We’ve seen an interesting comparison of two parliamentary leaders who have both not recalled a mention of an issue in a briefing or presentation.
In July 2011, then Opposition Leader Phil Goff said that he was “not aware of the allegations” around the Israeli hitchhikers.
It turned out in the case of Phil Goff he was briefed personally by the Director of the SIS in March 2011. A contemporaneous file note states that it was on the agenda, that Goff asked a question about it, that it was “discussed at length” and notes that Goff was shown the investigation paper and that Goff read it.
In the case of John Key, the GCSB has said that the PM was not briefed on the case until September 2012, but that at a visit to the GCSB offices in Feb 2012, he was given a powerpoint presentation where the Dotcom issues was briefly mentioned, and an image of Dotcom was one of 11 in a montage. The Director says he does not recall the reference, but his staff say it was mentioned briefly.
Now I have to say I believe both Phil Goff and John Key, in that they didn’t recall their respective issues. I would point out that SIS meeting with Goff was a one on one meeting specially to brief on intelligence issues – not a general “this is what we are up to” type presentation. But regardless both men have hundreds of meetings a month.
Where there is a stark difference, is when documents came to light that highlighted there was a briefing or mention.
Even though there is no written record of the matter being mentioned to him,, and even though the GCSB Director says he doesn’t recall it, John Key has said he accepts the recollection of the other GCSB staff – and at the first opportunity has made public that fact, and has said he will correct the record.
Now compare that to what Phil Goff did. Phil Goff accused the SIS of lying, and inventing things, and said he would refuse to meet them in the future without witnesses. Even to this day, he refuses to admit his memory may have been faulty.
I think that speaks volume about character.