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:


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:


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.


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.


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.

Parties arrange early Key/Cunliffe exits

National and Labour have worked together to arrange for the early exit of John Key and David Cunliffe from Parliament. They are both leaving just close enough to the election to avoid automatic by-elections, and with both leaving at about the same time the vote balance in parliament won’t be upset.

Too bad for their electorates that will be left unrepresented until after the election. Neither electorate has a current list MP standing so that leave no one to step in for them.

Stuff: Key, Cunliffe set date for final departures in move to preserve Parliament’s balance

Former Prime Minister John Key will quit Parliament on April 14 after delivering his farewell speech next week.

The timing will allow Parliament to avoid a by-election in his Helensville seat, which can be left vacant if he leaves within six months of the September 23 general election.

Meanwhile Labour’s David Cunliffe has also announced he is leaving early, with a final day of April 23 – ensuring the relative strengths of the Government and Opposition are preserved.

It is becoming more common for MPs and also for local body politicians to leave mid-term at their own convenience rather than fulfil their full term commitment.

Key will give his valedictory speech on March 22 and his resignation will take take effect on April 14.

Cunliffe’s valedictory speech will be on April 11 and his resignation will take effect on April 23.

Something missing here

‘Mickysavage’ has an odd post at The Standard: John Key – Mr 2%

One of the more interesting aspects of last night’s Colmar Brunton poll was the decline of support for John Key as preferred Prime Minister to 2%.  Jacinda Ardern is polling at twice that level.

Support for Bill English has surged.  But National strategists should be worried about this.  English is no Key.  In real life he is rather non descript and not very exciting.  He will not dominate the media in the way that John Key has.

I didn’t even think about what Key might have got because he has stepped down as Prime Minister and will be leaving Parliament soon. Why would even 2% who voted for him as ‘preferred Prime Minister’ when he prefers to be out of politics?

But there are not one but two interesting omissions from the post – Andrew Little and Winston Peters.

As nondescript and unexciting as Bill English may be he went from 0% in the last two polls up to 31%, most of what Key got in the last poll.

And Little dropped from 8% to 7%, with Peters staying on 8%.

While Labourites may be relishing the chance, at last, to savage Key on a poll result it is of no consequence.

How Andrew Little shapes up against Bill English will largely determine the outcome of this year’s election.

I asked an ex-pat Kiwi in Australia last week (someone who keeps an eye on news here and votes in NZ elections) what they thought of Andrew Little. They hadn’t heard if him.

There’s not just something missing from the poll post at The Standard, there is something missing from Labour.

Green MPs “a really busy and positive year”

The Green Party have good reasons to be fairly happy with their year.

James Shaw has settled in as co-leader after Russel Norman’s exit in 2015, they secured a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, there’s been no major embarrassments or stuff ups, John Key stepped down, they gained a second new mid-term MP (Barry Coates), and two more MPs indicated they would step down next year making room for more fresh faces (if they at least maintain current levels of support).

The loss of one of their most respected MPs, Kevin Hague is a negative but not a major considering how everything else has gone for them.

Metiria Turei reflects on 2016 and looks ahead in Well, THAT happened: reflecting on 2016 and beyond:

2016 for our MPs

Green MPs have actually had a really busy and positive year working on the nation’s most pressing issues: poverty and inequality, housing, climate action, inclusive education, safe drinking water and clean rivers to name a few. We’ve been talking with people up and down the country, promoting legislation, setting out the solutions, and, where possible, working with other parties in Parliament to achieve progress.

They have done as much as could be expected from Opposition, and have been visibly more active on policies and issues than NZ First and probably Labour most of the time. The are far more organised and persistent in social media.

2016 for us and Labour

In May, the Green Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour. It’s the first time political parties have reached such an agreement before an election, and means we get to have a conversation with New Zealanders about why we are working to change the government.

We worked constructively with Labour on the Homelessness Inquiry and early in 2017 you’ll see us working together on a range of other issues.

The Greens got what they wanted with the MoU and are happy with it, but it’s yet to be seen whether it will help their cause. They are very reliant on Labour to get into Government and are keen to do what they can to make that happen – but they also want to increase their share of the party vote relative to Labour to give them more leverage.

2016 for me

For me, this year has been one of consolidating my work on housing and inequality because I am determined to do all that I can to ensure that families have the resources they need to nurture their babies.

We need mothers educated, healthy, and secure so that they can shape the future of our nation. It will be women that determine the fate of our country next year, make no mistake.

I don’t know how that will work, there are about as many male voters as there are female.

So, I’ll be spending the summer resting and getting ready for a busy 2017. I want to spend time doing craft, reading, walking my dogs and connecting with my whānau so that next year I can run hard with the Greens to change the government.

‘Change the government’ has been repeated a lot by the Greens and Labour already, trying to get voters thinking about it being time for a change.

Turei is well supported and respected amongst her own. It’s yet to be seen whether she can appeal to a wider constituency so that Greens grow their vote (they failed to do that last election) and so that Andrew Little and Turei (plus James Shaw) look like a viable alternative to run the country.

If Little continues to try to appeal more to the left than the centre Greens and Labour may end up competing for the same votes – unless they can find the formula for inspiring current non-voters to back them, a strategy that failed last campaign.

But with Bill English taking over from Key next year’s election is wide open.

Greens thought they had their best shot in 2014 and that didn’t work out for them. They get to have another go – and it may be Turei’s last shot at making it into government.

Turei: “a very radical economic and social agenda”

In an end of year interview with Stuff  Green co-leader Metiria Turei claims that National have “a very radical economic and social agenda” that will become more obvious now “they don’t have the friendly face of John Key to soften its blow.”

The most common criticisms of the National dominated Government led by John key and under Bill English’s economic management has been that they haven’t done enough, that they have been a do nothing ‘steady as she goes’ Government.

I think that more people will see Turei as the one with a very radical economic and social agenda.

That’s why National have been getting in the high forties in the last three elections (44.93%, 47.31%, 47.04%) and Greens seem to have plateaued (6.72%, 11.06%, 10.70%).

I think there is a fairly strong voter resistance to a government strongly influenced by the Greens even under Russel Norman’s attempts to present a moderate, fiscally responsible party. Turei has always been seen as a radical.

Stuff: There’s a new political landscape now, and Greens co-leader Metiria Turei is here to play

Solving child poverty is so obvious…if only leaders didn’t cheapen the seats of power and the media calmed down a bit.

We should all calm down, let Turei wave a Green wand and all our social and environmental problems will be fixed without any adverse impact on the economy. Heaps of money redistributed to the poor and no oil for the rich.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has some choice words about the political year past.

It delivered some shock results, one shock resignation and a “disgraceful” lack of progress on social issues like poverty and housing, she says.

There has certainly been challenges for the Government on housing, but they have been criticised for not doing enough, not for being radical.

There has also been growing pressure – by political design and aided by media – on inequality and child poverty, and again National have been criticised for not being radical enough.

“John Key never had a commitment to public service. For him, it was never about the best public welfare. I think he saw it as a challenge for him personally and I think he enjoyed quite a bit of the job, at least until these last couple of years.

“He certainly made the role of Prime Minister a much more superficial one than it’s ever been before.”

The public/media side of Government and Prime Minister has always been superficial. Key has generally done well with that, but that doesn’t mean more in depth things haven’t been done with less publicity.

However, Turei offers some praise for Key’s decision to leave when he did.

“I’ve always thought politicians should go at the top of our game…rather than getting kicked out and carried out, walking out on your own two feet is a much better thing to do.

“It was wise the way [Key] did it for himself. What he hasn’t done is leave a genuine legacy for the country.”

It’s too soon to judge Key’s legacy. But Key has succeeded where Turei has failed – they both became MPs in 2002, Key by ousting a sitting MP and winning an electorate, Turei as a list MP.

Key spent 6 years in opposition, then the last eight years leading the Government.

Turei has been 14 years in opposition. The Greens have increased their vote since she has been co-leader but seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

She may still get to experience the realities of being in government, and discover that rapid radical economic and social changes are not as easy to implement as she seems to think. And not without adverse effects.

Next year’s election could be make or break for Turei’s legacy.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting election, because changing the Government is so possible this time around,” she says.

It’s certainly possible – but it was also possible in 2014 and the Greens were very confident of growing their support significantly so they would have a big say in government, only to be disappointed – so much so that Russel Norman decided to opt out.

But if Turei talks too much about others being very radical on economic and social issues she risks drawing attention to herself and her own ideals, and they are far from conservative.

“A very radical economic and social agenda” probably describes Turei more than any other MP, and certainly more than any other party leader.

Most voters probably see Turei as a Mad Hatter compared to TweedleDumLabour and TweedleDeeNational.