Key has apologised to Slater

John Key has apologised to Cameron Slater for releasing a personal email. Stuff reports John Key says sorry to Whale Oil.

The prime minister has apologised to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater over the release of an email that forced Justice Minister Judith Collins’ resignation.

An email from Slater, obtained and released by Key, implicated Collins in the smear against her own official, saying she had been “gunning” for SFO director Adam Feeley.

Collins resigned, insisting she would clear her name. Key called an inquiry. Slater countered by lodging a privacy complaint against the prime minister for disclosing a personal email.

The email indicated Feeley may have been the target of a campaign to undermine him involving two bloggers, Cathy Odgers and Slater, and seemingly endorsed by Collins.

Justice Lester Chisholm is due to present his report to the prime minister this week. It is likely to clear Collins of any illegal actions. However, the bloggers may be the subject of criticism.

Despite this, Key has been forced to say sorry to Slater and Key’s office has confirmed: “The Prime Minister recently wrote to Mr Slater to apologise.”

But he stood by his actions. “The Prime Minister believes, however, it was in the public interest to release the email in question publicly,” a spokeswoman said.

The Prime Minister’s Office said it would not release the letter as it related to a privacy issue, but it was up to Slater to decide if he wished to make it public.

Slater yesterday agreed to issue a copy of the letter.

In it, Key says there was “intense media and public interest in matters concerning you and Judith Collins, following the publication of the book Dirty Politics”, creating an “election issue”.

Slater’s email raised serious questions about Collins’ conduct, he says. “In my view the reasons for Ms Collins’ resignation were of real and legitimate public concern, and it was in the public interest that the fullest possible factual background be available.”

But Key acknowledges the release of the email provoked increased media scrutiny of Slater and his family. “I regret any harm that may have been caused to you or your family by the release of the email, and hope that this letter may help to bring this matter to a close.”

The report from an inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against the boss of the Serious Fraud Office is due out soon (by Friday 28th).

Neither Collins nor the bloggers were willing to comment before the report was released.

That’s understandable.

Collins and Slater appear to have lied about Facebook

On Monday Judith Collins and Cameron Slater denied having any Facebook communications and suggested they could have been forgeries.

@JudithCollinsMP

I have no record of any FB conversations with Whaleoil. Cam Slater has advised that he had no FB conversations with me. Forgeries?

@Whaleoil

Latest smear is false, I have never had FB conversations with @judithcollinsmp. Hackers break the law, media ignoring crime

However @Whaledump has tweeted and dumped:

.@JudithCollinsMP and @WhaleOil think there’s no evidence because they deleted the account that JC was using.

The content of the messages identify them as @JudithCollinsMP’s, clear as day.
http://pastebin.com/URchZJyJ

This includes:

————————-
July 31, 2011
————————-
Facebook User, 7/31, 2:44am

Yes, saw it! She will too as will the others. AB was helping young Nats distribute my Collins Courier newspaper yesterday. I was surprised.
————————-
Cameron Slater, 7/31, 2:45am

as am i

maybe he is looking for some young blood

This is a strong suggestion Collins and Slater may have lied about not using Facebook.

That would make the hole Collins is in even deeper.

Slater’s long game as good as pig shit

Cameron Slater has often claimed to be playing a ‘long game’, as he stated in a recent blog post: “You people know I play a long game.”

His ball is now seen as toxic and many people will have been rapidly re-assessing their willingness to play with him in the future.

His short game is in tatters with his friend Judith Collins’ career teetering on the edge of a cliff largely of Slater’s making. And National’s election chances have been severely dented, as noted by ‘Mark’ on Kiwiblog:

Key and the National leadership have very little time to try to get the election agenda back onto policy issues. The concept of a Labour/Greens coalition ruining the country is an awful prospect but thanks to Collins apparent indiscretions what looked highly unlikely is now becoming a very real threat

Despite Labour’s awful second term and Cunliffe’s inherent lack of popularity Collins and Slater may have achieved a defeat for National.

Also thanks to Slater Collins’ long game appears to be in tatters. She may be able to recover to Minister level but I doubt Key would giver her that back if National cling on. But Collins must have slipped down the National pecking order significantly, and any leadership ambitions must be burnt toast.

And Slater is toxic damaged goods. His revenue options must have been severely affected. And who in politics with serious ambitions would want to be seen to be associated with him. Apart from Collins the other MPs assisted by Slater and Lusk are remaining very quiet on any links. If they have any ambition or sense they will have cut their mentors off altogether.

When you keep abusing and kicking the referee, all the players of the other team and many players of your own team once the ball has burst as it has done future game prospects must be severely limited.

In a recent blog post Key’s not my guy either Slater wrote:

As Key knows, he’s not my guy either.

He also repeated something he often says:

You wrestle with pigs, two things are certain. You get dirty, and the pig likes it.

But sooner or later the number of people willing to go near or be associated with the sty will dry up.

On Q & A two weeks ago Slater seemed to suggest he was bigger than the current Prime Minister.

Susan Wood: You must realise now that from the Prime Minister’s perspective you’d be pretty toxic. He’ll be wanting to keep away from you to distance himself. Surely he will be doing that won’t he, and you’ll find yourself out in the cold?

Cameron Slater: It’s of no concern to me. Prime Ministers come, Prime Ministers go. You know in my lifetime I’ve met and dealt with almost every Prime Minister from Robert Muldoon till the present day. Long after John Key has disappeared from the political scene I’ll still be involved.

(Video)

What future Prime Minister or prospective party leader or Prime Minister would want to be associated with the dirty politics of Slater?

Slater has always been and remains unrepentant about his methods, but they must surely be consigned to a less than savoury part of our political history.

He may well be still involved in the political scene after Key has departed but his ambitions of being a major player must be as diminished as his credibility.

Bloggers come, bloggers go.

And hopefully the Slater style of dirty politics is as good as gone. It’s not the long game most people want in a decent modern democracy.

Slater may see his future as wrestling in mud but his long game is as good as pig shit.

Collins career dying by Slater’s sword

Cameron Slater has been slashing his way through politics and business on social media for years. Judith Collins has been and remains closely associated with Slater. She has ,lived by his sword, her political career is dying by his sword.

Collins resigned as a minister yesterday over yet another released email. Slater claims…

…he had embellished Ms Collins’ role in an email he had written, in which he stated that Ms Collins was “gunning for” former SFO head Adam Feeley in 2011.

Today Mr Slater said he was simply “talking up a big game”.

He said he was not lying when he used the term “gunning for”.

“Embellished is a good word. It’s better than a lie, isn’t it? … If Judith Collins was gunning for somebody, she’d have got them.

“I’ve not proved the downfall for my good mate’s career. A criminal hacker mounting a political conspiracy to subvert our democracy and undermine our election has done that, and the media and all of you are complicit.”

(NZ Herald: Blogger backs mate)

Despite his Slater has proved to be Collins downfall. Blowhard or not, his dirty campaigns and his continued bragging that dirty is good have severely damaged Collins, and it looks like there’s more serious dirt to emerge.

With mates like Slater who needs enemies?

Collins says she will still stand in Papakura and wants to remain an MP.

If she remains mates with Slater that’s the best she can hope for in her political career now. Slater is toxic, and remaining closely alongside that Collins is toxic.

There are other National MPs and candidates who are associated with the Slater/Lusk “long game”. They seem to be keeping their heads down hoping they won’t also be tainted. They already are bloodied by Slater’s sword.

If they don’t distance themselves their hopes of a big political future will die by his sword as well.

UPDATE: And just as I’ve posted this the Sund Star Times has posted this:

The real reason behind Judith Collins’ demise
Justice Minister Judith Collins’ resignation was sparked by a Sunday Star-Times investigation into a smear campaign by bloggers apparently backed by controversial financier Mark Hotchin.

The newspaper was passed hacked emails that appear to show Hotchin secretly paid bloggers Cameron Slater and Cathy Odgers to write attack posts undermining the Serious Fraud Office, its director Adam Feeley, and the Financial Markets Authority, who were probing his collapsed Hanover Finance in 2011 and 2012.

And…

All the financier’s men
Threatened by litigation, his business in tatters, former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin appeared to back a public relations campaign aiming to discredit criminal investigations into his company and attack personal enemies, documents suggest.

The picture is painted by a cache of emails and documents hacked from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater and released to Fairfax Media.

That’s a major investigation by Matt Nippert. More in the print version of Sunday Star Times.

Peters admits he wouldn’t protect his source

In a bizarre series of interviews today Winston Peters has morphed from an absolute protector of his supposed source to saying he would produce them as witnesses if his challenge to Judith Collins to sue him was taken up.

On Radio NZ:

I’m trying to find out exactly what what happened, so what day did it happen on and what time of day?

Winston Peters: Oh look, I’m not going to answer a silly question like that, it did happen I can assure you of that, but I’m not going to finger people who thought they were having a confidential conversation. It’s that simple.

Did you agree to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone.

But did they ask you to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: No it was clear as daylight that they wanted it to be confidential.

With Sean Plunket on RadioLive:

Was it Simon Lusk that approached you?

Winston Peters: I can tell you that I do not intend to break any confidence on these matters.

I’m going to ask you direct, was it Simon Lusk?

Winston Peters: I’ll say it again, I’ll answer you direct, I do not intend to break confidence on these matters.

I’m going to put myself out on a limb here Mr Peters. Would you be prepared to privately give me that name on the grounds that I would not disclose it?

Winston Peters: Um well I’ve done that once before with you and you’ve kept your word, but the answer’s no because I’d be breaching confidentiality with someone else and I’m not going to do that and I’ve never done that in a long career.

So he would absolutely honourably not breach confidence.

Ok you do understand that in the absence of further information you know and I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but you know if I was Woodward and Bernstein for example I probably wouldn’t run this.

Winston Peters:Oh no no if I was Woodward and Bernstein I would take that information and work on it and sooner or later you’re going to strike pay dirt with others knowing about it, that’s what Woodward and Bernstein did in their case, they just followed the money as they were told by Deep Throat to do. In this case you follow the power.

But he’s happy encourage journalists to find out who his source is based on what he’s fed them, and that they previously knew nothing about.

On that basis I wouldn’t trust Peters to keep something confidential.  He would do enough to see that confidentiality was breached but try to avoid responsibility for discovery even though that was his intent in going public.

Later on 3 News:

Winston Peters is challenging Judith Collins to sue him for defamation over his claims she plotted against the Prime Minister.

Winston Peters: I bet she won’t, because then I will produce the witnesses.

So these sources that “I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone” would be produced and revealed after he promoted investigation of the story and if Collins sued him after he pushed her into doing so.

Trust Winston Peters?

John Key’s choice – Collins or Peters

After the latest revelation (or publicity seeking stunt) from Winston Peters – see Peters slams dirty politics, then gets dirty - I think John Key has two clear choices.

If Peters can prove (don’t hold your breath) that Judith Collins has totally flipped and tried something this ludicrous then Key should dump Collins.

If Peters can’t prove this was anything more than a casual hypothetical quip loosely related to Collins then Key should make it clear who won’t do any deals with Peters after the election.

If Key doesn’t act then whoever is at fault here will get away with doing something disgraceful.

 

Collins staunch with Slater

Judith Collins has reiterated her friendship with Cameron Slater and won’t condemn his “dirty politics”. Radio NZ reports:

Judith Collins digs in over Dirty Politics

Justice Minister Judith Collins is defending her friendship with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater, saying she supports her friends no matter what.

She has admitted emailing details about public servant Simon Pleasants, including his personal phone number, to Mr Slater in 2009.

Mr Pleasants was subsequently abused on Mr Slater’s Whale Oil blog and also received death threats.

…she told Radio New Zealand she did not condone the death threats.

She would not say whether she approved of Mr Slater’s post.

Ms Collins refused to be drawn on whether she had effectively facilitated cyber-bullying by passing on Mr Pleasants’ details.

Obviously she couldn’t condone death threats but by not condemning how the information she supplied was used she appears to remain complicit.

Friendship defended

Ms Collins last night also defended her friendship with Mr Slater.

“Just because he is a friend of mine – as by the way are many hundreds of other people – does not mean to say that I condone everything that anybody who is a friend of mine does,” she said.

“That is the nature of friendship. You put up with your friends no matter what if you’re a loyal friend. And I’m a very loyal person.”

Loyalty to friends can be important but by refusing to distance herself from Slater’s behaviour she remains severely tainted by association with his dirty politics. Slater is now politically toxic.

Mark Mitchell, National MP for Rodney, is distancing himself, denying he paid Slater for assistance in his successful candidacy bid in 2011. See Conflicting claims over National’s Rodney selection.

Collin’s political career looks like being on life support so she may feel she has nothing more to lose by being seen to be remaining closely associated to Slater. That’s her call.

Slater often talks about one of his ‘rules’ – if you wrestle with pigs you’ll get dirty and the pig will enjoy it. Slater obviously enjoys getting dirty.

Collins has chosen to remain closely associated with this.

It’s a shame that Collins has been and remains tainted. By many accounts she has generally been a more than competent Minister of Justice.

In my own limited experience with Collins she has been approachable and helpful – earlier this year I asked for some information and she arranged for it to be provided – no OIA involved. Few ministers respond to requests like this.

But she has done a number of unwise things. The latest to be highlighted, and her continued loyalty to a friend who likes playing dirty means mud remains stuck to Collins as well.

She should hold her electorate easily as she got a close to 10,000 majority in Papakura last election.

She is currently Minsister of Justice, ACC and Ethnic Affairs and is National’s fifth ranked Minister, and is number 6 on their party list for this election. But it is predicted that if National retain power John Key will have to reduce her position and responsibilities.

It could be very awkward for National to have someone closely associated with Slater making the final decision (as Minister of Justice) on Kim Dotcom’s extradition – Slater has been waging a bitter public battle against Dotcom.

Collins is on a last last chance with Key and by continuing to remain staunch with Slater she may well be seen as a high risk and a liability, especially for a third term government.

If Collins lasts until and survives the election we’ll see then how she fares. And from then through the term whether her remaining staunch with Slater drags her (and National) down further.

Sticking by friends is laudable, but sticking by mud may tank her political career.

Hoax Collins resignation

Duncan Garner at Radio Live has posted what appears to be a hoax resignation letter from Judith Collins. Colins has tweeted:

Screen shots:

Collins resignation hoax

cc

Collins hoax resignation letter

 RadioLive has now updated the headline: Judith Collins resignation, written by Duncan Garner

Collins resignation hoax new headline

 Very poorly done by Garner and by RadioLive.

It’s called satire, Judith. Not dirt.

Very borderline.

Reactions on Green abortion policy

David Cunliffe’s not commenting on the Greens’ abortion policy, leaving it to Labour members. Judith Collins says current system works well.

Not surprising to see Cunliffe avoiding committing to anything on it.

The current system may “work well” but it’s a shameful sham. I doubt National as a party would support this, and if dealt with as a conscience issue there may be only minority support.

During last  yr’s leadership race, said abortion law needs urgent review, should go to Law Comm. Does he still think that?

Here’s a reference to that from Young Labour.

Do you believe that abortion should be decriminalised?

Cunliffe:  I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected.  The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent.  The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.

Robertson:  All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health.  That is an absolute non negotiable.  In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.

 

Joyce wrong on Collins poll

On Q&A yesterday Steven Joyce made a questionable claim in relation to a Colmar poll about the possible influence of Judith Collins on voting intentions.

Politicians are frequently poor interpreters of poll results. Many journalists are poor at reporting polls too, due to ignorance or due to the pressures of making an interesting or headline grabbing story out of a few numbers. Politicians may also be ignorant of poll interpretation, or they may be deliberately misrepresenting polls to try and score political points.

Joyce is usually very well informed about issues he has prepared for. He may have been taking advantage of interviewer and public ignorance of polls, unless he just got it wrong.

The Q&A Colmar questions and results were:

Do you personally think Judith Collins should remain a minister?

  • Yes 42%
  • No 42%
  • Don’t know 17%

Do you think her behaviour has been damaging to National’s level of public support, or do you think it will make no difference?

  • Yes, it has been damaging 50%
  • No it won’t make a difference 42%
  • Don’t know 9%

On balance, how well do you think Prime Minister John Key has handled issues with Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson? Would you say…

  • Well 46% (very well 11%, quite well 35%)
  • Not well 42% (not that well 29%, not at all well 18%)
  • Don’t know 11%

Which of these statements best describes how these issues will influence your vote in the upcoming election?

  • These issues will be a factor in your decision 23%
  • These issues will not have much influence 75%

(Sample size 500 eligible voters. The maximum sampling error is approximately ±4.4%-points at the 95% confidence level.)

Discussing the poll on Q&A Joyce said:

It’s the Labour-Greens voters that say, ironically, it would change their vote. I’m not sure where they would change them to.

Colmar pollster Andrew Robertson has commented on this.

Mr Joyce had clearly seen the report because he cited results that were in the body of it – results that had not yet been discussed by the Q+A panel.

Unfortunately, Mr Joyce either misread or misunderstood the results.

The question did not ask eligible voters if they’d change their vote. It asked whether these issues would be a factor in their voting decision. That’s a very different question. One is fairly blunt, and would need to be understood in the context what party people have changed their vote from and to. The other allows people to consider how important these issues are in relation to others.

When asked if these issues would be a factor in their own voting decision, most say the issues won’t have much influence.

Note that the question did not ask people if they would change their vote, it asked whether these issues would be one of the issues they would consider in their decision. There are many other issues, of course, such as education, jobs, housing, child poverty, crime, and the list goes on.

So Joyce was wrong. The poll didn’t ask anything about changing vote. And even if it caused a Labour voter to switch their party vote it could be to Greens, NZ First, Mana, Internet Party.

Or it could make it more likely they will vote, or more likely they won’t vote. These possibilities can all affect the outcome of an election.

The detailed report shows a breakdown of National and Labour & Green supporters.

Colmar Collins poll

In an election where a 2-3% swing could easily decide the outcome 23% of eligible voters is a significant number.

Even 8% of National Party supporters is notable. Analysis of the last election has shown that a significant number of potential National voters decided not to vote, which is a possible explanation for the drop-off in support for them from pre-election polls compared to the election itself.

If an issue like Collins/Oravida caused some national leaning voters to not vote or to switch to NZ First or Labour, and it encouraged more people to get out and vote, for Labour or Green or Mana or Internet Party or NZ First, it could have a major effect on the outcome.

What polling can’t do know is measure how much of an influence the Collins/Oravida issue will have in four months time.

The economy is expected to be a major decider, and associated with this jobs and perceptions of poverty.

Leaders’ personalities can also influence voters, and many people take little notice of politics until the campaign proper begins – this will be in August.

And the last election showed that a late and seemingly trivial issue can have a major effect. The Key/Banks cup of tea reshuffled a lot of tea leaves.

Colins/Oravida will have had some effect on an accumulation of voter perceptions but it’s impossible to tell whether it would decide the election.

It should be noted that there may be more yet to happen with Collins. She has obviously been under pressure and has acted irrationally. She could yet cause more problems for National, even to the extent of resigning.

Steven Joyce may have been trying to deflect from this.

For more details and discussions on this:

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