly distancing himself from Slater, which Slater seems to be annoyed about along with the demotion of his friend Collins and political confidante and ally, but I’m not sure why Key should be involved and “on the pace” with what may yet come out. He probably wants to be as far from it as possible.

Due to an uncritical media (if we are charitable), but essentially a media hostile to the government, Nicky Hager’s book does stand uncontested as the only, speculative, narrative.  For now.

I don’t think the media is “hostile to the government”, they investigate and hold to account both Government and Opposition MPs and parties, insufficiently and imperfectly but with the resources available they generally try yo be politically balanced.

This is because people like myself are tied up in legal matters that make it a wise move, for the time being, to keep these matters out of the public until the legal process has completed, and the results published.

That refers to “for now”.

You can take this to the bank:  Dirty Politics has only just started.  The case for the prosecution has been laid out.  With what is about to unfold, the case for defence will be as spectacular as it will stretch into 2015 and beyond.

He promised election changing revelations that never came out. He’s been hinting since the book was launched that he has much to counter with, although he has also claimed to be bound by source confidentiality to not reveal some things.

There will be (conceptual) blood on the floor.  In the sense of the game of politics, it will be glorious.

Typical Slater, revelling in the repercussions of playing politics dirtily. Most people won’t like the gory and won’t see the glory.

I’ve stated for a long time Dirty Politics was but the tip of the iceberg of what was, in essence, a criminal conspiracy to subvert the election of a democratic nation.  I know that reads like hyperbole right now.  I’m just putting out the larger framework of what is about to unfold.

It involves political parties.  It involves media.  It involves radicals.  It involves…

I’ve stated similar as a distinct possibility for a long time too. Hager claimed “public good” in using illegally obtained data. I think there’s a far greater public good in confronting illegal political operations designed to bring down Governments and swing elections.

My perceived powers will appear even larger than people imagine them to be, and a lot of bad guys are going to have to consider why on earth they decided to go so far as to become criminals in the attempt to destroy me and a National government with it.

I’m not sure if he is trying to ego inflate his “powers” or if he is saying that people will perceive his powers to be imagined.

Referring to “a lot of bad guys”, not a single opportunist hacker.

The detail of it is breathtaking, and if I wasn’t at the center of it, I would be able to enjoy it more.

I’m just waiting for the right time when speaking about it publicly does not present a negative to my own position.

He has said a number of times he needs to wait until current inquiries are complete.

From early this year Slater claimed he would publish election changing revelations but he never did. Perhaps the heat of “Dirty Politics” made it too risky, perhaps he decided it wasn’t necessary because the election was in the bag, or perhaps he was overstating what he had.

If you thought Kim Dotcom was a big story… he’s just a minor bit player in this one.

That’s a big toning down. Slater had accused Dotcom of being behind the hacking. After a string of posts linking Dotcom with Hager and the hacking on August 17 he posted BREAKING: KIM DOTCOM PAYMASTER FOR HACKER..

So, Kim Dotcom is seeking a reconciliation with Wayne Tempero and at the same time admitting he has hired the people responsible for my hack and the hacking and robbery of other people associated with the opposition to Kim Dotcom.

I don’t think that stacked up. A month later he posted a survey WAS DOTCOM BEHIND THE HACKING OF MY EMAILS? but And Dotcom had already responded to earlier accusations:

For the record: I haven’t hacked Whaleoil. I have nothing to do with Hager’s book. There will be legal action against Slater & co

I’m still tuned. Funkstille so far.

But it looks like Slater has backed of laying that blame on Dotcom.

Back to yesterday’s post. It concluded:

Media advisory:  It’s time you pick a side, like you did with Dotcom.  With Dotcom you got it wrong.  Want to play double or nothing?

Stock tip:  buy popcorn shares.

The media are understandably wary and weary of Slater claims and demands to pay attention to him. He is widely regarded as politically toxic, and also tainted with media.

Time will tell whether Slater has obtained credible information about who was behind the hacking and attacks on him and National.

But it’s almost a certainty that “Dirty Politics” is far from over. Slater will almost certainly try to strike back. And he does dirty like no one else.

Or maybe there are others who operate on the same scale of dirt in politics as he does.

Exposing it may help the cleansing our democracy needs.

On Hager and “Dirty Politics and dirty politics

This follows the previous post On Slater and dirty politics and “Dirty Politics”

Was the hacking of Cameron Slater’s personal data a reactive attack on Slater by one individual that happened to uncover information that happened to make it’s way into Hager’s possession that was a useful coincidence as it supported an ongoing issue of interest to Hager?

Or was Hager a tool used by a black ops campaign by political operators to discredit Slater and bring down the Key Government?

How much was Nicky Hager a participant and how much was he a pawn?

It’s interesting to see a sequence of events as described by Hager in the preface to his book “Dirty Politics”.

  • Dirty Politics follows my earlier book, The Hollow Men, which told the story of the National Party from 2003 to 2006 under the former leader Don Brash. This sequel describes the years of John Key’s leadership between 2008 and 2014.

The Hollow Men doesn’t tell “the story of the National Party”, it tells a small part of the story based, coincidentally, on leaked or hacked information from Don Brash’s office. Dirty Politics does not describe “the years of John Key’s leadership”, it tries to make a story out of hacked personal communications of a small group of people.

The Hollow Men played a part in ending Don Brash’s leadership. Fran O’Sullivan wrote about the police investigation of the source data for the book.

It now seems abundantly clear Quinn’s pursuit of Hager’s sources was little more than a polite run around the traps. But the police had no qualms about obtaining a search warrant for the Herald on Sunday offices to try to get hold of a tape recording of the exclusive interview celebrity sports journalist Tony Veitch gave to its star columnist shortly after his bashing scandal became public.

Or about trying to force TV3 news host John Campbell into revealing the identity of the exclusive source on the theft of Victoria Cross medals from the army museum.

Harry Quinn resorted to neither measure. Bizarre really – police use the full extent of the law to retrieve information from professional journalists. But a political activist is a no-go zone.

This is frankly unacceptable in a democratic system where authorities like the police should be expected to get to the bottom of what was obviously a politically motivated burglary.

While the way the Brash data became available has not been proven it’s of note that some claims are that it was a politically motivated burglary.

Dirty Politics being a sequel suggests that it wasn’t a one off reporting of hacked data, it was a continuation of an ongoing anti-National campaign.

  • The origins of this book can be traced to a political event in October 2013, when extremely personal details of Auckland mayor Len Brown’s sexual affairs were published on the right wing blog site, Whale Oil.

The timing of those revelations seem to have been to try and overturn the result of the mayoral election.

Ironically Hager wrote “it became clear the exposé had been arranged by his political enemies to try and push him out of office and replace him with their own mayoral candidate”. Hager timed his book this year to try to push John Key out of Government.

  • In January of the following year (2014) I travelled to Dunedin for a conference, where I met a series of people who raised their concern about Cameron Slater, the Whale Oil blogger and son of a former National party president.

Hager was a keynote speaker at Surveillance, Copyright, Privacy: The End of the Open Internet. Conference Jan 30 – Feb 1, 2014 at Otago University.

Across the Internet, immense changes are affecting ordinary users with urgent implications both worldwide and locally. New Zealand has been the test case for changing practices surrounding copyright, surveillance, sovereignty and privacy.

The conference is designed to create an engaged, cross-disciplinary and critical dialogue regarding the intensification of control and policing of internet usage, including both commercial activity and democratic participation in New Zealand.

Amongst other things it coincidentally looked at online privacy.

Another keynote speaker was Vikram Kumar, who had been CEO of Kim Dotcom’s Mega company but just prior to the conference became Chief Executive of Dotcom’s new Internet Party. Dotcom and Slater had had a long running feud.

  • The third experience that led me to investigate Whale Oil and the growth of attack politics was an account I heard at a meeting in a major news organisation. The point of the meeting had been to discuss Slater and whether news resources should be allocated to scrutinising his activities. According to one of the people present, however, senior staff began expressing their fears about attracting attacks from Slater on themselves and their organisation. By the end of the meeting they had decided to do nothing.

That a major news organisation would not investigate someone for a “fears about attracting attacks” seems bizarre, and if true it is somewhat eyebrow raising.

According the above conference bio of Hager is “a regular contributor to the New Zealand newspaper Sunday Star-Times”. Slater has had ongoing battles with media, especially with NZ Herald and senior journalist there David Fisher.

  • Finally, in this same period, Slater hit the news after making yet another personal attack. A young West Coast man named Judd Hall had died when the car in which he was a passenger crashed off the road. Slater copied a newspaper article on his blog and casually headed it with “Feral died in Greymouth, did the world a favour”.
    More than any single thing Slater had written, it provoked a furious public reaction.

The sequence in Hager’s preface implies this followed the latter two of the previous events. He doesn’t date his media meeting.

But Slater’s “feral” attack was on Saturday 25th January, the week before the Otago conference. Hager doesn’t say it but surely it was a part of his discussions there.

Hager then writes:

This time, apparently, as part of the angry backlash to his West Coast comments, hackers targeted him. A ‘denial of service’ attack was launched against his blog site, overloading his server and shutting down his website for three days. It appears that online hackers also gained access to his computer. Thus an insensitive comment about a car accident victim may have led to the long-held secrets being revealed about Slater and his political collaborators: right up to the level of senior government ministers.

It’s possible a nasty attack by Slater provoked a spontaneous denial of service attack to cover a hack of his data (apparently one commonly goes with the other). The attack began about two days after Slater initiated the outrage.

It seemed odd at the time that an obviously angry group of people on the West Coast would launch an unprecedented denial of service and hack attack on a blog site.

After getting Whale Oil back online on January 30 Slater wrote:

What was then unleashed was literally hundreds of death threats and a social media bullying campaign. Ironically their behaviour online proved conclusively that there is a serious problem on the West Coast with a feral underclass.

What I said may have been offensive, but that is not illegal. What is illegal is issuing death threats and threats to rape my daughter. Furthermore a DDoS attack was also set upon my site in an effort to silence me. Whether or not it was connected to feral outrage remains to be seen.

Yes, whether or not it was connected to the outrage remains to be seen.

It seems more credible to assume that it was a cover to launch a previously planned attack and hack by someone or some people.

  • Some weeks later, out of the blue, I received a package: an 8 gigabyte USB digital storage device, the contents of which appeared to have originated from the attack on Slater’s website. On the USB were thousands of documents that revealed different parts of the National Party attack politics, a subject that until then had largely been a matter of speculation and denial.
    This was very different from my usual sources – I have not used this type of source before – but I believe not a single major news organisation in the country would turn down such fascinating and important material. Supplemented by National Party sources, it has allowed stories to be told that the public has a right to know.
    I had no part in obtaining the material and cannot say anything else about it’s origin.

The hacker Rawshark chose to release more hacked information after the book release, first via Twitter (@Whaledump) and then via major news organisations, including the Sunday Star Times and NZ Herald.

I have no reason to doubt Hager’s claim he played no direct part in hacking the data.

But some of Hager’s claims here are contradictory. In the preface ot his book he says “Some weeks later, out of the blue, I received a package: an 8 gigabyte USB digital storage device, the contents of which appeared to have originated from the attack on Slater’s website. “

But David Fisher at NZ Herald quoted Hager in August:

“I heard a rumour about someone who had some stuff,” says Hager, whose books on spies have generated contacts in IT circles. “He already had a plan in his mind to set up a Twitter account and splash it all out there.”

Hager says he spent weeks talking the person into letting him see the material and use it to build the narrative which became Dirty Politics. The hacker, says Hager, gave him everything. “I’ve seen everything. I’m 100 per cent sure.” The hacker then expressed a desire to keep back some material for himself. “We kind of negotiated how much,” he says. “I said ‘can I have all the political stuff’.” Hager got what he asked for and so, the book was written.

That doesn’t sound anything like “out of the blue”.

Hager wrote:

Thus the National Government had the political advantages both of the friendly face and the attack machine. Naturally this would not work if people could see both, so considerable effort went into hiding and denying these activities.

There seems to also be a lot of hiding and denying of things with Hager’s “Dirty Politics”.

But not everyone remains silent. Two days before the launch of Hager’s book left wing activist, blogger and big noter Martyn Bradbury posted:

Here are my 3 guesses on his book.

1 – Right wing spin doctors in Wellington will be crying harder than Matthew Hooton post the Hollow Men.
2 – We won’t hear from the Taxpayer Union for a while.
3 – This won’t be the only time Nicky makes an impact before the election.

When his “guesses” were queried he responded on Twitter:

pfft – Nicky contacted me months ago asking specific questions which helped my guesses – the lesson is read TDB

So Hager was researching amongst left wing activists, as Lyn Prentice has also admitted an involvement.

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?]

“Like me and the score of people that I pointed to and introduced to Hagers people.”

Prentice has openly feuded with Slater. He is not an unbiased observer – in fact he seems to be claiming to be very involved in Hager’s book. Again here he admits being a party to the investigation:

There was extensive checking done before the publication of the book. I helped with putting people in contact with other people. We’d long known what kinds of things were going on. We had just never had any proof of how much of an arsehole that Cameron Slater and his friends were.

It just wasn’t done with the arsehole perpetrators. That was because they already had a port of redress if the material was wrong. The courts.

Is that what you are offended by. That the arseholes of the local blogs and their puppet masters in National and corporates weren’t warned?

Idiot. If Cameron Slater or Odger or Ede or anyone else wants to challenge the veracity of the emails and the conclusions of the book, then all they have to do is to use the courts. It is called a defamation suit.

You’d have to note that they don’t appear to be using it?

Of course they will then be up for cross examination and discovery motions. I can understand why that isn’t something that they want to face.

Obviously Hager wouldn’t work alone on this. He claims he discussed accessing the data for weeks with “the hacker”. Prentice claims to have played a significant part, along with others – “We’d long known what kinds of things were going on. We had just never had any proof .”

Who is “we”.

How much has Hager driven this? He has had an obvious interest in exposing National tactics for more than a decade.

Was the attack and hack a spontaneous reaction or a planned illegal action?

The identity of Rawshark is of obvious interest, but it’s reasonable to be suspicious of who else was involved.

Many people bore grudges against Slater – not surprising considering his mode of dirty politics – and there were obvious interests in defeating Key and National. There have been many comments online alluding to using any means that would be justified in achieving this.

Hager claimed that “a very high public interest” justified overriding “everyone has the right to keep their communications private”.

The election result suggests that Hager and others may have confused “very high left wing interest in defeating Key” with “very high public interest”.

Political activists often incorrectly presume their strong opinions and aims must be shared by most people so achieving those aims by any means is justified.

After the Left’s election disaster some activists bitterly criticised voters for getting things wrong and for being traitors.

There seems to be much more to this story than one civic minded journalist who chanced upon some evidence that happened to support a long running ant-National campaign.

It will be interesting to see what else is revealed over the next few months. Revelations are promised.

This leads into the next post, the third of three on this. Will “Dirty Politics be uncovered?

Speaker rules Key should have answered Slater/feral question

The Speaker has reviewed Question Time on Wednesday where Russel Norman quizzed John Key on the amount of contact he had with Cameron Slater. See Question Time – Norman versus Key.

David Carter has ruled that Key could legitimately refuse to respond to most of the questions as the contact was ” None in my capacity as Prime Minister” (although Key’s evasiveness wasn’t a good look).

However the Speaker says that as there was a direct connection with his job as Prime Minister with one question he should have given an answer.

NZ Herald reports Key should have answered WhaleOil question – Speaker:

Mr Key said he did not speak with Mr Slater in his capacity as Prime Minister and therefore was not obliged to answer drawing fierce criticism from Dr Norman and Labour’s Chris Hipkins.

Having reviewed Mr Key’s responses overnight, Mr Carter today said that was likely correct for most of Dr Norman’s questions. However, one where Dr Norman asked if Slater was correct when he said Mr Key had told him the mother of a car crash victim was “the same woman f-ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings” should have been answered.
The question “made a connection to the actions of the Prime Minister in response to Pike River Mine Tragedy,” Mr Carter said.

“A connection having been made to a matter of ministerial responsibility an informative answer should be given.”

This question was not specific enough for Key to have to answer:

Dr Russel Norman : Did he call Cameron Slater to discuss the backlash Slater received after describing a young car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die; if so, what did he tell Slater about the dead man’s mother?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have never rung Cameron Slater in my capacity as Prime Minister.

After points of order had been made about Key’s evasiveness these questions were asked.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did he tell Cameron Slater that the dead man’s mother was the same woman who sometimes confronted him at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to describe conversations I have in capacities other than those as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : Was Cameron Slater correct when he said that the Prime Minister told him that the dead man’s mother—so these are the Prime Minister’s own words—was “ … the same woman f—ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings.”? Is Cameron Slater correct that that is what the Prime Minister said?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I made clear at the time that that was not correct.

The Speaker says of that last question “A connection having been made to a matter of ministerial responsibility an informative answer should be given.”

No doubt Norman will be sharpening his question son this for the next Question Time.

Today’s NZ Herald editorial is fairly scathing of Key’s avoidance and the potential precedent it sets in Speaker gives PM, ministers a licence to duck for cover:

The simple fact is that most people assume the Prime Minister is fulfilling just that role. If they took a telephone call from Mr Key, they would not think to ask whether he was speaking as the Prime Minister or as the leader of the National Party. The obvious exceptions to this preoccupation are his involvement in party conferences or election campaigns. Then, quite clearly, he is a party leader.

As much should have informed Mr Carter’s examination of the transcripts of the question-time exchange. This makes the outcome of the Speaker’s quick inquest and his effective sanctioning of the Prime Minister’s behaviour all the more unsatisfactory.

Mr Carter said yesterday that Mr Key’s non-informative responses were correct for nearly all Dr Norman’s questions. The only exception involved one dealing with the Pike River tragedy, in which a clear connection was made with ministerial responsibility.

In large part, Mr Carter has invited the Prime Minister and his ministers to don their hat of choice at any time as a means of evading awkward questions.

It is hardly a recipe for integrity or the engendering of a greater degree of public respect for the nation’s politicians.

And they point out a potential problem for Key.

The Prime Minister began his third term by warning National MPs and ministers that he did not want to see any hint of arrogance creeping into their behaviour.

Fast-forward a month and that very trait was implicit in John Key’s response to questions in Parliament about the nature and frequency of his conversations with Cameron Slater.

Key risks voter wrath if he keeps avoiding addressing the degree of his association with Slater.

Question Time – Norman versus Key

Russel Norman probed John Key on dirty politics links in Question Time yesterday – see previous post Key does a Runner from attempted Norman conquest.

Key avoided answering but it raised some issues (via Norman and Chris Hipkins) that the Speaker said he would consider.

It was good to see reasonable points of order rather than the more common cantankerous attacks on the Speaker. Making a good case is far more likely to succeed than hissy fitting.

Transcript:

3. Prime Minister—Communication with Blogger

[Sitting date: 22 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister : How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! When I remain on my feet, I do not expect interjections to continue from my left.

Dr Russel Norman : Given the Prime Minister’s previous statements to say that he regularly talked with Mr Slater on the phone, is the Prime Minister now claiming that when he talked with Mr Slater he was talking with Mr Slater as the leader of the National Party, not as the Prime Minister; and does he wear a different hat when he takes those phone calls?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not now claiming that. That has always been the claim.

Dr Russel Norman : Did he call Cameron Slater to discuss the backlash Slater received after describing a young car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die; if so, what did he tell Slater about the dead man’s mother?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have never rung Cameron Slater in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Chris Hipkins : Has he ever phoned or texted Cameron Slater on a phone funded or provided by Ministerial Services?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not 100 percent sure of that, but what I can say is that—as Prime Minister Helen Clark would have told him—that is not the test of whether it is in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I do not need the Leader of the House’s assistance at this stage.

Dr Russel Norman : The Prime Minister gave an answer to the primary question on notice, on the basis that he never called Mr Slater as the Prime Minister. We have now established that there are occasions where he used the prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater. I would ask you to rule as to whether the Prime Minister’s original answer was within the Standing Orders of the House, given that he himself has now acknowledged he used a prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! In regard to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the first question, that answer was definitely in order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is something particularly disturbing about the Prime Minister’s answer, because it would appear that any Minister can make this claim and say: “Not in my capacity as a Minister.” Around about now, we have got no accountability at all in this Parliament if you allow that to stand.

Mr SPEAKER : In regard to the very first question that was asked, the Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to answer it in the way he did. He is then responsible for that answer. Further supplementary questions have been asked that attempt to tease this issue out. They are equally in order.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did he tell Cameron Slater that the dead man’s mother was the same woman who sometimes confronted him at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to describe conversations I have in capacities other than those as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : Was Cameron Slater correct when he said that the Prime Minister told him that the dead man’s mother—so these are the Prime Minister’s own words—was “ … the same woman f—ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings.”? Is Cameron Slater correct that that is what the Prime Minister said?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I made clear at the time that that was not correct.

Dr Russel Norman : Is it not the truth that until the Dirty Politics book came out, he chose to have regular dealings with Cameron Slater, a man who is a hired gun for the tobacco industry, whose blog subjected a public servant to death threats, and who celebrated the death of a car crash victim, calling him a feral?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Over the time I have been Prime Minister, the answer to that question is no.

Dr Russel Norman : Is it appropriate for the Prime Minister or his staff to use an attack blogger like Cameron Slater as a platform to “get their message out”, as the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman described it on 12 December last year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The Government and Ministers do talk to bloggers, for a variety of reasons. The reason we talk to social media is that they are part of the overall media that communicates with New Zealanders. That would be no different from other political parties. I have seen that member quoted on numerous blog sites. One assumes that he and his office talk to them, and I am sure he and his office probably talk to Nicky Hager.

Dr Russel Norman : Did he instruct his staff to cease all links with Cameron Slater after the blogger accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, or after Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Did the Prime Minister direct his staff to cease all contact with Cameron Slater after Slater made those comments?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.

Dr Russel Norman : Does he not think that he should set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office by directing his staff to cease all contact with the attack blogger Cameron Slater, after Cameron Slater accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, and Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Would it not set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office to direct his staff to no longer have contact with Cameron Slater?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have made it clear that we do not endorse many of the stories or comments that are run by a range of different bloggers, but, no, I will not be instructing my staff to do that.

Dr Russel Norman : Is he saying it is business as usual for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and his staff to deal on a regular basis with the most vicious and notorious blogger in New Zealand and for his staff to leak information to that blogger in order to intimidate public servants and silence his political opponents?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not believe that to be an accurate statement.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask that after question time you review the overall question here today, because I suspect this issue is going to arise again around the distinction between the Prime Minister’s other capacities and his capacity as Prime Minister. The issue that I would like you to consider—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order.

Chris Hipkins : —is that, in fact, it is the content of the communications and not the means by which they are transmitted, or the hat that the Prime Minister claims to be wearing at the time that he makes the communication, that is at issue here. So if the Prime Minister is communicating with someone about matters relating to his role as Prime Minister and about activities he has undertaken as Prime Minister, then they are, by nature, prime ministerial activities that he should be answerable for. So I ask you to give some further consideration to the interchange today, and, in fact, perhaps come back with a more substantive ruling on the matter, because it seems to me that the Prime Minister could stand up and give any answer to any question and say: “Well, I wasn’t doing that as Prime Minister.”, and therefore would not be held to account.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think it has been well established in this House for a very long period of time that Prime Ministers wear a variety of different hats, and that includes as leader of the National Party, and can include as a citizen. I fondly remember sitting in this House for years hearing Helen Clark saying that she made statements, or had conversations, or undertook actions as the leader of the Labour Party. I happen, for the record, to use my Ministerial Services – funded cellphone to ring my wife. When I ring my darling wife and when I put the cat out at night, I do that in my capacity as a husband, not as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am on my feet. In regard to the very first point Chris Hipkins raised, I certainly give an assurance I will review the interchange today. As to the appropriate course of action following that review, I will be bound. If it is necessary to come back with a further more substantive ruling, I will consider doing so.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order. [Interruption] Order! We just need to get the rules straight for everybody. This is a point of order, and it will be heard in silence.

Dr Russel Norman : Thank you for that ruling. Given that it related to my questions, I would just like to make one point with regard to the point that Mr Hipkins made, which was that the issue was about John Key acting as Prime Minister—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : What’s the point of order?

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Dr Russel Norman : The point of order is that it is relevant to this question because he was acting as Prime Minister in the Pike River capacity. That is why it is relevant to this question.

Mr SPEAKER : The attempt to raise a point of order is not actually adding to the situation. I have given an assurance following the point of order raised by Chris Hipkins that I will have a look. I always review the transcripts of question time. As to what action may then be required, that will be determined by the conclusions I make in that review.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order? I have dealt with this matter. If it is a fresh point of order I am happy to hear it, but we are not going to relitigate this matter any further.

Dr Russel Norman : Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order?

Dr Russel Norman : Yes. Mr Speaker, while you were on your feet, and several times while I was trying to make a point of order, the Prime Minister interjected even after you had directed him not to. It seems to me that if we are going to have order in this House, it is very important that the Prime Minister in particular should set an example of not speaking while the member with the call is trying to speak.

Mr SPEAKER : That is a reasonable point of order to raise. I did not actually hear the Prime Minister continuing in a conversation. I did hear it from another frontbencher of the Government. The member is making a fair point. I do not want to get into a habit of ejecting many members on any day, but points of order should be heard in silence, particularly when I call the House to order and ask for the point of order to be delivered. For members to continue to interject is going to create problems and leave me with no choice but to ask that member, be it a Minister or a Prime Minister, to leave the Chamber.

 

Key does a Runner from attempted Norman conquest

When Russel Norman questioned John Key about contact with blogger Cameron Slater in Parliament yesterday Key did a Road Runner.

It was inevitable that “dirty politics’ would be raised early in the new Parliament and Norman laid into Key in the first Question Time of the term yesterday. Key avoided answering questions about how much phone or text contact he’d had with Slater, saying his contact had not been as Prime Minister.

While unsuccessful at getting answers Norman very successfully re-kindled the ‘dirty politics’ controversy.

Key’s lack of response was widely criticised in social media. Many had been waiting for the opportunity to stick the boot into political dirt perceived by many to come from the Prime Minister’s office (while this has been strongly implied in Nicky Hager’s book but remains unproven).

Jane Clifton described it as an Acme dodge in Prime minister only when he wants to be.

When Greens co-leader Russel Norman tried to pin John Key down on the nature and frequency of his conversations with blogger Cameron Slater, Key simply dialled up one of his favourite, infuriating Road Runner-style getaways: he had not spoken to Slater “in my capacity as prime minister”.

This is an Acme dodge, as a prime minister need only account to Parliament for things done in the capacity of prime minister. As party leader, MP or citizen, he has no accountability.

It didn’t matter how Norman phrased it, or which of the unsavoury items from the blogger’s stolen emails were put to him, Key insisted he had not been the prime minister for the purposes of any conversations with the notorious WhaleOil blogger.

This denial mode is in contrast to earlier in the year when Key was reported as saying he regularly contacted Slater.

He confirmed he and Slater spoke regularly, including this week when they discussed Dotcom, but Key hedged when asked if Slater was his source.

Key said he regularly called Slater, who broke the story of the Len Brown affair, “to see what he’s got on his site and mind”.

Key said he was not deterred by the controversy around Slater, who last month received death threats for calling a man who died in a car accident a “feral”.

From Looks like Slater is Key’s Peters source

Key looks deterred from any admissions now.

Slater confirmed he was the source.

“If the prime minister said that’s the case, that’s the case,” Slater said.

Controversies surrounding Slater should not preclude the pair from having a professional relationship, Slater said.

From what Slater is saying on Whale Oil it appears that that “professional relationship” has diminished somewhat, if not stopped altogether.

But if Key now keeps refusing to respond to questions about his past Whale Oil links and if he avoids openly distancing himself from the dirtier Slater tactics then continued holding to account is likely to keep Key running – but he has nowhere to hide.

If Key keeps refusing to admit the boil this looks likely to keep festering. Norman is unlikely to just let it go.

And left wing activists pinned a lot of hope in promoting “dirty politics” – it failed to swing this year’s election but the 2017 campaign has begun. Expect both sides to remain unclean.

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.

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