Dunne on TPP

February 16th, 2016 at 11:09 am by David Farrar

Peter Dunne writes:

I agree with the Labour Party on the TPP.

Well, some of what it is saying anyway. Actually, to be more accurate, some of what Andrew Little is saying, because everyone else in his Caucus seems to be trying to cover all sides of the argument, all of the time.

My favourite trick at the moment is to ask people if they can explain to me what the Labour Party position on TPP actually is. So far out of 25 people (including MPs, media and activists) no one has been able to.

No, I agree with Andrew Little when he says it would be crazy for New Zealand to pull out of the TPP once it takes effect. He is absolutely right.

So Little is for parts of TPP, against parts of TPP, will vote against it, but won’t pull out of it, and says NZ should just ignore parts of it we don’t like but will be outraged if any other country did the same.

Over the summer period, I took the opportunity to listen quietly to what real New Zealanders, not the vocal protestors, were saying. Their message is mixed. They hear the government’s story about the trade opportunities arising from the TPP, and while, on balance, they are a little sceptical, they tend to see that as positive. They do worry about sovereignty issues, but note that every agreement we have signed up to, including membership of the United Nations under Peter Fraser and the World Health Organisation, has involved sovereignty issues, and there has never been a problem.

I look forward to Labour explaining how the Kyoto Protocol wasn’t a huge breach of our sovereignty.

Others have wanted to know how come it was acceptable for New Zealand to take Australia to the World Trade Organisation over its restrictions on our apple exports, but not acceptable for similar provisions to apply here.

NZ is more likely to benefit from provisions that allow disputes to be arbitrated, as we generally are in the right.

Watkins profiles Dunne

December 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

Dunne manages these things with surprisingly few ripples. Having served in more government’s than probably any other MP he is the master of MMP politics – the tortoise to NZ First leader Winston Peters’ hare. 

But United Future’s parlous stage – dependent on the goodwill of Ohariu voters to survive – is a constant reminder of the fragility of Dunne’s legacy.

At the last election it polled fewer than 6000 votes. That followed the ignominy of being deregistered over a question mark about having the necessary number of party members.

That has sparked a period of soul searching, with the party hierarchy asking its members “what do you think we should be about?”.

Dunne says while that provoked some “sneering” from his opponents and the media it proved to be a useful exercise.

“We had a couple of hundred detailed responses and they lined up quite well with here we should be. “

The next step would be refining those core values to two or three key philosophies.

“I guess  I learned a very valuable lesson at the last election to my cost.  We thought we were going to be different by producing policy and we produced a great thick manifesto and all that stuff.  That was to be our point of difference and it just went nowhere. People said ‘you want to talk bout policy? We want to talk about Dotcom’.”

So next time, while United Future won’t be “junking policy” it will go into the election with two or three “key ideas”.

The task now was to decide: “What are those messages, what are those things that for a party our size and place where we can say we will make a difference?”

But Dunne admits he is also grappling with the other dilemma facing small parties – succession planning.

“Do I have an answer to it at this stage?  No.  But it’s something that all small parties [have to think about].  Do they have some sort of strategy?  We’ve got some people who are putting their hands up at the moment, the big challenge for us is how do you get those people up and give them the profile to be taken seriously? There’s no lack of enthusiasm. There’s just that practical reality of ‘how do you get people to notice?'”

So long as Dunne retains Ohariu, United Future’s lifeline remains intact – but as Dunne himself acknowledges, that is not the full picture.

Dunne has won Ohariu 11 times since he won it off Hugh Templeton in 1984.

His majorities have been:

  • 1984 – 1,371
  • 1987 – 4,492
  • 1990 – 783
  • 1993 – 1,065
  • 1996 – 8,513
  • 1999 – 12,557
  • 2002 – 12,534
  • 2005 – 7,702
  • 2008 – 1,006
  • 2011 – 1,392
  • 2014 – 710

But of perhaps more importance is where his electorate votes are coming from. Below is what % of Labour an National party voters gave Dunne their electorate vote

  • 2002 – Labour 47% National 57%
  • 2005 – Labour 34% National 52%
  • 2008 – Labour 16% National 44%
  • 2011 – Labour 13% National 57%
  • 2014 – Labour 9% National 59%

Dunne used to get significant support from both Labour and National voters. Since 2008 his electorate support is overwhelmingly from National voters.

Dunne on Labour

November 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Dunne writes:

Later this week I will join current and former Labour MPs to celebrate the 80thanniversary of the election of one of New Zealand’s most reforming and innovative governments – the first Labour Government under Michael Joseph Savage. No doubt there will be much reminiscing and catching up with former colleagues, particularly those from the equally reforming and innovative fourth Labour Government in which I was privileged to serve.

Amidst the banter and inevitable backslapping, there will assuredly be reflection on the remarkable Labour Prime Ministers New Zealand has had over the years. Savage, Fraser, Kirk, Lange and more recently Clark come to mind.

For me, the remarkable thing about the Labour Party, which attracted me to join it while still at school, was its ability to continually adapt to the circumstances of the time to promote a new vision for the New Zealand of the future. Savage and Fraser expanded the incipient welfare state Seddon’s Liberals had ushered in during the 1890s to meet the needs of a society recovering from the 1930s Depression. Kirk and subsequently Lange captured the yearning for national identity of the restless baby boom generation and beyond. Lange and Clark oversaw the painful economic adjustment necessary to shift New Zealand from Muldoon’s Gdansk shipyard of the 1980s to the modern dynamic economy of today. Differing circumstances and differing challenges, but the constant was the capacity to develop responses attuned to the time.

And now:
Sadly, today’s Labour Party is but a shadow of its bold predecessors. There is no sense of future direction or purpose, and even in its rare positive moments, the Party’s best offerings seem to be a hankering for yesteryear. The boldness in politics is now coming from the National Party – formed primarily to oppose the first Labour government – with no more striking example than its Budget decision this year to lift basic benefit payments, the first such upward adjustment in over 40 years(including the 3rd to 5th Labour Governments). Labour, the traditional friend of the beneficiary, was left gasping in its wake.
Labour’s challenge today is to recover its soul and its place. In this post market age, there is a still a role for a radical reforming party of the left, if it is prepared to be bold. There is the opportunity to pull together the threads of the Labour heroes and promote a new commitment based around strengthening New Zealand’s national identity through constitutional and social reform, and encouraging diversity. There is still a place for a progressive party promising a new, more co-operative economic approach in today’s globally digitally and free trade connected world. And there is still a place for a progressive party to promote new, innovative approaches to education and social services.
But rather than grasp these opportunities, Labour has become predeterminedly negative.
The latest is Little attacking John Key for talking about domestic security risks. Little said Key was scaremongering! He really should turn on a TV at some stage!
Its approach to economic policy is stalled because it cannot make up its mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Its stigmatising of people with Chinese sounding names buying property in Auckland has robbed it of any credibility in the diversity stakes, and its capacity to champion meaningful education reform is zero while it remains the plaything of the PPTA.
This is from someone who served as a Minister in the 4th and 5th Labour Governments.

Parliamentary Service jobs

April 15th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Dunne points out:

The Parliamentary Service is currently advertising for: 

  • An Organisational Development Manager to join the People and Culture Leadership team
  • A Senior Organisational Development Advisor
  • A Senior Learning and Development Advisor to build people and organisational capability
  • A Talent Manager for the People and Culture Leadership team
  • A People and Culture Services Manager.

“These all sound like bureaucratic gobbledegook to me.

Me too.

The jobs may be justified, but the titles are meaningless.

It’s like the school that called their receptionist the director of first impressions.

Can people try to work out what these jobs actually do?

I think a Talent Manager is an HR Manager.

I’m not sure about a Senior Learning and Development Advisor but maybe that is what they now call library staff?

An Organisational Development Manager and Senior Advisor I can’t even guess at.

And the thought of a People and Culture Services Manager scares me!


Dunne has a point

February 12th, 2015 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Dunne also launched a stinging attack on comments made in New Zealand last week by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond when he said: “Frankly we’ve got used to New Zealand being there alongside us, alongside the US, the UK, Australia, as part of the family.”

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the training was made at the request of the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Prime Minister John Key has already made it clear he wants to deploy up to 100 NZDF staff in a training mission with Australia which has 600 people in Iraq.

Mr Dunne, a minister and the leader of United Future, described Mr Hammond as a “patronising figure from abroad loftily telling us we are in the club, we are part of the family and it would be lovely to have you along for the next round of unmitigated slaughter”.

He said the debating chamber had plaques on the wall of other times “the family” had acted together.

“Gallipoli, the mindless slaughter of Australian and New Zealand troops in the pursuit of a British objective, Passchendaele and the Somme, so to come here and say to New Zealanders today ‘we love having you on board, you are part of the family but you’ve still got to queue up at the aliens gate at Heathrow’ is unacceptable in the extreme.”

I agree that any action should not be justified on the basis of being part of any family, or club.

It should be justified if it meets the criteria that it is morally the right thing to do, the risk are not too great, and the action will help improve the situation.

Mr Little, the Labour leader, said everybody felt the urge to do something but: “After 10 years of training of the Iraqi Army by the … best-resourced army in the world, what is it that we can do now that is going to make a difference?”

It’s a fair question, but the situation is not fluid. A number of things have changed.

  1. A new Iraqi Government is less divisive and more able to command army loyalty
  2. The rise of the Islamic State and their barbaric actions against native Iraqis being so much worse than the previous insurgency. This has changed the dynamic there, and greatly increased the motivations of the rest of Iraq to join together to defeat them.

It is rather more complicated that that, but the point is the situation is not static. Justifying doing nothing on the basis of a previous failure, only works if no variables have changed. And they have.

A Minister and an Under Secretary

September 29th, 2014 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

National has announced two confidence and supply agreements – with United Future and ACT.

The United Future one is basically:

  • Agree to work on  the next iteration of the National Medicines Strategy, improving water quality, giving recreational fishers more opportunities. re-affirming the use of public private partnerships for major roading projects and other United Future policies
  • Peter Dunne appointed  Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Sits on  Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee, Cabinet Social Policy Committee, and the Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control.
  • National will give Dunne some of their question slots and speaking slots

The ACT one is:

  • National and ACT to continue with partnership schools, regulatory reform and RMA reform
  • David Seymour appointed  Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform. Sits on Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee and Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee
  • National will give Seymour some of their question slots and speaking slots

I think making David Seymour an Under Secretary rather than an Associate Minister is a smart move. It allows ACT to be involved in the implementation of policy in areas of importance to them – charter schools and regulatory reform, but doesn’t see a new MP made a Minister straight away. It is quite possible that if Seymour does well, he may become a Minister at some stage.

I imagine they will soon announce an agreement with the Maori Party, but that may be delayed due to the Maori Party’s need to do consultative hui. And then we should get the appointment of the National Ministers.

Dunne on immigration cases

June 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Dunne blogs:

I have always followed two firm rules for immigration – and actually all constituency – cases, aside from the obvious point of keeping clear and full records. Any letters of advocacy I write on behalf of a constituent have been drafted personally by me, rather than a member of my staff, as I am more likely to remember something I have written myself, rather than just affixed a signature to. Second and more important, I have never accepted a donation or gift in return for pursuing an immigration case. Where there have been occasions – usually after the event – where someone offered to make a donation, I have always referred them directly to the Party Treasurer. So I actually never know whether any of these offers have ever been followed up, which is as it should be.

I say this not to be sanctimonious, but because it strikes me that David Cunliffe has done neither. I do not think he had full oversight of Mr Liu’s approach to him regarding his immigration status, but I do think he – and his colleagues it would appear – had way too much involvement, more than they are letting on now, in respect of Mr Liu’s financial support. It is that ambiguity and shadiness that is doing the damage now.

Add to that Mr Cunliffe’s strident flaying of Maurice Williamson over his dealings with Donghua Liu and the firestorm of hypocrisy now engulfing him is both obvious and utterly predictable.

Good points made by Peter Dunne.

The Whangarei Council sacking

September 17th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

A Whangarei District Council employee has been fired for nominating a candidate for mayoralty.

Jan Walters-Gleeson signed a nomination form last month for Stan Semenoff, a former mayor of Whangarei who is re-standing.

My first reaction was that the Council was wrong to do so. Employees have a right to nominate, or even to stand. But there is a complicating factor.

Ms Walters-Gleeson, who is the personal assistant to the mayor and chief executive of the Whangarei District Council, was sacked two weeks ago, Radio New Zealand reports.

Being the PA to the Mayor makes this case more nuanced. I think it is fair enough to conclude that you can’t have a Mayoral PA who nominates a challenger to the Mayor. How could you possibly have a working relationship with the Mayor after that?

I can’t fathom how Ms Walters-Gleeson could have though that there would be no consequences to doing this.

Now having said that, I think the better response from the Council would be to move her into another job, rather than sack her. She obviously could not continue as the PA to the Mayor, but could continue as a PA in another section of the Council.

Mr Dunne said her dismissal appears to be a gross breach of her rights as a citizen to participate freely and fairly in the electoral process.

“I am surprised we have heard nothing so far from the Electoral Commission, given its oversight role of electoral processes, about the infringement of Ms Walters-Gleeson’s rights as an elector.

I am not surprised as the Electoral Commission does not run local body elections, but more to the point they have no role in employment law. There is no dispute about the validity of the nomination form, just a dispute over a sacking.

According to Radio New Zealand, Ms Walters-Gleeson will fight for her reinstatement.

As I said, I think she should be employed elsewhere in the Council. But one can not expect to be PA to the Mayor when yerou sign the nomination form of a rival. It would be like claiming that an MP’s EA could nominate their election opponent, yet still be the MPs EA.  I’m not sure Peter Dunne would be too happy if his EA had signed the nomination form of Charles Chauvel!

UPDATE: I’m told the current Mayor is not standing, which makes it less of a judgement of error. I still think a Mayoral PA should not sign any Mayoral nominations forms. However the appropriate response is to transfer, not sack.

Dom Post and Grey Power on flexi super

August 28th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne already has one thing in his favour as he pushes for flexible National Superannuation: significant public support.

According to a Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll in February, 49 per cent of people would like to choose when they receive their state pension, with reduced or enhanced rates depending on the age they start drawing payments.

Certainly, Mr Dunne’s proposal, which the Government agreed to consider as part of its confidence and supply deal with UnitedFuture, breathes some fresh air into the superannuation debate. It is well worth the discussion kick-started by a Treasury scoping document issued on Monday. 

A more hysterical response from Grey Power:

Allowing national superannuation to start at age 60 would be a cruel poverty trap for people who are short of money, Grey Power says. …

“This latest idea from Peter Dunne is one of the more cynical, cruel and dangerous bits of stupidity I’ve heard in a very long time,” said Grey Power president Roy Reid.

“It will be a poverty trap for financially hard-pressed people already on low incomes who will be tempted to take an early but low pension with no hope of it ever increasing to the rate that people who can afford to wait until they’re 70 will get.”

Mr Reid says Mr Dunne is a typical MP who has no idea of what life at the bottom of the heap is like.

“It’s like offering a starving family a loaf of bread today, and every day hereafter if you take it now, or two loaves a day and a big box of sausages every day if you wait for 10 years to collect.”

Mr Reid says Grey Power will fight the Government if it takes up the idea – and it wants Mr Dunne out of Parliament.

My God, the hysteria. Grey Power obviously thinks elderly people are so stupid they can’t be trusted to make decisions about what is best for them.

if you are 60 and in bad health, the option of early retirement could be a massive advantage.

Of course there are potential problems, but we need a rational discussion, not mad rants.

I note also that the Grey Power President has declared he wants certain MPs to be defeated. So I hope Grey Power will be registering as a third party for the election campaign.

Dunne on party registration law changes

August 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Dunne blogs:

First, it was UnitedFuture, not the Electoral Commission, that raised the issue of the difficulty we were having verifying the status of some of our members. Had we just signed the annual statutory declaration that we had 500 financial members the Electoral Commission would have been none the wiser because it has no power to check the accuracy of a party’s declaration. So we were deregistered for being honest, which is quite absurd. Therefore, my Bill will require the Electoral Commission to formally audit the membership of all registered parties once every three years to ensure they do in fact have a minimum of 500 financial members, and are not just saying so in the sure knowledge they will not be checked up on.

I think it is a great idea to have the Electoral Commission audit membership claims.

The next absurdity was the Electoral Commission’s archaic insistence that we produce 500 individually signed declarations and its refusal to accept on-line memberships. That is totally out of step with today’s reality so my amendment will ensure on-line memberships will be treated as valid for registration purposes, and will make the Commission subject to the provisions of the Electronic Transactions Act, something it is currently specifically exempted from.

Also a good idea. To be fair to the Electoral Commission they have to act within the current law.

Third, I am proposing that where a party that has been registered for at least two elections is deregistered it will be able to lodge a re-registration application within 90 days, without being treated as a new party. The Electoral Commission kept telling us that UnitedFuture was clearly not a new party – having been around for nearly 20 years – but under its internal rules (not the Electoral Act incidentally) it claimed it had no option but to treat us a new party. This is clearly a nonsense – a party cannot be both an established party, yet treated as new party, at the same time.

Obviously some self-interest here. This one I am fairly neutral on. The best course of action is for parties to make sure they clearly stay over 500 members. In fact I think the threshold should be 1,000.

Definitely a bill that should go to select committee, if drawn out.


August 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A group protesting at the Government Communications Security Bureau bill have taken their fight to the Wellington home of United Future MP Peter Dunne, prompting him to call them “irresponsible scum”.

Eight protesters were outside his home in Khandallah yesterday afternoon, calling on him to cross the floor and vote against the bill.

Mr Dunne, who was not home at the time of the protest, said the “hardcore group” were at his house with a loudhailer on Sunday, past 11pm on Monday night, and also yesterday morning at 7am.

MPs have electorate office swhere people can protest. To target someone’s home, and at 11 pm at night, is a very unclassy look. In fact, pretty scummy.

Protester Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati said they were at Mr Dunne’s home “to give him a taste of what it feels like to have your privacy intruded on”.

I think Peter already has a fair idea!

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati is a Mana Party activist. She doesn’t seem to play well with others, as you can read on this blog post. She’s so disruptive the other protesters think John Key has paid her to infiltrate and disrupt them 🙂


Dunne sums ups Labour’s logic

August 4th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Peter Dunne should withdraw his support for the prime minister’s controversial GCSB Bill in the wake of the widening spy scandal, Labour leader David Shearer says. …

“I find it extraordinary that he would still support the bill given the Government has actually gone behind his back and tried to access his emails.

Actually the Government is on record as saying the e-mails should not be released without Dunne’s permission.

But Dunne is sticking to his guns, yesterday saying the two issues were unrelated and he will vote for the bill.

“Saying that the GCSB Bill should not be passed because of this is like saying that because some people jaywalk, we shouldn’t build more motorways.”

That appears to be exactly the Labour (and Green) view on transport!

A further Parliamentary Service cock up

August 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne is considering legal action and Fairfax Media is alleging a “cover up” after it emerged yesterday that Mr Dunne’s emails with reporter Andrea Vance were sent to an inquiry investigating the disclosure of a sensitive report.

The latest twist in the Henry Inquiry saga follows earlier revelations that Vance’s phone records were sent to the inquiry, along with logs of her movements around the parliamentary precinct recorded by a swipecard.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet released all emails relating to the Henry Inquiry late yesterday. One included an attachment containing emails between Vance and Mr Dunne, which was sent to the inquiry by Parliamentary Services on May 21.

About 40 minutes after the message was sent, Parliamentary Service officials tried to recall the email and asked the inquiry to call urgently.

The head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Andrew Kibblewhite said the file was deleted immediately and could not have been opened because the email system was incompatible with that used by DPMC.

Unbelievable. And note it was not authorised:

 Parliamentary Services told the inquiry on May 20 it believed it had the “necessary approvals” to release ministers’ emails. However, the next day, Mr Thorn emailed Chief of staff Wayne Eagleson to ask about Mr Dunne’s emails, adding “I am happy to provide the information as requested.” Mr Eagleson said he told Mr Thorn he was uncomfortable about authorising that because Mr Dunne was not a National Party minister, and Mr Dunne would have to give permission himself.

Which he did not.

The Henry Inquiry had asked for calls made “to and from” the ministers’ phones and Miss Vance’s but specified “we do not want the call logs for (Vance’s phones)” as it was outside conditions of the inquiry.

So twice Parliamentary Service provided private communication details, despite explicit statements that that information was not to be included!

People will try to blame this on the PM or his staff, because that is the nature of the politics game. but really, it looks pretty clear to me that the PM’s Office was very careful not to over-step the mark. The problem lies with Parliamentary Service.

However there is a political management issue here, that may involve both. This info should not be coming out piecemeal. Once it was known such information was sent by mistake, it should have all been disclosed together. But it seems DPMC (seperate to the PMO) only mentioned the e-mail incident yesterday to the PM’s Office.

GCSB Changes

July 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Key has announced the following changes to the GCSB Bill after negotiations with John Banks and Peter Dunne:

  • A set of guiding principles will be added, in line with requests from Mr Banks and Mr Dunne.
  • The Inspector General will be supported by a two-person advisory panel.
  • The removal of the proposed Order in Council mechanism which would have allowed other agencies to be added to the list of agencies able to request assistance from the GCSB. Any additions beyond the Police, NZSIS and NZ Defence Force will now be required to be made by a specific amendment to the legislation.
  • To ensure effective oversight in the issuing of a warrant, the Bill will be amended so the Inspector General is informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander.
  • The GCSB will be required to report annually on the total number of instances where it has provided assistance to the Police, NZSIS or NZ Defence Force.
  • The GCSB will also be required to report annually on the number of warrants and authorisations issued.
  • The Intelligence and Security Committee will hold public hearings annually to discuss the financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the NZSIS.
  • There will be an independent review of the operations and performance of the GCSB and NZSIS and their governing legislation in 2015, and thereafter every 5-7 years.
  • Mr Dunne will have a role in the Government’s upcoming work to address the Law Commission’s 2010 report Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies. This work will include a review of the definition of ‘private communication’, which was highlighted as an issue by submitters on the GCSB legislation.

These are good changes. I had talked on TV about one area of concern being the proposed ability for the Govt to add other agencies onto the list of agencies the GCSB can assist with interceptions. Having Parliament, not the Government, make any changes is desirable.

Despite these significant changes, Labour appears to still be voting with the Greens against the bill. Ironic as it was a Labour Government that caused this problem with their 2003 law change.

Dunne and Banks have shown how you can have a constructive role in improving legislation.

Also the Herald reports:

Mr Key said today that he did not believe that the GCSB had engaged in the mass collection of metadata and he confirmed that it should be treated the same as communication and any collection of it would require a warrant. He planned to make a clear statement about it in the bill’s second reading.

Also welcome.


Russel calls for a leak inquiry and then denounces it for being effective

July 1st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

When the Kitteridge report was first leaked, Green co-leader Russel Norman was outraged by the leak. He suspected it was a deliberate leak by the PMs Office or similar, and demanded the Govt take action.

On 9 April he said:

Dr Russel Norman: In light of the fact that the cover note on the report says that the appendices are legally privileged and highly classified, does he believe that the leaking of the full Kitteridge report is a serious offence? 

So he is calling it a serious offence, if the full report was leaked.

Dr Russel Norman: If it does turn out that the full report has been leaked by someone in his Government, what consequences should face the person who leaked this information, which the Government Communications Security Bureau describes as legally privileged and highly classified? What consequences should that person face? 

And he calls for serious consequences.

Dr Russel Norman: Given that so far the only member of his Government who, he has told us, has had access to this report is the office of the Prime Minister, did he or a member of his staff leak the report?

Which was a stupid allegation to make, as the leaking of it undermined the PM’s trip to China.

Dr Russel Norman: If he does not know who leaked the report, will he launch an inquiry to get to the bottom of it, given his previous support for an inquiry into a leak at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over documents that were probably quite considerably less sensitive?

So he explicitly called for a leak inquiry. He said the leak may be a serious offence, and called for serious consequences.

But now today, he has changed tune and decided that the leak inquiry was draconian, and went too far.

The Prime Minister’s inquiry into the leaking of the Kitteridge report appears to have acted beyond the law by accessing Peter Dunne’s email account log without his permission, and the Green Party has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsmen on this issue, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

Norman seems to be arguing that the Henry inquiry should have merely asked every Minister if they leaked the report, and when they said “no, it wasn’t me”, should have left it there.

If the Henry inquiry had done that, Norman would no doubt have been calling it a cover up.




Dunne now independent for parliamentary purposes

June 25th, 2013 at 2:18 pm by David Farrar

Speaker David Carter has ruled that as United Future is no longer a registered political party, it is no longer eligible to be recognised as a parliamentary party under Standing Orders. Hence Peter Dunne is now classified as an independent MP.

This means he loses $122,000 of annual leader and party funding. Also he no longer has the right to speaks on motions where all party leaders get to speak.

However the Speaker also indicated that if they do get re-registered they will likely again be recognised as a parliamentary party, so he is likely to regain his former status in a couple of months or so.

Hide on leaking

June 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

It was Dunne’s basic goodness that did for him. Politicians leak all the time. Helen Clark was masterful. But they don’t get caught. That’s because they know what they’re doing.

You certainly don’t use your Parliamentary email. You don’t discuss with a journalist the possibility of leaking. That gives them the power, either through error or design, to get you sacked.

If you’re going to leak, leak; don’t leave your fingerprints all over it.

The leaking, too, has to have a point: it advances your cause, knocks an enemy off course, distracts the media from your own problems, or helps set the agenda. The leak was of no political benefit to Dunne whatsoever.

Most leaks are to disadvantage the other side. This leak disadvantaged the Government he is part of, and didn’t help Dunne at all. A few people think that maybe Dunne wasn’t the leaker – that he just helped Vance confirm the story and she had a second source. But personally I go with Occam’s razor.

Trotter on SNAFU

June 13th, 2013 at 1:30 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Labour’s performance was equally demoralising. Listening to David Shearer’s opening speech, it soon became clear that he had requested the snap debate not for the purposes of elucidation, but solely for the purposes of persecution. Peter Dunne’s career is in tatters and his reputation is shot, but that is not enough for the Labour Party. Apparently, the party of the workers will not be content until Mr Dunne, like the traitors of old, is subjected to a prolonged, painful and very public execution. …

This cannot be achieved without revealing to the world the full contents of the e-mails exchanged between Mr Dunne and Ms Vance. 

Trotter notes:

The National Party’s Deputy-Leader, Bill English, could hardly conceal his delight at the prospect of Labour getting involved in such a fight. Responding to Shearer’s speech, the Finance Minister declared:

“Peter Dunne is a member of Parliament. OK. So this is the proposition of the Labour Party to the media now: any journalist who corresponds with any Minister in any Labour Government needs to know that their emails and voice messages will be open to scrutiny by the Prime Minister whenever they feel like it. That is the Labour Party proposition to the media. Well, let us just watch over the next couple of weeks. Those members might shout it in here, but out there they are going to be working very hard to get off that hook, because their relationship with the media is now at stake, and when you are in Opposition you need to be able to communicate with the media. You need to have free flow of information. You do in Government too, actually.”

Mr English’s boss put it more succinctly. Addressing the Press Gallery, The Prime Minister asked: “Do you guys seriously want me going out there foraging through your correspondence with my MPs and my ministers and other ministers and support parties? … I think that’s a step you would ferociously repel and be extremely vocal in your opposition to.”

Mr Key’s grammar is as tortured as ever, but it’s hard to disagree with what he is saying. Which really leads me to wonder what the hell is going on with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. If Labour and the Greens can’t make a better fist of defending press freedom and the citizens’ right to privacy than the National Party, then some very serious questions need to be asked about their competency.

During World War II soldiers became so used to the Army getting things wrong that they coined the acronym “SNAFU” to describe its routine incompetence. I would hate to think that things were now so bad – particularly in Labour – that the party’s strategy for dealing with Mr Dunne could simply be written off as SNAFU:

Situation Normal – All Fucked Up.

They do seem to have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This should have been an easy win for them, but instead they over-reached, and looked ridiculous.

Campbell vs Peters

June 11th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

If you want some humour, watch this interview of Winston Peters by John Campbell. Not sure whether it is more funny or sad.

Peter George has a transcript:

Campbell: How did he breach national security?

Peters: Well he leaked information on a very important report, to do with the malfunction of the GCSB, that’s the Kitteridge report, and then there’s the matter of moral within the GCSB, a separate matter, no no no, let me finish, you want to know how I’m going to give you a snapshot, just three, not all of them, just three. And the third one was he made reference to someone he should not have made reference to on the question of the GCSB appointments.

Campbell: Ok, let’s go through these things one at a time. The Kitteridge report, it was going to be made public.

Peters: I know what you’re trying to say, and some of your colleagues are doing the same, they’re saying…

Campbell: No wait a minute, I’m not trying to say anything, it’s a statement of fact

Peters: …over the last twenty four hour, a repetitive argument he just broke the embargo…

Campbell: You’re hearing fact, you’re hearing fact…

Peters: …let me tell you why it’s not fact, and I’m sure you’re interested in that, the ah Fairfax outlet said it was a secret report, and it was, the second thing is it was described in the State Services and parliamentary record of being such a document in it’s past precedence. Then you’ve got the fact an investigator appointed by the National Party, said as well it was classified and highly sensitive…

Campbell: Mr Peters, look, I can’t sit here and let you spout nonsense to me, absolutely, I’m going to read what David Henry said, verbatim quote. 

“On the afternoon of 27th March Mr Dunne was given a numbered copy of the Kitteridge report” – which was going to be made public – “but not the classified appendices”.

In other words he didn’t have classified material. No, you know that. Why are you sitting here tonight saying that he did?

Peters: Because you haven’t asked any questions about what happened by way of conversation within five MPs, including the Prime Minister who sat on the Intelligence and Security committee, you don’t know that, and I don’t think Mr Henry bothered to ask as well which is why I raised questions about the way he was conducting this inquiry.

I’ve been on that committee, I know something about what I’m talking about and I know what international ramifications are, and I’m not going to stand by while cynical people who said from day one there was nothing in this, now repeat that he merely broke an embargo. I’m sorry, this is out number one security agency, it interrelates with international agencies and our respect and integrity is on the line, and it’s important.

He just couldn’t answer the question, so did the normal bluster.

Campbell: Ok, what evidence is that?

Peters: That’s the evidence that backs up what I’m saying, and every day it unfolds, you will find that out.

Campbell: What evidence is that?

Peters: Well it’s evidence of, ah, improperly liaison meetings with disclosure of secret, confidential, private information, not just in one area but in a number of areas.

Campbell: Do you have the emails?

Peters: I’ve told you from day one that I have the evidence sufficient to make allegations, both to you, inside parliament because you wouldn’t publish it otherwise, and outside parliament… 

Campbell: Yes or no, do you have the emails?

Peters: Well of course I’ve got information I need to back up my…

Campbell: Yes or no, do you have the emails?

Peters: No no no, you’re not going to know, what I want you to tell me is why you aren’t asking the Prime Minister, Prime Minister, why can’t we see the information that you won’t show the public.

A nice calling of Peters’ bluff.

Norman on Dunne

June 11th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Russel Norman has facebooked:

1. The Kitteridge report was going to be released anyway, maybe a week after it was leaked. Whoever leaked it simply gave Vance an exclusive, they weren’t releasing any secret document.

2. We don’t know what Dunne may have leaked other than the K report, including from the Intelligence and Security Cttee (ISC) of the Appendix tot he K report – Henry Report says Dunne didn’t leak the classified Apprendix as he didnt have access to it. If there is a police investigation, and it seems that NZF have complained to the police, then that seems the relevant issue. I don’t think this is the central issue but clearly my comments on it have been a cause of some concern.

This looks like a hasty retreat from his position of a few days ago when Radio NZ reported:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the Prime Minister should ask police to determine who leaked the report, and says a police inquiry would have the power to force Mr Dunne to release his emails.

Glad to see the Greens are acting more sensibly on this now.

5. On Privileges Cttee, I’m pretty dubious about giving a bunch of MPs the right to force another MP to release their emails. If there is something criminal then it’s a matter for the police, but otherwise it is only the Kitterridge report and that isn’t sensitive. Of course if it goes to Privileges Cttee then we’ll do our duty to be fair minded about it.

It is a fair point about the undesirability of MPs voting on whether or not to force another MP to release their e-mail. That could set a nasty precedent.

6. On Dunne leaving parliament. Based on the publicly available evidence he hasnt done anything serious enough to call for him to leave parliament.

Glad to see Norman say this. This affair is a long way off the bar for an MP to resign his seat and force a by-election.

Andrew Geddis on Privileges Committee

June 10th, 2013 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis blogs at Pundit:

In other words, the first call on this issue is going to be Speaker David Carter’s. And I suspect it’s going to be a pretty tricky one to make. There is the question of whether there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Peter Dunne actually lied when he said he was not the source of the leak. Because while the Henry Report said that it couldn’t rule Dunne out as the leak’s source, it didn’t say he was. So while a number of commentators have joined the dots and concluded he did it (and therefore lied in his response to Peters), there isn’t any official finding that this is the case.  

Furthermore, even if there is some evidence in the Henry Report to support a conclusion that Dunne may have lied when he said he wasn’t the leak’s source, did he “deliberately attempt[] to mislead the House or a committee” by doing so? Recall that he was before the Finance and Expenditure Committee in his role as Revenue Minister, to answer questions relevant to his responsibilities in that portfolio. Winston Peters then began badgering him with questions relating to the Kitteridge Report leak.

Geddis continues:

Given this fact, the question then becomes whether a witness before a select committee misleads it if she or he falsely answers a question that wasn’t relevant to the committee’s proceedings in the first place. Or, instead, did Peter Dunne simply deliberately attempt mislead Winston Peters … in which case, there’s no contempt of Parliament involved. Because contempt relates to the work of the House of Representatives as an institution, not to the individuals within it: it isn’t, for example, a contempt of Parliament for an MP to tell a barefaced lie to another MP during a public debate on the campaign trail … but it is for a Minister to lie to an MP who asks her or him a question in the House.

So there’s an at least tenable argument that even if you think Dunne lied, he didn’t lie to the House (or a committee of the House). I which case, there is no contempt and so no question of privilege to be considered.

I agree it i going to be a tricky call to make. No doubt if Carter declines, he will be attacked by the Opposition as Geddis notes:

Hanging over all this is another issue, however. It isn’t even a week since the Speaker, David Carter, made his decision that United Future could continue to be recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes. As I noted in this post, and as others have noted elsewhere, the reasoning for that decision is  somewhat odd. Furthermore, it caused a (probably overdone) eruption of opposition anger against the Speaker. In the light of this, can David Carter really afford to find that the complaint against Peter Dunne doesn’t involve a question of privilge? What future for his role in the Speaker’s chair if he is seen to make two quick rulings in Peter Dunne’s favour?

I would hope the decision is made on its merits, not on how it will be perceived.

Latest on Dunne

June 10th, 2013 at 12:33 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shearer said he had lodged a privileges complaint with the Speaker regarding Dunne’s statement to a select committee that he did not leak the Kitteridge report into the GCSB.

Took them long enough. I indicated on Saturday that a complaint to the Privileges Committee was logical. Much more sensible that the hysterical rushing to the Police to try and get a Police investigation, for something that is not a criminal matter.

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.

If the issue is referred to the Privileges Committee, I don’t expect they would ask Fairfax to co-operate. And Fairfax should not.

But they can ask or order the Department of Internal Affairs to reveal the e-mails between Dunne and Vance.

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

NZ First leader Winston Peters has claimed to see emails that were personally embarrassing but Thompson said Fairfax was “absolutely” backing Vance.

Claims are easy. He should produce them if he has them.

“Andrea is a very talented journalist, she has done some terrific work this year,” he said.

“Her handling of the GCSB report was absolutely faultless and there was nothing improper going on. We are 100 per cent behind her.”

Which is what I said on Saturday.

He also rubbished a claim by former National Party president Michelle Boag that Vance leaked the emails to Peters.

“That’s ludicrous,” Thompson said.

With respect, yes it is.

Opposition parties were likely to lodge a complaint with Parliament’s Speaker that Dunne misled Parliament last week when he told a select committee he did not leak the GCSB report.

Dunne maintained he did not leak the report, although he canvassed the prospect with Vance.

That is the issue of privilege. Whether Dunne lied to the select committee.

Prime Minister John Key said today he did not believe Dunne should quit Parliament, regardless of whether he leaked the report.

If leaking means resignation from Parliament, then the only MP left in Parliament would be Ross Robertson.

Also the PM gets no say on whether an electorate MP from another party resigns or not.

Dunne was not the first MP to leak information and he said Labour MP Lianne Dalziel had remained in Parliament after being sacked as minister for leaking material to the media.

And Winston Peters was found by the Privileges Committee to have misled Parliament (and everyone else) on his knowledge on the donation from Owen Glennto his lawyer to cover his legal expenses. He did not resign in the face of that finding. Ultimately the voters make their judgement, as they did on Peters in 2008 and will on Dunne in 2014.

“An investigation by the Privileges Committee is required to get to the truth of the matter. New Zealanders are still none the wiser as to who leaked the Kitteridge Report. All we have is an MP who has resigned as minister but refuses to co-operate with the inquiry,” Shearer said.

“The matter cannot lie here. This is why we have taken the matter to the Privileges Committee to get to the bottom of who leaked the report,” Shearer said.

That is not the role of the Privileges Committee. However their role can be to investigate if Peter Dunne lied in his select committee testimony. There is a difference.

It will be interesting to see how the Speaker rules. On the face of it, it would seem an appropriate issue to be referred to the Privileges Committee. Misleading a select committee is a serious issue.

Opposition parties may look silly over Police complaints

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

Labour, Greens and NZ First are all somewhat hysterically saying that the report leaked (presumably) by Peter Dunne 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 GCSB, 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. No Right Turn 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.

Russel Norman 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 Bryce Edwards.

“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.

Dunne winners and losers

June 8th, 2013 at 8:01 am by David Farrar

Wow, what a day. Who would have picked that Kim Dotcom would indirectly claim Peter Dunne as a victim. Of course in this case Dunne really victimised himself.

I thought I would look at the winners and losers in this affair. As part of that I should say that I am assuming that Peter Dunne did in fact leak the GCSB report to Andrea Vance, despite his denials. Sure he may not have given her a copy, but it seems clear he was the source for her story.

The probability that Dunne and Vance e-mailed 80 odd times in two weeks, mainly re the GCSB, that they were due to meet up the day before she published her story, that he admits he contemplated leaking it but changed his minds – well it would be an incredible coincidence that she happened to have a second source who also had a copy. I sadly have to conclude Peter Dunne is not telling the truth when he says he did not leak the report – or he is using a Clintonian definition of leak.

  Positives Negatives
Winston First Winston is the big winner in this. He gains two things he badly needs – credibility and relevance. One can say he is like a stopped clock – still accurate twice a day, but the reality is basically no-one believed him and he was right. The Henry report was always going to out Dunne, but Peters has managed to claim credit for it.


The other win for Winston is that with United Future all but dead electorally, that gives National one fewer option post 2014, which makes NZ First a more compelling option.

The only real negative for Winston is his churlish attacks on inquiry head David Henry. He accused the inquiry of being a cover up effectively, when in fact it forensically made its case against Dunne.
David Henry He did his job well, and exposed behaviour by a Minister incompatible with remaining a Minister. His reputation is enhanced. A worry that presumably a member of his team was leaking to Winston. Will there be an inquiry into the leak from the leak inquiry?
David Shearer One less option for John Key, puts Labour in a slightly better position, and Shearer’s chances of being PM elevated. Has been near invisible on this issue, and Peters stole the show.
John Key Commissioned an inquiry that actually found the leaker. Took decisive action and effectively sacked the Minister. The revelations around Dunne will dominate headlines for some days or weeks, knocking the Government’s good economic news to the back pages.


One less option post 2014 will increase speculation that a deal with NZ First will be needed.


Dunne remaining an MP and voting for the Government may be an issue for some. However the fact he is an electorate, not list, MP makes this less of an issue.

Peter Dunne Basically none. One could try to polish a turd and say his decision to release (most of) his e-mails, but protest the ones Vance sent to him is gentlemanly. Also now he is no longer a Minister, his swing vote will become more sought after. And he has finally managed to shake the gray man image.  But these are all trying to see a silver lining. Basically his political career is over. United Future is over. I can’t imagine Dunne will contest Ohariu again, and his record of being a moderate sensible MP who could serve constructively in Bolger, Clark and Key Governments is over-whelmed by this indiscretion. A sad end to a career of good service.
Andrea Vance Vance is shown as a reporter who can develop and use sources to get exclusive stories.


She has become a household name.

She has become a household name.


Other potential sources will be rather wary of her in future.


Speculation on the nature of her relationship with Dunne is unpleasant to deal with. I’ll comment on this in more detail below.

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga
Todd McClay
Paul Goldsmith
One of them could become the new Minister of Revenue outside Cabinet. Two of them won’t be. Also possible Key will just reassign portfolio to an existing Minister such as Coleman or Joyce.


The leak inquiry report has resulted in much speculation as to why Peter Dunne did it. Not only did he destroy his career, the actual leak was hugely inconvenient for the Government he was a member of. It over-shadowed the PM’s trip to China, and the unauthorised leak was quite destructive.

There is speculation that the relationship between Dunne and Vance may be more than professional. Normally this stuff would not be something I’d blog about – but when the result is a ministerial resignation due to a leak inquiry, it does become the elephant in the room.

Patrick Gower asked during the Dunne press conference if Dunne was besotted with Vance. He denied this, and said their relationship was professional.

The Herald editorial wonders aloud:

If it was Mr Dunne, which is the only conclusion available from his withholding an 86-email exchange with the Dominion Post reporter, what did he or his party have to gain? Was it the thrill of beating the Prime Minister to the punch, or the desire to stop the GCSB spinning its activities in a more favourable light? Or something not political at all?

John Armstrong also asks:

Why did he tell Vance he was about to be briefed on the contents of the report?

And why were he and Vance exchanging as many as 23 emails a day while Dunne was on holiday in the United States? Was it infatuation? The ex-minister says it wasn’t.

The public may never know exactly what happened. But Henry’s short report is long enough for people to be able to draw their own conclusions.

Another Herald story draws attention to their 300 tweets in the last six months.

There is a bit of a connection of all this to the MPs vs Media debate last month, which both Andrea and I took part in.

The debate two years ago had Darren Hughes in it, debating that politics was a grubby business. Weeks later it emerged he was under investigation by the Police over a sexual assault complaint.

In this debate there was much ribbing of Andrea over the tweets between her and Dunne. It was all in good humour, but again a few weeks later there is a revelation that there was more to it than just tweeting. That Dunne was, at a minimum, a frequent communication with her by e-mail also.

Some people think, or have assumed, there was an affair. I personally think this is not the case at all. Not because there are never affairs between MPs and journalists. There are. But because of the people involved. I know Andrea and her fiancée, whom Andrea moved to NZ to be with. Having observed them together, I would be absolutely amazed if there was any inappropriate behaviour on her part.  Even if she wasn’t engaged, I don’t think she is the sort of person into older married men – to be blunt.

Of course only two people can know for sure. And I have been wrong, as I was on Dunne not being the leaker. But I don’t think their relationship was anything beyond a journalist and a source.

Gower and Armstrong have speculated that Dunne was infatuated with her. I don’t think it was infatuation, but I do think there was probably an element that he found Vance very charming (which she is) and middle aged men will often do stupid things to please young charming women. I’m certainly proof positive of that!

It doesn’t mean you’re infatuated or besotted or even wanting anything beyond friendship, but that you just enjoy the friendship and will do things to help the other person out – and in this case to a degree that you throw common sense out the window.

Of course MPs and journalists do develop relationships for purely professional reasons also. It can be handy to an MP to have a journalist whom they can talk to off the record, and get things into the media they think deserve attention. And it is useful for journalists to have sources who will give them information. This happens all the time. Helen Clark was in fact a serial leaker (she once defended this by saying that by definition the PM can not leak). The key thing with MPs leaking to journalists is you don’t leak things that damage your own party or the Government – if you are part of it. And some things you never leak – and a GCSB report is definitely one of those.

The quantity of the e-mails between Vance and Dunne is certainly well in excess of most MP journalist professional relationships. In fact what surprised me is that they were e-mailing at all. Wasn’t Dunne aware all his e-mails are archived? That some e-mails are subject to the Official Information Act. Also often staff have access to a Minister’s e-mail account.

In one sense the fact they were e-mailing so much, lends me to conclude that Dunne is not a long-time leaker, and there was no affair. An experienced leaker would never be doing it by e-mail. And if you were having an affair, you wouldn’t be tweeting each other so much!

At the end of the day I think Vance just cultivated Dunne as a source. This is what journalists do. It’s actually called good journalism.

Finally, where does this go from here. My predictions:

  • The Police complaint will go nowhere. It is not a criminal matter. The report was not classified with a national security classification.
  • Peters or Labour may try file a privilege complaint alleging Dunne has misled Parliament with his answers at select committee.
  • Dunne’s belief that e-mails between MPs and others are private and should not be released may be tested under the Official Information Act. E-mails to an MP do not come under the OIA, but e-mails to a Minister in their ministerial capacity do. Was Dunne’s access to the GCSB report in his ministerial capacity or his party leader capacity. If the former, then e-mails to and from him may be discoverable under the OIA.
  • Labour and Winston may demand that Dunne resigns as an MP for (presumably) not telling the truth. The problem with this is the hypocrisy. Lianne Dalziel was found to have lied, and she got sacked as a Minister, not an MP. Also Peters himself was conclusively found by the Privileges Committee to have lied, and he did not resign as an MP – and in fact Labour backed him. The voters of Ohariu are the ones who will decide if Dunne remains an MP – should he choose to stand again.
  • Key is more likely to promote an MP to the vacancy, then just reallocate the portfolios.  I’d say Lotu-Iiga and McClay are most likely to step up if he does, but a dark horse could be Paul Goldsmith. Goldsmith has actually written a book on the history of taxation in New Zealand – pretty useful background for a Revenue Minister!

Dunne resigns as a Minister

June 7th, 2013 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

BREAKING: Peter Dunne has resigned as a Minister of the Crown. Press conference at 1530 from PM and Dunne at 1600. He is remaining an MP and still voting for the Government.

On this occasion, it seems like Peters was on the money. Have to credit he got this one right.

There were 86 e-mails between Dunne and the Fairfax reporter, Andrea Vance, who had the story. He was only willing to release 44 of them, so hence he resigned.

Key says Henry unable to rule out Dunne leaked the report.

Dunne offered resignation, which was accepted by Key.