Ethical Mallardy for Shearer

Trevor Mallard has questioned the ethics of other MPs a number of times. For example:

TREVOR Well, I think we’ve got a possum in the headlights in John Banks, and we’ve got a contagion on the side of John Key. The longer John Key keeps Banks there, the worse Key looks. And I think in politics, that’s successful. As a parliamentarian, I hate it. Guys who are acting like Banks, who can’t remember, who’s before the police on a serious electoral-fraud charge, someone whose ethics are questionable, someone who lied to the media, just shouldn’t be in Parliament.

(PAUL HOLMES INTERVIEWS TREVOR MALLARD Sunday, 6 May, 2012 )

Mallard has been accusing MPs of various misdeameamours recently, including Judith Collins, John Banks and John Key. Yesterday he publicised and released National party documents. He claims:

Every now and again infighting gets so bad in the Nats that some gems are delivered to me. In this case it is a set of their Board and Board committee minutes.

The contents of these documents appear to mainly trivial (to the public) and are quite dated – March 2011 (EDIT the hading shows 2012, the footers 2011) – although they are presented now as a major revelation, as illustrated by what could be a proxy post by Mallard at The Standard:

Nat Civil War: ceasefire breached

Written By: – Date published: 6:35 am, May 9th, 2012

Well, that didn’t take long. A couple of weeks of quiet (probably thanks to some good polls more than anything) and, now, the National Party Civil War has re-erupted as the Collins and Joyce factions fight over the post-Key future. The leaking of National Party board minutes shows how serious the fighting is and reveals strong opposition to Slater/Lusk’s tactics.

This post claims:

It seems someone has leaked National Party board minutes. There can hardly be a greater breach of the party’s security than having that information in the public eye, except for the leaking of the emails of the leader himself.

The leaking itself highlights the level of factional infighting in National, as do the contents.

Apart from them being historical documents being used to suggest current problems (in typical overdone Standard fashion) there are now reports they could be stolen stolen and not leaked:

Secret Nats documents may have been stolen (TV3)

It’s possible the documents were handed to Mallard giving him no indication of how they were obtained. But it will have been obvious to him that they were confidential, they were very clealry marked with:

CONFIDENTIAL. TO BOARD MEMBERS ONLY. NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED.

Back to ethics. How ethical is it to keep those documents? And to use them in a carefully planned and orchestrated publicity attempt  – I knew this release was imminent over a month ago.

That in itself is highly questionable ethics for anyone, let alone a senior MP.

But it is not just one MP acting alone. Mallard has obviously been involving other’s from Labour in this – including Greg Presland, Chair of the Labour Party’s Auckland-Northland Regional Council, who joins in with:

 Has Banks been training Key how to answer questions about Simon Lusk?

And I also question how ethical it is for the Labour MP run blog Red Alert to have stored on it and made available for public viewing confidential documents obviously belonging to another party.

Hypocrisy is another word that comes to mind – an MP questioning others about their ethics is involved in highly questionable ethics, and also involving the Labour Party directly while doing this.

Important questions for David Shearer:

  1. Is it appropriate for a senior Labour MP to be involved in dealing with leaked and possibly stolen documents?
  2. Isn it appropriate for a Labour MP run website to store and make available to the public documents clealry confidential, clearly belonging to another party, and possible stolen?
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3 Comments

  1. We have had the odd guest post from MP’s in the past, or repeated something that they wrote under The Standard banner. But MP’s have their own blogs. They range from the mundane like frog blog and red alert, to the pathetic like the national MP’s imitation of Farrars holiday snap posts, to the nonexistent like united future.

    Eddie isn’t Mallard. We don’t and have never allowed MP’s to post under psuedonyms

    Most of the material in Eddie’s post apart from the National parties board memos had come through our email account over the last couple of weeks. I’ve seen it but haven’t had any time to do much with it. Most of the material I have seen appears to have been freely offered by people who are clearly inside the National cordon.

    I am aware that you are quite ignorant about legal issues, but somehow I think that being given information by people won’t make the police lay charges of theft. Anyone who suggest it is a complete fool. But you are in good company – I see that Farrar is also confusing lousy security in a factional fight wih some kind of mythic laws…

    Reply
  2. “Most of the material I have seen appears to have been freely offered by people who are clearly inside the National cordon. ”

    How do you know that? Stating that suggests you know who it came from. Trevor Mallard claims to have no idea where they came from.

    “Mr Mallard said he received the minutes by fax and they were also posted to him in a brown envelope. He did not know the source.”

    I notice you don’t address the issue of the political ethics of a Labour MP website storing and distributing someone elses confidential papers.

    BTW, United Future does have a blog, not very busy in comments but with two blog posts so far this month it’s active.
    http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/post-act/

    Reply
  3. There isn’t an issue with the ethics except in the mind of those more concerned with political point scoring than political issues. Politics and news are about dispersing information. At best National can claim copyright as a property right. It is easily outweighed by issues of public interest. I guess that is why you proclaim it as an ‘ethical’ issue – because there is bugger all else that you can cling to and ‘ethics’ are so easy to make mythic laws up about according to need.

    I was referring to the material that I have seen via email. It has traces that you can infer information from. But people trust us to not release information about them. There is a big section in our policy about it.

    Doing the old tech like faxes and mail is a whole lot more anonymous.

    Nice to know that even my current pathetic posting profile is better than at least one political party. But at least I know that the project for work is due for completion, and my authoring of posts will only increase throughout this year.

    Reply

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