Bitterness under the bus

Nicky guided a big bus over Whale Oil in 2014, and John key and National walked away. Cameron Slater is still bitter in a big way.

Slater used to promote politics done as dirty as possible, and tried to drive a few buses over others – most notably Len Brown immediately after the 2013 mayoral election, trying to upset a democratic result, and also Colin Craig in 2015. Slater seemed to revel in doing maximum damage and seem to care nothing about destroying reputations and careers both as a game and as a mercenary.

But he is not so keen when on the receiving end – the Whale has been wailing every since Nicky Hager bussed him, and since he was left in the dust by National.

His bitterness has been apparent in the recent election campaign, wishing disaster on National and on Bill English and National MPs and staff.

And he still holds a bus sized grudge over John Key deserting him.

Yesterday he posted: No hard feelings John, but no one gives a stuff what you think anymore

That’s kind of ironic, given how many stuffs are given to what Slater thinks now.

John Key’s phone must have stopped ringing, so he’s decided to come out and offer up his advice for coalition negotiations.

Key was opening of a new Trading Room at the Business School at the University of Canterbury and was asked. He didn’t write multiple blog posts every day.

What a dickhead. He saw this coming and bolted for the door that’s how much he cared about the situation. Now he has the temerity to offer up his opinion.

Piss off. He quit, that means STFU.

No it doesn’t, it means he is free to do and say what he likes.

We don’t care anymore what he thinks. What an attention seeking effwit…phone stopped ringing eh John?

No hard feelings, eh?

Sounds very much like projection of Slater’s on situation . He seems to hate that his phone stopped ringing three years ago, and still holds a grudge.

Comments and ticks were carefully scathing of Slater.

Christie’s comment was strongly supported:

He was opening the new Business School at Canterbury University. His comments were made probably in response to a journalist asking if he was in touch with Bill English. My belief is that he resigned when he did for the reasons he stated – particularly when there was another election coming up.

Bill English’s family have been treated with some respect by the media, but John Key’s kids were always fair game. Perhaps he felt – like many of us did – that a local rapper, being paid public money, writing a song about raping his daughter was a bit too much for him. Who could blame him? I don’t blame him for resigning – I just wish he hadn’t.

George Carter’s too:

Whether it was part of a speech or in a response to a journalist his point is fairly light and non intrusive. We’ve heard far more from other ex-PM’s and MP’s so i’m not sure why you’re so dismissive of his comments.

SpanishBride joined the wailing in response:

Probably because when John Key threw him under the bus after we were hacked and our private e-mails turned into a book for profit by Nicky Hager after working with the criminal Rawshark, John Key sent a message to him saying “No hard feelings.”

I suspect she misinterprets what “no hard feelings” meant there.

Wanarunna sort of supported the post:

Quite understand Cam’s reaction here. People don’t have to agree with it, and I don’t, but hey, this is Cam’s blog where Cam says what Cam thinks. Sometimes when I read comments on this blog I get the impression that some people think that Cam speaks for the Whaleoil Community (if there is such a thing), and if he says something they don’t agree with, then somehow he has it wrong. No, he’s just seeing things from his perspective, not yours.

A response to that resulted in a thinly veiled threat from Slater…

WhaleOilNoHardFeelings

…but those two responses have now disappeared.

Such is the thin skin and censorship at Whale Oil. Slater has obviously got hard feelings after three years of being belted by a bus, and shows a lack of hardness when the political booting is from the other foot.

His attacks on Key and English and National are petty and largely impotent.

Slater claimed that National without his support would tank, and he predicted them polling in the thirties. One of the more notable outcomes of the election was how well National’s support held up in the mid forties, unprecedented in attempting to win a fourth term.

They seem to be managing quite well without Slater’s dirty politics.

Whale Oil survives as a popular niche blog, but not as a political player of any importance.

Labour v Greens and the smiling assassin

Now Jacinda Ardern has taken over the Labour leadership it will be interesting to see how Labour and the Greens cooperate and compete.

She promises to be relentlessly positive, but for Labour’s support to go positive they  need to kill off Green momentum. Ardern may do that, with a smile.

Under the MoU they have committed to cooperating to ‘change the government’, but each party will be intent on maximising their party votes, which means competing with each other as well as trying to stem the growth of NZ First and claw some votes off National.

The Greens need Labour to get into government as they are adamant they won’t support a National led government (James Shaw may be tempted but Metiria Turei is very much against it, and the party members aren’t keen either).

Labour will also need the Greens, unless they can perform a miraculous turn around in support and grow (in part by taking back Green votes) enough to form a coalition with NZ First. At this stage Labour + Greens + ??? looks essential for a change of government.

Greens seemed to have decided a couple of weeks ago that Labour were dog tucker so they went for broke on their own, in particular on Turei’s benefit fraud story.

But Ardern changes things considerably, if she can stem Labour’s bleeding and turn things around.

Claire Trevett: Will Jacinda Ardern eat the Greens?

The Green Party too might want to check its fences for holes. The first votes Ardern will attract will be those she gets back from the Greens.

Ardern’s appeal is particularly high in urban areas – the very same areas the Greens have always polled strongest.

Ardern is the best revenge Labour could have served up for the Greens’ recent behaviour.

Some might say the Greens only have themselves to blame for the rise of Ardern.

Many in Labour were furious with the Greens for milking Metiria Turei’s confession for all it was worth, seemingly reckless of the damage it could do to the prospects of a Labour-led government.

It was that incident Little pointed to as the reason Labour slumped in the polls over that week.

True, it suited Labour to see those polls as a referendum on Turei’s confession because that meant they were not a referendum on its own cornerstone policy – the families package issued the week before, in which it traded in National’s tax cuts to upsize Working for Families, pump money into public services and introduce universal payments to parents of newborn babies.

It does not want those polls to be linked at all with that package, thank you.

But there was some anger as well over the Greens’ unseemly and almost cruel gloating at the 1 News Colmar-Brunton poll in which they had rocketed up to 15 per cent.

Never mind that came at the expense of Labour and put Labour over the chasm of non-viability.

Ardern does not need to win votes off National, although she will take all comers.

All she needs to do is ensure the balance between Labour, the Greens and NZ First is more heavily tilted in Labour’s favour.

That helps explain why Ardern has so far kept some distance from the Greens, delaying meeting the co-leaders and refusing to talk about Turei’s admission of welfare fraud, saying she intends to stick firmly to Labour’s campaign – not get drawn into ‘”distractions”.

Labour versus Greens will have to be a significant part of Ardern’s new strategy, while trying to appear to be working together at the same time.

Greens must also be busy reassessing their strategy. They had momentum but Ardern has probably halted that. They may hold support but could easily lose it given how much attention the media are giving Ardern. She has taken over Turei’s campaign oxygen.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out – Metiria relentlessly rebellious, versus Jacinda relentlessly  positive.

For Labour support to go positive probably means Green support going negative.

While comparisons of Ardern and Helen Clark have been made, in style she is more like Key.

They are not politically similar, although Ardern describes herself as a pragmatic idealist, while Key was simply a pragmatist.

The similarity is in their ability to communicate.

Both are chameleons, able to adapt to different social settings and to talk to suit the audience they are addressing.

Key was known as a ‘smiling assassin’.

If Ardern is to succeed she may take over that label.

Whale against the tide

Whale has appeared to have become a convert to Winston Peters and NZ First over the last few months. If things as they appear that would make Cameron Slater a bigger political somer saulter than Martyn Bradbury.

Such is the profound change from sustained attack to frequent promoter it has raised questions about whether money was involved. Whale Oil have some history of being a campaigner for hire.

But such is the lack of reaction or negative reaction to Winston Peters puff pieces, and such is the strength of reaction to attacks on National, on John Key and on Bill English once could be a bit suspicious of whether a reverse psychology game is being played.

Today in Matthew Hooton on John Key’s legacy whoever complied the article quoted Matthew Hooton’s latest NBR column:

But, in the end, Mr Key just couldn’t be bothered. Instead he wasted his eight years as prime minister on a personal project of self-aggrandisement that has ceded all ideological territory to the left. It means Mr English and Mr Joyce will almost certainly respond to Labour’s latest spending promises with new claims on the taxpayers’ wallet of their own – and they will probably be making the right political judgment in doing so.

The one hope to avoid an entirely braindead campaign is that while Mr Key turned out to be as shallow as an empty birdbath, Mr English is clearly capable of considerable ideological depth.

Whoever wrote the article then said:

John Key squandered his personal political capital. Not on useful things, but on stupid, idiotic things that were never going to make a difference to anyone, like the flag referendum. That was the beginning of the end for John Key. He realised that he could no longer sway people his way. They flipped the bird at him and killed off his personal project. I imagine his decision to jack it all in came shortly after the referendum results.

It’s sad really, no one will remember John Key in 3 years time. His high popularity was for naught.

Key was knighted last month and a few days ago Sir John Key receives Australia’s highest honour so he doesn’t seem to have been forgotten yet. Slater may not have forgotten being dropped off Key’s phone list three years ago after Dirty Politics came out in the open, but the Whale Oil troops don’t seem to hold the same grudge.

Sounds a little bitter if you ask me. Yes he could’ve done more to further a centre right philosophy instead of pinching votes with centre left antics but some might say this was required to stay on the treasury benches.

– Steve Kay, currently 11 upticks

No one will remember John Key in three years? Rubbish!
He is and will remain one of our most internationally respected politicians and New Zealand Prime Ministers.

– Jude, currently 29 upticks

John Key was the best politician of my lifetime. Did he go to the left? Yes, under MMP it is political suicide to ignore what middle voting families want.
I have never blamed Key, and the fact that the left vilified him for being Mr nice-guy says more about them than him.

– KGB, currently 20 upticks

He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister leading us through a global financial crisis and coming out at the top of the world. He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister coping with two catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch and a catastrophic earthquake in Kaikoura, and yet somehow the country is still not bankrupt. If anyone else was Prime Minister during that period we would probably now have the economy of Venezuela.

– Uncle Bob, currently 30 upticks

John Key did nothing? Apart from getting rid of Helen Clark, steering the country almost effortlessly through the worst recession in our lifetime and coping with not one, but three major earthquakes. Apart from that, you mean?

– MacDoctor, currently 30 upticks

I read Hootens article yesterday. It just reminded me how petty irrelevant people become when their jealously takes hold.

Key was one of our most outstanding PMs

We’re not a country of revolutionaries. We don’t need massive ideological swings. We like stability. Key gave us this in spades.

– Valid Point, currently 22 upticks

If the post was aimed at slagging off Key then it failed badly. But was it designed to rally the troops to show how well Key is liked amongst the Whale commenters?

I doubt it by the look of posts promoting Peters, where Slater has taken to getting directly involved on comments threads, trying to talk against the tide of criticism of Peters. Without much success by the look of the tick balance.

From Vox populi, Vox Dei: On Winston being Prime Minister:

WOSlaterVTroops

This has become quite common, with anti-National posts getting strong opposition from commenters, and pro-Peters posts getting slammed. And Slater seems to have no potency in his attempts to stem the counter-damage to his agenda.

Labour called ‘lying losers’ over Sir John pettiness

There have been a number of attacks on John Key after his knighthood was announced in the Queen’s Birthday honours. These have largely come from Labour associated sources.

One of these attacks was in a Standard post Arise Sir John, which set the tone for many dirty comments there.

While no party seems to want to associate with Martyn Bradbury he also blasted the knighthood in Why I will never call John Key Sir. Ever:

This vacant optimism merchant banker whose laid back persona struck a chord with middle NZs anti-intellectualism made this country far worse for the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us.

That sums up a common level of pettiness and bitterness in New Zealand politics.

David Farrar blasts another example in Lying losers:

What a bunch of lying embittered losers.

Once she was out of politics, John Key gave Helen Clark the highest Honour there is – Order of New Zealand. He supported her campaign for UNDP Administrator and gave her 100% support in her campaign to be UN Secretary-General. He also knighted Michael Cullen and gave him significant board appointments.

Key is retired and out of politics. But the nasty losers at Labour are so choking on their bile they actually authorise an advertisement smearing and attacking him for getting a knighthood. Have you seen anything so petty before? They also repeat their lie about taking $1.7 billion out of the health sector when in fact Vote Health increased $4.8 billion in nominal terms, $3.0 billion in real terms and by over 10% in real per capita terms.

This was in reference to this post on the Young Labour Facebook page:

YoungLabourJohnKey

In the fine print at the bottom…

YoungLabourAuthorised

…is an authorisation notice: Authorised by Andrew Kirton, 160n Willis Street, Wellington

Kirton is Labour’s General Secretary so this attack on Key seems to be authorised by the Labour Party.

I’m not a fan of titles, but using Key’s knighthood announcement as an excuse to attack Key’s record in this manner looks bad for Labour.

Green MP’s “disgusting legacy”

Steffan Browning hasn’t got the most illustrious of legacies in his parliamentary career. He has been in Parliament since 2011. From a video on his party profile:

SteffanBrowning

Browning has put a big brown stain on his career and on his Green Party with a dirty response to John Key’s valedictory speech.

From the Newshub report:

Green MP Steffan Browning scorned Mr Key’s “disgusting legacy”, posting an image of a glass full of a pale red liquid on his desk in Parliament.

“Thought John Key might like a little more blood for his valedictory speech, the day that we get confirmation of the raid he approved was responsible for innocent civilian deaths,” he wrote.

Mr Browning’s post was made on his private Facebook page, not his verified MP page – but he did tell Newshub earlier on Wednesday he wouldn’t be looking back on Mr Key’s time fondly.

“I don’t have a favourite memory of John Key, and I’m alarmed he’s not being held to account on the issue with our part in the wars in the Middle East – Afghanistan in particular,” he said.

“There’s nothing too good at all.”

This reflects poorly on Browning, and by association on the Green Party. He is another MP who has never been near being in government who has no idea about the realities of having the responsibility of running the country.

I hope the Greens distance themselves from this inappropriate gesture.

Browning won’t be standing for re-election from the Green list this year. If he had put himself forward again he would have struggled to get a good enough position on the Green list to get back in.

His most notable effort as an MP was in 2014 when Browning, while Green spokesperson for natural health products, signed an online petition supporting the use of homeopathy to treat the Ebola virus. That would risk more lives than John Key’s actions did.

Greens seem to have ditched a role of spokesperson for natural health products and are likely to have ditched Browning if he hadn’t indicated he would stand himself down.

John Key’s valedictory speech

John Key gave his final speech in Parliament today.

Draft transcript:


VALEDICTORY STATEMENTS

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (National—Helensville): I rise to address this House for the very last time. It has been a huge privilege to have served the people of Helensville as their member of Parliament, and, of course, the people of New Zealand as their Prime Minister.

Even though it was 15 years ago—the time has passed—when I first came here, in many ways it feels not that long ago that I rose to speak for the very first time, with all the emotions this House can invoke: excitement, trepidation, fear, and hope. This place is like no other. It is all-consuming, life-changing, mostly powerful, occasionally trivial, but never boring. What happens here matters a great deal to the lives of millions of Kiwis, who every day trust us, as politicians, to get it right on their behalf. I came here on a different path from many who had come before me. I had not been a member of my party’s youth wing; in fact, I had not been that involved with the National Party at all prior to throwing my hat in the ring for the selection for the Helensville seat, although I had always been a National supporter, and proud of it. I had not come here from a life of politics and protest; in fact, I came here from Wall Street.

But long before Wall Street, my political views had been shaped by my Austrian Jewish mother, Ruth, who single-handedly raised me and my sisters in the now-infamous State house at 19 Hollyford Avenue, Christchurch. My mother was a no-nonsense woman who refused to take no for an answer. She would not accept failure. She was an immensely hard worker, firstly as a night porter in the Clarendon Hotel so she could earn money while our family slept. Then, for many years, she worked as a cleaner, and even in retirement, as a volunteer. She was often abrupt. While I was at high school, I had a weekend job in some stables. I remember coming home one day at the age of 15 to tell Mum I had this brilliant idea: I was leaving school to train racehorses. “No.”, she said. “Shall we talk about it?”, I enquired. “No.”, she said. “Not even the pros and cons?”, I suggested. “No,”—she said—”you’re going to university to study accounting.” That was it. To Mum, no meant no. I do not think she would have lasted very long in coalition Government, but that is by the by.

Not that she was always lost for words. One day, early on in my first job, I bounced a cheque. The bank manager aired a view on that, but he was a novice. He should have taken lessons from Mum. As I said, she was often abrupt, but that day she was in full flight. She had worked hard all of her adult life to make sure she paid her bills on time, and she expected her three children to do the same.

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates the lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook. Once, when I was about 12, I rather thoughtlessly asked my mother over dinner why everyone else had nicer things than we did—why they had a better house than we had, and how come they went on more holidays and to more exciting places. For a moment, Mum was quite taken aback. “I’m doing my best for you.”, she said. “I may not be able to give you what some other kids had, but I can give you my love, and I can give you determination. I can give you the belief that through your own actions and your own hard work you can make your life better.” I never forgot that night, and I never will, and, of course, she was right. Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed, which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents: that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities, and that you really can change your own life—not by wishing it was different, but by working to make it different.

I have brought to politics an unshakable belief that regardless of our circumstances most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled, and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else is the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen.

As I am sure all of us here can attest, life in Parliament is odd. Our job is a mix of community worker, public speaker, local advocate, legislator, and policy maker. We face a glaring spotlight, relentless scrutiny, and the possibility every 3 years of being turfed out regardless of how hard we have worked, and we all spend long and lonely nights away from our families, who in turn spend many nights without us.

I recall early on as an MP being asked to address a visiting class of 6- or 7-year-old children from Bill English’s electorate of Clutha-Southland. “What on earth should I tell them?”, I thought as I wandered down to meet them. Anyway, I babbled on for about 15 minutes about the importance of democracy and the place of Parliament in our society, and then I opened for questions. A little girl immediately put up her hand. “Excellent.”, I thought. “Yes, dear?”, I said. “Do you have a dog?”, she said. It was an early lesson in adjusting to my audience and to appreciate that people from Southland get to the point quickly.

When I first came here, like all of us, I was an eager backbencher with much to learn. I remember walking out of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee with Roger Sowry, who was an experienced MP, and so I started asking him a million questions. He gave me what I thought was great advice. “John,” he said, “every moment you get, go to the House and watch the politicians who are good in the Chamber—not necessarily the ones you agree with or whom you want to be friends with, but those who can move the place with the power of their argument. Don’t stay in your office or go drinking. You are here to learn.” It was good advice, and I followed it, so every chance I had I came down and watched Michael Cullen, Richard Prebble, Winston Peters, Rodney Hide, Bill English, Simon Power, and Gerry Brownlee. Roger also gave me another lesson in the peculiarities of the place when he added, in the very next breath: “And by the way, John, just because I talk to you, it doesn’t mean I like you.”

Working with constituents has been an important part of my life as an MP. One day a father wrote to me to say his son had gone off the rails and, among other things, had been stealing cars and racing them around the streets. The father was convinced that life in the military would sort out his son, but the army had declined to take up the opportunity of enlisting the boy, so the father wanted some help on how his son might reapply. My secretary got his request and wrote an email to me, pointing out in no uncertain terms that if the little toe-rag was not such a drop kick and stopped nicking other people’s property, the army might just consider his request. Except, in one of those instances we all fear, she accidentally hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”, and so sent her forthright views straight to the father.

I was at the time in the middle of being interviewed by Radio New Zealand when she realised her mistake and burst into my office, close to tears, with her mea culpa. At that point, I decided either I was calling the father or the press gallery was, and in all probability both of us were, so I had better get on with it. It is fair to say the conversation started a little frostily, but the upshot was that I wrote a few letters, and in the end the army took the boy on. The last I heard, he was doing pretty well. That experience also made me an early convert to the good that the Limited Service Volunteer schemes can do to help some kids get back on the rails and see that they have a useful future.

I became Prime Minister in 2008. It is an incredible privilege to lead your country, but when I arrived on the ninth floor, New Zealand was in recession, unemployment was rising, finance companies were falling over, and the global financial crisis (GFC) was hitting.

Early on, we decided to hold the Job Summit. For the first time, we got the Government, unions, and the private sector all together to nut out some solutions, and although the 9-day fortnight and various other policies were a more effective response to the GFC, the Job Summit became the birthplace of the successful national cycleway scheme. Who would have believed that someone who loves golf and who had not been on a bike since my last one was flogged from Jellie Park when I was 15 would, all of a sudden, become a national advocate for off-road cycling? It is fair to say the Minister of Finance was a tad sceptical that this was a good use of $50 million of taxpayer money, but I am proud to say that in January of this year alone, more than a million people had used the cycleways. They have become a great earner. And the good news is that even Bill English was converted once he realised you could get a trim soy latte in Dipton.

I am immensely proud of the achievements made by the Government that I led. Our economic reforms and the 90-day trial periods ensure that young, and sometimes marginalised, Kiwis get a shot at proving their worth to an employer. There is the huge investment in infrastructure and, in particular, the roll-out of ultrafast broadband, and our support of the film industry, without which The Hobbit movies would have been made in London.

I am proud to have led a Government that balanced the books and that gave parents better information about the progress their child was making. There are the vastly improved health services, ensuring children under the age of 13 can go to the doctor for free, and the fully funded Herceptin for women diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a Government that put more police on the street and lifted benefits in real terms for the first time in 43 years, an administration with the ambition to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, and one that advanced our trade agenda. I am also proud that so many Treaty settlements were completed, because apart from acknowledging past wrongs, they reflect the same aspirations we all share of improving our independence, creating opportunities, and providing our kids with a chance to better their lives.

In politics, disappointments are inevitable. It is futile to relitigate the flag debate here—well, I could start. However—

Grant Robertson: Go on.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —yeah, go on; give it a go—I will always hold the view that a fresh, new flag, without the Union Jack on it, would have been one more step towards New Zealand’s growing profile, reputation, and uniqueness on the world stage.

For the most part, as a liberal MP, I feel I got my voting record right, although I regret voting against civil unions. I was pleased that Louisa Wall’s bill for gay marriage was drawn, and I am glad I supported it. I regret the Trans-Pacific Partnership did not get over the line. Trade has helped lift millions of people in the world out of poverty. On a local level, we want Kiwi businesses, large or small, to have opportunities to compete with others from around the world on the same terms and for the same rewards. I hope that one day the Kermadecs will be an ocean sanctuary so that long after we are all gone, it remains pristine and untouched.

As Prime Minister, I got to travel to many interesting places and promote New Zealand’s case and profile with many world leaders. A perennial favourite for the media was the silly shirts of the ASEAN and APEC summits. Those outfits might be OK for Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama, but as recent photos of me in my togs in Hawaii can attest, I am neither. So, on many occasions, I felt responsible for mangling not only the local language but the national costume as well.

It is fair to say my natural enthusiasm means I have had a few problems with handshakes over the years. I would hate to think how many three-way handshake selfies I have done, but they sure make O-Week go quickly. The ASEAN summit features a rather odd, cross-handed handshake known as the ASEAN way. I remember, on one occasion, after a photo in front of the world’s media, the then Philippines leader, President Aquino, leaning over to me and saying: “John, if that’s the ASEAN way, I’d hate to see what the other way looks like.” I felt like replying: “Ring Richie McCaw.”

Getting to go to some of the most iconic places in the world as Prime Minister has left memories I will never forget, and getting to share them with Bronagh, Stephie, and Max made them even more special. From Balmoral to Chequers, we saw it all. I will never forget taking the kids, when they were quite young, to China. The last time I had been there was as a businessman, so when I went back as Prime Minister, I asked whether, over the weekend, I might go to a couple of places to allow the kids to see some of the most famous sites, like Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. Our Chinese hosts kindly agreed. As we were approaching both sites, I said to Max: “Best to stay close, or maybe even hold my hand, because there’ll be more people around you than you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” When we arrived, Max looked out of the car window, looked at me, and said: “Where is everyone?”. I took one look and realised that the entire Tiananmen Square had been emptied in the middle of the day so that my kids could get to see it, and when we arrived on the Wall, we were the only people on it for 5 miles in each direction. You sure get some cool photos when you are Prime Minister.

One time, I was at the Pacific Forum in the Marshall Islands, and when the summit finished, we had some downtime before leaving, so I hatched a plan to go tuna fishing. The trouble was I was due to get an important phone call from the then British Prime Minister, my friend David Cameron, about the atrocities taking place in Libya and to talk about why Britain was taking military action. “No worries,” someone said, “we have the satellite phone.” So we headed out to sea, and just as I had hooked a big one and was hauling it on board, the phone rang. I handed the rod to my diplomatic protection officer, who found some implement to finish off the tuna, which was flapping mightily in the boat. It is fair to say there was a huge amount of noise in the background, and Cameron, who was used to taking calls on secure phones and in a quiet office, said to me: “What the hell is going on there?”. “Oh,” I said, “don’t be alarmed. It’s just that we’re on a fishing boat about a mile out to sea in the Marshall Islands, and I’ve landed a big tuna.” There was this long silence, and then he wistfully said: “God, I wish I ran a small country.”

One of the unexpected parts of Government was dealing with tragedy and disaster. When the first Canterbury earthquake happened, I had just landed in Christchurch to see the damage for myself when I received a text from the department informing me that a skydiving plane had crashed at Fox Glacier, killing all nine people on board. That tragic and sudden loss of life put into perspective the terrible damage I was seeing around me in Christchurch. Bad as the earthquake had been, at least it had not claimed any lives.

That all changed on the afternoon of 22 February 2011. We felt that quake so strongly in the Beehive that we thought it must have been centred near us. But moments later, my Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, came in and said: “That wasn’t Wellington. That was Christchurch.” I arrived in Latimer Square to the sound of sirens blaring and the air full of smoke from the burning CTV building. The media were reporting 12 dead, but the police commander told me that the number was 65 and rising. “How sure are you?”, I asked him. “Very sure.”, he said. “We’ve counted at least 65 body bags, and they’re only the ones that we’ve managed to get to so far.” The Christchurch earthquakes really hit home to me. It was my home town, and the death toll was so high. Right then, New Zealand seemed a particularly vulnerable and fragile place.

Time and again we have seen the answer to nature’s devastation is people’s resolve. Standing behind Christchurch was hugely important for my Government and, indeed, for this Parliament as a whole. Gerry Brownlee deserves a lot of credit for dealing with the situation, which was without precedent. It was Gerry who knew we had to establish a red zone, buy the 10,000 homes we did, support the small businesses, and pass the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority legislation. In my view, Christchurch and New Zealand owe Gerry a huge debt of gratitude for putting in place the mechanisms that allowed New Zealand to literally save a city.

I will also never forget the Pike River mine disaster. As the full gravity of the situation became clear, I flew to Greymouth. The impact that event had, and continues to have, on the small community of the West Coast is profound. It also had a far-reaching impact on New Zealand’s workplace health and safety laws. No one should leave home to go to work and never return.

One thing that maybe is not well known is that 5 days after the initial explosion the Mines Rescue Trust had decided it was safe to re-enter the mine. That Wednesday, I was receiving regular briefings on the planned re-entry, so when the phone rang I thought it was to inform me they had gone in. Instead, I learnt that a massive explosion had occurred. Had those rescuers been in the mine, they too would have perished. Let me say to those families directly affected by the disaster that I sincerely wish you could have been provided with the closure you deserve, but I can honestly say I never, in my time as Prime Minister, saw a credible and safe plan to achieve that.

A responsible country must sometimes stand alongside others to try to create a less violent and more stable world, but the risks and costs can be high. As Prime Minister, I was ultimately responsible for committing New Zealand troops overseas. The burden of doing so weighs heavily on any leader, and no news grieved me more than the loss of our troops in the course of duty that happened in my time. My heart continues to go out to the Defence families for their sacrifice, and on this, my final day in this House, I want to again salute the bravery and commitment of those who have died serving their country in our national interests. New Zealanders can be rightfully proud of the men and women of our armed services. They are professional, dedicated, and highly regarded around the world.

In my time as Prime Minister, I had quite a lot to do with them, and in particular I want to thank the air force personnel who flew and supported the 757s, the King Airs, the Hercules, and the helicopters that took me safely around New Zealand and the world. In particular, I want to thank the crew that landed the 757 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the worst electrical storm I have ever seen. I owe you a beer.

The truth is that my confidence in the air force and the SAS grew so much that late last year I decided to tag along on an SAS training day to do a parachute jump from Whenuapai, in my electorate. Needless to say, my office was a touch nervous about the jump, and the kitchen cabinet did not find out until the day before. Anyway, I jumped from 12,000 feet, and sometime after 7 a.m., when I was on the ground again, I rang Bronagh, buzzing with excitement, to declare I was alive and well. I then texted Bill English. I kept it short. “I’m alive.”, I said. His reply was even shorter: “Bugger!”. One minute later, I got another text from him: “Going to give it another go?”. It was at that point I decided he was just a little bit more ambitious than he was letting on.

Bill—Prime Minister—can I acknowledge and thank you for a decade of service as the most loyal, capable, and perceptive deputy that a leader could ever have asked for. I believe you will prove to be a highly successful Prime Minister of this country, which you know and understand so well. Bronagh and I wish you and Mary all the very best.

To my former caucus and Cabinet colleagues, I am proud to have worked alongside each and every one of you. It has been an honour to lead you. You have been, and continue to be, an amazing, tight and loyal team, and every day your cohesion helps to provide New Zealand with great stability and a hugely competent Government.

Although I am trying not to single out individuals, I do have to mention Steven Joyce. Not only did he mastermind three election victories but throughout my entire time as Prime Minister he was a close adviser on almost everything that was going on. We constantly talked about the events of the day and how we should tackle and explain them. To our support partners—ACT, United Future, and the Māori Party—thank you for your crucial part in providing our country with strong, diverse, and stable government.

In my time, I was surrounded by hugely loyal, longstanding, and talented staff. There are just so many people to thank, so please forgive me for any omissions, but I am extremely grateful to all those who worked so hard, sometimes through nights that never ended. Wayne Eagleson, my Chief of Staff, for a decade—Wayne, your dedication, ability, and good sense under pressure are second to none. My press team, so ably led by Kevin Taylor, Kelly Boxhall, Sarah Aston, and Julie Ash, tried so hard to keep me out of trouble and only sometimes succeeded.

My policy advisers, including the most brilliant Grant Johnson, or “Boff” as we all know him, Paula Oliver, Phil de Joux, Sarah Boyle, Nicola Willis, Jane Fraser-Jones, Cameron Burroughs, James Christmas, Josh Cameron, and Craig Howard. The people who kept my life and travel organised, including Emma Holmes, Susan Tombleson, Rachel Beechan, Jane Nixon, Danny Coe, Laura Malcolm, Becky MacKay, and Libby O’Brien.

My electoral agents, without whose incredible commitment the people of Helensville would have suffered: Janelle Bayley, Heather Hitchings, Mel McDonald, and Jenny Collins. The party presidents I worked under: Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, and my electorate chairs Tom Grace, Steven McIlraith, and Stephen Franklin.

My Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, so ably led by Andrew Kibblewhite, and before him Sir Maartin Wevers. My tourism and intelligence officials, and my foreign policy advisers—all truly gifted: Tony Lynch, Ian King, and Taha McPherson.

I also want to thank you, Mr Speaker, and the Speakers who have preceded you, the VIP Transport Service, the wonderful Margaret Smith from Premier House, and all the other staff of the complex, who serve the people of New Zealand so well.

To the press gallery: a free press is essential for a democracy. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to your craft.

To the Diplomatic Protection Squad (DPS), whose tasks were many and varied—keeping me safe was the major one, but also finding the five things I left behind every day, including my wallet, was another. Maybe your role in our lives is best summed up by our son, Max, who said: “It seemed weird when they arrived, and it seems weirder now they’ve gone.” You guys were great. I lose a lot more golf balls now you are not around. But I am happy to say that not everything you did required 21st century policing. For example, the first death threat I got as Prime Minister, and I kid you not—one of those milestones that goes with the job—was from a not-very-bright guy who faxed it from his house, not realising his phone number was on the fax. I think my secretary had solved it before the DPS even got to her.

I leave having made some great friends in and out of this place, and many of them are here today. Thank you for being alongside me and keeping it real. And to Eric, Rhys, and David, thanks for getting my handicap down. I have been touched by the warmth and kindness many Kiwis showed me and my family while I was Prime Minister. It has been a privilege to have met so many of you.

Last but not least, to my family. To my sisters, Sue and Liz: thanks for all the encouragement, support, and laughs. Max and Stephie, I hope you know that I was proud of being the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, but Mum and I are prouder still of being your parents. Stephie, you have grown into a beautiful and talented young woman. May you always retain the passion to create the best you can. Max, you have had to grow up under a lot of pressure, in a harsh spotlight. But the world is your oyster. You are a fine young man. You have great insights. Always trust them.

Finally, Bronagh, when you said yes to marrying me, 32 years ago, I am guessing you did not think our family home would sometimes be surrounded by protesters and that we would have armed police in the living-room. When I came into Parliament, I was told that if you have a good marriage it will survive; if you do not, it will not last. Our marriage has not only survived but I think it has grown stronger over these amazing years. Your endless sacrifice, your willingness to let me follow my dreams, and your utter loyalty make any words I choose here hopelessly inadequate. I love you and I thank you.

And so, Mr Speaker, my time here is done. I take away many memories of this most remarkable place. I would like to think I leave having made a positive difference to the country, and that is satisfying. I have few regrets in my life, but one is that Mum did not live to see how it all turned out. I hope that she would have been proud. So that is it. It has been a privilege, an honour, and a blast. Goodbye, and good luck.

Waiata

Response to ‘Hit and Run’

Hager and Stephenson’s book ‘Hit and Run’ has made serious accusations, and the authors have suggested that it is possible war crimes may have been committed.

Response from John Key:

He may have more to say about it in his valedictory speech in Parliament today.

New Zealand Defence Force:

Ex Defence Minister Wayne Mapp from RNZ:

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says an SAS attack on insurgents in Afghanistan was not a revenge mission over the death of a New Zealand soldier last year.

Dr Mapp has confirmed an operation took place on 22 August last year in an area where Bamyan province borders Baghlan province, just over a fortnight after the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell from a roadside bomb explosion.

Lieutenant O’Donnell was the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan.

SAS troops were involved in the subsequent attack on the group of insurgents – killing nine Taliban fighters.

Dr Mapp says the joint mission took place involving New Zealand Special Operations Forces, Afghan National Security Forces and other coalition elements.

However he said it was not a revenge mission, but was carried out to protect the provincial reconstruction team and improve security for local people.

The minister said it would have been irresponsible not to act, given intelligence information had indicated operations against New Zealand soldiers were likely.

There is also audio of an interview with Mapp at : SAS attack not revenge over NZ death – minister.

There hasn’t been much time for official Government or party responses given that the book was launched after 5 pm yesterday.

I can’t find anything from the Government or from Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Neither can I find anything yet from Labour or from their defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

No sign of anything from NZ First nor from the Greens.

I expect some careful consideration will be given by the parties.

 

Hager and Stephenson want full Afghan inquiry

 

Not surprisingly Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson want something out of their newly released book – and it’s a full inquiry into what they claim was a botched military operation in Afghanistan.

RNZ: Hit & Run authors plead for full inquiry on Afghan raid claims

Hit & Run, co-authored by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, claims six civilians were killed and another 15 injured in raids on two villages in 2010, in what the book said was a botched operation led by New Zealand troops.

The authors alleged the soldiers, alongside US and Afghan troops, burned and blew up about a dozen houses and then did not help the wounded.

The book claimed the attacks were retaliation for the death of New Zealand soldier Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

The Defence Force said an investigation into claims of civilian casulaties at the time concluded the allegations were unfounded, and it stood by those findings.

But Jon Stephenson said he wanted Prime Minister Bill English to launch a full inquiry.

“He’s a decent man and I think we would appeal to him as a son, as a father, as someone who understands what it might be like to lose kids, that he will reach out and do the right thing here, because this is a wrong that’s [laid] festering for years.”

Nicky Hager said the book was based on information from unnamed sources – including SAS troops involved in the raid.

“We can safely say that there are grounds to suspect that there have been war crimes, but that obviously is a very serious allegation and it has to be determined by experts – which is why we’re calling for an inquiry,” Mr Hager said at the book’s launch in Wellington last night.

It is unclear how much then-Prime Minister John Key was told after the raid, and if he was misled by the military, Mr Hager said.

Both Stephenson and Hager seem to be taken a non-confrontational and relatively non-accusatory approach to  Prime Minister English and ex Prime Minister Key, which probably gives a better chance of encouraging an inquiry.

If there was to be an inquiry it is unlikely to be any outcome before the election, for both political and practical reasons.

Dotcom’s email evidence was a forgery – SFO

Kim Dotcom’s extravagant town hall ‘Moment of Truth’ during the 2014 election campaign fell flat in part because an email that Dotcom planned to produce to prove John Key’s collusion with Hollywood fell through when it was claimed to be a forgery.

The Serious Fraud Office has now put out a statement saying that they are satisfied that the email was a forgery.

NZ Herald: SFO: Kim Dotcom’s smoking gun email evidence was a ‘forgery’

The Herald can today report for the first time that the SFO investigated the email, which emerged on the eve of the 2014 election claiming then-Prime Minister John Key was involved in a conspiracy to get Dotcom.

It is also a definite statement rejecting any possibility the email is genuine.

In a statement, the SFO said: “The SFO confirms that it carried out an investigation into this matter. As a result of that investigation, the SFO is satisfied that the email was a forgery.”

Dotcom said today that he still believed the email to be genuine and was surprised the SFO was able to be so definite.

“I believe the email to be real,” he said.

But he backed off revealing it at his ‘Moment of Truth’.

The purported email was from Warner Bros chief executive Kevin Tsujihara to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Asia-Pacific president Michael Ellis.

It was dated the day Key met Tsujihara and was in the midst of Immigration NZ’s consideration of Dotcom’s residency.

dotcomemail8

A Warner Bros senior vice president told the Herald at the time: “Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key. The alleged email is a fabrication.”

A spokeswoman for the MPAA said: “Mike Ellis never received this alleged email or discussed this matter with Kevin Tsujihara.”

Dotcom said today that the email was “easy to discredit” because it did not have “headers” – detailed information which shows the internet protocol address from which it was sent or the relays and servers it passed through.

As a result, he “could not use it at the Moment of Truth” – the event he organised at the Auckland Town Hall the week before the 2014 election. There, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Julian Assange of Wikileaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald made claims of mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

“It was a huge disappointment and distracted from the bigger picture: The Government and its participation in mass surveillance,” Dotcom said.

That was all timed to try and swing the election against the National government. Dotcom was financing and promoting his own Internet Party, which not only failed itself it also dragged down the Mana Party.

The email is back in the spotlight thanks to a new taxpayer-funded documentary into the Dotcom case. Kim Dotcom: Caught In The Web, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in the United States this week, includes the German-born entrepreneur talking about the origins of the email.

In the documentary, he says: “That email, I know it comes from hacker circles. You know about the famous Sony Hack. The same people who were responsible for that hack, were responsible for this hack.”

But it was text only, without the details necessary to prove authenticity.

Investigators familiar with SFO methods told the Herald the definite statement the email was a forgery revealed an deep and forensic-style investigation.

One investigator with SFO experience said the agency would have sought statements or interviews from the named executives and access to the servers. It would have studied the format and style of the email to see if it was consistent with where it was supposed to have come from.

Checking servers of the purported recipient and sender would be essential too. “If you did both parties and neither had it, that would be a strong basis to support the argument it was a forgery.”

He said the inquiry would also have involved each person believed or known to have contact being considered.

The SFO have gone further than saying that the email can’t be authenticated, they have stated that they think it was a forgery.

It’s hard to believe that Dotcom would fabricate a bogus email as he would known it would be denied.

Was Dotcom set up? If so, by whom, and why? Was it done to try to help Dotcom, or to try to trash his credibility?

Reaction to Family and Whanau Violence Bill

The Family and Whanau Violence Bill that was introduced into Parliament yesterday.

Family violence is a big issue. Violence not only affects the well being of adults and children in families, it has adverse flow on effects in health, education, crime, imprisonment rates and employment.

I can’t find any reaction from Labour.

Green MP Jan Logie in Stuff – Overhaul of family violence laws goes before Parliament:

Green Party women’s spokeswoman Jan Logie said the Government’s reforms were “an important first step”, but she still had concerns about inconsistencies in ensuring the safety of children.

Logie wanted the reinstatement of the Bristol clause, which would refuse abusive former partners access to their children until their safety was assured, and was also concerned about a lack of funding for support services like Women’s Refuge.

“If we’re going to be asking these organisations to do this extra service and they’re struggling to stay open and meet the demand, then it’s not going to work.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams…

…said the safety of children was an “absolutely paramount consideration” both in existing law and the family violence reforms.

“We’ve done a lot more in these reforms, but broadly speaking, the underlying rationale still remains, which…has always and continues to put the safety of children right at the forefront of decision-making.”

Then-Prime Minister John Key announced the overhaul last September…

…saying the Government would not “shy away” from tackling family violence.

“The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the police, social agencies and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring.”

Police Commissioner:

At the time, the announcement was welcomed by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who said being able to identify family violence offenders more easily would make it easier for police to provide support.

Women’s Refuge media release:


Women’s Refuge welcomes The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill

The introduction of the much anticipated Family and Whānau violence legislation has been warmly welcomed by family violence organisation Women’s Refuge. The legislation introduced to parliament today places a far greater emphasis upon victim safety – a long overdue and applauded move. This change will see the justice sector required to place victim safety at the heart of much of their decision making, especially in to care of children and bail issues.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury says “we are very pleased to see the government has taken seriously the concerns and suggestions from those working at the coal face in crafting this comprehensive piece of family violence legislation; the strong emphasis on the safety of victims and their children is a great move”

Under the proposed legislation, processes around the granting and policing of Protection Orders by the Courts have been significantly strengthened. Information including risk factor information will now be made available to Police Districts when an Order is granted and breaches of Protection Orders will now be treated as aggravating factors at sentencing. In addition all bail applications before the Court must include careful consideration of victim safety.

“Incidents of family violence and abuse including breaches of Protection Orders are rarely isolated or ‘one off’ incidents, they are deliberate and frequently repeated. To see this reflected in the way the courts sentence is a significant step towards ensuring a victim’s safety is paramount”

Legislation changes will also include better recording and acknowledgement of family violence, better information sharing provisions between government and family violence agencies, the introduction of a code of practice across the sector, and the inclusion of new classes of offences. While Women’s Refuge has yet to see the details of all of these, they are positive about the proposed changes.

“We are pleased to see focused attention to strangulation and marriage by coercion with the introduction of these new offences. The inclusion of animal abuse in the new definition is also extremely pleasing as we know that threats of harm to pets are a frequent control tactic utilised by perpetrators; to see this explicitly recognised is a great step forward.”

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend five Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.