Curious reporting on appointment of Mike Sabin

Ex-Northland MP Mike Sabin has apparently been appointed to a new job, but there are a few curious aspects.

On Thursday a number of reports were that he had been appointed chief executive of a luxury resort in Northland. Stuff:

Former MP Mike Sabin lands new job at luxury resort

Mike Sabin, the former National MP who quit earlier this year, has been appointed as the general manager of a luxury resort in Northland.

A spokeswoman for Peppers Carrington Estate confirmed that Sabin would be chief executive of Peppers Carrington Resort. It is part of a 3000-acre estate on the Karikari Peninsula in Northland, which boasts an 18-hole golf course, located on “four breathtaking kilometres of secluded white sand coastline”.

While she had not seen Sabin on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said she understood the appointment was effective immediately.

That seems as far as most media went but NBR amended their coverage on Thursday.

Sabin-linked luxury resort goes to ground over new CEO

Former National MP Mike Sabin has been appointed as chief executive officer of Magnificent Jade, which oversees the New Zealand-based assets of Chinese real estate developer Shanghai CRED.

In 2013, Shanghai CRED bought Northland’s luxurious Peppers Carrington Resort for a sum understood to be almost $29 million. It was reported on NBR ONLINE and other media earlier this week that Mr Sabin had been appointed chief executive officer of the resort.

However, the Mantra Group, which operates the resort under the Peppers luxury resort brand, has since confirmed that Mr Sabin has not or is not an employee of Peppers, and that Peppers was not consulted on the appointment.

It’s curious that a widely reported story has changed significantly.

More curious is Sabin’s appointment as chief executive officer of Magnificent Jade, a company that “oversees the New Zealand-based assets of Chinese real estate developer Shanghai CRED” (which owns Peppers Carrington Resort).

Sabin’s background:

  • Employed as a Seaman Officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy in the 1980s.
  • Worked in the dairy industry.
  • Became a police officer in the 1990s.
  • In 2006 he founded MethCon Group, a company that supplies drug education. Sold company in 2010.
  • In 2011 he was selected as a candidate by National for the (then) safe seat of Northland as was elected.
  • Resigned as an MP in January 2014 citing ‘family matters best dealt with outside Parliament’.

Why would a Chinese real estate development company and owner of a luxury Northland lodge see Sabin as suitably experienced to be their chief executive? A curious appointment.

Hooton on Sabin: tick tick TICK TICK

NBR have chosen to post Matthew Hooton’s latest column outside their paywall – Sabin clock keeps ticking for Key.

The longer it takes to try and keep Sabin’s secret the more damage it could do to John Key’s Government when it comes out.

It appears that National have at best remained deliberately ignorant about an embarrassing story about one of their MPs through a general election, and the story seems to have also survived the Northland by-election.

It’s something like this that could easily bring down a Government. Hooton:

At the time of writing, National had also been spared the full story becoming public about the resignation of former MP Mike Sabin.  Those close to Mr Peters suggested he would return to Wellington before the by-election to reveal all under parliamentary privilege.

Instead, the NZ First leader elected to stay in Northland talking about his proposal to expand the port at Marsden Point, a referendum on cannabis and his forthcoming bill to remove name suppression from alleged paedophiles if victims say they don’t want it and to launch a register for parents to check there are no sex offenders in their neighbourhood.

No doubt there was a sigh of relief at National Party Headquarters.  But that may be short-sighted.

It may well be short sighted.

Fragments are on the public record: that Mr Sabin has been under police investigation since August, that Mr Key was “happy” for him to remain chairman of the law and order select committee overseeing the police budget while that investigation was under way, and that Mr Sabin resigned “due to personal issues … best dealt with outside Parliament.”

Mr Sabin himself is no longer that important: the police and any other relevant arms of government will now deal with him as they see fit.

While there appears there could be a significant story about Sabin politically he’s history (albeit leaving a very embarrassing legacy in the Northland electorate).

But Mr Key’s government stands accused of somehow covering up after Mr Sabin, with Labour leader Andrew Little going so far as to say he believes Mr Key is lying.

That is not entirely implausible.  Although NBR has been unable to substantiate allegations the National Party top brass knew all about Mr Sabin as far back as before the 2011 election, police commissioner Mike Bush has made clear that he and his officers did not “drop the ball” when it came to informing the Beehive about the Sabin investigation in August.

The NBR wrote that the issue could pre-date the 2011 election. If so that makes it potentially TICK TICK TICK.

The Beehive line is that Mr Bush told police minister Anne Tolley about the investigation in August – and her successor Michael Woodhouse after the election – but didn’t name the MP concerned. Nor, we are meant to believe, did Ms Tolley or Mr Woodhouse ask.

The Beehive will not answer questions about whether or not either passed this information to Mr Key or his office. Answering such questions, according to chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, would violate the privacy of natural persons.

If the Beehive’s account of the Sabin matter is true, then Mr Key’s government has become deeply dysfunctional.

At best it looks dysfunctional.

Given the proximity to the election, Ms Tolley in fact had a public duty to ask the commissioner who was involved.  Was it Mr Key or David Cunliffe, the candidates for prime minister?  Was it Bill English, David Parker or Russel Norman, the candidates for finance minister?  Or Murray McCully, David Shearer or Mr Peters, the candidates for foreign minister?  Maybe Judith Collins or Mr Little, the candidates for justice minister?

Even if Ms Tolley neglected her duties to the public, is it plausible her political duty to the prime minister didn’t lead her to inquire?  “Please god, let it be Cunliffe!” she would surely have thought.

Mr Woodhouse’s story is just as odd. When briefed by Mr Bush after the election, we’re told he too ignored his public and political duties to inquire further.

Perhaps even more incredible is Mr Eagleson’s claim that, when he was contacted on November 26 by Labour’s chief of staff Matt McCarten about the Sabin situation – which he says he already knew about from others – he waited until the following week to mention it to the prime minister, who remained, he claims, utterly ignorant until December 1.

It’s beyond belief that politicians wouldn’t make it their business to know whatever they could know about a potentially embarrassing and problematic issue.

The risk for Mr Key is that if the full Sabin story becomes known in a week, a month, six months or a year, it will look as if his government covered it up not just through a general election campaign but then again through the by-election as well.  The clock keeps ticking.

Variations of the Sabin story have been widely known – and none of them look good, for Sabin (if they are true) and for National (regardless of the outcome of any legal or court action).

It already looks bad for National. They look like they could lose an electorate over it.

Whether the full story goes public or not Sabin and the resulting Northland disaster could well result in tick tick TICK general election BOOM.

How Northland is Actively Neglected in Mike Sabins electorate – Andrew Blake email #2

There’s been some controversy in Northland with people from a ‘dusty roads’ group (Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health & Safety Group) and National MPs involving emails and a recorded phone call between Alex Wright and Whangarei MP Shane Reti.

Andrew Blake wrote the emails, and has provided copies and comments.

No 2 was the second one that Shane objected to and rants on about neglect in Northland and how it is “”organised neglect.”” .ie the Nat Govt trying to save money by ”shortchanging ” us on or roading needs. It is again not addressed to Shane specifically……. but to all Parliament etc

Email #2

Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2015 16:36:46 +1300

Subject: How Northland is Actively Neglected in Mike Sabins electorate.

Northlands MPs might seem to be  helping the  Goverment in Wellington shortchange Northland Electorates .?
Despite a vigorous  two year campaign,…….it has proved impossible to pin down either of
Northlands National MPs to commit to helping with   Roading, Health and Safety matters.?.

When asked to intercede with Councils for some  compliance with national directives on Health and Safety for instance, our Northland MPs insist they cannot ”interfere” with ”the working of Local Council”

By insisting that  they owe more loyalty to their Party than to the people who elected them…..(and despite being asked to do so several times)…….our Northland MPs choose NOT to question…. or protest in Parliament about:

1)How inadequate the Road Funding is that allocated to Northland by NZTA;

2)How Road User Charges are diverted to other regions such as Waikato by both Government and Business;

3) How our Councils WDC and NRC are in blatant breach of Environment Law and the Resource Consent Act in terms of the Air Pollution on our Unsealed Roads.

Requests to help with any of these matters gets some very devious answers. Both Northland MPs have used  ……the word ”secrecy” …ie they insist they can only help their voters ”in secret”..

Our MPs  also  seem loath to venture opinions on Northland in Wellington  ….except where it interacts with  ”Roads of National Importance”

Which is fine if you live near SH1 between Warkworth as far as the Bay of Islands but rather sad if you live on Dirt Roads, Narrow Rds, Unmaintained Rds …and until last week…..those places needing Wider Bridges

Despite being not allowed to interact with local Councils. Our MPs  DO turn up  in public alongside Government Ministers when our Council launches “Glamour projects” in Whangarei eg  such as the new and misfunctioning  swing bridge.

And  our MPs do meet informally with Council at  e.g the Mayoral Forum and elsewhere.
Is it in such ways that the Northland Councils get the message of what is expected of them by Govt.?
It seems to Northlanders that sometimes our  MPs behave more like Political Commissars than Representatives of the People?

And Now….
With one MP out of action…  the National Govt has  an even  better way of controlling democracy in our local Councils in Northland.

All you  need is for one of the Commissioners for the Kaipara to sit on Northland Regional Council meetings.

With a decision on the Northland Unitary Authority  looming …..it might seem that such a representative of the Commissioners for Kaipara is referred to (and deferred to?) in all matters ……and that such a person often has strong views on what is ALLOWED by Govt; eg on Roads and Air Pollution matters

“Dust and Unsealed Rds in Northland are a NO-GO as far as funding is concerned.”
(We get this information before the submissions process is complete)

Anyone who knows Northland does not need to be told how passionately most of our local Council members  and Whangarei businessmen get in behind our National MPS  and support  Central Goverment in any way that will save expense on infrastructure on RURAL NORTHLAND.

A perfect example is the way logging interests drive rough shod over all humanitarian concerns and seem to control the  vote in all Roading matters.

In  Northland it seems that up until now our Electoral Process has been just a plaything for the National Party.
Can we hope that a new MP will change things?

Northland road safety: Andrew Blake email #1

There’s been some controversy in Northland with people from a ‘dusty roads’ group (Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health & Safety Group) and National MPs involving emails and a recorded phone call between Alex Wright and Whangarei MP Shane Reti.

Andrew Blake wrote the emails, and has provided copies and comments.

No 1 the background is that Alex Wright was isolated and treated badly
in a meeting with WDC om Monday 11th when we were expecting Daron
Turner to show up. He is a spokesman for the Northern Transport Group.
I  wrote to him cc Parliament etc Quite  obviously angry and to get
publicity during the bye election. (This is Mike Sabins electorate)
about our roads.
Daron comes to see us with Insp Murray Hodson  this week. He is a good
guy I hear.

Email #1

Letter to Daron Turner,…TGLTD, and any parties interested in  Road Safety

Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:00:25 +1300
Subject: WDC Council, Business and Wannabe MPs show NO INTEREST in
ROAD SAFETY in MIKE SABINS electorate.

Daron

Even a bye election…….  here where we live…… seems unable to
motivate WDC on ROAD SAFETY…..
BUT
Where is YOUR honour in this matter.
The attitude of Business in this looks just a SHAM of interest in
other peoples distress….While business goes on regardless.!

Apart from an intial contact with Insp. Murray Hodson …(which he
initiated.)….YOU have made no useful contact  or taken any part in
meaningful negotiations
with WDC about improving ROAD SAFETY and reducing the DUST
HAZARD…caused by log Trucks
Your truckies have not made any lasting attempts to go SLOWER and
REDUCE  the ROAD SAFETY HAZARD or REDUCE DUST..

At this moment…in still air….. there is a column of dust 200mts in
the air above Wrights farm.
And the School bus passes through this 4 times a day.
PLEASE  come and see it.

YOU could have made a difference at the meeting yesterday …….. but
PREDICTABLY you were not there.That is STANDARD behaviour for both
Council and Business in this.

If YOU cannot take some sort of responsible interest in the hazard
that the log trucks are causing…
……then WE will find a way of SLOWING the trucks ……….
…..and WE will ask PUBLICLY  that you DIVERT  from Wrights Rd….the
trucks that WE monitor as being the fastest and most inconsiderate of
road safety……
…….and WE will DIVERT  traffic  at SCHOOL BUS TIMES

Yours Andrew Blake for  PTRG

A lengthy email address list provided that looks like it includes all MPs from all parties plus many others including transport groups and media. Andrew says the list can be published but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Mike Sabin a prominent elephant in the Northland room

The Northland by-election is due to Mike Sabin’s mystery resignation.

Press Release: New Zealand National Party

Northland MP, Mike Sabin, today announced he has resigned from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.

That’s all the public have been told. Except that it remains a prominent topic in the campaign, albeit spoken about in code public, but just about every New Zealander seems to think there is some sort of dirty secret. The rumours must be common knowledge in Northland.

SabinElephantThere seems to be general acknowledgement that a concurrent story is related.

National candidate Mark Osborne has struggled with awkward questions about the ex-MP he wants to replace.

Plunket: Oh there were rumours. And you had heard the rumours?

Osborne: Oh yes.

Plunket: Yes. Did you ask Mr Sabin or did anyone ask Mr Sabin to clarify those rumours when he was re-selected as the candidate?

Osborne: Well I can’t speak for anybody else, but ah I asked if he was ok.

Plunket: Well what do you mean, did you ask if there was anything that might damage his candidacy or the National party?

Osborne: No no I didn’t, no I just…

National, Sabin, Osborne, train wreck

Winston Peters uses Sabin as a key part of his campaign strategy:

Winston Peters: Nats covering up Sabin issue

The New Zealand First leader used his personal “paradise” to launch a political attack at the town hall, accusing National of covering up why MP Mike Sabin left Parliament.

“They are still trying to shut it down as we speak,” he says.

Mr Peters says the National Party knew before the election of a police investigation into Mr Sabin.

“That’s why $1 million is being spent on this by-election, to cover up that mess.”

National are spending big and keep rolling out their big guns to try and rescue a by-election disaster. Trying to sweep the Sabin elephant under a rug is part of their strategy, but is there any Northland voter who hasn’t heard the rumours?

He also accused his opponent Mark Osborne, who was the local party treasurer and a friend of Mr Sabin’s, of knowing about Mr Sabin’s issues.

But Mr Osborne denies the allegation.

“The reality of it is I knew nothing until the end of last year, and they are only rumours, and that is what they are still,” he says. “I still know nothing about the details.”

Osborne is playing right into Winston’s hand with his denials. I doubt anyone believes he didn’t know something. And it’s preposterous to still be claiming he doesn’t know about the details.

A candidate in his situation would surely make it their business to know what the details are, unless it is deliberate ignorance – but even that isn’t credible.

Sabin remains an elephant in the Northland room and if Osborne chooses to pretend it isn’t there he courts trouble and risks getting stomped on. And National will have to wear own the resulting mess.

Mike Sabin watch

What’s up with the Mike Sabin story?

The Otago Daily Times made a minor mention in their editorial Transparency vital in a democracy today:

Mr Key and others have remained silent on what they knew (and when they knew it) about former Northland MP Mike Sabin, who was chairman of the law and order select committee, but who resigned because of ”personal reasons” in the wake of reports he was being investigated by police.

Otherwise there seems to be nothing new about him in the news apart from mentions of Sabin and his resignation being the reason for the Northland by-election, although Winston Peters has been hinting and threatening in campaign speeches.

Whale Oil hasn’t said much about him for a while.

But blog stats show an increasing interest in searching for information about him. Perhaps something is brewing.

There’s been a number of posts here over the last three months, do a Sabin search in the sidebar or click here if you want to look back.

In the meantime I’ll keep a watch on what’s happening regarding Sabin.

Mike Sabin uncovered

Whoops, your slip is showing.

SabinUncovered

Posted on Twitter by – it appears to be authentic but if not it’s a clever reveal.

Listen: Hager revelations and elections

Nicky Hager has a history of launching anti-Government revelations that happen to coincide with elections. Last year he claimed the timing of “Dirty Politics” had nothing to do with the general election but that was as credible as much of his unbalanced assumptions’ based on cherry picked illegally obtained data.

Important messages were largely ignored by voters, or reacted against, amongst a fog of war words.

Undeterred Hager is driving another series of revelations, this time on the GCSB and spying, that happen to coincide with a by-election.

There’s other significant factors in the by-election – the ex-Sabin effect, the Winston effect, the “I’ve got ten bridges to sell you” effect, the large Little Labour capitulation effect, and the Osborne-possum-in-headlights effect.

So it’s going to be difficult to determine whether Hager manages this time to undermine the National led Government or if he again helps motivate voters to react against his aims.

Last week’s Listener editorial covered this well.

I Spy a By-Election

The Pavlovian response can work in reverse, as peace researcher Nicky Hager demonstrates, again seizing on an election campaign to prosecute his latest accusations against a government.

Voters’ clear message when he attempted this in last year’s general election was “Don’t try to railroad us”. His Dirty Politics allegations not only failed to dent the Government’s re-election chances, but may have backhandedly assisted them. Yet Hager has chosen the heightened atmosphere of the Northland by-election to drip-feed more leaked information purporting state malfeasance.

He has taken a different approach this time, drip feeding his claims week by week. Last election he tried one big hit with his book dump of selected data.

However interesting and potentially concerning Hager’s information may be, his timing puts his work at an inevitable discount. Northland voters could be forgiven for feeling resentful, as the by-election should be a platform for their concerns, not to further an activist’s minority agenda. Also galling is the way Hager uses the tactic of rationing information, ensuring he and American whistle-blower Edward Snowden can frame discussion on their terms, rather than allowing all the facts and implications to be judged. Hager seems as oblivious to these concerns as he is to the double-standard of his using illicitly obtained data to accuse others of illicit data collection.

Not just Hager. His fan club is so devoted to eliminating spying and eliminating the Key Government they either willingly or blindly ignore the double standards.

What galls most, however, is his apparent lack of perspective. This tranche of evidence that the Government Communications Security Bureau routinely hoovers up information about Pacific neighbours, allies and New Zealand citizens alike in a blanket take-all trawl of data has so far failed to “shock” voters as he predicted. This is because the subsequent sieving of that information is precisely what most citizens want and expect security services to do, in order to protect them not just from terrorists, but from crime, epidemic, biosecurity threats, child sex rings, drugs and all manner of menace.

Hager, in contrast, appears to start from the position that all or most surveillance is unnecessary and predominantly a stalking-horse for malign political purposes. In this he is hardly alone, as regular, well-attended protest meetings attest. However, Hager’s is still the minority view.

That minority thinks either that all they need to do is reveal “truth to power” to win over majority support, or that the general population are too dumb to see what they can see.

It may very well be that the GCSB exceeds its legal bounds. It would be astonishing if it did not at times test the spirit of its governing legislation. This needs close watching and robust accountability, and the public questioning Hager engenders is healthy and valuable.

Sort of valuable. By over playing his hand Hager could as easily be as counter-productive to the cause of holding to account as he is saviour of the surveilled.

However, an enduring majority of voters see a reasonable amount of state surveillance as necessary. “Reasonable” is a hard balance to strike where incursion into civil liberties is an unavoidable means to the end. It can be a Hobbesian choice. But this week’s news of a threat to contaminate baby formula – a terror-grade response to the Government’s continued use of 1080 poison – surely underlined the need for continued targeted surveillance. It is unquestionably the role of security intelligence to protect people from vengeful zealots who might conceivably act on their agendas and harm others, either physically or by economically ruinous acts. Such vigilance scarcely makes the GCSB the tool of self-interested political forces.

So far the debate over Hager’s latest revelation has eddied around the distinction between wholesale blind collection of data, and that which is sifted from among that information to be physically inspected. The Government says the mass trawling is a merely mechanical first step in a carefully targeted intelligence-gathering system. Critics like Hager say the data collection is illegal, full stop. It’s not a debate on which either side will agree to differ anytime soon.

Glen Greenwald joined in the war of words regarding the definition of mass collection – see The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection” – and Orwellian interpretations are as prevalent in his arguments as those with differing views.

If, as he again hints he will, Hager can produce evidence our spies or their political masters are misusing data, then the whole country will listen with concern. Prime Minister John Key’s dismissive and at times high-handed responses to Hager’s allegations may yet set him up for resignation, if it is proved our spies have exceeded their bounds.

Key doesn’t help his own cause with his at times “dismissive and at times high-handed responses”.

However, the mere fact of our spying on our Pacific neighbours is hardly proof of that, as most of their leaders have acknowledged. Our close relationship with these much poorer nations means it is our role and responsibility to watch out on their behalf for terrorists or criminals trying to establish a new beachhead.

That’s something Hager fails to recognise or acknowledge – spying on the Pacific is probably more for their benefit that something for them to be concerned about.

In so consistently failing to persuade most New Zealanders to his perspective, Hager may conclude most people are complacent about their civil rights. He might more usefully conclude that most are simply less complacent than he is about genuine threats to the security of our sphere.

He and a few anti-spying idealists – like the four Green co-leader candidates who want to scrap the GCSB and withdraw from Five-Eyes. See Green leadership contenders on spying.

Hager, Greens and a few others think we will be able to rename New Zealand to New Nirvana if we drop most of our spying and security measures.

The Greens didn’t stand a candidate in Northland. Part of the reasoning for this may have been to avoid splitting the anti-Government vote. Labour has thrown their candidate under a bus in a much clumsier attempt to do likewise.

It would be interesting to know if the Greens were aware in advance of the Hager by-election campaign.

If the Sabin stench wasn’t hovering over National in Northland and if National had chosen a strong candidate (there’s suspicions they selected Osborne on the basis he was least tainted by Sabin associations) then the Greens/Labour/Peters gambit alongside the latest Hager hit job might have been a revolution in vain, again.

But the Northland by-election result will be conflicted by the mess of National’s own making versus the combined anti-Key anti-spying informal coalition.

The voters of Northland are pawns in a much bigger game of political chess.

Northland National’s ‘Battle of Britain’ fought with a bi-plane

As Reid at Kiwiblog says we are usually not on the same page, but on Northland “I agree with you”, and then comments:

Seems to me the media are going to use Northland to try and administer the coup de gras in the De-halo operation they’ve been running like shrieking hysterical schoolgirls since before the election which only went quiet for awhile immediately after the election while they absorbed the hatred and exposure of their tactics the result represented which they assumed always travel completely under the public’s radar, before resuming again in early November and ramping up to what we see now with the Little hype beyond reality etc and so forth.

Meanwhile National’s helping out the media big time in this operation by making every mistake it’s possible to make in the propaganda, political strategy and political tactical arenas over this whole affair which all began because Key insisted on hugging a corpse. And what a corpse it’s going to be when the public learn what it’s all about.

The only people who aren’t helping him out are the left and from that I exclude Peters, but the rest of the idiots are making it as hard as possible for Peters to get the traction he needs to allow the willing media liars to lay his smear and innuendo all over the nightly news.

But even the roaring incompetence of Little and Wussel won’t prevent this from happening as the campaign ramps up, and when the crescendo of WTF really happened to Sabin hits the fan, it’s going to be all over rover, whether or not National actually loses the seat or not. Because from a propaganda perspective, an actual loss is almost as good as a large dent in the majority, and one of those things is definitely going to happen, it’s just a question of which one it is.

And the real point is, all of these dynamics are a completely obvious open book to anyone who understands anything about politics and how it’s played so the real point is, if people like us can see the above and foretell it and pontificate on it as it rolls out as it definitely will, precisely like this, over the campaign. If people like us can do this, then what sort of roaring moron dummy idiot incompetents does National have in charge?

Because this was predictable for me, the instant I understood what Sabin is facing which for me was back in January and for the people in National was back in late November, and if I can do it then so can they. And the clear and present no-brainer obvious counter to all of this apart from ditching Sabin back in November with a ten foot pole which was Key’s massive error which will come back to haunt him but which does not have to destroy the party, only him.

But for the party, the obvious is to put your very best candidate in the whole country into Northland and watch him or her impress the hell out of all the punters with their shining skillset and competence which burns through all the propaganda and obfuscation no matter how much bullshit Peters and the idiot media care to throw, which will be a tremendous amount, but who cares, if you have a simply brilliant candidate with all the Ministerial support that an incumbent govt can offer with visits every weekend of the campaign from one Ministerial team after the other and policies galore that simply throw the spotlight onto our wonderful Northland winner. [Cue Tina Turner: Simply the Best…]

That’s what you do. And it’s real important.

Because this is make or break time in the Fifth National Govt. This is the point where the worm turns and where the fourth term is either won, or lost. This is the point where Little and Liarbore either start and keep gaining in poll after poll after poll or whether they keep bumping along the sea-floor.

It’s too late for Key. He’s lost his halo and he’ll never get it back because the public will never understand why he supported Sabin given what Sabin is facing.

Key’s amazing run with the public is gone forever, because of that simple strategic blunder he himself decided to make, back in November and which he himself needlessly exacerbated in January when he inexplicably and foolishly alluded to Sabin being on the fast track to Cabinet. Which he said knowing what Sabin is facing.

So what needs to happen is National needs to create sunlight between Key and the party during this election and keep doing it all through this term so it opens the way for Key to resign before the next election and someone else to take National into a historic fourth term. And this by election is where that process needs to start happening. And what I said above is a perfect way to start that process.

But clearly, no-one in National is going to do that, since they’ve decided instead to run a complete lightweight schoolboy whose going to get his trousers pulled down in front of the whole class by Peters every single time they are in the same room and this together with a media who simply can’t wait to plaster the very latest humiliation far and wide over the nightly news cycle, day after day, night after night.

So that’s what Northland is about, it’s National’s Battle of Britain. And so far, they’ve responded with bi-planes and a pilot from the local glider club.

– Reid

National, Sabin, Osborne, train wreck

National’s Northland candidate Mark Osborne was the treasurer on ex-MP Mike Sabin’s electorate committee so will obviously have had some contact with Sabin. It has been asked (and will keep getting asked) what he knew about the police investigation of Sabin that resulted in a court case.

Osborne was interviewed by Sean Plunket on RadioLive yesterday – NORTHLAND CANDIDATE KNEW ABOUT SABIN RUMOURS.

Plunket: What political experience have you got?

Osborne: Oh look I’ve been a member of the electorate executive up here for the last three years as treasurer and Northern Zone chair.

Plunket: So you were involved in the selection of Mt Sabin?

Osborne: No I wasn’t, no I wasn’t involved back at that point.

Plunket: At all?

Osborne: No, not at all.

Plunket: Didn’t know about it. Did it just happen while you were away or something?

Osborne: Oh look it happened before my time, so ah I’ve been…

Plunket: I thought you’d been there for three years.

Osborne: Yes but ah…

Plunket: Ok, but what about his re-selection or confirmation as candidate before the last election, where you involved in that?

Osborne: Yes, yes…

Plunket: Ok so you were involved. Did you know anything about the shadows that hung over him?

Osborne: Not at all. Not a thing.

Plunket: Nothing? You didn’t, hadn’t even heard a rumour?

Osborne: Oh I saw the rumours and the…

Plunket: Oh there were rumours. And you had heard the rumours?

Osborne: Oh yes.

Plunket: Yes. Did you ask Mr Sabin or did anyone ask Mr Sabin to clarify those rumours when he was re-selected as the candidate?

Osborne: Well I can’t speak for anybody else, but ah I asked if he was ok.

Plunket: Well what do you mean, did you ask if there was anything that might damage his candidacy or the National party?

Osborne: No no I didn’t, no I just…

A novice in an awkward situation trapped by an old pro. If the timing was awry he should have jumped on it straight away.

Plunket: Why on earth not?

Osborne: Why on earth not.

Plunket: Yeah. If you’d heard the rumours.

Osborne: Well I just wanted to make sure that he was ok.

Plunket: So you wanted to make sure that he was ok, rather than the party was ok, or that he would be in a position to serve the electorate if he would be re-selected and elected as the MP.

Osborne: Oh well look this was at the very end of last year after he’d been re-elected so ah it was more just as a treasurer you know just saying you know are you ok…

Plunket: So when did you first hear the rumours Mark?

Osborne: Ah right at the very end of last year when they were in the newspaper.

Plunket: Didn’t hear them before he was re-selected…

Osborne: Oh no not at all. I knew nothing.

Still no denial that it wasn’t a known issue pre-election though.

Plunket: Ok. So you knew nothing even though you were on the executive?

Osborne: That’s right no, nothing until it was in the media…

Plunket: The executive knew nothing?

Osborne: Ah well I can’t speak for them but I certainly knew nothing.

Plunket: Well why not? You must have had meetings.

Osborne: Well we never had any meetings that discussed that.

Plunket: But when you, ok when did you confirm his re-selection as candidate before the election?

Osborne: (pause) Well I ah, I was the treasurer so ah I didn’t reconfirm his selection.

Plunket: Where you at meetings where it was discussed?

Osborne: Ah no.

Plunket: Ok. All right. So no one knew. It was just suddenly then after the election ‘Woh, there’s a problem?

Osborne: That’s right. Well from my perspective absolutely had no knowledge whatsoever.

That oozes implausible deniability.

Osborne left wide open the possibility, perhaps probability that this was a known issue before the election, but claims it wasn’t discussed at all by the executive in any meetings.

And that he knew nothing until it was in the media. Even from Dunedin I had heard rumours a month or two earlier. There have been many reports of rumours swirling in Northland.

Key’s and National’s handling of the Sabin issue has been abysmal.

The feeling I get from this is that National chose a candidate who could deny knowledge of or complicity in the Sabin issue.

Of their own doing the Sabin train had very wobbly wheels. And now they have installed a novice driver to try and drive down a very shaky track with the National Party ducking for cover en masse.

I can see a high risk of political wreckage.

Winston was always very adept at political opportunism.

     ^ likely votes  –  National’s Northland train

UPDATE: the train has a stoker – John Key to boost National’s Northland by-election campaign

He’s stuffed up on his handling of the Sabin issue so far so he may add fuel to the Sabin fire.