NZ POLITICS DAILY: Leaks, wild allegations and defamation

Leaks, wild allegations, privacy breaches, questions in the House, denials, urgent meetings, resignations, inquiries and now defamation action – the ACC scandal has it all, with the promise of more to come. 

This morning TV3 reported that Judith Collins is starting defamation action against two Labour MPs – Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little – as well as against Radio New Zealand for comments made outside of Parliament – see: Collins eyes ACC defamation action. Collins has also welcomed the Privacy Commissioner’s inquiry in to the leak of Bronwyn Pullar’s email – even if it includes ‘forensic examination’ of her office computers – see: Collins 'happy' for computer to be checked in ACC probe. The investigation may be complicated by Collins’ admission to RadioLive that her office had printed and/or ‘copied’ the email – although Collin’s would not elaborate – see: ACC Minister printed leaked email.
 
Today’s revelation by investigative reporter Phil Kitchin – who broke the original ACC privacy breach story – adds fuel to the fire. In his article, ACC worker re-viewed leaked Smith letter, he reports that Jo Parker-Dennis – Pullar’s ACC case manager who was taken off Pullar’s case six months ago – repeatedly viewed the email containing Smith’s letter just a few days before the Herald broke the story. Pullar knew this because she apparently embedded objects in her emails to ACC that allowed her to monitor each time the email was opened and possibly who opened them. The advantage – or disadvantage, depending on your viewpoint – of electronic communications is that they are easily tracked. It is much harder to track the movements of a physical copy and to prove how, when or by whom they were passed from one person to another. 
 
Cameron Slater has described this practice as ‘hacking.' But as a number of comments on his post point out, such mechanism are actually commonly used to monitor when emails are read and where they are forwarded.  
 
Collins’ emphatic denials and welcoming of the inquiry suggest an unusual degree of confidence and certainty that her office didn’t leak the email according to Danyl Mclauchlan at the Dim-Post. In his post, The epistemology of political denials, Mclauchlan says: ‘she can’t know for sure whether one of her staffers leaked Pullars’ name and then lied to her about it, unless she knows exactly who did leak it. If you follow me’.
 
Irrespective of who leaked what to whom, it’s pretty clear there is a fairly bitter internal faction fight going on inside the National Party. The Standard is loving it of course, and their post – they eat their own -  is an intriguing account of what they believe has happened, speculating in some detail on the motivations and machinations going on behind the scandal. This blog post will be controversial and will, no doubt, draw the ire of National. In fact Cameron Slater has already responded strongly to the blog post, and is now posting numerous allegations about the personal lives of Labour MPs.
 
These kinds of kind of tit-for-tat revelations are part of an escalating war between the parliamentary parties, and it’s due to get a lot nastier. In recent years, New Zealand politics has become characterised by fluctuating battles over ‘scandal politics’ in which each side attempts to challenge their opponents’ political and ethical integrity. Traditionally in New Zealand, politicians have been highly reluctant to go into such fraught territory for fear of incurring counter-strikes. This mutually-assured destruction scenario has now broken down, leading to multiple political casualties.
 
In other news, the Mfat diplomats are clearly now winning the publicity battle over proposed cuts, with headlines such as Tracy Watkin’s MFAT spends $9m to cut $25m and Audrey Young’s All but four diplomats condemn cuts to Mfat. This all goes to show the dangers of trying to implement cost-cutting for diplomats who are ‘the elite, well educated, masters of the art of the loaded and the clandestine exchange’ – as suggested by Rosemary McLeod in today’s Dominion Post. MPs have avoided cost-cutting in dealing with reforming their own travel perks – see: Audrey Young’s Ex-MPs' travel perks set to be revealed annually. Meanwhile, a new report reveals that illiteracy costs New Zealand $3b a year. And Rob Salmond makes the case that New Zealand’s tax system is strongly weighted against the poor – see his blog post, Low tax for me, high tax for thee.
 
Finally, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has just published his views on politics in New Zealand and Australia – see: Elephants Down Under. His main claim about New Zealand is that our political spectrum is so moderate and left-leaning that it ‘could almost fit inside the US Democratic Party’. Toby Manhire replies here: Thomas Friedman sizes up New Zealand, and Eric Crampton – a North American economist resident in New Zealand – has a very interesting blog post that argues New Zealand’s politics are in fact far more progressive and intelligent than that of the Democrats – see: Antipodean Dreaming
 
Bryce Edwards, NZPD Editor (bryce.edwards@nzpoliticsdaily.co.nz

Today’s content:
 
ACC scandal
John Hartevelt (Stuff): Inquiry to look at minister's emails
Peter Wilson and Laura McQuillan (Newswire): Minister's computers part of email inquiry
Adam Bennett (Herald): ACC email leak to be investigated
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Trevor’s Lusk fixation
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): The epistemology of political denials
Adam Bennett  and Online Staff (Herald): Collins eyes ACC defamation action
Steve Braunias (Stuff): The Secret Diary of Nick Smith
 
Mfat reforms
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): MFAT spends $9m to cut $25m
Tracy Watkins (Dom Post): Cost-cutting a lucrative business
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): McCully's mixed messages
Vernon Small (Dom Post): Government needs to take note of warning on its cost-cutting [Not currently online]
Yvonne Tahana (Herald): Tongan high commission jobs to go
 
Fracking inquiry
Jared Smith (Stuff): Fracking probe raises hopes
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Probe into fracking announced
Paul Harper (Herald): Official fracking inquiry confirmed
 
Thomas Friedman view of NZ politics
Thomas L Friedman (New York Times): Elephants Down Under
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): Antipodean Dreaming
Toby Manhire (Listener): Thomas Friedman sizes up New Zealand
 
Housing affordability
 
Other
John-Luke Day (Press): Chance for NZ to curb slavery at sea
Graeme Edgeler (Public Address): Search and Surveillance: an occasional series
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Basically I just like saying Huawei
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): The Right in a Ports Frenzy
Denise Roche (Frogblog): All’s not well in Auckland
Rob Salmond (Pundit): Low tax for me, high tax for thee
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Tax in New Zealand
Claire Trevett (Herald): Key discovers timing is everything
Southland Times: Editorial - Testing times
Sharon Lundy (Herald): Crown seeks jail for Lombard four
Adam Bennett (Herald): Former National MP suspect in bank assault
Eric Crampton (Offsetting behaviour): Dangerous booms
Geoff Bertram (Dom Post): Another approach to state asset sales programme [Not currently online]
Marc Greenhill (Press): Dalziel distressed by Brownlee's attack

 

 

 

 

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about My Tags

1 Comment & Question

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Open to comment to all members of Parliament.
We the taxpayers of NZ are tired of your antics. You are elected to govern our country. Calling for a inquiry every time someone quacks, perhaps if a Mallard ceases to quack there should be an inquiry, is not what we are paying for.

Please use all your energies to solve our country’s problems. Work to get us out of debt. Better health and education, more employment, better roads. If each member of parliament put just 40% of the energy they do in shouting to each other, re an Acc leaked document, fracking, etc then I am sure within 12 months we could take a giant step forward. Currently a Mallard is making a Little quack, and frankly if he quacked about something that will help NZ perhaps he may even become an elected member of our government.

To the media:
Please stop looking for negatives. Easy, stop asking Winston for a comment, it will always be negative. TV# get the smugness of Gower off our screens. He is a reporter tell him such stop making himself more important that the story, what a pratt. Soper, go back to your beginnings you were good then. Now you are caught up in your own importance.

Reply
Share

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7740 -0.0003 -0.04%
AUD 0.9511 0.0005 0.05%
EUR 0.6324 -0.0002 -0.03%
GBP 0.4954 0.0001 0.02%
HKD 6.0039 0.0001 0.00%
JPY 92.5100 -0.0050 -0.01%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1195.4 -2.890 2014-12-19T00:
Oil Brent 61.4 1.580 2014-12-19T00:
Oil Nymex 57.1 2.910 2014-12-19T00:
Silver Index 16.0 0.096 2014-12-19T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5518.5 5545.0 5539.3 -0.21%
NASDAQ 4752.6 4782.1 4748.4 0.36%
DAX 9901.3 9901.3 9811.1 -0.25%
DJI 17778.0 17874.0 17778.2 0.15%
FTSE 6466.0 6566.9 6466.0 1.23%
HKSE 23158.3 23189.6 22832.2 1.25%
NI225 17511.0 17621.4 17210.0 2.39%