NZ First claims ‘misunderstanding’, Peters instructs apology to Mitchell

An unusually contrite NZ First has apologised for what they describe as a misunderstanding over a conversation between one of their first term MPs, Jenny Marcroft, and Northcote electorate MP, Mark Mitchell.

Yesterday Mitchell put out a claim in a press release:

Labour’s coalition partner NZ First has threatened to withhold regional development funding for an important economic development project in Rodney unless local National MP Mark Mitchell ends his advocacy for it and stops criticising NZ First ministers.

In an extraordinary request over the weekend, NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – who said she was under instruction from a Minister – also requested that National pledge to not ask Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones questions about the project, should it go ahead.

“Ms Marcroft said she had been sent to tell me that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, but for that to happen I would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

“She also said if I ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.

“Finally, she implied my work as an Opposition MP would be a factor in funding any projects in my electorate I was involved in.

“I immediately told Ms Marcroft this behaviour was unacceptable, and that she had been put in a very compromised position by her colleague. She refused to name them so I said she had two hours to have the Minister call me before I took the matter further.

“She sent a text message an hour later asking me to forget the conversation.

NZH – National MP Mark Mitchell: ‘Rotten politics’ from NZ First MP over regions fund

Mitchell included screengrabs of texts in which he and Marcroft agreed to meet at the Orewa Surf Club on Saturday.

A text from Marcroft at 6.10pm that night read “Hi Mark, on reflection I have considered the substance of our conversation to be incorrect and would therefore ask that you kindly disregard it. Thank you for your generosity in this matter.”

That sounds like an attempted backtrack from Marcroft.

NZ First have since responded.

Jones said he had not known about Marcroft’s alleged actions and was not the minister referred to.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it. If you’re asking me am I monstering anyone over the Growth Fund, absolutely not.”

A straight denial of knowledge or involvement.

Winston Peters put out a statement:

“After the conversation had got out of hand she consulted with me late on Saturday afternoon and was advised by me to issue an apology. Ms Marcroft was not under instructions by any NZ First ministers regarding funding, and while Mr Mitchell may have misunderstood her underlying point, she was apologetic over the matter, and conveyed that to him.”

Misunderstandings can easily happen in conversations. Misunderstandings are also possible when junior MPs are instructed by senior MPs.

There is no dispute that the conversation took place, just a claim of a misunderstanding, a backtrack and an apology.

That Peters advised Marcroft to apologise seems an unusual NZ First action. It looks like an attempt to dampen down the claims. Peters far more commonly uses attack as a form of defence.

Jones:

He said such political arguments did not compromise their ability to put up proposals.

“If there are National MPs promoting proposals just get ready and stand in line like everyone else and go through the bureaucratic system.”

Mitchell has asked the Prime Minister to take action. Jacinda Ardern has also responded. RNZ – NZ First MP instructed to apologise to National Party

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to be blindsided by the news when questioned by reporters at her weekly press conference this afternoon.

She said she wanted to get more details before responding, but stressed the Provincial Growth Fund was not a political process.

“The process … is not contingent on support for this government at all and there is plenty of proof of that.

It will be interesting to see how the Mahurangi River Restoration Project fares now in the Regional Economic Development fund handouts.

 

National MP claims threat from NZ First

Mark Mitchell claims that NZ First has threatened him to keep away from an electorate project, and NZ First have sent a new MP to request this and that they (NZ First) not be questioned in Parliament.

This is just one side of a story, but if it is close to accurate it is seriously concerning – akin to the Australian cricket cheating scandal, where team leaders got a team newcomer to go dirty.

Mark Mitchell (MP for Rodney):  Minister using taxpayer cash for political gain

Labour’s coalition partner NZ First has threatened to withhold regional development funding for an important economic development project in Rodney unless local National MP Mark Mitchell ends his advocacy for it and stops criticising NZ First ministers.

In an extraordinary request over the weekend, NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – who said she was under instruction from a Minister – also requested that National pledge to not ask Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones questions about the project, should it go ahead.

“Ms Marcroft said she had been sent to tell me that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, but for that to happen I would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

“She also said if I ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.

“Finally, she implied my work as an Opposition MP would be a factor in funding any projects in my electorate I was involved in.

“I immediately told Ms Marcroft this behaviour was unacceptable, and that she had been put in a very compromised position by her colleague. She refused to name them so I said she had two hours to have the Minister call me before I took the matter further.

“She sent a text message an hour later asking me to forget the conversation.

“But this is rotten politics. It goes to the core of our democratic processes and the National Party will not let such behaviour stand.

“This billion dollar Provincial Growth Fund is taxpayer money and should be used to benefit New Zealanders, not buy an easy ride for the Government nor to try and convince local MPs to stop supporting local projects, because they have annoyed the Government.

“The Prime Minister needs to find out which of her Ministers is attempting to use public money for political gain and she needs to quickly explain what she intends to do about it.”

The buck may stop at the Prime Minister’s desk, but initially at least it is mainly up to NZ First to front up and explain.

If Mitchell’s claims are accurate this is more than dirty politics, it is an abuse of power and of the Regional Development Fund.

Marcroft is a first term NZ First list MP, ranked 9th. If she was instructed to do this by NZ First leadership it has put her in an awful position, a bit like the newbie Australian cricketer asked to cheat by his team’s leadership.

 

Mark Mitchell confirms leadership bid

As signalled, Mark Mitchell has confirmed he is putting himself forward fort the leadership of the National Party.  This will put him up against Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins.

Mitchell is 49, and has been the MP for the Rodney electorate since 2011 after taking over from Lockwood Smith.

He has some interesting things to say in an RNZ interview with John Campbell – he came across reasonably well but needs to gains some confidence talking to media.

He promoted his leadership skills gained working in the police force and in private security business in New Zealand and overseas.

He was asked about his connection with Dirty Politics. He was adamant he had not engaged Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater to attack opponents when standing for the national nomination to stand in a safe electorate. He said that Nicky Hager’s claims were wrong, and could have been cleared up if he had taken the time to talk to Mitchell (Hager didn’t approach anyone fore verification or rebuttal).

Mitchell was asked how conservative he was given he had voted against the Marriage Equality bill. I was impressed by his response.

He said that as it was a conscience vote (meaning MPs can vote however they like, with no party whipping), he polled his electorate, had electorate meetings, and then voted for the majority view of his electorate. If that’s actually how things worked I applaud him for that – MPs should represent their constituents, not their own personal beliefs.

Both Mitchell and National have had huge majorities in the last three elections so it would be no surprise that the electorate view is relatively conservative. Rodney results in the last few elections:

  • 2005 (Lockwood Smith) – 20,651 votes (55.27%
  • 2008 (Lockwood Smith) – 22.698 votes (60.41%)
  • 2011 (Mark Mitchell) – 20,253 votes (53.54%) – Colin Craig got 21.23%
  • 2014 (Mark Mitchell) – 24,519 votes (63.00%)
  • 2017 (Mark Mitchell) – 28,140 votes (63.14%)

Mitchell is probably the outsider at this stage but gives the National caucus another option to ponder.

RNZ:  Mark Mitchell joins the National leadership race

 

National leadership speculation in full swing

There hasn’t been much change to the list of National leadership contenders – Jonathan Coleman has confirmed he won’t stand, Steven Joyce and mark Mitchell are reported to be interested but haven’t yet confirmed either way, so Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins remain the current confirmed contenders.

There’s a lot of pundit positing for various candidates, which is unlikely to influence the MPs in National’s caucus who will make the decision, so is more like attempts to be seen as able to guess who the winner will be before it is announced.

Bryce Edwards tweeted:

A notable omission from the endorsement list is himself, given his clearly stated preference:

I’m not going to endorse or pick any of them, I’m still quite ambivalent about who I’d like to see lead National, I don’t care very much who gets the job. But here’s some musings.

Amy Adams – seems to have been a very capable Minister who managed a large workload in the last Government. I’m not sure she has the media appeal that, unfortunately, seems to be demanded by media.

Simon Bridges – he is rated by some, and his relative youth may help against Ardern, but I haven’t seen he has what it needs yet. Perhaps he could rise to the position, but that is a risk.

Judith Collins – I really think she looks the best prepared and most capable of the bunch, and could be a very good contrast to Ardern, but she will need to get the support of the caucus, something she has failed to do in the past, and one of her biggest impediments is the rash of dirt mongering against her opponents and promotion of her at Whale Oil – the risk of her being connected to that, justified or not, may be causing some MPs some concern.

Should they stand:

Steven Joyce – in some ways he has been a very capable lieutenant to Key and English, has made misjudgements in the last two campaigns (Northland and general election). If National want to rejuvenate and set a new course into the political future Joyce is not the one, that will count against him unless National MPs think more of same old is what they want.

Mark Mitchell – seen as a dark horse candidate that few of the public will know. He has seemed ok to me in the little I have seen of him, but too little to judge. He would certainly be a breath of fresh leadership, and would contrast with Ardern, but will be hammered for his military contracting past, just like Key was hammered (to little effect) on his money market past.

Whoever takes over will have two years to build their profile and support before heading into the 2020 campaign – presuming the current lasts that long (the odds must be it will).

It’s worth keeping an eye on Kiwiblog. So far David Farrar has done individual posts on Collins and Mitchell. They could make a good looking leadership team, and Labour have shown that two geographically imbalanced (Auckland or north) leaders doesn’t seem to matter any more.

National emergency housing problems

There is an escalating emergency housing problem, and escalating risks for the Government as embarrassing details emerge.

Newshub: Government blows the budget on emergency housing

The Government has had a massive blowout in emergency housing grants, spending almost four times its annual budget in just three months.

As part of an overall $345m investment in emergency housing, the Government only budgeted $2m per year for an estimated 1400 emergency housing grants – which pay for urgent motel stays for families in need.

But in the December quarter alone, the Ministry of Social Development spent $7.7m on emergency housing grants.

There were 8860 grants in the final three months of 2016 – which is more than six times the Government’s expectations.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says funding will be topped up from Crown funds in the same way benefits are.

“We’re not going to run out of money, nor will people miss out,” she said. “While demand has been higher, which we’ve been very upfront about, the grant will be available to anyone who is eligible.”

The December quarter was the first to be properly recorded by the Ministry of Social Development.

“The $2 million was what officials predicted might be needed – remembering that this was the first time we’d established the grant, so it was always going to be a forecast,” Ms Adams said.

In a briefing to the Incoming Minister of Social Development, MSD warns the additional demand is “creating pressures”.

“The high level of demand for emergency housing has seen higher than expected numbers of households being supported to stay in motels and other forms of commercial accommodation,” it said.

This is embarrassing for the Government. They didn’t do enough soon enough.

The pressures on housing are also creating funding pressures plus pressures on National in an election year.

Newshub: Government counts homeless in tourism stats

The Government has been counting homeless people living in motels in its tourism statistics.

Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has confirmed official tourism numbers include people who are being put into hostels or motels through emergency housing special needs grants.

The Statistics New Zealand Accommodation Survey is used as a measure of tourism levels, with the definition used to define the domestic tourists “one New Zealander spending one night at an establishment”.

However when Newshub asked tourism minister Paula Bennett if homeless were included, she said no.

“No, because they’re not tourists. Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re asking.

“No they’re not included in the tourism stats for accommodation.”

The Government are looking increasingly out of touch and too slow to respond to housing issues, especially emergency housing.

RNZ: PM responds to criticism over housing crisis

English can’t easily talk down the severity of the problems or the embarrassment.

Political awards

I’m not going to dish out political award – like that vast majority of New Zealanders I have no idea how our MP’s actually work beneath the vanity veneer of PR and the fog of media wars.

Journalists have been somewhat distracted this month with actual political news to deal with but some have managed to review the year.

Tracy Watkins and Vernon Small: Didn’t see that coming: A year of political bombshells

It was the year no-one saw coming. A year when everything we thought we knew about politics was tipped on its head. Brexit. Donald Trump.

No one sees what’s coming, but Brexit and Trump certainly went against most predictions.

Brexit means major changes for the UK and for Europe.

Trump looks like meaning major changes for the US and potentially for the world.

John Key quitting. So much for a quiet year between elections.  There wasn’t a Beehive staffer or Press Gallery journo who wasn’t wilting in the final week before Christmas.

While Key’s resignation excited the local pundits in what is usually a wind down period it is not anywhere near being in the same league.

So far the only changes are a few tweaks to Government under a Prime Minister who was already a major influence, and a few tweaks to ministerial responsibilities that most people won’t notice.

It perhaps opens up next year’s election a bit, but despite Labour’s glee it may not end up making much difference in what was already regarded as an uncertain election. Everyone is still predicting Winston will be ‘king maker’ – and even that’s no change from the last couple of elections.

Watkins and Small name Key as Politician of the Year – for resigning?

Apart from that it was a fairly uneventful and unremarkable year for Key. Most notable was his lack of success in changing the flag and despite getting the TPP over the line it now looks to be dead in the US  water. I wouldn’t say that Key had an award winning year.

They dish out a number of corny awards, but there is one that looks to be a deserved mention:

Backbencher of the year. National MP Mark Mitchell. He chaired the Foreign Affairs and Trade select committee through the divisive Trans Pacific Partnership legislation and helped turned hearings from being fractious to respectful, and even good-natured. On top of that he seems to have earned a reputation as an all-round nice guy, even from his political opponents, and got his reward with a ministerial promotion.

Most of the public probably haven’t heard of Mark Mitchell let alone are aware of his quiet achievements in Parliament.

There are 121 MPs in Parliament most of whom (if not all) are working hard and doing their best. Voters get to see little of this – all we usually see is a few attention seekers granted coverage by media who tend to accentuate the absurd and exaggerate a few issues and events.

If I was to do any award it would be not singling out a single person, it would be for the quiet achievers in Parliament who make a difference without being noticed by most of the people most of the time.

These MPs are the unsung backbone of our democracy.

TPPA timeframe change “an attack on democracy”

MPs considering submissions on the TPPA have had the available time slashed from a month to five days. This is bad process and appalling PR from the Government on a very contentious issue.

The select committee public submission process is an important part of our democratic system, despite efforts by parties and activist groups to manipulate it.

It’s a common tactic to try and flood submissions with a particular stance and then to claim that it’s a measure of public opposition. Numbers of submissions are not a measure of opinion.

But the Government has poked a stick into a wasp nest by slashing the time Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee members have to consider submissions on the TPPA.

Radio NZ reports: New TPP timeframe an ‘attack on democracy’

MPs have been given just five days to consider hundreds of submissions on the controversial TPP trade deal after the timeframe was drastically cut from four weeks.

The select committee was originally give a month to write its report and present it back to Parliament.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee had been hearing submissions on the TPP from hundreds of people across the country and that will continue until the end of the month.

National MP Mark Mitchell, chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, strongly rejects the view that the timeframe undermines the democratic process and says there will be plenty of time for robust debate.

But a last minute slashing of time to consider submissions is an awful look – what did key say about National’s need to avoid appearing arrogant this term?

Opposition MPs are understandably up in arms.

But opposition members on the committee say they were told yesterday the government wanted to cut down the time they had to analyse the submissions, so the legislation could get through by the end of the year.

They said they were stunned by the news and felt angry and frustrated.

Labour MP David Clark…

…said he wouldn’t be surprised if the people who made submissions felt the same way.

“Submitters will be horrified if they learnt that the committee is curtailing a process of consideration of the very serious issues they have raised,” he said.

“It seems very reasonable to expect them to be frustrated and to question whether there is integrity in the process at all.”

It’s fair to question motives and integrity.

Green MP Kennedy Graham…

…said he and other opposition MPs on the committee had thought the original timeframe of a month to write the report was too short.

“It’s just a slap of indifference and dismissal of some very sincere, very capable and hard-working New Zealand people,” he said.

“It shows it up for what it is – which is essentially a roadshow with a predetermined end.”

It gives opponents plenty of cause to ridicule the consultation process as a sham.

New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau…

…said what made it worse was that the tight deadline meant the draft report would be written before the committee had finished hearing all the submissions.

The TPP has been a farcical process from the beginning, he said.

“The whole negotiation had been undertaken in secret to start with. The submission time has been months in contrast to the six years it has to write [the TPP deal],” Mr Tabuteau said.

“This is clearly an attack on democracy – it’s unacceptable.”

It looks unacceptable to me.

This is likely to stir up the TPPA opponents yet again and give them a good reason to stir up protests again.

Is this just arrogant abuse of the democratic process, or is the Government deliberately stirring up anti-TPPA protest?

Whether the latter is their intent or not it is likely to be the outcome.

Sabin issue getting murkier

While media and Andrew Little are quibbling about a few days before and after the start of December more news keeps leaking into the public domain.

But One News pulls the story back to August – Police asked questions about Mike Sabin six months ago

ONE News has tonight confirmed that in early August police started looking into allegations against Mr Sabin. Two months later, on October 22, he was appointed chair of law and order select committee.

ONE News started making inquiries to government agencies and Mr Sabin on November 25. December 1 is now when Mr Key says he first heard Mr Sabin had family issues. Then, last Friday, January 30, Mr Sabin resigned.

ONE News political reporter Katie Bradford says police are not expected to inform the Prime Minister of every investigation. “That is of course an operational matter. But it is the duty of Mike Sabin, under what’s known as the ‘no surprises agreement’ to tell his boss just what’s going on,” Bradford said.

Key would have been mad to have appointed Sabin to chair the Law and Order Committee knowing there was a police investigation under way without at least making sure that it wasn’t serious (by all accounts this is serious to very serious).

And he would have been mad to have claimed to not known about it until December when it could be proven he knew early.

So either Key has acted madly, or he has been very poorly informed by staff and MPs.

One MP who confirms he did get the early heads up is Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, who admits he and Mr Sabin speak daily. “Yeah, he was pretty candid. He confided in me, yeah, as a mate would do,” Mr Mitchell told reporters.

It’s known that Mitchell is close to Cameron Slater so it’s not surprising Slater has been getting tip-offs.

Why would Mitchell not have passed on to Key or his office how serious it could potentially be?

Perhaps he was committed to confidentiality.

Otherwise this could get very messy for Key in a number of ways. It’s growing murkier by the day.

UPDATE:

A wee exchange at Whale Oil:

caochladh
Amongst all this rhetoric, supposition, innuendo and second guessing, where is the primary evidence to prove any of it?

Pete
We aren’t allowed to tell you.

stanace
Well if you are not allowed to tell us, would JK not have been in the same position, ie would not be allowed to do anything about it?

UPDATE 2: Now out from behind the NBR paywall – this passage (ex The Standard):

NBR understands the PM was first made aware of the assault complaint in April last year, months before the September 20 ballot – and that the National Party knew before the 2011 election.

The Northland MP resigned on Friday, citing personal reasons.

Mr Key said this morning he knew about Mr Sabin’s resignation “a day or two prior”.

Asked, “Can we absolutely say you knew nothing about this before the election?” the PM replied “No … I was aware of the personal family matters for about the last week of Parliament last year [Dec 8 – 12]. So that’s the timeframe.”

Openly calling it an assault complaint and stating Key knew in April.

Slater versus Hooton on Dirty Politics

Cameron Slater has kept saying he will reveal all about the ‘Dirty Politics’ plot against him when the time is right, but he doesn’t seem to be able to resist either dropping big hints or fishing and stirring.

Yesterday he posted With friends like Matthew Hooton who needs enemies?

There’s a certain irony in that.

Slater seems to imply that Hooton is “donkey deep” on the plot against him.

Matthew Hooton is a friend of Laila Harre (  Still I assume ) as they went/or are still to go on a skiing holiday to Whistler together. The trip has been planned and paid for, for months. It will be/should’ve been an interesting trip if it was the source of Matthew’s statement on Paul Henry yesterday about The Labour Party and The Internet Party.

He stated that the Labour Party’s  “Vote Positive” campaign slogan was designed to complement Kim Dotcom’s Moment of Truth as the idea was to provide a contrast between despicable John Key and The Labour Party. This confirmation, from a confidant of Laila’s, confirms what we have said all along here on Whaleoil about Dirty Politics being a hit organised by not one but two political parties ably assisted or led by the Machiavellian Matt McCarten, a long time friend and Alliance pal of Laila Harre.

That McCarten and Harre might collude is no surprise, it hasn’t been hard to suspect what might have been going on behind the political scenes.

But Hooton is an unlikely partner in that mix. Unless the price was right? He does PR campaigns for a living.

This is the first time that Hooton has dropped the veil. Of course he was donkey deep in pushing the left-wing slant on Dirty Politics…he constantly claimed that this MP or that MP was next, and that John Key would have to resign, and that National would lose the election.

Hooton’s stance at the time, especially calling on Key to resign, looked very curious.

He was drinking the Kool-aid of the Dirty Politics crew, literally, from the horse’s mouth. He is as complicit as the media, and perhaps more guilty than most.

I still find it interesting that there is nary a mention of him in Dirty Politics…and certainly nothing about his own business practices…very interesting indeed.

Slater has often claimed that what was left out of Hager’s book was as telling as what was included.

However the collusion between Labour’s inner sanctum and Dotcom’s criminal political conspiracy is now established.There is no longer any doubt that Labour via the cosy relationship between Matt McCarten and Laila Harre colluded with and plotted with Kim Dotcom in order to subvert our democracy and hijack an election through a criminal enterprise.

For someone not yet ready to blow the lid on the plot this is continuation of being openly accusatory.

This now makes the story I heard from one National MP that saw McCarten approach Mark Mitchell, and stop and say “Ahhh, so I finally meet the puppet master” make complete sense.

Now what on earth could McCarten have meant by that statement? It means nothing unless you also watched Martyn Martin Bradbury claim constantly via his left-wing hate speech blog that Mark Mitchell ‘s election was going to end in tears and that he should have shut up about Kim Dotcom.

Slater has provided political promotion services to National MP (Rodney electorate) Mark Mitchell. There have been claims that Mitchell was also hacked.

Dirty politics doesn’t look like dissipating any time soon. Both sides are still fighting tooth and nail. And seemingly the same side is in open combat too.

When it comes to politics power, dirt and money seem to be far thicker than friendships.

Conflicting claims over National’s Rodney selection

In the wake of “Dirty Politics” and associated data dumps there are conflicting claims by the successful candidate Mark Mitchell (who is now an MP) and Brent Robinson.

Mitchell claims he didn’t pay for help from Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk but a post by Slater in 2011 admits “If you want to be a National candidate there is a very small group of talented, experienced professionals who will greatly enhance your chances of winning. Yes they will cost…”

Newstalk ZB reported last Friday: National MP contemplates legal action against Nicky Hager

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell denies the suggestion he hired political strategist Simon Lusk and attack blogger Cameron Slater, to undermine his opponents for National’s candidacy in the seat back in 2011.

One of those opponents, Brent Robinson, told Newstalk ZB he’s considering legal action – as the revelations suggest Mr Mitchell broke the party’s rules to get elected.

But Mr Mitchell says that’s untrue – and after the election, he may take legal action of his own, over the book.

Robinson has just been interviewed by Radio NZ – Failed National candidate wants rogue elements kicked out:

Mary Wilson: A failed National Party candidate is demanding the party weed out rogue elements that he says sabotaged his campaign in rogue safe National seat of Rodney three years ago.  The Nicky Hager book dirty politics asserts party figures have used the Whale Oil and other right wing bloggers to attack opponents, but in this case the emails detail a campaign against one of their own during a candidate selection.

The emails between Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk discuss backing contender Mark Mitchell to prove they are crucial to people’s political careers. Mr Mitchell is now the Rodney MP.

Whale Oil blogs at the time attacked two other candidates, the front runners Brent Robinson and Scott Simpson.

Mr Robinson was called shameless, unethical, unscrupulous and unfit to hold office for signing up church members to the National Party. He says it was hard to take.

Brent Robinson: I’ve got to say the process itself was pretty atrocious. The accusations that were made slandered against my character, against my reputation, and it was very very hard on myself and on my wife and children. 

This was an orchestrated paid campaign to discredit other candidates.

And what was your sense in the electorate about how seriously these posts were being taken, and how much people believed them?

I think it made a significant difference to the selection process itself.  It was a tight run race, and there were seventeen National Party delegates that vote on it and I think it did make a difference.  Look whether I would have won or not, who knows, but the fact is it took place.

And were you signing up people from your church to become National Party members?

Look I’ve got an email from the National Party General Manager that he sends to all candidates encouraging people during the process to bring people in as members of the National Party.

So I think eleven people from my small church in Orewa joined the National Party..

As a result of a direct approach from you?

Yeah. Not for myself. Um there were all sorts of people wanting to join, and if someone came to me and said “I’d like to become a member of the National Party” I’d say goodie, here’s what you need to do.

But you were encouraging them, and there was nothing wrong with that?

No, no. And other candidates did the same thing. You know branches right throughout the Rodney area increased exponentially as a result of the selection process, but that’s not unusual, that’s what takes place during National Party selection processes. 

And so when you read this chapter, and I take it that you have…

Yes.

…we see Simon Lusk saying to Cameron Slater “I’d really like Mark Mitchell to win to prove it can be done, and that you and I are crucial in people’s careers”. Simon Lusk says there is the option of course in relation to you, in reference to you, of playing the man if necessary.

Yeah and that’s certainly what took place. I found out shortly after the selection process, a number people came to me from inside and outside the National Party, and said “look you need realise what went on here”, and so there’s no great revelation to me when the came out. You know it’s interesting obviously to see it in chapter and verse in conversations between these people, and that’s pretty distressing itself…

So who came to you and explained what had gone on?

Well, people within the party that had various ideas about that, and i don’t want to publicly name who they are, you know they’re individuals and if they want to come forward that’s fine…

And Simon Lusk saying at one point that Mr Mitchell was saying that posts were having a massive effect.

Yeah and I would concur with that.

Simon Lusk to Cameron Slater “we want Scott Simpson, the other candidate, we want his people to lean on Brent to get him out first, then we can smash Scott”.

Yeah, it was interesting seeing that, and obviously Scott left, chose to leave the selection process and went on to become you know the MP over in Coromandel.

And was that part of it though that Scott Simpson’s people were leaning on you to get you out first, is that how this all works?

I can’t think of any particular recallation where you know anyone rang me up and tried to muscle me out of the process or anything like that. I think it was a bit more subtle than that but certainly well orchestrated.

Have you got any other evidence that Mark Mitchell paid for this to be done?

At the very start f the selection process I was advised to contact Simon Lusk because he helped people writing speeches and so I rang him up and Simon Lusk said “I’m sorry I can’t talk to you because I’ve been engaged by Mark Mitchell”.

And what were you expecting to have Simon Lusk do for you?

I was advised by another National Party MP who’d just been elected that he helped people write speeches. That’s fine. I had no idea of the for the lack of a better word the black ops type scenario that Mr Lusk did for his candidates.

Look Mark and I, I’m still a National Party member, Mark and I have worked on various things in Rodney since the selection process since mark’s been elected as an MP, and we’ve talked about it, we’ve openly discussed it, and I expressed to him my disappointment and disgust in what took place in the process.

So for Mark now to say that he didn’t engage these people, that he didn’t pay these people, I just find absolutely mind blowing.

But did he tell you that he’d paid them.

Yes.

He told you that he’d paid both Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk?

Mark told me that he hired them to perform this programme of work for him to get him the selection.

The programme of work being a smear campaign?

Well yes. We’ve openly discussed it in the past. That’s why I’m really surprised by this.

And understand I don’t do this to get any form of retribution. My reasoning for now for answering questions to persons like yourself , is because I wouldn’t want anyone else who put their hand up to be involved in politics in New Zealand to go through what I’ve gone through and what my family’s gone through.

Well you’re saying that the National Party needs to clean up it’s act.

They’re your words not mine. Certainly there is a rogue element that’s grown in the National Party that I think needs to be weeded out.

That’s Brent Robinson. We’ve been unable to contact Mr Slater or Mr Lusk whp’s phone message says he’s away hunting til the end of the season.

The MP Mark Mitchell says he’s very surprised by Mr Robinson’s comments. He says he’s never had a discussion with him about the Rodney selection process, or Cameron Slater or Simon Lusk.

He says he has never paid a cent to either.

  Just after the Rodney selection in 2011 Slater posted this on Whale Oil – Rodney Selection Winners and Losers.

Mark Mitchell won the acrimonious selection in Rodney last night, and it was a privilege to have been in the room during the process.

Winners
Mark Mitchell: Mark’s reputation is such it would have been an absolute travesty not to have had him selected. Reputation alone is not enough, and delegates in Rodney have told me what a fantastic guy he is, very good with people, and very genuine. It is hard to remember the last time a National candidate met delegates by helping them bail hay and then had a few beers afterwards, but this kind of touch builds loyalty, loyalty that helped Mark win on the first ballot.

Peter Goodfellow: Peter was ultimately responsible for the selection process and deserve credit for taking bold decisions to stop a deeply flawed process. Good work Peter, you have done the right thing.

Losers (0r as Phil Goff would say Not Winners)

Brent Robinson: Brent was outed as a branch stacking, immoral fundamentalist, and his preachy style on selection night really grated. He should never have tried to rig the selection as he probably would have won if he had not tried to rig the process.

Cehill Pienaar: As branch chair this man tried to ensure the fundy take over of the electorate by colluding with Brent over membership and events. His horrible political past has been exposed, and his backing the losing candidate now makes it inevitable he will be told to resign if he does not resign himself.

Karen Rolleston: For someone I keep hearing such good things about she needs to stop making dumb decisions, engage proper professional advise and start listening. She was told by respect senior party people she would lose Palmerston North. She did. She was told she would lose Rodney. She did. She was told she could well win North Shore, and she ignored this, meaning Maggie Barry is now the presumptive candidate in a field of pygmies.

Amateurs: Some boneheads in the Auckland region hierarchy have been putting about that candidates should not pay for advice or pay for strategy. They are as prissy and as puritanical as the old amateur era rugby people and need to stop this silliness. Laughably the main proponents of this argument are people who earn a living by charging for their services themselves.

If you want to be a National candidate there is a very small group of talented, experienced professionals who will greatly enhance your chances of winning. Yes they will cost, but who else won’t you pay – your lawyer, your accountant, your printer, your speech coach, the petrol station for the gas to get to delegate meetings? Professional advice costs money all over town, why not in politics?

What I can’t understand is why paying for someone who gives you the best chance of a long career in politics is wrong or unethical or whatever else the buggers muddle in Auckland seem to think is reason for not engaging professionals. Aspiring candidates should call the tip line if they want introductions to competent political advisors.

Blog readers are well aware of my views on people who behave unethically, and the best way to out them is to publish information. I realise pride is a sin, but I’m feeling just a little bit proud that I have contributed so meaningfully to the selection of a really good candidate and future National MP. I am also proud that National know that they cannot cover up skullduggery in the party. The tipline callers are many and varied and the truth will out.

There’s a number of very ironic comments in that.

Slater makes it clear who he supported. He also makes it clear about the need to pay “professionals” for results.

The data dump of online conversations between Lusk and Slater also make it clear there was a relationship between Lusk/Slater and Mitchell and that money was involved:

Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:53pm

classy

i’ll try to line up the woman in palmerston north

i can sort out mark no worries, he doesnt mind spending

i’d really like to have him win

to prove it can be done

and that you and i are crucial in peoples career
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 9:55pm

i want to stamp out the nasty whispering campaigns like those run by HP and the cunt in Rodney
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:55pm

yes

which cunt in rodney?

i beleive in going negative if an opponent does
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 9:56pm

the one spiking the outsiders
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:57pm

i dont blame him, he has worked for it

and it isnt nasty yet, just patch protection

i want to see mark selected

but if brent plays fair i am going to play fair
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 9:58pm

well a post about sometimes when an MP has been there forever it is time to look outside the party hierachy because the MP has stifled the best
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:58pm

obviously with the option of playing the man if we decide it is necessary

yes

and that we need a genuine star

someone that has made it on a global scale
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 9:59pm

yep
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:59pm

and while brent is a willing toiler for the party

we must stop selecting second raters
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 9:59pm

youve got it
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 9:59pm

i’ll have a proper post when we pull the trigger

nice but create doubts in the minds of the delegates
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:00pm

yep
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:00pm

frame the race as a very successful man who is turning down millions a year to do the best he can for NZ
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:00pm

yep
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:00pm

and from a family with a history of public service
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:00pm

succesful but tough
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:00pm

yes, is excellent under pressure
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:00pm

not a panty-waist
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:01pm

not a bent cop becuase he didnt go up the ranks
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:01pm

we can sex it up with the war sotries then the media will pick it up
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:01pm

his dog stories are awesome

czar nailed a lot of bad bastards

including ripping a monsoon sheild of a car to sort out three gang members that were taking on mark
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:01pm

hope it chewed on them hard
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:02pm

i believe it did

mark said you when they start screaming you know the fight will go out of them
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:02pm

lol
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:02pm

one other collar czar broke a guys elbow
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:02pm

so tough in business, tough in terrorists, tough on crime
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:02pm

that is fucken impressive, bite hard enough to break and elbow
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:02pm

just plain tough
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:02pm

compassionate though
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:03pm

doing for the underdog

nabbing bad bastards since xxxx
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:03pm

how good are your media contacts to get coverage of some of his stuff protecting his staffers after the iraqi terrorists killed lots of people
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:03pm

easy
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:04pm

all his non western staff were in the same gear as the westerners, same weapons, same everything

reckoned it worked a treat
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:04pm

once i start pumping his story they will pick it up anyway
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:04pm

we need to set the scene

brent is an ok guy, a bit arrogant and not good at pressing the flesh

people dont warm to him

dont want to waste as safe seat on him

can you start finding stories about him

i think it would also be worth talking to jason ede about mark, not yet but soon

saying that he is a good news story that will appeal to the masses
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:06pm

ok will work on that

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10702986

nailed

another Gotcha
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:10pm

yes we need to think about this

how to tell the story about the nailing

that it isnt random

it is smart people making smart decisions to fuck up opponents

ede needs to know that it is your set up
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:12pm

he has two trips scheduled for next week

i bet the car drops him off and legs it into town
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:13pm

can you OIA mileage records?
————————-
Cameron Slater, 1/29, 10:14pm

yepo

SST is already doing it
————————-
Simon Lusk, 1/29, 10:14pm

good

Simon Lusk, 2/3, 9:01am

we need to sort out marks facebook page tomorrow if possible
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/3, 9:02am

i need an awesome photo…i will make it look cool….we also need to ditch all the cheesy shit out of the photos and tidy up his personal info
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/3, 9:03am

ok can you email me with what you need as far as photos go

i will write the story tomorrow though it might be tomorrow evening i have to get on a ferry at 110

 

————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/3, 9:05am

for the phot i need a high quality photo of him…doesn’t matter if it is warry…i’ll crop out an guns or stuff…just crisp and good quality, the bigger the better

I’m going to cut it into 5 and array them in his profile….it look scool done right
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/3, 9:07am

hes got professional ones i have asked him for them
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/3, 9:07am

good

send a selection

also need his login details for FB and I’ll get it sorted tomorrow
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/3, 9:08am

ok

good message that at risk stuff is always good

 

————————-
February 7, 2011
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/7, 8:46pm

what time and where tonight
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/7, 8:47pm

puhoi dunno the edetails will let you know after 3 when i have met mark off the plane

 

————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/20, 4:34am

can you tell hooton that mark is a good option etc

he will be asked about it on red radio tomorrow
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/20, 4:34am

ok

 

————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/21, 2:09am

you bet, the best way to be

did they work out you were on JLRs side

or think you remained neutral
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/21, 2:10am

no they knew i was on jlr side

they have no idea that im on marks though

just that you are
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/21, 2:10am

yes peter warned mark off me

in october

 

————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/21, 2:43am

sweet

mark has access to a good deer block

i think four private huts in the kaimanawas

 

————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/23, 6:56pm

there are a number of people who dont want scott

they should be paying you to write for them
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/23, 6:56pm

lots of people should be paying me to write for them

i hope Mark is up with the play on these posts
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/23, 6:57pm

yes am talking to him a lot

he is telling me that it is having a massive effect
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/23, 6:57pm

hehe

 

————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/24, 6:48pm

i imagine my old man will explode

the pressure is going to be intense

the fact that Alistair is trying to knock out Mark shows that they know where the threat is from

he will shit himself reading that post that he is next to be outed
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/24, 6:49pm

yes, and the extra time means mark can out compete him on the ground
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/24, 6:49pm

yep

 

————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:11am

Alistair was up seeing delegates directly, including John Evans

he is showing them the print out of the website article about mark and saying he has a dodgy past

Kate set John Evans straight…he will now be working aginst scott on that

bad move by Alistair

muckraking without substance
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:12am

he wants to be careful, mark likes lawyers
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:12am

lawyers take too long
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:13am

for a weakling like alastair

they dont

it is a threat
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:13am

I reckon a post saying that I have been asked to leak this article suposedly because it is about mark and a dodgy past
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:13am

he is not the kind of guy to say “Dear Lawyer”

please fuck off

yes thats a good idea
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:13am

by Simposn loyalists
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:13am

yes dirty pool
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:13am

, so I thought I would check a few things out before publishing it
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:13am

and apparetnly the 9th floor are furious

and those behind it are going to find it career limiting
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:14am

and the provide a link and an explanation
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:14am

why dont you write something, email it through to me, i will sort it out with mark and it can go online
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:14am

ok

i’ll write it up about how they are saying it is supposed to be bad but not actually showing people the info, so in teh interests of getting things out in the open here it is…seems pretty above board to me etc etc
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:16am

yes thats a pretty sound idea
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:16am

then theirmuck raking is exposed, it turns out to be bullshit

and we can link alistaor to shopping it at the board level in an effort to have Mark chucked out because scott fears a fair fight at selection
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 4:17am

with the threat that you are hearing that legal action is almost inevitable in rodney no matter what happens

yes and we need boag in to crack heads and feast on corpses to make sure everyone stops playing silly games
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 4:17am

also fits with President’s claim that I was to be putting in teh hit on Mark

also call for Boag, Kirk and Slater to be appointed to oversee delegate selections

 

————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 6:55am

the quote is taken from another web page and used out of context

mark reckons that the original quote is a real good one
————————-
Cameron Slater, 2/28, 6:55am

send me the link then
————————-
Simon Lusk, 2/28, 6:55am

so that needs to be in there, i have asked him to send the link
————————-

Simon Lusk, 3/3, 7:12pm

aotearoa legalise cannabis have a bloody funny earthquake policy

i might write something up on this, depends on how much work i do with mark i guess

 

————————-
March 28, 2011
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:23am

did you talk to mark?

he is pretty pissed of with scott et al going after him with an H fee type scandal
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:24am

not yet

another scandal?
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:24am

they are saying part of his business has a dispute with the US

it does but it is a separate subsidary
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:24am

the cunts
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:24am

no link to mark at all
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:25am

sue
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:25am

yes i think some lawyers letter sstart soon
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:25am

what are teh details
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:25am

you could tell your father that people need to be careful as mark has very deep pockets and is not interested in the results

just hammering opponents
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:25am

i will
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:25am

because he can afford it and they cant

cant remember the exact details but they found it on google
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:26am

give kate a call

does this mean he is still in rodney
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:26am

i told mark i am happy to make some calls
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:26am

Time for Julian Miles
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:26am

i think it is just a reflex reaction from scott and his mates

try ot run down anyone in any way possible
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:27am

so he has bolted and laid a minefield

cunts

Mark should sue them…is this recent
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/28, 12:27am

i think we should play a big game of pker with them and bluff them out of the game completely

yes today

based on yesterdays article
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/28, 12:28am

fuck they must be bitter about the sst articel

Well I will do what ever is required

 

March 29, 2011
————————-
Simon Lusk, 3/29, 3:00am

heard from mark?
————————-
Cameron Slater, 3/29, 3:02am

nope

he has just rung