A new low for Key Derangement Syndrome

April 24th, 2015 at 8:35 am by David Farrar

Laila Harre basically compares the Prime Minister to Rolf Harris.

This is a new low for sufferers from Key Derangement Syndrome – a disease for which no cure has yet been discovered.

But this isn’t some anonymous troll on a blog or Twitter. This is from the (former) leader of a political party.

We’ve yet to hear Laila’s views on political figures who pressure staff to have tennis balls smashed into their bodies at high speed. Oh wait, she was working for him and on his payroll, so that is fine.

There is no one in NZ saying what the PM did was fine. But as Rob Hosking noted:

I marvel Not for first time, Key’s biggest asset is the lack of sense of proportion of his opponents.

Indeed.

UPDATE: After defending her tweet and claiming it was justified, she has now deleted it.

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Inappropriate if accurate

April 22nd, 2015 at 9:42 am by David Farrar

The Daily Blog has a story from an anonymous waitress who details interactions with John  Key at a cafe where he pulled on her hair as a sort of joke and caused her distress by doing it on a regular basis.

On the assumption that the story is correct, he obviously totally misread the situation, and he caused distress to someone. He eventually realised it, when he apologised with a couple of bottles of wine.

I think he would be stunned to realise how upsetting it was for the person concerned, but regardless you should be able to read a situation better than it appears he did.

This will of course get media attention. If the story is correct, then he should apologise for causing distress to her. I’m sure it was inadvertent and he thought it was a funny game between them. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.

If you speak to staff that work for him, they all say he is one of the best bosses they have ever worked for. Generally those who interact with him only have favourable things to say about him. But again in this case (assuming the story is correct) he appears to have seriously misjudged how what he saw as mucking around, was received, and he failed to pick up on the discomfort caused.

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Helensville electoral petition struck out

April 17th, 2015 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

Arthur Taylor’s electoral petition for Helensville has been struck down by the courts, as they has found he has not standing to bring a petition. This is not a huge surprise.

The court ruling is below.

Helensville Electoral Petition

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Miranda Devine on NZ and Key

April 13th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Miranda Devine writes in the Daily Telegraph:

The Kiwis are killing it.

The New Zealand dollar is set to hit parity with ours, for the first time in 30 years.

Its economy is growing 20 per cent faster. Its GDP per capita is rising while ours is falling.

Its competitiveness rankings have outstripped ours. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent compared with our 6.3 per cent, and that’s with a higher participation rate.

The NZ budget is heading towards a surplus while ours spirals ­further into deficit.

NZ has challenges, and the global economy is still fragile, but we are better positioned than most.

In a world lacking impressive leadership, Prime Minister John Key and his finance minister Bill English are shining lights, running the most successful and stable conservative government in the world.

Angela Merkel might disagree, but there is a reason Key was elected Chairman of the IDU.

Through lunches at the homes of mutual friends, I have come to know Key and his wife Bronagh a little and, over the years, have watched him become more energised and enthusiastic about the ­challenges of government.

Sunny-natured and refreshingly normal, he presents a new model of reassuring, ­decisive centre-right political leadership tailor-made for the 24/7 media demand for ­authenticity.

He shows that canny leaders who are trusted can get away with just about anything.

For instance, Key increased the GST in NZ to 15 per cent without a blip to his popularity. He did it by reducing the top marginal rate of tax to 33 per cent — compared with Australia’s uncompetitive 49 per cent — and he and English discussed their “tax switch” for 18 months beforehand.

Key’s style is not to spring unpleasant surprises after an election and exude competence by ensuring he is able to implement the policies he has promised.

And while some of those policies may be controversial (such as Sky City) they were publicised and debated before the 2011 and 2014 elections. The Opposition spend much of their time demanding Key break his word and not implement his election policies.

Key’s success is even more remarkable considering he had to weather a GFC-induced ­recession, and the $40 billion cost of rebuilding Christchurch after its 2011 earthquake.

His style has been dubbed “incremental radicalism”. But he is much more than an economic rationalist appealing to base self-interest. Like a Reagan or Thatcher, he is animated by a moral vision of an egalitarian nation of stable families where poor children like him can aspire to greatness though hard work.

Welfare is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

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Accessibility of the PM

April 12th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A pre-election interview with four political editors as done at The Pantograph Punch. All quite interesting, and one thing I wanted to highlight in the interview with Brent Edwards:

How do you rate the access to politicians in New Zealand?

In New Zealand in the main we have great access to politicians. If you think of the Prime Minister during a sitting week, he has a post-Cabinet news conference on a Monday which is for anywhere up to half an hour or more. We can then grab him on his way to his caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, on the way to Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, we can grab him again on Wednesday afternoon on the way to Parliament, and the rest of the time when he’s out around the country you probably have three or four stand-ups.

So that is a total of seven or eight media conferences or stand ups a week. And our stand ups involve questions and answers  not just photo ops.

It is a good thing our head of government is so accessible to the media, and through them the public. I doubt there are many other countries which would have the same.

In the US Barack Obama averages just 20 press conferences a year. On top of that around 26 short q+a. Compare that the NZ where it is around 46 press conferences and 300 or so media standups.

In the UK there appear to be seven to nine media conferences or standups a month.

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PM press conference transcripts

March 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

After requests from the media (and an inadvertent promise by Bill English), the Government now puts up transcripts of the weekly press conference held on Mondays by the Prime Minister.

Quite interesting, and you see how long some of them go on for.

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Once again, PM should not comment on Reserve Bank decisions

March 10th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has sent a shot across Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler’s bows, effectively warning him not to keep interest rates unjustifiably high as inflation heads lower.

But Key stopped short of calling for an interest rate cut at the bank’s monetary policy review on Thursday.

He noted that while the bank had flexibility it should set monetary policy so that inflation returned to the midpoint of its 1 per cent to 3 per cent target band. …

Key said oil prices were coming down, the exchange rate was still reasonably strong and imported inflation appeared low. In light of that “it’s not an option for the bank to raise interest rates”.

That’s not a decision for the PM. While he is correct that there is no reason for interest rates to go up, he is the PM – not a financial commentator. It is a bad look to have the PM state that something is not an option for the Reserve Bank, because it can look like pressure on them to do as the Government wants.

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PM on ISIL

February 24th, 2015 at 2:48 pm by David Farrar

From the PM’s ministerial statement to Parliament:

Last November I gave a national security speech which outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL.

This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.

ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too.

It is well-funded and highly-skilled at using the internet to recruit.

Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.

In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

And we’ve seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways.

ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group.

The coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Panam, Singapore, Sweden and Spain.

New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values.

We stand up for what’s right.

We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened.

We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it.

We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.

It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against ISIL.

The Iraqi government has requested support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.

We have been clear that we cannot, and should not, fight Iraqis’ battles for them – and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to.

Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so they can fight ISIL themselves.

I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi Security Forces alongside our longstanding partner Australia, in Iraq.

Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi Security Forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.

Mr Speaker, the Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL.

No surprise. It’s at the lower end of what we could do.

The deployment will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum two-year period.

I’m glad it isn’t open ended.

We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term.

Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message.

That will take time.

As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause and we are currently examining options to provide more help.

We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq.

As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and our military deployment, as well as assess how we can support better governance in Iraq.

We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new Ambassador for Counter Terrorism.

Many other countries have done this.

We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris and Ottawa have underscored.

To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises that threat, I say this:  the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that.

I know there is already risk.

New Zealanders do too, because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.

Mr Speaker, the Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL.

We are prepared to step up to help.

New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.

In return we expect that the Iraqi government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect.

Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.

I would call it the least bad decision. There are risks. But the greater risk is leaving ISIL unchecked with their ambition to be a global caliphate. They are not terrorist. They are 7th century fundamentalists who wish to have the world live under their 7th century religious doctrine.

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The PM’s carpet

February 12th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

From Hansard yesterday:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, especially that one when I said yesterday that “There’s no dye in these locks, baby.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, how come the curtains don’t match the carpet? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member managed to hear it, I will—

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I take offence that the member is telling New Zealand he has seen my carpet.

Good to see Winston focusing again on the big issues.

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Key on human rights and Iraq

February 5th, 2015 at 3:34 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In an unscripted speech on a marae today Prime Minister John Key told Maori leaders that New Zealand are not going to turn the other cheek to the horrors being seen in the Middle East.

Key’s unprepared statement in the meeting house at Te Tii Waitangi Marae came with an attack on the left wing.

After a peaceful welcome on the marae, various Maori leaders addressed him including prominent leader Kingi Taurua who said Maori were suffering because of their service in fighting for “other people’s sovereignty” over the decades.

Key said he agreed in part.

“I am with you, we should not go and fight other people’s wars.”

Diplomacy was what was needed but New Zealand also needed to support other people around the world.

“The day before yesterday a Jordanian pilot was burned to death with petrol and yesterday some gay people were thrown off a building because ISIS don’t like their sexuality,” he said.

“A few weeks ago 10-year-old kids were rolled out to behead soldiers who were part of the Iraqi forces. “

Key said he heard from the left wing every time he went to countries with different human right’s records to New Zealand.

“I am regularly reminded by the left that they have an intimate knowledge of apartheid and the Springbok tour,” he said in reference to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand that divided the country.

Key has since admitted he does not remember where he stood on the tour.

“These are the very people (the left) who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who cannot protect themselves, then they tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt alive and thrown off buildings.

“Well sorry, give me a break, basically New Zealand is not going to turn the other way,” he said.

 

Key absolutely nails it. Amazing that some on the left go on non stop about human rights, but then say we should do nothing about a state that burns people alive, throws gays off buildings and turns 10 year olds into killers. Making strong speeches at the UN won’t cut it.

New Zealand would not do anything silly.

“But we may join 60 or so other countries around  the world trying to protect people who cannot protect themselves because the do nothing other than live in a country they want to call home.

“I reckon that is doing something for human rights.”

Key said he had no intention of fighting other people’s wars “but I am not going to  turn the other way when people are being persecuted and say, as a leader, that it is other peoples’ problem.

“I don’t think that is the New Zealand way.”

Absolutely.

At a later press conference Key said the speech was not something he had planned but came up when iwi leaders objected to fighting other people’s wars.

“We are a country that stands for human rights and I don’t know about you but when people are being burned with petrol I find it difficult to look the other way.”

Asked if he had attacked the left too strongly he denied that.

“I don’t know that it is laying into them. I simply made the point that when I go to those countries and people raise issues from the left, they raise issues of human rights.

“I think as a country we have a really proud record of human rights and when people can’t defend themselves, would we really turn the other cheek?”

The best lines often come when they are not pre-planned. I think Key hit the nail on the head. Not contributing to the global effort is pretty indefensible if you are a supporter of human rights.

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An electoral petition to get him out of prison for a few days

January 28th, 2015 at 6:11 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key’s lawyer has dismissed criminal litigator Arthur Taylor’s claim that Key unlawfully won the Helensville electorate, saying there’s “no evidence to substantiate his claims”. 

Taylor, a serving prisoner with more than 150 convictions, is petitioning the court claiming Key’s election as MP for Helensville was unlawful because about 650 prisoners at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo were excluded from voting in the electorate. 

He challenged the result on the grounds that the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010 was invalid because it prevented about 8600 prisoners in the country’s jails from registering or voting.

After hearing Taylor’s arguments in the High Court at Auckland today, Key’s counsel Peter Kiely made his opening submissions this afternoon, saying there was no evidence to support Taylor’s claims. 

Taylor was not registered to vote in last year’s election, was not entitled to vote and therefore “has no standing” to challenge the Helensville result, Kiely said.  

Taylor is likely to never be released from prison. So he does this various lawsuits as a way to get out occasionally. It’s a joke electoral petition with no possibility of success.

Earlier today, Taylor argued that there was no rational reason to disqualify prisoners from voting, saying punishment wasn’t a legitimate reason, claiming it served the political interests of National to ban prisoner votes, and that the knock-on effect was that many prisoners wouldn’t bother voting once they were released from prison either. 

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think prisoners should be able to vote. The law was changed so they could not. An electoral petition should be about if the law was followed, not a way for someone to say they don’t like the law.

Taylor protested the fact he wasn’t provided a desk in court, unlike the four lawyers representing Key and the Crown, and two friends of the court, who had claimed all the available bench space in the small courtroom.  

He was instead given a desk in the prisoner’s dock for his paperwork.

Poor diddums.

Taylor is presenting his case at the three-day hearing in front of Justice Geoffrey Venning, Justice Helen Winkelmann and Justice Paul Heath despite Justice Rebecca Ellis ruling earlier in September that prisoners being denied the right to vote wasn’t inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Ac

Three days? Ridiculous.

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Is Key on drugs ask du Fresne?

January 26th, 2015 at 8:21 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

I have never met John Key, but like anyone who follows politics I’ve been able to observe him via the media. And after studying him carefully, I think I now realise the explanation for much of his behaviour. He’s on drugs.

Not the illegal kind, I should stress, but the mood-calming type that doctors prescribe. This may sound flippant, but consider the following.

In the 2014 election campaign, Key was subjected to possibly the most sustained media offensive faced by any prime minister in New Zealand history. Day after day he was tackled by an aggressive media pack trying to trap him on dirty politics, illicit surveillance and other touchy issues.

His answers were often unsatisfactory, which served only to ramp up the media frenzy. But through it all, he appeared supernaturally imperturbable. He patiently batted away reporters’ questions and accusations with his familiar bland inscrutability. There were no meltdowns, no hissy fits, no petulant walkouts.

This was downright unnatural. No politician should be that unflappable. He can have achieved it only by the ingestion of large amounts – indeed, industrial quantities – of tranquillisers.

Alternatively he may have voodoo dolls of key members of the press gallery :-)

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Montgomerie on Key

January 24th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Montgomerie interviewed John Key for The Times.

On his own blog, He makes 10 observations about John Key:

  1. Upwardly mobile
  2. No surprises
  3. No security in standing still
  4. Controlled immigration is a good thing
  5. Patriotic
  6. A sensible green
  7. Balanced ticket
  8. Polls, not pundits
  9. Selfie conservatism
  10. Global leadership
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PM vs Chief of Staff

January 23rd, 2015 at 8:50 pm by David Farrar

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TVNZ reports:

Mr Key will today have private meetings with representatives from Ireland, Sweden and Luxembourg – but even a Prime Minister needs to let off some steam.

ONE News Europe correspondent Jessica Mutch snapped the PM mid-snowfight with his chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson.

I’m sure that isn’t in the job description!

NewstalkZB reports that it is not all snowball fights:

John Key is in demand at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He’s attending the annual gathering in Switzerland for the first time.

One News reporter Jessica Mutch told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Mr Key is a man in demand in Davos.

“He has been a target, or a little bit of a superstar at this conference, just because of how well our economy is doing at the moment. He has been asked to speak, particularly about our connection with Asia.”

I’m so pleased we didn’t throw it all away to have a Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana-Internet Government.

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NZ showing how reform can occur

December 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Hartwich wrote in the Spectator:

Rarely does a government manage to build a positive narrative around the policy changes it implements. However, there are exceptions to this rule, or at least one exception: New Zealand.

At a time when many commentators have given up on the possibility of pro-market reforms, the New Zealand government under Prime Minister John Key demonstrates that they are still possible. More than that, Key shows how despite his government’s reformist zeal it managed to get re-elected not once but twice already.

In my new monograph Quiet Achievers: The New Zealand Path to Reform, published this week, I try to dissect Key’s political management and his leadership style. What I hoped to find were lessons for economic reforms that could be applicable to other countries, whether in the eurozone or in Australia. There are quite a few.

There are two types of reforms. The first are those reforms that are undertaken when there is no alternative, or at least no plausible one. The classic example is Margaret Thatcher’s radical turnaround of Britain. Following the winter of discontent, there really was no choice but to move on from the country’s post-war, half-planned economic model.

The labour market reforms under German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003 fall in the same category of reform, for lack of a better alternative. As unemployment numbers exceeded five million people, something had to be done. Closer to home, both Australia and New Zealand went for a radical restructuring of their economies in the 1980s and 1990s because circumstances were dire and something had to give.

These emergency-driven reforms constitute what I would call ‘pathological learning’. Policy mistakes are finally corrected only when circumstances have become so dire that even the greatest reform-deniers cannot block change. Eurozone reforms fall into this category as well. We can praise the heroes of such reforms, but their job is comparatively easy. What is far harder to achieve is to lead economic change when conditions are not quite catastrophic yet.

Australia’s more recent experience is a good illustration of this problem. Given the mining and terms-of-trade boom, it was hard to make the case for any policy changes. Instead, the temptation was there to use the proceeds of the boom on new government spending programmes.

Commentators like The Australian’s Paul Kelly and (ex-)politicians like former finance minister Lindsay Tanner have expressed their concerns about this. They argue that our political culture with its short attention spans and focus on headlines and sound bites has made good policy-making difficult, absent a major crisis which forces political action. They certainly have a point.

This is where the New Zealand counter-example is worth examining. True, the last few years of the Global Financial Crisis and the devastating Canterbury earthquakes have hit New Zealand hard. However, the situation was not so bad that it left Key without alternatives. He could have easily used these crises as an excuse to allow his budget to blow out or introduce emergency taxes. In fact, that was very Australia’s response to the GFC and the Queensland floods. Remember the giant stimulus packages and the so-called flood levy?

Instead, Key and his finance minister Bill English did the opposite of such populist activism. They quietly steered New Zealand onto a more sustainable economic path. They kept budgets tight, undertook a substantial overhaul of the welfare system, started an experiment with charter schools, part-privatised some state-owned enterprises, cut income taxes and increased consumption taxes.

It was a combination of policies that did not only put the budget back on a credible path to surplus. It also increased New Zealand’s competitiveness, which has now surpassed Australia’s. It created economic growth and tens of thousands of new jobs.

 

The surplus is not quite there yet, but Hartwich is right that there has been significant reforms in the last six years.

How did the Kiwis do it? How did John Key get away with so much reform?

The answer I have come to in Quiet Achievers is simple. Shunning any reform rhetoric or political grandstanding, Key quietly and slowly goes about his reform business. Reforms are carefully crafted while the public is prepared for upcoming changes and informed why they are necessary. In this way, the reforms are building their own constituency and by the time they are implemented, the measures appear imminently commonsensical. Key’s strategy is one of incremental, silent radicalism.

New Zealand proves that reforms, even in mature democracies, are still possible. They should be possible in Australia as well where they are much needed. Australia has not implemented any substantial economic reforms since the introduction of the GST in July 2000.

For any political leaders wishing to embark on a process of economic reform, whether in Australia or in Europe, a look at New Zealand may well be inspirational.

The welfare reforms are an excellent example of this.

But while there has been good progress in a number of areas, the need for reform is continual, and further reform is needed – especially around land availability.

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Ambrose sues Key

December 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose is seeking $1.25 million in damages from John Key, claiming the Prime Minister defamed him.

The action has been taken at the High Court in Auckland, according to an RNZ report.

Mr Ambrose made news in the lead up to the 2011 election when he left a switched-on recording device on a cafe table after reporters withdrew and Mr Key began a private conversation with then ACT leader John Banks. 

The freelancer has always denied he purposefully recorded the conversation.

As this is the subject of defamation, I’d advise commenters to be mindful in their comments.

Mr Ambrose is asking for:

  • $500,000 dollars in aggravated damages relating to comments made by the Prime Minister at a media conference three days after the cup of tea meeting

  • $500,000 for an interview Mr Key have to TV3’s Firstline the following day

  • $250,000 for comments the PM made to journalists at a stand-up press conference in Upper Hutt two days after the incident

I thought when you sued for defamation you couldn’t seek specific damages? Am I wrong, or has the law changed?

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Claims and more claims

November 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Blogger Cameron Slater has claimed in texts to Prime Minister John Key that senior Labour staffer Matt McCarten was involved in hacking his emails and that Labour even tried to kill him.

To put that into context, it is referring to an alleged conversation among some of those involved in the Dirty Politics saga that they hoped the pressure would lead to Cameron killing himself. As far as I know, no one is saying Matt McCarten is an assassin :-)

THE TRANSCRIPT

Cameron Slater: gave it away to me…Goff leaked SIS report

John Key: It’s a joke isn’t it. They will attack Jason for talking to u and they break the confidentiality agreement. Classic lab.

Slater: Yup…I’m very angry over it…Goff is the one who leaked oravida stuff too.
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Slater: They still have standard bloggers on staff

Slater: And Mccarten was involved in hack

Key: Hopefully it will all come out in time

Slater: I wish they would hurry up…they played the real dirty politics…even tried to kill me…I have evidence of.

Cameron blogs:

I had confirmation from two journalists that Phil Goff was the one who briefed them about the report and the source of the leak.

I texted John Key, and informed him of the source of the leak. He thanked me. No discussions of the content of the IGIS report were held, it was a brief exchange.

I did not text Judith Collins and have not texted Judith Collins for some months. We had no discussions regarding the content or otherwise of any report.

In my conversation with Josh Forman I got suspicious because of his intense interest and so fed him some information that wasn’t strictly true so that it could be easily verified by cellphone records.

I repeat. I never had a text conversation with Judith Collins on Monday night. Cellphone records will clearly show this.

The following day Josh Forman continued along that line of inquiry and was imploring me to out the txt with John Key, I couldn’t work out why.

That is until this afternoon.

Josh Forman is a man who lacks integrity. In good faith I was willing to coach someone from the other side so they could have a better voice in the blogosphere.

I now know that his request for coaching was a subterfuge, at the behest of the Labour party in order to gain my trust.

I thought the campaign was weird enough, but this has now reached a new level of weirdness. The biggest issue of the moment is Cameron Slater – he was mentioned 124 times in Parliament this week!

I suspect 90% of the public are confused or bemused or both – or just change the channel when the latest politics story comes on.

 

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PM and Cook

November 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

The dinner conversation traversed diverse subjects such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Rewi Alley, cooking skills, and Mr Xi’s preference for three-star hotels in China.

Mr Key, who is the chief cook in the Key household, said Mr Xi said he used to be quite a good cook himself but doesn’t cook any more.

I think it is rather cool that despite being PM, he still has time to cook for his family (and can do so). A very good way to stay grounded.

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Key elected head of the International Democrat Union

November 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Key was yesterday elected Chairman of the International Democrat Union. This is the global union of centre right parties. It is unprecedented for the leader of such a small country to become the chair.

It has 54 members including the Australian Liberal Party, Canadian Conservative Party, Taiwanese Kuomintang, French UPM, German CDU, UK Conservative and US Republican Party. It was founded by Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Jacques Chrirac and George H W Bush. John Howard has just retired as the Chairman.

I have had some involvement myself in the IDU and the IYDU. To be elected Chair means that dozens of other Prime Ministers and party leaders are in support of you. It is a sign that John Key is recognised internationally as one of the most successful centre right leaders around the world.

Global politics, like domestic politics, often works on the strength of relationships. Key’s ascension to the IDU leadership is significant.

When he first became National Party leader, some on the left mocked Key as someone who would be incompetent on foreign affairs – how could a money trader know anything about diplomacy. Since then Key has developed strong relationships with both the US and Chinese Presidents, is good friends with the Australian, British and Canadian PMs, and now has been elected by his peers to be the leader of the global grouping of centre-right parties.

 

 

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From an anti TPP protest

November 11th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

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Sent in by a reader, as reported on One News.

I wonder if she even knows what the NZ position on the TPP negotiations has been. I suspect she doesn’t.

 

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John Oliver on Key and NZ Flag

November 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Oliver is in great form as he skewers John Key and the flag issue.

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The terror threat

October 8th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of New Zealanders planning to serve as foreign fighters in countries like Syria is “far more” than one or two, Prime Minister John Key says. …

He is also planning a major speech once Parliament resumes that looks set to challenge Kiwi perceptions that New Zealand is far removed from terrorist threats.

The speech signals Key’s intention to front-foot security and intelligence issues more aggressively after much of National’s second term was beset by controversy surrounding the GCSB.

Key warned that New Zealand was in a far from benign environment, using the rise of Kiwis seeking to join groups like the Islamic State (Isis) as an example.

“I hope to be able to spell out the risks around foreign fighters. There is no question the Security Intelligence legislation needs reforming.

“If I was to spell out to New Zealanders the exact number of people looking to leave and be foreign fighters, it would be larger than I think New Zealanders would expect that number to be.

“The number currently fighting overseas . . . is relatively small but it’s certainly far more than one or two.”

 

That is concerning. Even if they go over there with good motivations (to free Syria from Assad), there is a significant risk they get radicalised as they are fighting alongside extremists.

He singled out the rise of foreign fighters as a particular issue for the Government to deal with, likely through legislative change. He would seek cross-party support. “If we cancel a passport for someone who is looking to go overseas as a foreign fighter . . . in other jurisdictions they [are cancelled] for a much longer period of time . . . we think there are some glaring deficiencies there.”

The Greens will knee jerk oppose any change I can almost guarantee. It will be interesting what Labour does. I suspect the primary process will force all the leadership contenders to reject out of hand any possibility of bipartisan support for a law change. But Labour then runs the risk of being on the wrong side of public opinion, as the average New Zealander has little time for those who go off to fight alongside ISIS.

The Herald reported:

Mr Key also wanted to reform SIS legislation. However, he said he would prefer to do that on a bipartisan basis with Labour under its new leader.

If he could not secure Labour’s support, “then there’s a very strong chance that I won’t progress changes in that area”.

It is best to have bipartisan support in this area. So if the Labour leadership contest means Labour won’t support any changes, then they probably won’t proceed – which will be interesting if the lack of a new law leads to problems.

Key confirmed, meanwhile, that New Zealand was expecting a request to join the international effort against Isis.

Deploying the Special Air Service was likely to be among the options considered by New Zealand “but we’ll just need to assess that”.

I hope we don’t do it. The risk of mission creep is too high. We should make some contribution to the international effort, as 60 other countries are doing. But it should not be troops on the ground.

 

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The PM should not talk on where he wants the currency

September 30th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The New Zealand dollar has slumped US1 cent after the Reserve Bank revealed a currency intervention of more than half a billion dollars during August.

But the Prime Minister says the currency remains far above ‘‘Goldilocks’’ fair value level of about US65 cents.

The kiwi dropped from US78.3c to US77.3c late this afternoon after new figures were released showing the Reserve Bank sold $521m of its New Zealand dollar holdings in August, a massive jump from July when it sold only $2m.

Economists said the central bank had put its money where its mouth was. The Reserve Bank was ‘‘shorting’’ the dollar when it was high and when it was expected to fall and would be happy with the latest fall, economists said. The scale of the intervention was seen as ‘‘material’’ and involved the most selling of the New Zealand dollar since 2007.

However, while the currency has fallen heavily this month, down more than US6c, it only dropped about US2c during August when the central bank was actually selling.

The kiwi had already fallen earlier today after Prime Minister John Key, a former currency trader, said the dollar was too high and the “Goldilocks” level (not too high or too low) would be about US65c.

“I happen to actually support the view that the Governor has that the exchange rate is over valued, so if they have intervened, it would be a matter for them, but it would seem fairly logical,” Key told reporters this afternoon.

I don’t think the PM should comment (even if in support) on decisions of the Reserve Bank Governor. I tweeted:

I would prefer if the Prime Minister did not think aloud about what the Reserve Bank should do.

Matt Nolan at TVHE blogs:

Given their standing and thereby ability to seemingly signal intervention in markets, the prime minister and finance minister really need to keep quiet about policy where there is an independent body involved – as it both creates volatility and indicates that such things are a more political issue.  I was pissed off when Cullen did this, pissed off when Key has done it in the past, and I’m pissed off hearing it now.  I don’t care if someone asked the frikken question, part of central bank independence is having fiscal authorities show a bit of discipline with their comments.

It is a bad precedent. We are lucky we have had strong Governors who can stand up to the Executive (as happened with LVRs), but we may not always have such people in the future.

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Key’s open letter

September 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Key writes in the NZ Herald:

An election is when people vote for a particular party; however the elected Government should work in the interests of every New Zealander and it is my intention to do so.

There will be times when people will disagree with decisions we make, but that is true of core supporters as well.

Over the past six years we have been transparent and straightforward about our decisions and the direction we have taken.

Although we are likely to have an outright majority in Parliament, that won’t change. We’ll continue to do what we said we would do, and will not embark on any agenda we have not campaigned on. We have been, and will remain, a centre-right Government.

In other words National will implement the policies it campaigned on.

Now we are reaching out to other political parties to form a bigger buffer than the one-seat majority from election night. This will give the Government depth and breadth.

John Key is pretty much the only Prime Minister who has ever offered confidence and supply agreements to parties, when they are not needed to govern.

Once we successfully negotiate the Confidence and Supply agreements, I will look at forming a new Cabinet. There are two vacant spots in the existing Cabinet, which gives us room to bring in new talent, and in some cases it makes sense to change portfolios around.

Although the core economic team of Bill English in Finance and Steven Joyce in Economic Development won’t change, there are options for Ministers looking for new challenges.

I hope there are some substantive changes. Renewal is a good thing.

Welfare reform will continue to be a priority, as will health. One of our first targets will be to see hospice funding increased to 70 per cent, and we will also speed up the cancer treatment process so 90 per cent of sufferers receive treatment within 62 days of their first referral.

What an awful uncaring government.

One of the messages we picked up on the campaign trail was that New Zealanders want us to do more for the most vulnerable children in our society. We will continue to try to move people from welfare-based homes to work-based homes, however we acknowledge there is potentially more we can do and we will be looking at ways to do that.

Almost every social indicator we know of says kids raised in families where at least one parent is working do better.

We want to finalise our tax-cut programme and implement modest cuts for low and middle income New Zealanders from 2017.

Good. 2016 would be even better than 2017.

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It’s time to get angry

September 16th, 2014 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

For months and even years we have given Kim Dotcom a slight benefit of the doubt. He claimed back in 2012 that he had evidence John Key knew about him before 19 January 2012. He said he would produce this evidence in court.

He never ever did.

But he kept insisting he had the evidence. Many got sceptical when he offered a $5 million reward for the evidence he claimed he already had, but he kept insisting he would reveal his evidence, and he then got specific – that he would reveal it at a public meeting on the 15th of September.  Most of us thought the evidence would be ambiguous at best, or inconsequential – but thought he would at least have something.

But it seems he had nothing at all. The claimed e-mail is so obviously a fake (see Danyl McLauchlan), that he didn’t even present it at the meeting. His fellow speakers probably insisted he not mention it, as he could not assure them that it was genuine. He has not provided any evidence at all to authenticate it, and the excuse that they can’t discuss it any more because Hone Harawira has referred it to the Privileges Committee is a pathetic ploy. As this circular makes clear, there is no Privileges Committee for it to be refereed to. The House has been dissolved. Hone’s abysmal knowledge of parliamentary rules is on display once again.

Kim Dotcom has trued to hijack our democracy and we should be angry about this. He is both a convicted criminal, and someone facing serious charges in the United States. His political involvement is not motivated by concern for New Zealand and New Zealanders. His motivation is purely about what is good for himself, and he has spent millions of dollars trying to subvert our democracy and country as if it is his plaything.

I’m angry about this, and you should be also.

The one thing Dotcom wants more than anything else is to change the Government. Any change of government will be his most prized possession, and the party he controls will be propping up a left wing Government. Don’t let this man buy and subvert our democracy. He had his chance to show he is not a charlatan, and he failed.

The parties of the left have all paid homage to him. One party sold out lock stock and barrel. They have sold him their party list and policies. Others had their MPs all travel up to his mansion to pay homage to him. Unlike almost every other citizen who has to travel to an MPs office to meet an MP, Dotcom has had Labour, Green and NZ First MPs beat a path to his mansion. The one thing that united them was hatred of John Key, and they wanted in on the alleged proof that Key had lied. They got played also – but they were warned.

If you don’t want future elections to have criminal multimillionaires buy off political parties, and use a general election as a tool to undermine judicial extradition hearings, then get angry and vote. And talk to your friends and colleagues and urge them to vote against Dotcom. New Zealanders should have been having a final week debating the economy, the health system, the education system, jobs, incomes, welfare, housing and the like. But Dotcom’s media manipulation has tried to make it all about him. Hell his rambling speech last night was almost an advertisement for his new Mega company at times.

Yes some of the stuff alleged by Snowden is of public interest, but Snowden, Assange and Greenwald make a conscious decision to throw their lots in with Dotcom and appear at a campaign event for the Internet Mana Party five days before the election. If they had laid out their allegations at an earlier date in a forum not organised by Dotcom, then their allegations would be getting the scrutiny they deserve. The worst possible time to have a sensible analysis and discussion on this is in the dying days of the campaign – and especially at a partisan event organised by a criminal facing extradition proceedings.

Personally I think Snowden and Greenwald are not correct, as they are working on incomplete documents. The former GCSB Director, Sir Bruce Ferguson, said on Campbell Live:

“This is an occasion where I have to say quite forcefully and categorically to support the Prime Minister’s utterances of the last few days – mass surveillance, particularly by the GCSB most certainly didn’t happen in my time or in any time before that,” says Sir Ferguson.

Ferguson is no fan of the PM. He has been very critical of him, so when he backs the PM, that says something. Southern Cross Cable has also said the claims are nonsense.

Dotcom has tried to buy himself an election result. He claimed for around two years he had evidence that John Key lied. He said it to a parliamentary committee. He said it to the media dozens of times. He tweeted it.  The media reported his claims in good faith. He has had more air time and columns that possibly any other minor party leader (which he effectively is, just barred from holding the job officially as he is not a citizen). And he has totally failed to substantiate his claims. He couldn’t even answer the most basic question about the alleged e-mail. Instead he attacked the media for not being compliant enough.

Get angry and stay angry. Do not give Dotcom what he wants. Make sure you vote. Encourage others to vote. His two year campaign of hatred against John Key has been built on a tissue of lies, and he should not be rewarded for it.

UPDATE: In relation to the alleged e-mail, a reader has pointed out to me that the alleged e-mail looks identical to what you would get if you typed the text up in Notepad!!!

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