Derek Handley releases his texts with Clare Curran

For some reason that is as yet unclear the Government resisted releasing communications between Clare Curran and Derek Handley, but Handley has now released the texts himself. These seem largely innocuous – “there’s no smoking gun” – but raise questions about what Jacinda Ardern claimed in Parliament.

NZH – CTO bungle: Emails, texts between Derek Handley, Clare Curran and Jacinda Ardern revealed

Entrepreneur Derek Handley said no one from the Government has told him why he was dropped as New Zealand’s chief technology officer after he’d accepted the job.

“There’s nothing untoward here, the actual recruitment process was really robust, I’ve nothing to hide,” he told the Herald in an exclusive interview.

In the face of persistent questions, speculation and innuendo over the recruitment, Handley sat on the sidelines and says he was waiting for the Government to clear things up.

But he says it’s been “open season” on him after his contract was terminated and the Government has chosen to keep a lid on his text messages and emails with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran.

Handley is today releasing his messages with Ardern and Curran to “clear the air” and says it clearly shows “there was nothing untoward or inappropriate” in them.

“There’s no smoking gun,” he said.

No one from the Government has explained to him why his contract was terminated on September 12.

“I think the average New Zealander in my situation would expect a lot more, whether it was from the Government or another organisation,” he said.

Stuff: Jilted CTO candidate Derek Handley disappointed by lack of explanation from Government

Entrepreneur Derek Handley says he has still not been given an explanation from the Government on why it withdrew its offer to appoint him as the country’s first chief technology officer.

“Neither have I heard personally from Minister Hipkins, Minister Woods or the Prime Minister during this challenging time, which has been disappointing from a Government that highlights compassion and kindness as hallmarks of their leadership,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Handley’s statement made it clear he was unhappy about how he had been treated.

“In a small country such as ours, we need as many energetic and passionate people as possible to work together to shape our future,” he said.

“The handling of the chief technology officer appointment and subsequent fall out in the last four weeks is likely to be be discouraging to anyone from the private sector contemplating making a contribution to New Zealand through a Government role,” he said.

Handley released a timeline of his dealings with the Government over the appointment, which was put on hold after it emerged that Curran had met privately with Handley in February and then “omitted” to mention that in response to a parliamentary question asking her to list the meetings she had had during the month.

Stuff have a detailed timeline of communications that suggest that Ardern may have misled Parliament – she was careful in how she spoke but left herseld iopen to further questioning – Handley de-jobbed, Government de-monied, Ardern statements debatable.



Peters blusters through another QT

Winston Peters is determined to keep banging on about Bill English and texts, and the media keeps feeding his bitch, but so far it has been little more than bluster absent anything of substance.

In Question Time today he quoted one of the gazillions of texts English sent every day, but that happens to be one that has already been made public.

Peters has past for for saying, suggesting, insinuating and hinting that he has heaps of damaging communications, the media buy into it, and he doesn’t front up. He seems to expect the media, or Parliament, or the Police to come up with evidence to back his assertions.

So far though this has been a lame attempt at getting back attention sucked away from him by Labour and the Greens.

I’m not sure if he has a cunning plan or he is flailing in hope.

2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how does he actually do that?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes; because I said them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t aware of the employment settlement” relating to the Todd Barclay matter, when one of his texts says: “settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That was the text that came out with the police report. That was the discussion that was had with them at the time. There is absolutely nothing new in that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will have the supplementary question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, when his text message states that Glenys Dickson’s settlement was “part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action.”—his words?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I stand by what I said at the prime ministerial press conference.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Which of the following statements does he stand by: (a) “I wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, or (b) “The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”, and “Had to be part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action. Everybody unhappy.”? Which one of those two statements does he stand by?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just remind the Prime Minister that in rising to answer the question, he does not need to make any comments around the leader’s budget. He has no prime ministerial responsibility for that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, he put it at issue at his Prime Minister’s press conference yesterday, which makes it relevant, and that is why he should be answering the questions, not ducking behind—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I will resume my seat, but you answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: In the first two—I advise the member that when I ask him to resume his seat, he does so. In the first two questions, he certainly referred to statements made at the press conference. In the third supplementary question, which he has just asked, he did not, and that is why I gave that warning to the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That will not do. The Prime Minister at his press conference said he—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume seat immediately, and if he carries on behaving like that—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Don’t threaten me.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I will threaten the member. If he carries on behaving like that, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber. Does the Prime Minister wish to address the question that was asked?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that.

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Without questioning any of the previous rulings that you have made on this, with reference to Speaker’s ruling 170/2AA—which has not previously been canvassed—by Speaker Carter, it states: “Although considerable weight must be given to Minister’s claim that actions or statements were not made in a ministerial capacity, this can never be definitive. Where I judge a question to reveal a reasonable likelihood of a connection to ministerial responsibility, an informative answer must be given.” I would contend that given that it was the Prime Minister’s office that arranged that additional payment, I would say that there probably is a reasonable likelihood of a connection to the ministerial responsibility that is there for you to judge.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his scholarly study of Speakers’ Rulings. Can I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through Parliamentary Service to the party.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister tell us why he deleted hundreds of his text messages relating to the Barclay matter, according to the media, yet insisted upon Judith Collins producing her telephone records when she was a contestant against him for the job of leader of the National Party?

Mr SPEAKER: The right honourable Prime Minister, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no idea what the member is referring to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Of the times he has been down to the Clutha-Southland electorate since he retired as its MP, how often were those trips primarily to meet with Glenys Dickson?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that, that is for sure.


Key texts to Slater

John Key has released texts he exchanged with Cameron Slater on Monday – and admitted he made an incorrect statement in Parliament: Stuff reports in PM reveals Slater texts.

This evening, during the second reading of the Parole Amendment Bill, Key returned to the House to make a personal statement acknowledging his answers were wrong.

He claimed that he believed Woods was only talking about one of the reports, when in fact she had asked about both.

“On Monday the 24th of November I received an unsolicited text message from Mr Slater with a reference to the IGIS report. There was a very short exchange where I briefly acknowledged that text message.”

Stuff quotes from some of the texts but curiously leaves a name out. Here are the texts as published on Whale Oil:

The Goff leak (yet another) could blow up in Labour’s face. But there could be more explosions. Labour chief of staff Matt McCarten has been named as being involved in the hack of Slater in January.

New Labour leader is attacking Key on “Dirty Politics” strongly. On this he said (NZ Herald Key comes clean over Slater texts)

Labour Leader Andrew Little said there was “an air of unreality” about the texts. “Some of them look somewhat delusional.”

He scoffed at the claim Mr McCarten was involved in the hacking. “I don’t think his computer skills go that far.”

Slater didn’t claim the McCarten did the hacking, he said “he was involved in the hack”. Little and Labour are in very risky territory attacking on “Dirty Politics” This could come back to bite them. Hard.