Excellent poll coverage from NZ Herald

NZ Herald (Audrey Young) poll coverage starkly contrasts with 3 News, giving clear results with good consideration of wider things like trends and polls from other sources in Digipoll: Minor parties surge as Labour sinks lower.

Summary of results:

The full party vote results compared with last week’s:

National 50.7 (up 0.7)
Labour 24.1 (down 1.1)
Greens 11.4 (down 2.3)
NZ First 5 (up 0.7)
Maori Party 1 (up 0.3)
Internet Mana 3.4 (up 1.3)
Conservatives 3.3 (up 0.7)
Act 0.3 (down 0.3)
United Future 0.2 (down 0.2)
PREFERRED PRIME MINISTER (compared with last week)
John Key 67.8 (up 3)
David Cunliffe 11.6 (down 2.8)
Winston Peters 8.2 (up 3.1)
Russel Norman 3.8 (up 0.3)

The poll of 750 eligible voters was conducted between August 21 and 27. The Party vote is of decided voters only and 7.9 per cent were undecided compared to 12.5 per cent last week.

This contrasts in some aspects with the 3 News/Reid Research poll yesterday – National, Labour down in 3 News poll  – which shows that a single poll can’t be taken as a definitive indication of an election outcome.

National are significantly higher and rising in this poll, and Labour are 2% lower and will be worried.

NZ First and Conservatives have risen but not as much, and Internet-Mana has jumped up potentially significantly.

Hacked data good, spied data bad

Few will sympathise with the exposure of the dirty agenda of Whale Oil and Cameron Slater, but there are wider implications from the illegal hacking of data used for a doubled barreled political hit job.

If it can happen to Whale Oil it could potentially happen to any blog – or newspaper.

Didn’t David Fisher at NZ Herald write against potential breaches of privacy through spy data? He seems to be less concerned about hacked data.

Minister’s staffer took part in blog.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

In the file held by the Herald, hundreds of messages sent from people working on ministerial or government computers are linked to the servers and IP addresses from which they were posted. The file links those details with email addresses – including Mr Bryant’s.

That’s getting quite intrusive. I wonder how people on other blogs would feel if a media organisation or a private hacker or an unprincipled blogger were able to identify people who posted under pseudonyms.

Fisher refers to “people working on ministerial or government computers” – but Cameron Slater claims to have communicated much wider than that, including with Fisher and MPs and staff from other parties.

If this is correct Fisher is only highlighting selected illegal data, following Hager’s and the hackers’ target of just one party, National. Is Fisher going to out other politicians? Journalists? I highly doubt the latter.

Comparing GCSB surveillance to illegally hacked data is pertinent. Who would be worse to discover sensitive data, the GCSB, NZ Herald, Cameron Slater or an anonymous rogue political activist?

I presume we can’t rule out what happened to Whale Oil happening to other blogs. I’m very concerned about the precedent that this has set and where it could lead. I personally don’t care if people find out what I’ve been posting because it’s already in the open.

But others might be more uneasy. If they aren’t perhaps they should be.

The best advice for anonymous bloggers and commenters is to not post anything that you wouldn’t want made public by a hacker or newspaper.

The risks of trying to remain anonymous have been highlighted by this. While Whale Oil has been exposed and to some extent at least neutered (a good thing) the political blogosphere in New Zealand has been compromised.

It seems that the potential of the GCSB intercepting your data with a legal warrant is regarded as the pits, but hacking and outing is fair game in politics.

Hacked data good, legally intercepted data bad?

Multiple hackers?

David Fisher at NZ Herald implies that more than one person hacked Whale Oil in Minister’s staffer took part in blog.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

Either there was one person who hacked Whale Oil or the person who hacked has shared the information they extracted (illegally).

And Nicky Hager claims he obtained the data that he used to write ‘Dirty Politics’ after hearing a rumour.

“I heard a rumour about someone who had some stuff,” says Hager, whose books on spies have generated contacts in IT circles.

If this is correct there must be a number of people who know about the hacking and who was involved.

If Hager “heard a rumour” and was then able to track down the hacker then journalists must surely be asking questions along the same lines to track down the hacker’s identity – if media want to do that.

Perhaps media like NZ Herald are more intent on sourcing illegally obtained data and outing the identities of people communicating with bloggers than discovering or publicising who hacked.

Dissecting the data makes good stories but legitimising political hacking sets a worrying precedent. Hacking data is like burgling data – a bit like Watergate.

I wonder how the Herald and David Fisher would feel if their communications with protected sources were hacked and outed?

Fishing for Whale data could catch a snag.

John Key statement against dirty politics

From NZ Herald:

“Look, at the end of the day this reflects badly on political and media culture in New Zealand.

“I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions Hager draws, and I denounce the illegal manner in which this private correspondence was stolen.

“There is, however, no denying that it exposes something most ordinary New Zealanders would disapprove of.

“I deplore the modus operandi of Slater and his associates. I’d like to think we’re better than that.

“I’m standing down Jason Ede from his new role in the National Party office pending a review of the way the Prime Minister’s office operates.

“We all have to examine and rethink the way we do business, and I invite leaders of other parties to similarly ask these questions about their own operations.”

That is exactly what I would expect from a responsible Prime Minister. Unfortunately that ‘quote’ was preceded by:

Bafflingly, John Key has chosen not to say anything like:

I’m baffled too, and very disappointed.

Source: Toby Manhire: Amid the dirt, here’s a glossary

 

Poll hits dirt, rewards clean

There can be many reasons for poll movements but whether by coincidence or not the parties most associated by dirty smear politics have all dropped in the latest NZ Herald poll, and parties not associated with dirt have gone up, especially the Greens.

Dirty parties:

  • National 50 (down 4.9)
  • Labour 25.2 (down 1.3)
  • NZ First 4.3 (down 0.3)

Clean parties:

  • Greens 13.7 (up 3.8)
  • Conservatives 2.6 (up 1.4)
  • Maori Party 0.7 (up 0.2)
  • Act 0.6 (up 0.6)
  • United Future 0.4 (up 0.4)

Others

  • Mana-Internet 2.1 (down 0.1)
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis (down 0.1)

Having made that point poll to poll movements are not as important as trends.

Herlad poll trends Aug14

  • National’s last poll result may have been an outlier.
  • Labour continue to trend down.
  • Greens have surged but time will tell if it is temoporary or becomes a positive trend.

Herald poll trends small Aug14

  • Winston Peters has been struggling to sustain a profile in a very competitive media.
  • Conservatives will be hoping they are on the rise but 5% is a long way up from there.
  • Internet-Mana climbed initially but may be leveling off.
  • Maori, Act and United Future will be grateful for any scraps they can get.

The poll of 750 respondents was conducted between August 14 and 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. On the party vote questions 12.5 per cent were undecided.

Source: Greens spring in polls as National takes hit

NZ Herald leaning heavily towards ‘political pressure’

NZ Herald initiated the latest discussion on Kim Dotcom’s residency, releasing documents they obtained yesterday. They led this with Why our spy agency let Dotcom into New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key must explain the “political pressure” government officials were under to process Kim Dotcom’s residency application, Labour says.

Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service tried to block Kim Dotcom’s residency application but dropped their objection 90 minutes after being told there was “political pressure” to let the tycoon into New Zealand.

There is a strong implication that ‘our spy agency’ let Dotcom get residency (he was already living here off and on) due to ‘political pressure’.

The article then quotes Labour’s Grant Robertson:

Labour’s Associate Security and Intelligence Spokesperson Grant Robertson said said Mr Key needed to explain the political involvement in the application.
“John Key has two important questions to answer, who was exerting political pressure on officials and why were they doing it.

“The Dotcom affair has always had the fingerprints of National Ministers on it, John Key must finally front up to New Zealanders and explain what he and his Ministers knew and what pressure they were applying.

The article then gives details of their investigation (by David Fisher, author of a book on Dotcom) and includes a number of official documents. It goes on to reiterate ‘political pressure:

The “political pressure” claim was made in October 2010 after the SIS blocked Dotcom’s residency application when it learned of the FBI’s criminal investigation into his Megaupload empire.

Well down the article a contradiction is included:

An earlier statement from Immigration NZ – provided by the SIS – said “it appears the government interest in the success of the [business migration] policy may have been misconstrued as political pressure”.

The statement appeared to be contradictory, saying so much time had passed “it is impossible to know whether this is an accurate reflection of comments that were made” while adding “INZ can state unequivocally that there was no political pressure”.

This pattern was repeated in Dotcom: Why wasn’t I blocked? While the article leads with…

Mogul claims residency checks set aside to lure him within FBI’s reach but government denies interference.

…it quotes Dotcom and then goes on to repeat:

“…political pressure to process this case”.

Well through the article it gives another side to the story:

Immigration NZ, which denies any “political pressure”, confirmed the six-month hold for those under investigation. But an Immigration spokesman said the agency “was not aware of any active investigation under way by the FBI” – only that he was a “person of interest”.

“It was decided that the information received did not meet the threshold to trigger a deferral of the residence application because of character concerns.”

Mr Coleman yesterday denied any political pressure, saying the decision was made by Immigration officials alone.

The decision document, obtained through the Official Information Act by the Herald, contains no mention of the FBI interest in Dotcom. It was signed off by an official and approved by his branch manager.

So both the Minister and Immigration NZ deny any political pressure was involved.

But the article closes promoting ‘political pressure’ again:

Labour MP Grant Robertson said he was sceptical about Immigration NZ’s denial of political pressure.

“I’m very concerned about the idea that the SIS magically decided the hold on the case no longer mattered 90 minutes after they heard about political pressure on Immigration NZ. And the fact INZ were told to talk to police and didn’t do it really defies belief.

The Herald has a separate article Dotcom case: Minister denies pressure on Immigration NZ.

Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has denied putting pressure on Immigration New Zealand to accept Kim Dotcom’s residency application, but will not take questions on the subject.

He sent a short statement saying Immigration NZ had already issued a statement that “unequivocally that there was no political pressure regarding Mr Dotcom’s residence application”.

“The residency decision was made by Immigration New Zealand, not by me as Minister of Immigration.”

The head of Immigration was on Radio NZ late yesterday strongly denying political pressure was involved in the decision.

Stuff also cover this with Immigration boss rejects Dotcom residency claims.

The head of Immigration has rejected suggestions Kim Dotcom’s residency was approved as part of a United States move to make it easier to extradite him to face charges there.

Dotcom believes US authorities wanted to keep him here to make it easier to extradite him on internet piracy and copyright infringement charges. He has long claimed the Government was acting at the behest of the American film industry but has never offered proof.

But in an exclusive interview, Immigration chief executive Nigel Bickle said that from Immigration’s point of view he had seen no evidence of that and it was Dotcom’s advisers who had called for a fast decision in his case.

Bickle said then-immigration minister Jonathan Coleman had not been involved in the decision to grant Dotcom permanent residency, and the call was made by an official.

In 2010 the investor category Dotcom was applying under, requiring at least a $10m investment here, was a new policy. Ministers were interested in how it was going and were briefed weekly.

But in terms of Dotcom as an individual, Coleman had no involvement in the decision.

Bickle had told Coleman, under the ‘‘no surprises’’ policy, on October 28, 2010 after he had been informed Dotcom would be granted residency.

But it was not a decision that needed to go to the minister.

In an editorial today NZ Herald all the emphasis is on ‘political pressure’.

Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service tried to block Mr Dotcom’s residency application. It described him as a “bad but wealthy man” who was being investigated by the FBI for alleged copyright crimes. However, the SIS dropped its objection 90 minutes after being told there was “political pressure” to let the Megaupload mogul into New Zealand.

It does refer to Coleman.

Jonathan Coleman, the minister in 2010, denies there was political pressure. His signature was absent when residency was granted. Approval for Mr Dotcom was delegated by “special direction” to two Immigration NZ officials. But pressure comes in many forms.

There is no mention of Immigration NZ’s claim they didn’t think there was any pressure and they made the decision without the Minister being involved in the decision.

The editorial goes on:

Those damaged by the Dotcom wrecking ball can at least take comfort in the latest revelations hardly being to his advantage. More importantly, they argue persuasively that ministers should not be in a position where they can make decisions on residency or citizenship against the advice of officials. There is too great a danger of them bowing to popular opinion or acting in a manner that is not in the country’s best long-term interests.

Officials, in turn, should not be left to make such decisions. People and their circumstances vary, a feature that would be disregarded if rules had to be enforced rigidly. Additionally, officials are apt to read the political winds and anticipate their minister’s preference.

The editorial is headed Dotcom saga shows why independent judges best and closes with “An independent panel would be much more sensible” so it is obvious they have a clear preference but that doesn’t excuse slanting their coverage so much towards the claims of ‘political pressure’ while downplaying or omitting claims to the contrary.

 

 

New York Times editorial: Maybe One Less Union Jack

New York Times editorial Friday 21 March:

Maybe One Less Union Jack

Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand wants to get rid of his country’s flag. Earlier this month, he promised a national referendum in which citizens would choose a new flag design to replace the current one, a blue ensign with Britain’s Union Jack in the upper left corner and four stars of the Southern Cross, which has flown over New Zealand for more than a century.

That flag proclaims New Zealand as a South Pacific outpost of the British Empire, which is precisely why Mr. Key wants to abandon it. He thinks it shackles his country to its colonial past and is unrepresentative of the racial and cultural diversity of 21st-century New Zealand. (The nation’s biggest city, Auckland, is more diverse than London or Sydney.) Those on Mr. Key’s side argue, too, that their flag is nondescript and derivative; it looks very much like Australia’s flag, for which it is often mistaken. The New Zealand Herald recently published a graphic of 30 flags from around the world based on the British flag, writing: “Somewhere in here is the N.Z. flag, lost in a sea of blue and Union Jacks.”

Mr. Key favors a simpler design — a silver fern on a black background — used by New Zealand’s national sports teams, including its famed rugby squad, the All Blacks. A poll published Wednesday by The Herald found a slim majority in favor of keeping the current flag, but among the 40 percent who wanted to change it, most preferred the fern.

While some critics are dubious about using a sports symbol — arguing that a country needs a flag, not a logo — The Herald was on the mark when it urged Mr. Key in an editorial to go bold and not leave momentous aesthetic decisions in the hands of a committee of politicians. “The selection of a design to be put before the public should not made by senior ministers,” the editorial said. “It should be entrusted to a panel of vexillologists, artists and designers.” That makes sense. For practitioners of vexillology — the study of flags — an opportunity like this does not come often, and they are surely eager to make the most of it.

NZ Herald refers to this: Flag change gains international support

NZ Herald editorial: Key needs to be bolder on flag change

Dotcom’s gagging order

Kim Dotcom has been granted an interim injunction to stop former security guard Wayne Tempero revealing anything about any of Dotcom’s (or his wife’s) business,  personal, musical or political details.

Court gags Dotcom bodyguard

Dotcom made a successful application for an interim injunction against Wayne Tempero in the High Court at Auckland yesterday. The action came soon after the Herald reported that Tempero was set to release “secret revelations” about Dotcom’s “mindset and megalomania”.

Tempero resigned from Dotcom’s staff in October.

Yesterday Justice Sarah Katz granted an interim injunction and ordered that Mr Tempero – and anyone else on his behalf – was “restrained from using or disclosing to any person, firm, corporation or entity, any confidential or trade information acquired whilst working for Kim Dotcom”.

The information included, but was not limited to, any information acquired by Mr Tempero “about Kim Dotcom, his role with Kim Dotcom, any information to do with providing services to Kim Dotcom and any other information whatsoever concerning Kim Dotcom, his businesses, his political party, his music, his family and friends, and all images of Kim Dotcom, his family and friends at any time”.

The order also prohibits Mr Tempero from disclosing computer software.

Mr Tempero was also ordered not to disclose any information about Dotcom’s wife Mona’s business or his other companies including Megaupload and Megastuff.

Peterwn at Whale Oil:

The judge probably adopted the lawyer’s draft order ‘as is’. The wording would cover his employees or anyone acting on his behalf. It would only cover Cam if Kim can show on the balance of probabilities that he was acting on Mr Tempero’s behalf – this would be an issue that Cam would need to consider but his sources go far wider than this.

I am surprised that Mr Tempero would do anything but have the utmost respect for his clients and ex-clients and keep things ‘in confidence’. His future engagements depend on it. I cannot believe he is disclosing such confidential information, seems to me Kim suspects he has, hence the injunction. The only other explanation is Kim is foul-mouthing him around the place and Mr Tempero feels a need to fight back to maintain his professional reputation.

Cam Slater responds:

Kim Dotcom already broke the confidentiality agreement when he spoke to Rachel Glucina about Temperos pay and conditions…game over after that.

This seems to relate to this from Rachel Glucina in NZ Herald last month (February 26):

Now it’s the Dotcom tapeKim Dotcom has been taped talking to an unpaid former staff member, The Diary has learned. It’s understood a news organisation is in discussions to air it. Dotcom is allegedly trying to stop it by enforcing non-disclosure agreements.

Dotcom came under fire last week from Kiwi small business owners who are owed as much as $500,000 in unpaid bills. A lack of funds was also blamed for longtime bodyguard Wayne Tempero’s exit.

The Megaupload founder told The Diary he could afford to pay his minder only half of what he was getting two years ago.Dotcom, who continues to embrace an opulent lifestyle, has pledged to pay his debts when he has the money. But when? Who knows? Yesterday he told The Diary he did not want to talk about the tape.

Gagging orders are risky. They tend to get journalists more interested in issues and more determined to dig.

Whale Oil is promising to reveal much more. NZ Herald obviously has information too. And media interest is likely to be stoked up by this gagging order.

Was the Herald poll an outlier?

There have been suggestions that NZ Herald/Digipoll poll was an ‘outlier’ with Labour on a low 29.5%.

750 people were polled with a margin of error of 3.5% at 95% confidence – that means there’s a 1 in 20 chance of a poll result being outside the margin of error.

But the last four polls have been quite consistent with an average for Labour of 31.5% with the most recent polls lower. And the combined Labour+Green results have been in a tight range from 41% to 42.6%.

David Cunliffe gave mixed messages, as reported in NZ Herald in Cunliffe on poll result: ‘We’ve got more work to do’.

Mr Cunliffe said the poll, which had Labour slipping below the 30 per cent mark, showed “we’ve got more work to do”.

Referring to questions around his use of a trust to receive donations to support his leadership campaign last year, Mr Cunliffe said: “We expected to take a hit, we did and now we’re moving on”.

He accepts that Labour would ‘take a hit’ and they have work to do.

Mr Cunliffe also expressed some doubt over the accuracy of the poll.

“Our internal polls show us unmoved in the mid- 30s.”

Politicians always hope poor poll results are inaccurate. But Cunliffe’s claim that their internal polls are ‘unmoved’ mean nothing without proof to back up his claim. And other polls suggest otherwise.

  • Herald/Digipoll (March 6-16): Labour 29.5%
  • Roy Morgan (Feb 17-Mar 2): Labour Party 30.5%
  • One News/Colmar Brunton (Feb 15-19): Labour 34%
  • Fairfax/IPSOS (Feb 8-10): Labour 31.8%

The Colmar and IPSOS polling periods were before Cunliffe’s ‘horror week’, and the average of the last four polls is still only 31.45%.

It’s generally accepted that Labour will need Greens to form a government. Their combined results:

  • Herald/Digipoll: Labour+Green 42.6%
  • Roy Morgan: Labour+Green 41%
  • One News/Colmar Brunton: Labour-Green 42%
  • Fairfax/IPSOS: Labour+Green 41.8%

There’s been some movement between Labour and Greens but the combined totals don’t suggest the current poll is an outlier.

Cunliffe was right about one thing. He and Labour have “got more work to do”.

UPDATE: David Cunliffe has just spoken on Firstline. He said the Herald poll recorded one point in time two weeks ago and since then an internal poll of a similar size had Labour on 34%.

There’s no reason to doubt Cunliffe’s claim but it isn’t as simple as a 4.5% rise.

The Herald  polling period was 6-16 March so it doesn’t reflect just one point in time two weeks ago, they polled up to Sunday (three days ago).

Taking margins of sample error into account the results overlap.

  • Cunliffe’s poll 34%, margin of error 3.4%, range 30.6-37.4
  • Herald poll 29.5%, margin of error 3.3%, range 26.2-32.8

And Cunliffe didn’t say what the Greens were in the poll, nor what National were.

Cunliffe preferred less in Auckland and by women

Labour has a major problem. David Cunliffe has an even bigger problem, especially in Auckland and with women.

Labour has struggled (and failed) to recover and rebuild since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen departed after their 2008 election loss.

Phil Goff failed to inspire, the David Shearer experiment at first seemed possibly inspired but turned out to be deluded, and after an initial surge David Cunliffe is failing to impress. The latest Herald/Digipoll has Cunliffe polling lower than Shearer ever was in ‘preferred PM’.

Party poll results for Labour (compared to December 2013):

  • Total 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Male 27.2% (down 5.5)
  • Female 31.5% (down 6.6)
  • Auckland 26.7% (down 9.9)
  • Rest of NZ 31% (down 3.7)

Labour usually gets more female support but that is coming down significantly. They should be particularly worried about their crash in support in Auckland.

Preferred PM for Cunliffe:

  • Total 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Male 12.3% (down 5.3)
  • Female 10.1% (down 4.8)

Female support for Labour is higher than male support (31.5 to 26.7), but rate Cunliffe lower as preferred PM than males (10.1 to 12.3).

In comparison ‘preferred PM’ for John Key:

  • Total 66.5% (up 4.7)
  • Male 70.4% (up 8.5)
  • Female 62.7% (down 0.1)

Key is significantly more preferred by male than female but he gets well over National levels of support from both genders.

Comprehensive poll results including regional and gender breakdowns at NZ Herald – National, Greens up, Labour at new low.

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