Opposition parties may look silly over Police complaints

June 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

, and NZ First are all somewhat hysterically saying that the report leaked (presumably) by is a criminal matter, and have all rushed off to the Police to try and get him investigated.

I’ll come back to the hypocrisy of opposition parties demanding a Police investigation into a leak, but let us first deal with two recent leaks. The first is the Kitteridge report.

This was a report that was due to be released to the public. The leak changed the timing of that (and was politically very very unhelpful to the Government), but again it was a report written for public release and its classification was sensitive. What is a sensitive classification. There are six types of classifications in two categories. The two categories are:

  • National security classifications where compromise would damage NZ’s security, defence or international relations
  • Policy and privacy classifications where compromise would damage government functions or be detrimental to an individual

There are four national security classifications, They are:

  1. Top secret
  2. Secret
  3. Confidential
  4. Restricted

The Kitteridge report had NO national security classification.

The two policy and privacy classifications  are sensitive and in-confidence, and it was classified sensitive.

While the report was about the , it doesn’t mean the report was classified for national security reasons. In fact the report was due to be released publicly anyway. This makes the leaking of it a government issue, not a criminal issue. Don’t get me wrong – the leak was appalling, and a resignation is the appropriate  outcome. But talking of Police complaints is hysteria.

Now let us compare this leak to the leak of a Cabinet paper on MFAt restructuring. Unlike the Kitteridge report, the Cabinet paper was not a paper about to be released to the public. Cabinet papers are for Cabinet, and that paper was leaked even before it got to Cabinet (off memory). That leak is clearly just as “bad” a leak as the Kitteridge report, and arguably worse.

Yet in this case Labour have spent months arguing the leak should not be pursued, and that a leak inquiry is a waste of money. Flagrant hypocrisy. And I hope one day, we will be publicly able to publish why Labour is so frightened about the leaker’s identity being revealed, and any links back to them.

Several on the left are critical of opposition parties demanding a criminal investigation into a leak. blogs:

Firstly, the idea that this leak breached the Crimes Act is utterly ridiculous. Both the offences of espionage (which peters accused Dunne of in Parliament on Thursday) and wrongful communication of official information require that the information in question “be likely to prejudice seriously the security or defence of New Zealand”. John Key was quite clear in his press conference that that was not the case, and there is no possible way in which the leak of material exposing GCSB wrongdoing could be seen in that light. So, the idea that an offence has been commited is pure bullshit, and the Greens should not be trading in it. …

A party like the Greens, committed to democracy and freedom, should be encouraging such leaks, not calling for them to be punished – especially given the shit we’re learning about what the GCSB’s foreign masters have been getting up to.

has sought to justify his position on the grounds that such leaks undermine the idea of Parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies. Firstly, this wasn’t an ISC document, so that’s just a non-sequitur. But more importantly, Parliament pays the bills, so it has an absolute right to scrutinise what is done with our money, no matter how secret and sensitive. And I regard it as not just a right, but a duty of politicians on the ISC to inform the public of wrongdoing. If Norman seriously believes what he’s said, then he is not doing his job properly, and should resign immediately so that his place can be taken by someone less credulous and authoritarian.

The authoritarian Dr Norman!

NBR also reports:

Labour and the Greens are illiberal in pushing for a police inquiry into the Peter Dunne affair, and have revealed themselves as anti leaks to the media, says .

“It’s incredibly surprising to see Labour and the Greens have called on the police to intervene over the leak of the GCSB,” the Otago University lecturer and commentator tells NBR Online.

“There’s always problems when the police get involved in the political and media realm. It can have a very chilling affect on politics and journalism,” Dr Edwards says.

And the next time there is a leak to say an opposition MP, how could Labour or Greens complain if there is a criminal Police investigation into it? They are so kneejerk desperate to get a media headline that day, they rarely think about the consistency of their long-term position.

Generally those that regard themselves as politically liberal will not want the police involved unless utterly necessary, says the Politics Daily compiler.

“Therefore the threshold for calling the cops into Parliament and newsrooms should be very high. It’s hard to see that this threshold has been reached in this case,” Dr Edwards says.

“Normally those that call the police in on their political opponents are from an authoritarian political philosophy. By contrast, liberals generally regard those that leak government department reports as heroic whistleblowers that are enabling the freedom of information and the right of the public to know what those in authority are doing.”

The Greens, Labour and New Zealand First have now shown that they stand opposed to leaks to the media, says the lecturer.

That’s the second commentator to use the term authoritarian. And I am unsure of the media will like the opposition (presumably) demanding that a reporter’s phone records, e-mails and other communications be seized because she received a leak.

Dr Norman says a key issue is whether the appendix to the inquiry was leaked. Unlike the body of the report, which was always scheduled to be shared with the public, the appendix is secret – and breaching it could constitute a breach of the Crimes Act.

Peter Dunne did not have the appendix. No information from the appendix has been published, so nice try inventing a make believe crime.

Labour leader David Shearer has called on police to seize Mr Dunne’s emails. His deputy, Grant Robertson, says Mr Dunne should be compelled to give evidence under oath. 

On that basis, they must also be demanding that Phil Goff have his emails seized by the Police and Goff should be compelled to give evidence under oath.

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31 Responses to “Opposition parties may look silly over Police complaints”

  1. Black with a Vengeance (1,865 comments) says:

    Never been one to kick a man when he’s down…dick move!!!

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  2. Pete George (23,682 comments) says:

    I asked Graeme Edgeler

    What sort of inquiry can compel someone to give all evidence and answer every question asked fully?

    His response:

    An illegal one.

    So Winston Peters, Russel Norman and Grant Robertson want to illegally force Dunne to give up evidence and compel him to answer questions for doing something (presuming he did it) that was not illegal.

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  3. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    Well, the Greens must be pleased Obama hasn’t yet closed Gitmo. They may be able to send Dunne there. We know they want to.

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  4. hmmokrightitis (1,595 comments) says:

    This is what surprises me. As you’ve noted elsewhere DPF, if you’ve got even reasonable connections in Welly, you know who “A” is, and why labour are so keen to protect them. Can they not see the impending doom with the position they are taking on the Dunne Diddly Dunne ‘Affair”?

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  5. All_on_Red (1,644 comments) says:

    “And I hope one day, we will be publicly able to publish why Labour is so frightened about the leaker’s identity being revealed, and any links back to them”

    It would be nice if someone would leak the leakers identity and the reasons Labour is so scared….

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  6. Viking2 (11,563 comments) says:

    Yep. Us country folks are starved of information on this one.

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  7. m@tt (631 comments) says:

    All entirely predictable really but no point blaming everyone else when the one person who could have avoided it all is Peter Dunne by making better decisions in the first place.

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  8. SPC (5,772 comments) says:

    Michelle Boag’s defence on Q and A of Peter Dunne reminds one of the Labour defence of Winston Peters.

    This is what happens in the last term of a government under MMP.

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  9. Pete George (23,682 comments) says:

    Here’s a refresher:

    The mystery continues over the identity of the person suspected of leaking sensitive cabinet papers about plans for restructuring the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The person, known in court proceedings as “A”, will go to the Court of Appeal to protect details about their identity.

    In High Court judgments made public this morning Justice Robert Dobson said “A” planned to appeal, and suppression orders would continue in the meantime.

    The judge had intended to release where the person worked at the time, previously and presently, but lawyers for “A” succeeded in keeping those details suppressed as well.

    Paula Rebstock was appointed to head an inquiry after Labour foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff claimed under parliamentary privilege to have been given leaked details of plans for restructuring at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

    The details came from sensitive Cabinet committee documents.

    “A” is alleged to have scanned and copied the documents on May 1, last year, but has repeatedly denied distributing them.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/8679866/Leakers-identity-remains-secret

    Very interesting comparison to Peter Dunne’s situation. I guess it wasn’t practical for Dunne to get name suppression. If he had I wonder what Peters would have done.

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  10. Liberty (271 comments) says:

    Green-Labor running off to the police reeks of hypocrisy .
    Labour and NZF were more and happy to use the Brash stolen emails
    For their own ends.
    How long did take for the police to start investigating ? Months
    Why did it take so long? Smelt of friends in high places .

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  11. trout (944 comments) says:

    Norman is now saying that there is no need for Dunne to resign as an MP and leave Parliament. Could it be that the prospect of a snap election is not palatable to the Greens at this time?

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  12. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    “Peter Dunne did not have the appendix.”

    Well that’s true but it is obvious he also didn’t have the gut’s or the ball’s as well! :)

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  13. Pete George (23,682 comments) says:

    trout – that seems to be a significant softening in Norman’s stance since yesterday. I think there’s been a few words been spoken amongst the Greens and Norman has been pulled back into line. Suppressing leaking was not received well on the left.

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  14. Viking2 (11,563 comments) says:

    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman also said Mr Dunne has done nothing criminal and there is no need for him to leave Parliament.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/137161/pressure-grows-over-spy-report-leak

    Change of heart after reality sets in.

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  15. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    Wonderful post this. It’s not Dunnes fault but everyone elses! Yesterday on the Nation Rachel Smalley tried the old ‘it was leaked to you’ line with Winston and he sorted that out pretty quickly. Let’s not kid ourselves Dunne is the one who did wrong here.

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  16. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    The recent behaviour of Labour and Greens reeks of panic driven by rage (that National is popular despite all the “evil” things they are doing), fear (that the will lose again next year) and hatred (of National and anyone associated with it). They are behaving like a child by having tantrums, attacking any target in sight, and simply failing to stop and think rationally about what they are doing and saying. If this goes on they will be foaming at the mouth too.

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  17. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    s.russell (1,319) Says:
    June 9th, 2013 at 6:32 pm
    ————————–

    Not half as desperate as you lot on here. When was there last a thread about something good National had done, or something promoting National by positive means, rather than attacking everyone else? I guess there is nothing to post?

    You lot need to look in a mirror and recognise the true face of desperation.

    Incidently, the report was ‘sensitive’ by catagory, however was stamped ‘Secret’. Sensitive is stated to be the same value as ‘restricted’ and therefore could possibly be defined as illegal to ‘share’.

    However, what can’t be stuffed round with is the fact that as a restricted report there are guidelines regarding storage of such reports – they cannot be taken home unless authorisation has been given and special storage is used. It is my understanding Dunne did not have that authority – therefore has breached at least on of the conditions – just how that is regarded legally I don’t know. But he broke the rules – and needs to go.

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  18. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Dunne didn’t have the appendix, but the appendix was not used in the media article – thus it was decided the copy the press got hold of didn’t have the appendix – just like Dunne’s copy!

    The report is available on Whaleblubba’s site. Try reading it – then defending Dunne.

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  19. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    You should pop your fatarse over to GD Judith so you can be properly insulted.

    No one is reading this topic! :)

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  20. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    Judith,

    You may not have noticed, but I am not an MP, and am not seeking to be an MP, or PM or Minister of Finance – unlike Mt Norman for example. The same goes for almost all other posters here.

    It is actually rather sad that you think any attack on a policy you like is a result of desperation rather than real contempt for the policy.

    As for threads on good things National has done, if you take the trouble to look, there are rather a lot of them. Perhaps you fail to see these because you regard everyting National does as automatically bad, but then that would be your myopia at work rather than anything else.

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  21. NK (1,256 comments) says:

    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman also said Mr Dunne has done nothing criminal and there is no need for him to leave Parliament.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/137161/pressure-grows-over-spy-report-leak

    Change of heart after reality sets in.

    Of course he wants Dunne to remain a part of the government and in parliament. He and Winston want to crucify him (and Key and the Nats) now that they’ve nailed him to the posts! I’d have thought that was obvious.

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  22. flipper (4,198 comments) says:

    Judith, on this you are wrong.
    The document was classified as “sensitive” because it was awaiting release, in full. (Source: J. Key)

    In my real world experience, classifications are bullshit.
    Apart from “Need to know” and “special access” (involving matters of intelligence), even “top secret” is more often than not the makings of a self important bureaucrat.

    Moreover, Ministers of all political persuasions, have in the past given me full copies of Cabinet papers and minutes, On one occasion, when shifting house, I disposed of two apple boxes of such documents. Among them were photocopies of newspaper articles stamped “top secret” and “secret”.

    Confidential is a joke. It simply means that the author wants to limit circulation. But when all is said and done, the information held by Ministers and bureaucrats that can not be released is very, very limited. And let’s remember that it is our information, and that we have paid for it. They simply own a share.

    Nothing to see here. It is all now a media/Peters beat up. Move on . :)

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  23. ChardonnayGuy (1,213 comments) says:

    All the more reason to put Winston Last on our ballot papers in 2014, whatever our political persuasion. Let’s face it, do either the centre-right or centre-left really want that cheap populist stuntsman and his lickspittle sycophants within that ridiculous personality cult back? After 1999 and 2008, I suspect not.

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  24. jcuk (713 comments) says:

    “histerical” is right I’m sick of the silly twits ‘going on’ on this and many other matters …. surely there are more important matters to be discussed on Morning Report and elsewhere ….I wonder how much it is a media stirred cup of tea.

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  25. jcuk (713 comments) says:

    It is a political matter nothing else … he made a silly choice if he did release the info ahead of Mr Key and is paying the price, a heavy one I think to end thirty years service to the country in such a manner. Whoever did release the info must be very happy the spotlight is on Dunne.

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  26. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    flipper (1,711) Says:
    June 10th, 2013 at 7:46 am
    Judith, on this you are wrong.
    The document was classified as “sensitive” because it was awaiting release, in full. (Source: J. Key)

    ————————————-

    According to the report itself, J.Key did not ‘classify it’. He has given his interpretation of the classification, however, on page 14 of the report it makes it very clear what the classification was, and what rules applied to that classification. Dunne broke those rules, and went further by refusing to disclose information in an official investigation.

    That report was going to be released – however, whether it was going to be released as it was, or whether parts would have been removed, was yet to be determined. I am well aware that this sort of thing happens a lot and that Peter Dunne is not the first person to release such papers, however, his handling of the situation by lying, evading and refusing to co-operate is what concerns me the most. He clearly has forgotten who he is answerable to.

    Whether the entire pack of MP’s have also taken part in similar behaviour is immaterial. Dunne has, and been caught and therefore must pay the price. If Gilmore had to go for his lapse of good judgment, then Dunne should follow.

    Whilst there may be many that are influenced by what you call Peter’s beat up, I am not. There are principals involved here. Principals that Mr Dunne has spouted about during his term in parliament – the breaking of those principals make him a huge hypocrite. I know the man, I have worked with him often. It is the sheer hypocracy that annoys me most. I have sat for hours listening to him spouting on about propriety and adherence to rules/co-operation with authority etc. As much as I have no respect for the majority of Peter’s actions, I stand firmly next to him on this one – as do most of the people I know that have also had to listen to Peter Dunne’s rants.

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  27. burt (8,312 comments) says:

    Here we go….

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8776490/Dunne-should-stay-as-an-MP-Key

    “So this argument that he has to be hounded out of Parliament isn’t actually consistent,” he said, adding the leaked report was not a top-secret document.

    Oh great… Labour have previously acted with blatant self interest so it’s OK if National do it too..

    Like always in parliament … it’s not about the integrity of the government… It’s about not being any worse then some other party who were considered self serving !!!!

    Man up Key… This isn’t about not being worse than Labour !

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  28. flipper (4,198 comments) says:

    Yes Judith.
    Politicians, however, will always be politicians, giving us what they want us to know.

    But the main problem I see is that he (Dunne) was caught on the wrong side of perception… so to speak.

    There will be a lesson from all of this that is already under discussion in Government circles – the stupidity of twitter and face book contributions, linked to emails. Politicians receiving good guidance have already modified their habits. And the media of 2013 may have much to regret when the full consequences of this affair come into play. Sources will tend to evaporate.

    I am absolutely sure that the GCSB knows exactly what Dunne said in his emails to (and received from) Vance. The question to be pondered is whether someone in GCSB told anyone else. I doubt it, but they will surely know exactly what was said, when it was said, and who said it.

    The recent disclosures of similar monitoring in the US and the UK by NSA and GCHQ suggest that the Echelon team is alive and looking. They are not in NZ? Yeah, right

    There is one point that most commentators have failed to note, namely that the Vance pieces quoted Kitteridge at length – verbatim.

    If the report given to Dunne was in electronic form, extracting sections would not be difficult. Scanning or faxing extracts would be more cumbersome, and may require assistance from others (possibly not), but then time lines and physical opportunity become crucial.

    Frankly, I cannot be bothered with the issue. It is just NOT important. That, I believe, is an “honest” pragmatic view. It does not relate to any association with or feelings (dangerous word that :) ) for Dunne.

    This is now a beltway/academic/media issue that does not draw waster with the great unwashed. I tried to initiate a discussion on it with folks from a major provincial town over the weekend. Zip interest. As Helengrad always said: “Time to move on.”

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  29. burt (8,312 comments) says:

    Perhaps if Dunne does end up in court National can use parliament to pass a retrospective law making it legal for Dunne to do what he did – It’s not consistent for an MP to face the consequences of the law in NZ so lets not start now… Life is easy when you are measured against a low standard eh…

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  30. flipper (4,198 comments) says:

    Fairfax digs in…

    Further to my comment above ( ” … Politicians receiving good guidance have already modified their habits. And the media of 2013 may have much to regret when the full consequences of this affair come into play. Sources will tend to evaporate. ” ), this just out on Fairfax:

    “: **** Fairfax Media will resist any attempt to force it to release private communication between its journalist and United Future leader Peter Dunne.

    Dunne faced fresh pressure today over his role in the leaking of a sensitive report into the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and Opposition parties were demanding the release of emails between him and journalist Andrea Vance.

    Fairfax Group executive editor Paul Thompson said politicians should tread carefully before embarking on a witch hunt. That could have a chilling effect on how journalists covered politicians.

    Fairfax would protect the communications between its journalists and any contacts, regardless of whether they were the source of sensitive information or not.

    “The protection of our sources is paramount,” Thompson said.

    “We will resist any attempt to force us to release that sort of information.

    “It’s the most fundamental commitment we make to our sources. We will go as far as we need to to protect that information.”

    The relationship between journalists and their sources was not just about “getting a great scoop for a newspaper” he said.

    “It’s about keeping the public informed.

    “We can’t trust the Government or officialdom to always tell us the truth. It’s about preserving the right of journalists to work in the way they need to work.”

    Thompson also rejected suggestions there was more to the relationship between Dunne and Vance. **** “

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  31. Swampy (191 comments) says:

    It’s frankly astounding how Shearer has tried to twist the knife even more by referring Dunne to the Privileges Committee. I wonder what bright spark in the Labour Leader’s office thought that one up. They are not going to bring the government down because of one MP, but apparently that is worth letting the government off the hook over the much greater question of the GCSB’s breach of the law, and that of Labour and Greens’ core policy concerns over the activities of the GCSB.

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