Bishop, Snapchat and Dirty Politics

The story about Chris Bishop’s brief use of Snapchat was known about and ignored by media before the election.

Several months later, it has now become a dirty politics style smear after the story surfaced at Stuff:  National MP confronted about his social media messages to teenagers

National’s Hutt South MP Chris Bishop was confronted before last year’s election by a mother upset at the older man messaging her daughter and other minors.

Witnesses said Bishop was taken aside and asked to stop what he was doing.

“I wanted to confront him as many parents felt very uncomfortable that their children were messaged,” said a mother who wanted to remain anonymous.

“He admitted it straight away and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.”

Another mother, whose 13-year-old daughter was allegedly in daily contact with Bishop for a week or two on Snapchat, took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

The mother, who also wanted to remain anonymous, allegedly wrote to MP Paul Goldsmith to complain about Bishop’s behaviour.

None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided.

Note: “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided”. In other words, this was a non-story.

But it has become a dirty politics story, with claims that it was an internal National Party hit job, and counter claims that it was a diversionary hit from Labour.

When David Farrar posted about it at Kiwiblog as Anonymous innuendo – some will see some irony in his comment “Disappointed Fairfax has run a story like this, with anonymous sources” – Matthew Hooton both played down what Bishop had done, but blamed National party insiders:

I guess the problem with Snapchat is the lack of a record. But I have no doubt the exchanges were as anodyne as when MPs usually communicate with school kids who contact them. This is a hit job, presumably by people associated with Bill English against one of the new MPs seeking generational change.

Note ‘presumably’ – in other words, no evidence. And:

This is the sort of thing that happens when National has a subterranean internal war. People just forget, because it’s been more than 10 years since the last one. But Labour also on the suspect list, of course. But, if it was them, I think they would have dropped it during the election campaign.

Plus speculation that it could have been Labour.

Cameron Slater went further – much further, delving into extreme dirty politics with carefully worded (arse-covering) insinuations. I won’t repeat the dirt, but Slater claimed:

Yesterday there was a hit job on National MP Chris Bishop.

When someone commented ” I am also upset to see comments from some that they think it came from Bill English” Slater replied “Because it did. Join the dots.”

I’ll join some dots – Slater has no evidence, Slater has a long standing grudge against Bill English, Slater has attacked Bishop before, and Slater’s word is wothr bugger all, he has a reputation of being wrong and making up malicious shit. He repeats:

“Not the left. Internal Nat hit job.”

“My information suggests it was a Blue on Blue hit job.”

Note ‘suggests’. No evidence at all.

But Bill does, to protect himself. As Sally points out, if Labour had this they would have dropped it the week before the election. This is patch protection from National party players.

That sounds like nothing more than speculation laced with a long standing grudge.

Why the hell would National, who spent last week playing down leadership speculation and papering over any internakl division, do a dirty on a popular MP?

And Slater’s ‘Dirty Politics’ partner Farrar is notably in disagreement (or spinning a different line): HDPA on the Bishop smear story

Real dirty politics, but I predict no book written about this.

Labour just hate the fact Chris Bishop worked so hard that he won Hutt South off them, so this is what they stoop to.

Farrar referred to Heather du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB (about 11:30):

Why is this a story now? Because it’s a Labour Party hit job. That’s what I think.

I’ll be honest. I knew about this before the election. I knew there were messages about this. Guess how I found out? From the Labour Party. The Labour Party knew about this. So the only reason it has been delayed is probably because the parents would finally talk about it.

The Labour Party has probably been working on the parents to try and get them to talk to the media. So this in my opinion is a Labour Party hit job. And I think it’s actually disgusting to be honest.

And HPDA’s partner follows a similar line – Barry Soper’s The Soap Box: Vilification of Chris Bishop is sick

The vilification of Bishop is sick, mainly by those with warped minds, and is obviously politically motivated, curiously coming at a time when Labour was on the ropes over its unfathomable closure of charter schools!

Also no evidence that Labour was behind the stuff story. But this deserves more investigation, whether National or Labour are behind the attack smear.

This is dirty, and I think alarmingly so. Disregarding the Slater sleaze, the insinuations against Bishop, even though the original story said “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions”, are dirty politics at it’s worst.

Whale shit

Bigger than bull at Whale Oil.

The campaign against Golriz Ghahraman is still rambling on at WO. Yesterday was quieter, with ‘just’ a lame cartoon plus another dirty Photoshop posted by Juana Atkins.

But they are back at it with two posts already today, with some Whale sized shit from Slater.

With all of the revelations we’ve seen about Golriz Ghahraman over the last week, I had expected the story to be picked up by the mainstream media.  That’s their job right? To report on facts and raise issues of concern about the current government, particularly when it comes to lies and deception peddled by our Members of Parliament.  Yet it’s been strangely quiet.

Media were all over it when the story broke, and for a day or two afterwards, and then it subsided, as is the norm for stories. What I think Slater means is that the media are quiet now while he is trying to beat a dead horse story.

So far, the mainstream media have stayed away from this story in droves.  They seem unwilling to publish anything that might make this Government look bad.  Stories the previous Government would have been castigated about for weeks seem to slip quietly under the rug.

From the 26th November (Tuesday) all the main media outlets covered the story. Therre is even a new opinion piece on Stuff today by Damien Grant: ‘Why I admire Golriz Ghahraman’:

We like to hold our elected representatives to an impossible moral standard. The few who can achieve such purity are so devoid of drive and ambition that they are ineffective in the blood-spattered arena that is modern politics.

Fudging your CV, embellishing the past and periodic acts of bastardy while appearing angelic – even as the viscera of your opponents taint the edges of your apparel –  are prerequisites for a successful life in politics.

John Key was called the smiling assassin. Jacinda Ardern’s first act as leader was to nudge Metiria Turei under a recycling truck while empathetically embracing the nation’s  impoverished children in a Kate Sylvester dress.

Ghahraman can have no complaint that Quin has brought these issues into the light. When you stand for office such scrutiny is expected but I do not care if Ghahraman fudged her CV or had photos taken with war criminals.

We vote for people because we want them to get things done. There isn’t any point in marrying a eunuch or voting for a saint.

Slater does not seem to favour the saintly style of blogging, but seems to expect unblemished politicians (except ones he is shilling for) and media.

He closes his post wanly:

We are long overdue some real balance by the mainstream media.

Unwittingly witty. He wants ‘real balance’ from other media. That’s kinda cute given his own degrees of imbalance.

Like this:

Photoshop of the day

by SB on December 2, 2017 at 1:00pm

Slater seems to have approved of this, he has commented in the thread.

This is whale sized shit.

And he wonders why media don’t continue his political attack campaigns any more.

Whale Oil dives deeper into dirt

Lurcher alerted me to this in a manner that was unsuitable for posting, but he makes a valid point – Whale Oil is sinking to shitty depths. One of the latest examples is a photoshopped image linking a Government MP to Charles Manson – I’m not linking to it and don’t want the image shown here.

It was posted under the authorship of ‘SB” – Spanish Bride, also known as Juana Atkins. She seems to have increased her management role at Whale Oil after the recent departure of Pete Belt.

Also posted under ‘SB’ recently was a  cartoon depicting African people as apes. Claiming ‘free speech’ is one thing but that doesn’t excuse being dirty and derogatory.

Posts under ‘Cameron Slater’ have also reverted to more of his bully blog style, with repeated petty labelling and name calling and derogatory comments. Political blogging reverting to it’s worst.

Yesterday alone, after other media had largely moved on, Whale Oil featured at least eight posts attacking MP Golriz Ghahraman and the Green Party.

That’s a gross misrepresentation, presumably deliberate, at best.

Whale Oil has also been running a sustained series of attack posts on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern which have been at times blatantly misogynist.

All this dirt does is discredits Atkins, Slater and Whale Oil even more (if that’s possible) and gives critics justification for proclaiming the return of ‘Dirty Politics’, which has already been done, associating David Farrar and Kiwiblog and Jordan Williams, who have also been attacking Ghahraman, and also the National Party by association.

This goes far outside acceptable standards of political coverage.

Dirty bully blogging is back as Whale Oil sinks into the mud, while hypocritically regularly applauding their standards.

Did Steven Joyce fail economic papers?

I’ve often seen it claimed that Steven Joyce failed economic papers. This came up again on Twitter on Monday:

This circulated on Facebook:

A version of the meme which claims to show Steven Joyce's university transcript from the 1980s. Image/Facebook

The claims seem to have become somewhat embellished. He got a fail mark in one, and did not complete or withdrew from seven economic papers.

Joyce in a 2014 n interview with Victoria University’s student magazine Salient:

“I went to Massey University, from 1981 to 1985 in Palmerston North. I did a vet intermediate and didn’t quite make the cut for vet school so I did a zoology degree for two years,” he told the magazine.

“In the first three years I passed all my papers, I was very excited. And then I started in student radio. In my fourth year I was doing economics papers. I sat six and passed three.

“In my fifth year I enrolled for three and passed none. By that time I was fully into radio.”

That doesn’t quite match the student record – which is incomplete, it doesn’t show results from 1981 to 1983.

It was also was checked out by NZ Herald in September: Finance Minister Steven Joyce confirms he dropped out of uni economics papers

The Herald put written questions to Joyce, including whether the grades affected his ability to be finance minister.

His press secretary replied only that “Minister Joyce started but then withdrew from those papers because he was starting his radio company”.

Joyce and several friends, including More FM’s Jeremy Corbett, started New Plymouth radio station Energy FM in 1987.

He went on to develop a commercial radio empire and made $6 million when it was sold to CanWest.

Further details from Wikipedia:

After leaving university Joyce and a group of friends (including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett) started their own radio station, Energy FM, in New Plymouth.[4][5] With business partners, he built up RadioWorks over the next seventeen years, both organically and by acquisition, to a network of 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He retired as Managing Director of RadioWorks in April 2001, when CanWest purchased it, Joyce receiving $6 million for the sale.[5]

After RadioWorks he joined the New Zealand National Party, working as their campaign manager in both the 2005 and the 2008 general elections. He also served as CEO of Jasons Travel Media for two years until 2008.

That kind of suggests a lack of economic papers did not prevent Joyce from substantial commercial success. He became a list MP in 2008 when John Key led National into Government.

How important are economic qualifications for Minister of Finance?

Grant Robertson (current Minister of Finance, became an MP in 2008):

Studied politics at Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1995. His involvement in the campaign against user-pays education led him to become President of the Otago University Students Association, and later Vice President and then Co-President of the New Zealand University Students Association.

After leaving university, Grant joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was also posted to the United Nations in New York. On his return to New Zealand he became an advisor to then-Minister of Environment Marian Hobbs, then to Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Bill English (Became an MP in 1990, Minister of Finance 2008-2016):

…completed an honours degree in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington.

From 1987 to 1989, he worked in Wellington as a policy analyst for the New Zealand Treasury.

Michael Cullen (Became an MP in 1981, Minister if Finance 1999-2008):

…achieved an MA in history at Canterbury University. Receiving a Commonwealth Scholarshiphe then gained a PhD in social and economic history from the University of Edinburgh. From 1971 to 1981 he was a lecturer at Otago University, with a term as a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University from 1975 to 1976.

Bill Birch (Became an MP in 1972, Minister of Finance 1993-1999):

He was trained as a surveyor, and established a business in Pukekohe, a small town south of Auckland.

Ruth Richardson (Became an MP in 1981, Minister of Finance 1990-1993):

Richardson gained a law degree with honours from the University of Canterbury. After graduating, she worked for the Department of Justice.

Roger Douglas (Became an MP in 1969, Minister of Finance 1984-1988):

He gained a degree in accountancy from the University of Auckland in 1957. Afterwards, he was hired by Bremworth Carpets in South Auckland as company secretary. He married and moved to Mangere in 1961, becoming President of the Manukau Labour Electorate Committee. He began to run the Bremworth division individually after the company’s sale to UEB in the mid-1960s.

Robert Muldoon (Became an MP in 1960, Minister of Finance 1975-1984):

He left school at age 15, finding work at Fletcher Construction and then the Auckland Electric Power Board as an arrears clerk. He studied accountancy by correspondence.

Many Ministers don’t have relevant education for their portfolios. For example from the current Cabinet:

Kelvin Davis – Minister for Crown/Māori Relations, Corrections, and Tourism:

He obtained a Diploma of Teaching from Auckland College of Education (1985–1987) and taught at Koru School in Mangere (1988–1990), Bay of Islands Intermediate School in Kawakawa (1991–1993), before becoming principal of Karetu School (1994–1998). He then held employment with the Education Advisory Service (1998–1999) and the education improvement and development project Te Putahitanga Matauranga (2000). He was then principal of Kaitaia Intermediate School from 2001 to 2007.

Phil Twyford – Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport:

After studying politics at Auckland University, Phil worked as a journalist and union organiser before becoming the founding Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. Phil’s strong belief in justice led to him becoming Oxfam’s Global Advocacy Director, based in Washington DC.

Dr David Clark – Minister of Health:

Clark undertook university study at the University of Otago and Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen. He completed degrees in German and theology before a PhD on the work of German/New Zealand refugee and existentialist thinker Helmut Herbert Hermann Rex.

Ordained in 1997, Clark is a Presbyterian minister.

Dr Megan Woods:

Worked as a Business Manager at Plant & Food Research. She holds a PhD in New Zealand History from the University of Canterbury.

Chris Hipkins:

Completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Criminology at Victoria University.

After completing his study, Chris worked in the industry training sector. Before becoming an MP he also worked at parliament, first as Senior Advisor to two Education Ministers and later in the office of the then Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Prime Ministers appoint MPs to ministerial roles based on much more than their academic background.

“Literally failed eight economic papers” is either deliberate dirty politics or a lazy attack line, and is a factual failure.

There was nothing dramatic or controversial in Joyce’s only budget as Minister of Finance in 2017.

Backward politics

I don’t know if this is part of the official Labour Party feud with the Maori Party, or one Labour candidate being nasty. Tamati Coffey:


Coffey is Labour’s candidate for the Maori electorate Waiariki this year:


My name is Tamati Coffey and I am the Labour Candidate for Waiariki electorate in 2017. Authorised by Andrew Kirton, 160 Willis St, Wellington.

I don’t know of Kirton authorised his backward swipe at his opponent via that same Facebook account.

Coffey will be standing against Te Ururoa Flavell in Waiariki, who won against a different Labour candidate by 3,889 votes in 2014, with Mana’s Annette Sykes a close third about 350 votes back.

Mana won’t stand this year in an agreement with the Maori party so Coffey will have to do something extraordinary this year to stand a chance. Playing the backward card is unlikely to help his chances in the electorate. It will be interesting to see what sort of list position Labour give him – reward or not.

More Breitbart ‘fake news’

The Breitbart news site has been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about an alleged Muslim attack on a church in Germany. This has been debunked by multiple sources.

This raises concerns for a number of reasons:

  • The ex CEO of Bretibart, Steve Barron, will soon become Trump’s chief strategist in the White House.
  • Breitbart plans to set up a German language site (and also a French site).
  • Germany is having elections this year.
  • Whale Oil wants to imitate Breitbart  in New Zealand.

Guardian: German police quash Breitbart story of mob setting fire to Dortmund church

German media and politicians have warned against an election-year spike in fake news after the rightwing website Breitbart claimed a mob chanting “Allahu Akbar” had set fire to a church in the city of Dortmund on New Year’s Eve.

After the report by the US site was widely shared on social media, the city’s police clarified that no “extraordinary or spectacular” incidents had marred the festivities.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said elements of its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by Breitbart to produce “fake news, hate and propaganda”.

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said that “the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own”.

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the story with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

It said the men had “chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church”, while also massing “around the flag of al-Qaida and Islamic State collaborators the Free Syrian Army.”

The local newspaper said Breitbart had combined and exaggerated unconnected incidents to create a picture of chaos and of foreigners promoting terrorism.

Dortmund police on Thursday said its officers had handled 185 missions that night, sharply down from 421 the previous year. The force’s leader judged the night as “rather average to quiet”, in part thanks to a large police presence.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily said Breitbart had used exaggerations and factual errors to create “an image of chaotic civil war-like conditions in Germany, caused by Islamist aggressors”.

Breitbart is unlikely to be deterred by belated debunking of their slanted and misleading campaigns.

Bild, Germany’s top-selling daily, also predicted trouble ahead – pointing to the fact that Breitbart’s former editor Steve Bannon had been appointed as US president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

It warned that Breitbart – which plans to launch German and French language sites – could seek to “aggravate the tense political climate in Germany”.

Meanwhile in New Zealand Whale Oil is trying to revive it’s imitation of Breitbart – and already has a history of anti-Muslim posts.

How Whaleoil can become New Zealand’s Breitbart

Whaleoil can become New Zealand’s Breitbart if the subscription numbers continue to grow. We will use the extra income to hire more staff and we will train interns. Given the appropriate resources, we will expand services which may possibly include news aggregation from sources you can trust.

When you subscribe to Whaleoil you become part of our plan to once again imitate what works overseas and to replicate its success here in New Zealand.

Sources you can trust? Breitbartising Whale Oil might appeal to those who want to be told what they believe, but the trust levels here are already very low.

Because of this Whale Oil rarely gets traction in social and mainstream media for any of the campaigns they try to run – they have been complaining about the lack of media interest in their daily barrage of pro-Israel anti-NZ Government posts.

Any ‘news’ posted by Whale Oil should be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism, whether it is from their own ‘tip line’ or unnamed sources, or from ‘trusted sources’ like Breitbart. Both have records of political skulduggery and dirt – and Whale Oil has been promising to get dirtier this year.

Whale Oil on UN vote on Israel

It’s no surprise to see hard out support from Slater for the Israeli position after the UN Security Council voted 14-0 against them over settlements on disputed or private land in the Middle East.

There has been a string of supporting posts for Israel and against anyone involved in the vote against them by Slater. And he has often written (or had material supplied for) pro-Israel posts for years.

There have been 81 posts at Whale Oil tagged ‘Israel’ so far this year, and 209 since 1 January 2015.Of course they can post whatever they like, and many of these have only minor references to Israel (albeit tagged by the author) but this is a remarkable focus on Israel for a New Zealand blog.

And if you go back about 250 ‘Israel’ tagged posts, to August 2014, there are a string of posts reporting on a visit Slater made to Israel – a trip in part paid for by the Israel government.

Stuff reported at the time: Blogging, money and blurred lines

The man at the centre of the Dirty Politics firestorm sits on a leafy street in Tel Aviv, Israel, just a block from the shores of the Mediterranean, sipping a blended mint lemonade.

Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater is bleary-eyed, having spent 24 hours on a plane, and now finds himself in a war zone during a ceasefire. It’s Friday in Israel; Saturday back home.

He’s one of a group of international journalists invited to visit by the Israeli government, which has been earning bruising international condemnation over the civilian death toll in the Gaza conflict.

The Israeli embassy approached him about the trip, he says, and covered some costs, but he is paying for a significant portion of his travels. He has posted anti-Hamas and pro-Israel stories on his blog in the past.

And has continued to do that. Interesting that the Israeli embassy approached Slater.

The arrangement may sound vaguely familiar to anyone who has read certain chapters of Nicky Hager’s controversial new book Dirty Politics, which is based on thousands of emails stolen from Slater’s computer.

Besides his central claims that National used Slater’s Whale Oil blog as an conduit for “dirty” attacks on its political enemies, Hager also says Slater took cash in exchange for running stories for a range of commercial clients.

He writes that certain articles posted under Slater’s name were word-for-word reprints of material supplied by PR man Carrick Graham, whose clients include tobacco and alcohol companies. Hager writes that Slater was paid around $6500 a month by Graham, for work he estimates would have taken perhaps an hour.

When asked if he received any payment from Graham, his company or associates, and whether there was any understanding that he would run copy for that payment, Slater gives an emphatic “No”. He stands by his byline.

“Any copy I am using, I’ve had direct input into – I may have helped write it, I’ve certainly edited it.

“There are large corporates that I work with. They have particular issues and as a result of that those issues are then turned into an interesting story. I take stories, create stories, work on stories, provide commentary on a number of different things and whatever takes my fancy at the time.”

The Security Council vote against Israel seems to have taken Slater’s “fancy at the time”. Since the vote was announced these posts have been on Whale Oil:

The focus on the UN vote stands out amongst otherwise mostly Christmas or trivial posts.

Whether it’s a personal or a financial interest it’s a topic that Slater certainly fancies quite a bit.

Trying to fool who?

Yesterday Cameron Slater claimed at Whale Oil:

This blog has a longstanding position of not taking sides in any National selection, believing that the local electorate are by far the best people to select their candidate. Any interfering from outside the electorate, or skullduggery in the electorate needs to be outed, so the locals know who is trying to manipulate them, or ratfuck a candidate.

Is he taking the piss? Does he really believe that? Or does he think others might believe it?

The Whale Oil blog has a long history of appearing to interfere in National selections, interfering in local body elections, interfering in national elections and interfering in just about anything in politics.

Whale Oil sometimes tries to present itself as a new and better way of doing media, but more often than not appears like an old school activist trying to influence political outcomes – one of the more prominent examples being the attempt to overthrow Len Brown just after he one the 2013 Auckland mayoralty.

I doubt anyone was surprised to see Slater promoting Judith Collins and attacking Bill English and Paula Bennett repeatedly in the National leadership contests. This has continued after the selections were made. Old grudges ? Or trying to influence the election and the next leadership battle?

Slater has been stirring things up in the National candidate selection in Clutha-Southland. There seems to be some old grudges involved, and when he gets involved like he is there – a steady stream of posts attacking sides or individuals – then I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what his motive is this time.

Like his persistent focus on local body elections in Marlborough this year. Coincidentally or not his associate and political gun for hire Simon Lusk seemed to be involved to some extent as well.

Two days ago Slater posted:

The other day I exposed four members of the “Evil Six” in Clutha-Southland who are mounting a bitter and twisted rear guard action against sitting MP Todd Barclay. Local delegate Lloyd Anderson coined the phrase the “Evil Six” who are out trying to rat-fuck Todd Barclay.

Slater may genuinely be trying to expose electorate selection skulduggery, but I’d be surprised if many people believe him.

I can remember a candidate selection in Northland where Slater was heavily involved, especially in trying to discredit one of the contenders. This included making some fairly seedy allegations involving the family of the candidate.

And Slater has recently said he will play as dirty or dirtier next year.

His problem is that as a political activist he has become tainted – he is more likely to damage rather than help those he goes in to bat for. Perhaps this is a cunning reverse attack strategy, but given his strong support for Collins and his string of attacks against English and Bennett I doubt that was the case there.

But any of his political attacks are likely to be looked on with suspicion by most people.

The mainstream media he ironically keeps attacking as ‘the media party’ mostly ignore him now, which has taken away one of the weapons he relied on in the past – creating stories.

Slater may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, and himself all of the time, but most people have wised up.

Whale Oil is still a sizeable forum (although over-rated by Slater as a player) and could become a force again but to be credible it would need to re-brand. However Slater seems intent on trying to benefit from his ‘dirty politics’ infamy and do more of the same.

That seems destined to be repeating the same mistakes with a wiser media and political world. No parties and few candidates are likely to be willing to be seen as associated.

Judith Collins’ new challenges

There has been suggestions that Judith Collins has been demoted in the latest ministerial assignments.

She has lost Police and Corrections and been given Revenue, Energy and Resources, and Ethnic Communities. And she has slipped down the rankings slightly to 16 – while that might have a slight ego factor it makes very little difference in reality.

Jo Moir at  Stuff: Who are the winners and losers in Bill English’s Cabinet reshuffle?


Judith Collins – Minister of Revenue, Minister of Energy and Resources, Minister for Ethnic Communities

“It’s the PM’s day and I won’t be commenting”. That was all the dumped Police and Corrections minister had to say after English announced his new Cabinet. The demotion comes after Collins contested English for the leadership, along with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, who has kept his portfolios.

I think ‘demotion’ is questionable. Collins was demoted in 2014 when she was dropped from Cabinet. She has been given different challenges here.

Rachel Smalley in Women the winners and the losers in Cabinet reshuffle:

Upston’s promotion comes, to a certain degree, at Judith Collins demotion. She loses not just Corrections but also Police — two portfolios she really stamped her name on. She is now Minister of Energy and Resources, Minister of Revenue and Minister of Ethnic Communities too, so she’ll be busy but she’ll be busy out of the public eye.

Those three portfolios are much lower profile than Police and Corrections, so if Collins still has leadership aspirations, she won’t be in a position to build her public profile while she’s in charge of those three portfolios — certainly nowhere near the profile she gained as Minister of Police, and Minister of Corrections.

That said, it’s widely reported that Collins wanted Revenue, and as a former tax lawyer, she lobbied John Key for some time for that portfolio. Still, she drops two places to 16. It can’t be viewed as anything other than a demotion.

Audrey Young at the Herald: Bill English shakes it up: team rejuvenated at the topBill English shakes it up: team rejuvenated at the top

English has moved to keep Judith Collins in check by removing Police and Corrections from her and giving her portfolios from which it will be difficult to build any public following: Revenue, and Energy and Resources. No politician has gained in popularity by being minister in charge of taxation.

It is understood English was not very impressed by Collins using the leadership contest against him to press her case for extra police officers.

While she was particularly fond of Corrections, she won’t be too unhappy with her new mix. With a master’s in taxation studies as well as her law degree, she had lobbied John Key in the past for Revenue.

So Collins seems to be well suited to Revenue and has been interested in the portfolio. Her background may be very useful with major upgrades under way in IRD systems and with a move by the Government to address tax avoidance by overseas companies.

Collins also has credentials for working with Ethnic Communities – which are important especially in relation to immigration.

And Energy and Resources could become important in limiting the appeal of the Greens.

So there are challenges for Collins in her new roles.

I think the ‘demotion’ angle is being overplayed. She is still in Cabinet with new roles that suit some of her strengths.

I also don’t see the relevance of “out of the public eye”, ” difficult to build any public following” or “no politician has gained in popularity by being minister in charge of taxation”.

Collins should be safe with a 5,000 vote majority in her Pakuranga electorate (although her personal vote of 46.07% was less than the National party vote of 51.01%).  Public profile through her portfolios won’t make much if any difference there.

And if Collins still has leadership aspirations, perhaps with an eye towards opportunities should Bill English fail in next year’s election, a public profile is no use. National leaders are voted by their caucus only. So competence in taking on new challenges, and being able to work well with other MPs, are far more important than getting on the telly occasionally.

The most important thing for Collins is she is still in Parliament and still in Cabinet, so she is still in the mix.

Apart from doing a good job in her new portfolios the best thing Collins can do to enhance her career is maintain a distance between herself and Whale Oil. The Minister of Ethnic Communities is unlikely to want to be associated with a blog that keeps giving ethnic groups derogatory descriptions and wages a campaign against Muslims. Especially as Slater promises more dirty politics.

Slater promises more dirty politics

Cameron Slater is promising more dirty politics next year.

My response to Andrew Little is as subtle as a brick in the face.


Bragging about it shows an amazing lack of awareness and a failure to learn from the past.