John Key sums up Statements on Iraq

Ministerial Statements

Iraq— Deployment of Troops

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister):

I take this opportunity to sum up the statements that have been made in the House. On Monday the Government made a decision to send New Zealand forces to train Iraqi forces. It made the decision to send 106 people to Taji for up to 2 years.

We made the decision to stand up to the evil and barbaric behaviour we have seen from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant .

I want to focus not on political parties that have either well-established positions or fundamentally not much to add to the debate, but I want to focus on Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition .

The interesting thing is this. Labour in New Zealand, when it comes to sending New Zealand forces for training says no—it says no.

But the interesting thing is that the Labour Opposition in the UK says yes. The Labor Opposition in Australia says yes, and the equivalent of the Labour Opposition in Canada says yes. So every Labour Opposition in like-minded countries says yes, but, apparently, the Labour Opposition in New Zealand says no.

But hold on a minute, the Labour Opposition, when it was the Government, said yes to sending 60-odd engineers to Iraq. No debate, no vote—“You’re going, boys.”

And the Labour Opposition, when it was in Government, said yes to the combat forces of the SAS , and it did not tell the country; it just said yes.

I listened to Andrew Little’s speech, and here is the bottom line: he did not believe it, and I do not believe him because he knows that these people are barbaric and evil.

He knows that there are 35 to 40 New Zealanders at risk of a domestic threat. He knows, like I know, that the number of people on the list is growing to 60 or 70.

He knows, like I know, that New Zealanders are in the region. He knows, like I know, that New Zealanders travel prolifically, and he says that he cares about New Zealanders and he says that he wants to stand up for them.

Well, in Government he would be making this decision. You see, the reason he is not is this. It is not that it is not the right thing, because Phil Goff, when he was the Minister of Defence, used to do all this stuff with bells on.

The reason he is doing it is that he wants politics to win over what is right for the people. I will not—will not—stand by while Jordanian pilots are burnt to death, when kids execute soldiers, and when people are out there being beheaded. I am sorry, but this is the time to stand up and be counted. Get some guts and join the right side.

John Key’s Ministerial Statement on Iraq

The Prime Minister’s Ministerial statement on the deployment of troops to Iraq.

Draft transcript:

Ministerial Statements

Iraq— Deployment of Troops

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I wish to make a ministerial statement under Standing Order 356 in relation to the deployment of troops to Iraq.

Today I am announcing to the House the Government’s decision about our contribution to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Last November I gave a national security speech that outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL. This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.

ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamic radicals makes it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East but regionally and locally too. It is well funded and highly skilled at using the internet to recruit. Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.

In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage, and we have seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways. ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against this group.

New Zealand is already considered part of the coalition because we have made humanitarian contributions, with $14.5 million in aid provided to the region so far.

The Government has carefully considered its options to expand our contribution to the international coalition. As I outlined in November, our approach is one that addresses humanitarian, diplomatic, intelligence, and capacity-building issues.

New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values. We stand up for what is right. We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally. We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened, as it is today. We have carved out our independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it. We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.

It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Iraq Government has request support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.

We have been clear that we cannot and should not fight Iraq’s battles for it, and, actually, Iraq does not want us to do that. Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so that they can fight ISIL themselves.

I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi special forces or security forces in Iraq alongside our long-standing partner Australia. Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi security forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.

The Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL. This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia, although it will not be badged as an Anzac force. Their task will be to train Iraqi security force units so they are able to commence combat operations and to eventually be able to carry out the work of our trainers, creating an independent, self-sustaining military capability for the Government of Iraq to call on.

The mission will involve the deployment of personnel to the Taji military complex, north of Baghdad. This is likely to take place in May. The deployment will be reviewed after 9 months and will be for a maximum 2-year period. The total number of personnel deploying is up to 106 in Taji, and there will be others such as staff officers deploying in coalition headquarters and support facilities in the region. The total all together will be up to 143 personnel.

As well as these people, further personnel and air force assets will occasionally need to be deployed to the region to support the mission—for example, in support of personnel rotations and resupply.

A training mission like this is not without danger. It is not a decision we have taken lightly. I have required assurances that our men and women will be as safe as they practically can be in Taji. Our force protection needs have been assessed by the New Zealand Defence Force and determined as being able to be met by the well-trained soldiers of our regular army. We will be sending our own force protection to support the training activities.

I want to briefly address the issue of special forces. As I said last November, I have ruled out sending the SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq. The Chief of Defence Force has advised me that special forces are not part of this deployment. However, I want to be clear that special forces could be deployed for short periods to provide advice on issues like force protection or to help with high-profile visits, as there may be those from time to time.

Our deployment in Taji will include logistics and medical support as well as headquarters staff. It is our intention that Iraq security forces be able to assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes in future.

The New Zealand Government will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the nature and scope of the activities of the New Zealand Defence Force personnel within the mission, and those personnel will deploy with appropriate legal protections. Exactly what form those legal protections take will be worked through in coming weeks and with our Iraqi counterparts.

We will secure the best protections we realistically can for our personnel. Our military has a proven track record of carrying out this type of training work in Afghanistan.

This is a contribution that is in line with our values and our skills. But this not all that we will do to help.

We recognise the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is not a short-term threat, and there is a lot of work to be done in the long term. Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message. That will take time. As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause, and we are currently examining options to provide more help.

We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq. As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraq Government and our military deployment, as well as assessing how we can support better governance in Iraq.

We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new ambassador for counter-terrorism. Underpinning all this, we will work as a member of the United Nations Security Council to advocate for effective action on ISIL.

Last November, I told New Zealanders ISIL had been successful in recruiting New Zealanders to the cause. Our Government agencies have a watch-list of between 35 and 40 people of concern in the foreign fighter context, and that remains the case.

Unfortunately, an additional group requiring further investigation is growing in number. We have strengthened the ability of our intelligence agencies to deal with this, and they are taking steps to add to their resources. We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris, and Ottawa have underscored.

To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises the threat I say this: the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that. I know there is already risk. New Zealanders do too because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.

The Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL. We are prepared to step up to help. New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.

In return, we expect that the Iraqi Government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive Government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect. Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision, but without doubt it is the right decision. They go with our best wishes.

BLiP and the list of Key’s lies

For some time ‘BLiP’ has published a list at The Standard of what he calls lies made by John Key.

I haven’t taken a close look at the list but it’s been pointed out that some of the claimed lies are fairly subjective.

Recently a number of people at The Standard discussed raising enough money to publish the BLiP list in a book, hoping to have a similar impact to Dirty Politics. It evolved into setting up an online list.

For the record it’s worth having an idea of what BLiP’s political leanings are. A couple of comments made yesterday. The first one:

There are so many pluses for Labour in running for Northland I kinda feel compelled to keep my trap shut about things until after the by-election. It seems to me that even if Ritchie McCaw himself were to stand for NZ First and if the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key were to put up a half-boiled turnip, the brassica would still romp home in Northland.

Might as well give Willow-Jean and her local crew another work out in preparation for a more likely opportunity further down the road. No need either to let the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key and NZ First have all the photo-ops carefully managed to detract from the really important things going on.

I have no doubt we will, sooner or later, see Willow-Jean in Parliament where, given the current assortment of blokey-bozos Labour has fronting for it, she will stand out.

Also, I think she can do great things for Northland standing on a platform which, perhaps, focuses on a quite narrow range of issues that really matter to that constituency.

She could, for example, bring attention to the need for our children to live in homes free of violence and contrast that with the sort of culture the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key is fostering with its warmongering on behalf the boys down at The Club.

She might also talk about how women need, once again, to demand that their complaints to police are (a) believed and acted on, and, (b) that there is a government in place which will ensure that, rather than deny them justice due to institutional misogyny which results in violent offenders casually strolling out the country or, as ridiculous as it sounds, holding powerful positions in the law and order arena. You know, little things like that

Good luck to her, I say.

It’s fairly obvious he isn’t an impartial observer. (Or maybe BLiP is a she, it’s hard to be sure with pseudonyms it’s hard to be sure about gender, and credubility).

And a second comment:

The permutations possible when considering the depths to which the John Key Dirty Politics Machine will dredge are vast. I wouldn’t put it past the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key’s henchmen to have stitched up a deal with Winston.

The Dirty Politics Machine would then just have to encourage Labour and the Greens to stand aside in order to bring NZ First into the Cult’s coalition without having to spend a cent.

Winston, who’s getting on a bit, could, just about, name his price while the collective cheering from his supporters emanates from rest homes across the country.

And recently a post by BLiP: Labour’s Betrayal Continues begins:

At a time when oversight of New Zealand’s spy agencies is needed more than ever,  Labour’s betrayal of New Zealanders continues unabated.

And concludes:

Rather, Labour appears to have abandoned both its founding principles and, ironically, to have deserted the application of any real “intelligence”. Instead, Labour has joined the Brash “mainstream” to take part in the all-consuming but ultimately futile game of continuously chasing MSM polls by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Its a slippery slope. Studious observers can see already that contempt for New Zealanders and cynicism is dripping from both Labour and the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key in equal measure. To keep up in the perpetual polls, the game of “Beehive Idol” will require more betrayal because it becomes far too risky to attempt anything new or anything which might startle the judges. Come 2017, when that contemptuous and cynical betrayal is even more apparent, why would the “lowest common denominator” Labour is apparently trying to reach bother voting for Andrew Little over John Key when the choice essentially comes down to choosing Pepsi or Coke? Might as well go for what you’re used to or, if it is a choice of either Pepsi or Coke, why bother voting at all? This won’t stop any adherents of the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key from voting, of course. With this in mind, what ever gains Labour makes for putting the boot into the Greens and, yet again, betraying New Zealanders, will be short term.

It might well be in Labour’s best interests to cut the crap now and go into coalition with the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key. It would be the honest thing to do and might even temper some of the back-logged neo-liberal excesses still to be rolled out. At least then New Zealander will know where the boundaries lie and who actually is working to oppose the implementation of the wider neo-liberal ideology. Recent leaders of the Labour Party – Andrew Little, Phil Goff and David Shearer – certainly aren’t.

Meanwhile, the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key’s Spy Czar, Christopher Finlayson, has appointed one of his underlings, Deputy Solicitor-General Una Jagose, as Acting Head of the GCSB. Don’t know much about Una but lets hope her concern for the rights of corporate tax payers is reflected in a similar concern for the rights of all New Zealanders. Seems doubtful, though. Her primary function at Crown Law lately has been mitigating any legal risk the government may put itself at. What a handy skill set to have in her new position. With the ISC and GCSB now firmly in his pocket, John Key can be ensured that whatever legal risk there is in spying on New Zealanders can be completely eliminated from any new legislation his “Five Eyes Club” has planned for us.

Here’s the beginnings of discussion to publish the list. And the following day the discussions continued:

Hi BLiP, if you’re around this one’s for you.

Yesterday we had a discussion about doing some crowd funding, a give a little campaign was suggested, to publish your chronicles of Key’s lies.

The motivation for this and benefits of publishing such a book are outlined in this thread, starting here:

http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-09022015/#comment-965675

It’s your work we’re talking about so your thoughts are required before we go any further.

I think it could be done and should be done. It’s time there was a public response to the media’s lack of holding Key to account, in a post Dirty Politics NZ. We can’t leave it to opposition parties to do all all the work. As NZer’s, ordinary people, we can also hold a mirror up to the govt.

After some discussion  ropata:rorschach has gone ahead and set it up online.

I have gone ahead and created a wiki site: https://offkey.hackpad.com/

BLiP’s list will go here: https://offkey.hackpad.com/The-List-kUC4LW4cyFQ

It needs a lot more work, feel free to jump in, or write your thoughts in this thread.

The Off Key website:

About
Welcome to “Off Key”, a record of the famous reality-altering verbal gymnastics of The Right Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

This website is also a “wiki”: a collaborative site that anyone can edit! To join this project, just drop me an email at this address:
robertpnz AT hotmail DOT com

Collections

328 lies identified by BLiP

27 lies identified by Reddit users

20 SkyCity porkies identified by BLiP

26 diversions listed by Keyholes.co.nz
History
Idea germinated on The Standard, based on excellent work by BLiP and others, as listed here:

http://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/29406c/the_big_list_of_john_keys_lies/

The list of lies begins:
Promises, Promises
1. I  promise to always be honest 
2(a). We’re not proposing to change the Employment Relations Act in a way that weakens unions
2(b). we are  not going to sack public servants, the attrition rate will reduce costs 
3. we are  not going to cut  working for families 
Oddly that links to a National media release that says “NEWS: National to keep Working for Families unchanged” and has no proof of cutting.
Changing Climate Policies
4. I  firmly believe in climate change and always have 
I guess you could claim he can’t have ‘believed in climate change’ when he was at Kindergarten but calling this a lie seems to be based on having different views about climate change and what to do about it. Disagreeing on politics would make everyone a BLiP liar.
5. We seek a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050. 50 by 50. We will write the target into law. 
6. National Ltd™ will provide a  consistent incentive for both biofuel and biodiesel by exempting them from excise tax or road user charges 
Using the term “National Ltd™” suggests an associated agenda.
Memory Faults
7. there is  no truth in Nicky Hager’s book “The Hollowmen” 
8. I didn’t know about The Brethren election tactics
9. If they came to us now with that proposal [re  trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods regime], we will sign it 
10. I  can’t remember my position on the 1981 Springbok Tour

It’s dubious calling political statements promises and any doubt or change of position as a lie.

But claiming that someone saying “I can’t remember’ is a lie unless you somehow have proof that they did remember at the time they said something is a bit nonsensical.

What people seem to be unable to understand that something they were very strongly about was not a passion shared by everyone else. And it’s got little relevance to governing the country well into the twenty first century.

Few of the items on BLiPs list are likely to trouble John Key now unless they can be linked to something new.

Trying to discredit a politician by accumulating things they have been recorded saying that may not have complete  factual basis, no room for dispute or absolutely no chance of changing due to changing circumstances seems a bit futile to me.

One of the keys to holding politicians, whether as an opponent, as a journalist or a member of the public is picking your fights.

Nit picking ad infinitum is unlikely to get much attention or change many votes.

Rachinger previously

Following from the previous thread on Ben Rachinger I’m tracking backwards, recording this in case it disappears.

Sunday:

Standard operating procedure worldwide, attack the whistleblower & family, or set up honeypot trap.

Ben Rachinger:

Oh I know this one well.

I’m estranged from my parents since police came to the door looking for Rawshark. In October.

Well before I ever said anything publicly. Imagine senior cops at your old and conservative parents door.

As for honeypots…. I’m not a bee anymore and I know exactly what I’m doing. Estrangement radicalised me

Police thought you are Rawshark – morons.

Ahhh it’s more than that but nothing I couldn’t handle. I.e. Please report on all your friends.

Police were alright. Just the system we live in.

Monday:

It’d be amazing if Kiwis started talking about what they want in a new Political Party/System instead of giving the stagnant ones airtime.

About to school y’all why you should never play Mutually Assured Destruction with someone who doesn’t like power, money or living like you!

I first had interactions with C Slater in early 2014. I made the “Smoke and Mirrors” video series and he blogged them

I then subsequently was involved in discussions with C Slater about joining Freed Media, his new venture.

As a member of the inner circle of the Dirty Politics crew, I was privy to a lot of information. Bad quality but

I should have prefaced this with a NB. NB. Cameron Slater has been good to me at times. This dump isn’t about him. No low hanging fruit.

Anyhow, that’s just establishing my bone fides. I’m taking you down, Key. Your shit stinks and I’m not tolerating it any more

At some point I’ll tell you what the going rate for inter-party hacking and website takedowns is. Also who in MSM and Left is complicit.

This goes out to all my friends, allies and those who walk in solidarity. Im finally manning up

Farrar. Looking forward to showing New Zealanders about you, the Man who the PM thanked on election night. Sunlight is a beautiful thing

Even though the NZ Police came to my door… It was on 3rd party info. I have nothing against the Police. Unless they protect corruption.

It’s embarrassing how long NZ was prepared to let this shit go on for, don’t you have better ambitions for your children’s futures?

This is what my encrypted messaging app looks like (some redacted). Yeah. That’s right.

Embedded image permalink

And so it begins.

Embedded image permalink

I thought about leaking to a MSM journo but after checking the files, I could only find two that were clean. Can you imagine that problem?

People are never satisfied. Never.

Hey Mr Farrar, , got anything to say about this? Before I comment.

Embedded image permalink

Ok, I’ll comment The fuck planet are you living on dude. You think you and John rule us? State hacking on cits? Looked like it.

Parliament needs to be dissolved. This year.

Fair warning on my ambitions.

I haven’t even started on the ‘hostage’, the ‘blinded trust’ or the Left yet.

You have been lied to. Extensively. Knowingly. Fuckthatyes

Hey Trotter, you sweating yet brah?

Q: Who told Slater about a “left conspiracy” to have him suicide/anhero?

A: Chris Trotter

Solution: Fucking prove it, Trotter.

I could have called myself Rawshark or some fancy name and dumped this on you…

Or I could just be Little Old Me. No masks, no drama.

why have you chosen the whale over say, the bomber or Andrea Vance? – genuinely interested

Feb 16

Bomber is easy to pen and easier to understand. He’s essentially neutered. Vance, I cover later. She is NOT pure as snow.

haha interesting times indeed! Wouldn’t have thought of WhaleOil as a beacon of morality?

Haha he’s not. But he knows the really bad people.

Does Cam have stuff on Farrar & Key? Or just the left and MSM? Anywayz, thnx for the follow! I eagerly await whatever’s coming

On everyone. Hopefully he mans up and we clear the field.

Back to the main thread:

If its really an issue, someone else will take it up.

Goodnight, fragile and apathetic folk.

And following that: Ben Rachinger versus Cameron Slater

Key reacted to public opinion and fixed mistake

It’s good to see that John Key listens to public opinion and is prepared to react to overwhelming sentiments.

NZ Herald: Editorial: SkyCity best bet despite public concern

The Prime Minister has not tried to hide the fact that it was the public who decided the Government should not put public money into an Auckland international convention centre. “In the end I just think that public opinion on this thing, rightly so, was, ‘There’s a deal, leave it as the contract said … ‘ and that’s what we’re going to do.”

There are many attempts at trying to portray opposition party campaigns as representing the public but they usually fail to attract popular support.

The Sky City debacle was different, there was obvious widespread genuine annoyance.

It sounds like the decision was made against his better judgment. He and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce were both open to the idea of a public contribution last week. They appeared to be softening the country for an announcement that the money would be well spent if it was necessary to secure the $402 million promised by SkyCity 18 months ago for a convention centre of the desired standard.

But the chorus of public disapproval, echoed no doubt in the Government’s private polling, has persuaded them otherwise. A deal is a deal as far as the country is concerned, even if the small print allowed for the possibility of a public contribution in the event that costs escalated.

Good to see that Key noticed and acted and ended up using better judgement in the end. It was embarrassing for him and especially for Steven Joyce but credit to Key for reacting sensibly rather than digging a deeper hole.

Everyone makes mistakes. Prime Ministerial mistakes get mega amplified.

Better leaders fix their mistakes. As Key did in this case.

Is John Key getting tired of the plebs?

In the last couple of months of last year John Key looked fed up with day to day politics. This disdain was expressed in Parliament and via the media.

He seems to have started the year uninvigorated by the plebs. It must take some adjusting going from holiday in Hawaii to cavorting with world leaders on Davos Switzerland and then back to New Zillin to face pesky questions from journalists about an erring MP and then face the country’s indignation over the Sky City debacle.

Key often seems to want to share nothing with journalists and the country. Communicating with the plebs seems to be a chore he’d rather ignore.

In the first question put to him in Parliament he sounded exasperated already.

Andrew Little : Why will he not be straight with New Zealanders for once and just admit that the deal has blown up in his face?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is getting a little tiring with those sorts of things.

Key seems to be tiring of the more mundane parts of his job.

He has enjoyed unprecedented support as a popular Prime Minister who could connect with ordinary New Zealanders.

If he keeps looking tired of pesky Parliamentary questions and keeps looking tired of telling us the plebs things we think we oughta know then we might just get tired of Key as Prime Minister.

Key has nearly three years to try and look interested. That looks to be a burden he currently seems unwilling to be bothered with.

What we know about the Mike Sabin case

There have been a number of claims and speculation about the Mike Sabin case (in Parliament the Speaker said “We know that there was a court case”).

It is a bizarre situation where we aren’t supposed to talk about something that seems to be a secret. We don’t know what we can or can’t say. But a lot of information is in the public domain.

Michael Lewis “Mike” Sabin (born 24 September 1968) is a former police officer, drug educator and New Zealand politician.

Sabin was raised and schooled in Whangarei. He and his partner, Sandra, live in Cooper’s Beach. He has three children, two of whom are grown up, and one of whom is the journalist Brook Sabin. His partner also has three children.

Sabin wrote a book called The Long Way Home after his son Darryl received a brain injury playing rugby in 2009. The book is about Darryl’s injury and the challenges the family overcame working towards his recovery. His son is now a motivational speaker

Sabin was first employed as a Seaman Officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy in the 1980s. After leaving the Navy, Sabin worked in the dairy industry before joining the Police in the 1990s. In 2006, he founded MethCon Group, a company that supplies drug education. He sold the company in October 2010. He also played a role in the establishment of drug courts in New Zealand by inviting American judge Peggy Hora to talk about how drug courts operate in the United States.

In 2008, Sabin received a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award.

Wikipedia

Sabin was first elected to Parliament as MP for Northland in November 2011. He was re-elected in September 2014. He annolunced his resignation from Parliament on Friday 20 January 2015 with a short statement:

Press Release: New Zealand National Party
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.

The Prime Minister John Key and National Party President Peter Goodfellow ‘acknowledged’ the resignation without further comment about it.

It is highly unusual that an MP resigns without giving any information about it.

Notice of resignation:

Resignations

Mike Sabin, Northland

Mr SPEAKER : Honourable members, I wish to advise the House that I have received a letter from Mike Sabin resigning his seat with effect from Friday, 30 January 2015.

Parliament Tuesday 10 February:

ANDREW LITTLE : What about the standards of the Government? What about the promise of 2008 that “The Government I lead will be a Government of good standards.”, and its chance to do something, its chance to demonstrate that National actually is a party of standards in Government? It was confronted with it at the end of last year. One of National’s MPs was under a police investigation. One of its MPs—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I invite members throughout this debate to be very careful. We know that there was a court case, and we know that all details were suppressed. [Interruption] Order! There is Standing Order 115. Should any members think I should consider this matter differently, I invite them to use that Standing Order and write to me. At this stage no member has done so. I invite Mr Little to continue.

So “We know that there was a court case”.

We also know there was a police investigation that started at least as far back as August 2014 (NBR have claimed it goes back further than this).

NZ Herald reported on 11 February:

At least two Government ministers were told an unnamed MP was being investigated before last year’s election, but police did not tell Government ministers it was Mike Sabin until November when a media outlet started asking about an investigation into the former MP.

The Herald has learned that before the election Police Minister Anne Tolley and another minister with a related portfolio were told police were looking into an MP.

However, officials did not reveal which MP it was. Current Police Minister Michael Woodhouse was not told it was Mr Sabin until after One News started asking about Mr Sabin on November 25. That was the same day the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, was told and the Prime Minister was told on December 1.

All three ministers have repeatedly refused to say whether they had been briefed or what they had known. Yesterday, Mr Woodhouse refused to confirm whether he was briefed but said he was “absolutely” confident he had handled the issue appropriately.

It is understood police told ministers they withheld the name of the MP because inquiries were still at an early stage and there was concern about the impact on Mr Sabin’s career and reputation if it amounted to nothing. Ministers were eventually told his name under the “no surprises” policy because media had started asking about the case.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has refused to say whether he briefed ministers on Mr Sabin, but said police had not “dropped the ball” under the no surprises policy. That policy requires Government departments to alert ministers to sensitive or controversial issues.

It’s hard to believe the police would inform the Minister of Police of an investigation into an MP under the ‘no surprises’ policy but withhold the identity of the MP. It is also difficult to believe the Minister would not advise the Prime Minister, nor would the Minister, the Prime Minister or his office find out what they could about the investigation.

Unless they chose to be ignorant.

Key praised Sabin after his resignation – PM Key – Mike Sabin was cabinet material:

“Up until his resignation I’ve had enormous confidence in him as an MP,” he added.

“Actually I think he has performed very strongly. He’s got a great grasp of some of the policy area. I actually saw him as someone that would be potentially a future Cabinet minister if we were in government.”

He had been aware that Mr Sabin, who had been a good, hard-working local MP, had been planning to resign one or two days before he did so, and had become aware of the issues he had referred to in about the last week of the parliamentary term last year.

“He made a very significant contribution to our caucus. He’s a loss in terms of the contribution I’ve seen him make as a politician,” he said.

Up until his resignation Key “had enormous confidence in him as an MP” after he had “become aware of the issues” two months earlier. There are indications Sabin had not been forthcoming to Key about ‘the issues’ so enormous confidence seems odd.

So what about the court case?

It can be presumed this happened after the resignation but it would have had to have happened soon after, possibly immediately after. But there appears to be an official blanket ban of information about it.

However some things can be presumed.

It would seem to have been a brief court case.

This suggests either of two things.

It could have been a very minor case that could be dealt with quickly. This seems very unlikely given the hushing up and Sabin resigning presumably because of it.

One News headlined John Key refuses to comment on Mike Sabin assault allegations nearly two weeks ago.

There have been reports since last year that police have spent weeks looking into allegations of assault levelled at Mike Sabin.

Stuff reported it as an assault inquiry on 21 December in National MP Mike Sabin in police assault inquiry

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

Basing the case in Auckland suggests it was more than minor.

Since then Andrea Vance has been bolder than most journalists in her reporting and indicates that the media knows the story behind Mike Sabin’s resignation but can’t tell it in Five unanswered questions from the Beehive:

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

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

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

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

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

So it would appear to be a case of assault that was serious enough to prompt Sabin to resign as an MP (and chair of the Law & Order committee). And there have been several cliams it could be well up the scale of seriousness.

Team xx  have known all along the seriousness of the offences that Sabin had been accused of, at first, last December it was just an educated guess, based on sound research and then soon enough, just prior to Christmas 2014 break, we received more information confirming our worst suspicions.

And due to it’ being over quickly suggests a guilty plea for this type of case, but one that has been kept under a cloak of secrecy.

There has been a report that someone was remanded at large to reappear in court for a disputed-facts hearing ‘next month’. That was stated in January. We don’t know who that was but this gives us an idea of process.

In general a remand at large is apparently usually granted following a guilty plea but where some of the information contained in the Police Summary of Facts is disputed by the defendant.

The facts of the Sabin case have been both widely discussed and (officially) been kept tightly under wraps.

At this stage we are left having to rely on the judgement of a judge, the police and politicians that it is ‘in the public interest’ to keep the Sabin case a secret.

Their past records, particularly on certain types of cases, doesn’t give me much confidence in their judgement. Protection of ‘prominent New Zealanders’ seems to be given a much higher priority than transparency by some.

So serious concerns remain about the Sabin case.

Police Minister non-replies “breathtaking in its arrogance”

At the beginning of his third term John Key warned his Ministers “I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in” but Hide calls the ex and current Police Ministers’ stonewalling as “breathtaking in its arrogance”.

Hide has continued his strong criticism of a Government cover-up about now resigned MP Mike Sabin – Government attitude disrespects us.

His biggest barbs are directed at Police Minister Michael Woodhouse.

It’s distressing to see Parliament treated with such disrespect and a disrespect that continues through blanket refusals to answer straightforward questions.

The worst was Police Minister Michael Woodhouse. Labour’s MP Kelvin Davis set down an oral question asking him in Parliament on what date he was briefed.

The reply was breathtaking in its arrogance: “It is not appropriate nor in the public interest for me to discuss details relating to whether I may have received or provided details on a specific police matter.”

His reply to all supplementaries was equally breathtaking: “I refer to my primary answer and I have nothing further to add.”

It’s more than disrespect, as Hide calls it “breathtaking in it’s arrogance” and later “such an appalling and unacceptable undermining of Parliament.”

WoodhouseUncomfortable

Woodhouse stonewalling in Parliament:

  • It is not appropriate nor in the public interest for me to discuss details relating to whether I may have received or provided details on a specific police matter.
  • I can confirm that the last sentence of my reply said that it was not appropriate nor in the public interest, etc., etc.
  • I refer to my primary answer. I think I made it very clear why I thought that, and I maintain that.
  • I refer to my primary answer and I have nothing further to add.
  • I refer the member to my primary answer. I have no further comment as it would not be in the public interest.

It looks like Woodhouse is stonewalling under instruction.

Hide:

The questions that Government ministers won’t answer are precisely the ones that should be. And how can it be in the public interest not to be told the date of a briefing? Nothing other than political embarrassment can hang on that.

I fear ministers are confusing public interest with their own interest. It’s easy to see why.

To tell us who was briefed, and on what date, would be to tell us who was responsible for such an appalling and unacceptable undermining of Parliament.

But that’s how accountability works. Sure, it’s in ministers’ interest to duck and weave. But that is not the public interest.

Woodhouse is the new Minister of Police (since September). He may have inherited this National embarrassment from his predecessor Anne Tolley.

The Prime Minister refuses to answer the question of whether he was briefed, by whom and on what date. So does former Police Minister Anne Tolley.

Morning Report‘s Susie Ferguson gave her the opportunity to deny receiving a briefing. She wouldn’t: “I am not prepared to make any comment whatsoever,” she testily declared before hanging up.

It may be that Woodhouse is under instruction from the top to try and keep this secret, as Hide says the Prime Minister is also trying to sweep this under the National and Prime Ministerial carpets.

But it’s poor from Woodhouse. It’s difficult to have confidence in a Minister of Police who refuses to answer questions in Parliament on the important matter of holding chair of the Law & order committee to account.

It’s easy to conclude that Woodhouse and Key are trying to hide something. But Hide says it’s…

…a problem lingers: on what date were relevant ministers briefed about the police investigation – and why did they take no action?

It’s very uncomfortable. That’s all the more reason why we need answers.

Woodhouse tries to put all responsibility for disclosure on the Police. But there’s a problem with this – Sabin is an ex-police officer and there’s a chance that the Police are protecting one of their own.

Bizarrely it was Sabin as chair of Law & Order who had resonsibility for hold the Police to account. But the Minister of Police is trying to keep up a veil olf secrecy.

Davis made a point of order that Wolodhouse is responsible for a Police briefing and should answer questions in Parliament about it.

Mr SPEAKER : Yes, but as I listened very carefully to the Minister’s answers, he is effectively saying to this House that he is declining to give that information because he does not feel it is in the public interest.

That is pathetic. A Minister should not be able to refuse to answer questions because “he does not feel it is in the public interest”. They could use that to fob off anything related to their responsibility.

And it looks like Woodhouse is trying to protect his party and his Prime Minister from embarassment after very poorly handling the Sabin issue.

John Key issued a warning to warning to National MPs and ministers at the beginning of his third term:

“I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.”

The Police Minister replies look “breathtaking in its arrogance”.

The transcript from Question Time:

8. Mike Sabin—Briefings

[Sitting date: 11 February 2015. Volume:703;Page:8. Text is subject to correction.]

8. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister of Police : On what date, if any, was the first of any briefings given by the Commissioner of Police or his staff to him, his predecessor, the Prime Minister, or any of their offices in relation to the reported investigation into Mike Sabin?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Police): Responsibility for police investigations rests solely with the police, not the executive, and it is important that this constabulary independence is maintained. Any comment on the existence or otherwise of any particular investigation is for police to comment on. Despite widespread speculation in the media and from the Opposition, police advise me that they have declined to confirm to media any investigation regarding Mr Sabin, and it is not for the Minister to get ahead of police in discussing unconfirmed operational matters. It is not appropriate nor in the public interest for me to discuss details relating to whether I may have received or provided details on a specific police matter.

Kelvin Davis : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was about a date that he received the briefing, which he is responsible for—a briefing from the police commissioner.

Mr SPEAKER : Yes, but as I listened very carefully to the Minister’s answers, he is effectively saying to this House that he is declining to give that information because he does not feel it is in the public interest. That—[Interruption] Order! That is a judgment call that the Minister has the right to make, and I accept and respect the Minister in making that judgment call. You have the right to ask further supplementaries.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take that that is the judgment that you have made about what the Minister said. The issue for us on this side of the House is that the Minister did not actually say that he did not believe it was in the public interest. He made a number of other statements about why he did not want to answer, but if that is what is being invoked, we on this side of the House need to be very clear about that, and I certainly was not from the Minister’s answer.

Mr SPEAKER : Certainly what I took from the Minister’s—[Interruption] I will allow the Minister to clarify.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I can confirm that the last sentence of my reply said that it was not appropriate nor in the public interest, etc., etc.

Mr SPEAKER : That is what I heard as well. Moving forward, we will ask for supplementary questions from Kelvin Davis.

Kelvin Davis : Why is it not in the public interest for him to disclose when the first briefing to the Government occurred?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I refer to my primary answer. I think I made it very clear why I thought that, and I maintain that.

Kelvin Davis : On what date did he or his predecessor or the officers first inform the Prime Minister’s office?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I refer to my primary answer and I have nothing further to add.

Kelvin Davis : Did he or his predecessor, when they knew an MP was the subject of a police investigation, seek and/or receive an assurance that the MP was not a Minister; if not, why not?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I refer the member to my primary answer. I have no further comment as it would not be in the public interest.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does the Minister agree with this statement: “People should be able to be safe in their home, and it’s a very serious issue for the country. It’s a really serious question when you start saying that 89,000 to 90,000 homes are visited every year because there’s a domestic violence,”; or further—“Often what had happened in the past was that if you had a domestic situation—say the husband was drunk and looked like he was going to be abusive to his wife or the children—the police had to go through quite a process to get a restraining order. We changed the law to allow that to be a much more rapid fast process”—his words—“so it could happen instantly.” Those are words from the Prime Minister. Do you agree with them?

Mr SPEAKER : This question is a long way from the primary. I will allow the Minister to answer it, but he has leeway in doing so.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : The question strays a long way from the primary question, and without understanding the context in which the comments were made, it would be inappropriate for me to make a detailed response, but, generally speaking, yes.

Kelvin Davis : Is it still the practice of the commissioner or his staff to brief the Minister on cases of significant public interest as part of the weekly briefing?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : In accordance with Cabinet guidelines, yes.

PR disaster for Sky City

Larry Williams on the Sky City scam attempt.

My gut feeling is that the Government, if they do give anything to SkyCity it will be minimal.

I might be wrong, but the hostile reaction from the public will have registered.

The biggest loser in all of this is actually SkyCity.

They are perceived as underhand, devious and manipulative, reneging on a deal. Trying to take the Government for a ride.

It absolutely destroys the millions they spend on PR.

This hasn’t looked good for the Government, especially Steven Joyce and John Key until he went into damage control.

But it looked like a cyncial money grab by Sky City. It will take a lot of free seats to games tro repair their PR on this.

Source (Newstalk ZB)

Public opinion pulls Key back from reaching for the Sky scam

Strongly expressed public opinion in opposition to a suggestion that the Government hand out money to Sky so they can pretty up their pokie attraction has got through to John Key.

He gambled on Sky and has quickly realised it was no dice. Yesterday he rapidly backed off reaching for the State chequebook.

Vernon Small writes John Key in retreat on SkyCity convention centre.

Prime Minister John Key has toughened up his opposition to putting taxpayer cash into the planned SkyCity convention centre.

In a further retreat from his earlier stance that a cash top up would be necessary to prevent “an eyesore” being built, Key today said he would take a lot of persuading to top up the $402m SkyCity had pledged.

“We structured the deal in such a way that the taxpayer didn’t have to put in money and that’s what I would prefer to see and I’d need a lot of convincing if any other position was going to be adopted,” he said.

‘In the world we live in … in the perfect world  … we would like to see them build a convention centre for $402m.”

Bill English’s prudence seems to have been more convincing than Steven Joyce’s corporate generoasity, along with most of New Zealand. The day before yesterday Govt at odds over SkyCity convention centre.

Finance Minister Bill English today appeared to distance himself from signals the Government will put money into the planned SkyCity convention centre to avoid it being an “eyesore”.

English said more taxpayer cash was the least-preferred option in the convention centre issue and so it was “logical” that walking away would be better option.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday all but confirmed the Government will stump up cash for the project, which was now “flasher” than originally proposed.

In the wake of English’s comments, Key today said he agreed with his finance minister’s view.

“It’s our least-preferred option to put in more money,” Key said.

“He’s confirmed that and I’d agree with him.”

‘Least preferred’ was repeated a number of times yesterday as the ‘not preferred at all’ message got through.

Belatedly a Dominion Post editorial  has slammed the handout scam in Pokies paradise a folly Nats should let go.

The SkyCity pokie deal with the Government was never a good one. Now it goes from bad to worse.

This is a shambles and it has clearly caused a schism in the Cabinet at the highest levels. Finance Minister Bill English says hitting the taxpayers for more cash is “the least preferred option”.

The deal was badly managed from the start. The tender process was not open and transparent. Cost control has been woeful. And it is truly astonishing that John Key is now suggesting that the $400m centre would be “an eyesore”. So now it seems the choice is between a “free” centre that is an eyesore or a non-eyesore costing the taxpayers as much as $100m or so.

What sort of choice is this? And why was the original deal so loose and vague that the cost could rocket and SkyCity could say that unless it got the extra money it would pull out?

They point out Steven Joyce’s folly has become his embarrassment.

The minister in charge, Steven Joyce, should also feel deeply embarrassed. He has been scathing about projects which require taxpayer subsidies, such as the proposed extension of Wellington Airport.

And an NZ Herald editorial says $402 million enough to buy us the centre we need.

If as Mr Key suggested this week, the added cost arises mainly for aesthetic reasons, SkyCity should be told not to worry. Some people are going to say the centre is an eyesore no matter how flash the building may be.

The design of the existing casino is not universally admired. A big convention centre adjoining it need not be an architectural stunner. Indeed, the artist’s impression made public by SkyCity suggests it will not be.

A $402 million centre, as agreed between the company and the Government two years ago, will do just fine

$402 million may not be enough but that’s Sky’s problem. They sold the deal at that price. They must have known that prices would rise (it was priced two years ago).

They gambled that Joyce and Key would roll over and hand out cash. They misjudged the potential reaction badly.

Key is a close follower of public opinion. He got a resounding message of opposition quickly.

An ugly convention centre now doesn’t seem so bad.

Key now seems to think the least preferred option is to be dragged down into the pokie pits this early in his third term.

The winner here is public opinion expressed strongly. It can make a difference.

(Note to opposition parties – while you did your bit on this it was genuine widespread disapproval rather than manufactured mayhem that turned the tide on this).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,579 other followers