Inquiries galore

September 2nd, 2014 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

There’s now three major inquiries underway in relation to the e-mails published in the Nicky Hager book, and subsequently.

Here’s my take on them.

  1. Police inquiry into the hacking of Cameron Slater’s messages. This is pretty straight forward in that the hacker has clearly broken the law, and off memory could face charges with a maximum seven years imprisonment if identified and convicted. What is less clear is whether Hager has broken any laws. Legal friends have suggested a case can be made for receiving stolen property.  IANAL so don’t know where this will end up.
  2. IGIS inquiry into the OIA release showing Phil Goff had not told the truth about being briefed about the Israelis in Christchurch. The Inspector-General has issued subpoenas and is taking evidence under oath, using the new powers granted by this Government and Parliament. I have confidence it will be a robust inquiry. I would point out that the inquiry is not about classified or secret information. It is about information that was deemed suitable to publish under the OIA. I’m not totally surprised that some people in Government *may* have got a bit talkative when informed that a document was going to be released directly contradicting a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition.
  3. Some sort of high level inquiry into the behaviour of the Minister responsible for the SFO in relations to the then Director Adam Feeley.  This is an appropriate issue for an inquiry, as it is about behaviour of a Minister in relation to their ministerial duties. It is not a criminal or legal matter. Arguably it could be an employment issues. The inquiry sounds like it will be robust headed by a retired Judge or QC, and have the ability to take evidence under oath.

Now David Cunliffe is calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into basically the entire Hager book. With respect, this is breathless hysteria that verges on McCarthyism. Labour thinks that the fact a press secretary and some MPs have had conversations with a blogger, is something that needs a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Seriously? Where would it end? Should this Commission of Inquiry require evidence from every media outlet in NZ, requiring their journalists to disclose under oath all their dealings with Whale Oil? Should all Labour MPs and candidates be required to do the same, or just National MPs? Why just dealing with one blogger? Should the inquiry include people who have ever talked to me? How about people who have talked to left wing blogs? You see why I call it verging on McCarthyism.  And this is from the party that won’t even confirm how many staff who work for David Cunliffe have blogged under a pseudonym at left wing blogs.

That is not to say some of the revelations in the e-mails are not disturbing. I don’t know if Mark Hotchin was involved in trying to undermine the SFO, because he was under investigation by them. If so, that is very serious. But it is a potentially criminal matter that the Police are capable of investigating, and I presume are already assessing the evidence to make appropriate decisions.

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Herald on Herald and Slater

August 31st, 2014 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Jared Savage writes:

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a front page story for the Weekend Herald which detailed how Adam Feeley, the head of the Serious Fraud Office, celebrated the criminal charges laid against Rod Petricevic by hosting a drinks function at which champagne belonging to Bridgecorp was served to SFO staff.

Judith Collins was the Minister in charge of the white collar crime agency and her staff did not return my calls before deadline, but promptly referred the matter to the State Services Commission after publication.

Blogger Cameron Slater wrote a post saying it was a “non story” but later changed his mind. To the best of my memory, I hadn’t ever spoken to “Whale Oil” before but contacted him as the story rolled into the next week.

So the Herald contacted Cameron, not vice-versa.

I knew he was well connected to Collins and was trying to find out what he knew.

At the same time, I received a few emails about what was happening inside the SFO office.

Most of it was flotsam and jetsam, interesting tidbits of unverified information or gossip which I decided against pursuing as angles.

I cut and pasted the content of some of those emails, to remove any possible identifying features, and forwarded them on to Slater. So information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”, we talked about developments as the story rolled along.

And in their own words they passed on unverified information and gossip to Whale Oil, for Cameron to run, in exchange for Cameron sharing inofmration with them in return.

This sometimes happens with journalistic sources and it’s naive to think otherwise. In total, I wrote six stories about the Feeley/champagne issue and Slater was not the source for any of them. I didn’t know that our conversations about Feeley were being shared with others, like PR man Carrick Graham – and that was naive of me to think otherwise.

Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Slater on-and-off over the years always armed with the knowledge that he comes with a right-wing agenda. There have also been some robust discussions about Herald stories which upset him, such as Luigi Wewege’s role in the Len Brown affair and Maurice Williamson’s links to Donghua Liu.

Journalists talk to all sorts of people about all sorts of stories, much of which is nothing more than rumour or innuendo. Our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff and publish what is accurate, fair and true.

And pass onto bloggers to publish that which isn’t true!

Now I actually agree with Jared. This is how the media world works. You trade information all the time. When I worked at Parliament I would constantly have discussions with journalists where we swapped information. As a blogger, this is still the case today.  Politics thrives and survives on this stuff. Helen Clark used to personally trade info and gossip with senior members of the press gallery on a regular basis. David Cunliffe’s closest advisor is a blogger at The Standard. His Chief of Staff has blogged at The Daily Blog. Three or four of his staff are former (possibly current) bloggers at The Standard.

And this is the point with the Hager book. He has selectively only shown the sharing of information between people on the “right” with Cameron Slater, to make it look like a conspiracy. It is no surprise that MPs and staffers sometimes talk to bloggers and share info with them, just as media themselves do. This is how it has happened for hundreds of years in politics.

I am not saying that means every individual action with regards to the sharing of information was wise or appropriate. Some clearly was not. But it was not a conspiracy or a concerted effort.  One could have published a breathless book on how the NZ Herald conspired with agents of Mark Hotchin to attack the Head of the SFO, and demand a Commission of Inquiry into the NZ Herald – if you were to take the least benign interpretation of the e-mails.

Again my point is for some consistency.

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Greens are advertising on Whale Oil!!

August 28th, 2014 at 3:52 pm by David Farrar

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Stuff has this screenshot of Whale Oil, with Green Party advertising on it. That’s very very funny.

It’s very nice of the Greens to help boost the income of Whale Oil.

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Why Whale Oil should win the Canon Media Blog of the Year

May 9th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Canon Media Awards are tonight. Whale Oil is one of the three finalists for Blog of the Year.

While I have high regard for the other two finalists (Toby Manhire and Giovanni Tiso), I think it would be a travesty if Whale Oil does not win this year.

A win doesn’t mean one is endorsing everything Cameron has ever written or said.

A win recognises his impact on the media in 2013 and 2014.

British media magnate Lord Northcliffe once famously said that News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

Using that definition of news, the award must go to Whale Oil. He broke the Len Brown story which has had a massive impact. He also has broken a number of stories on Kim Dotcom and the Internet Party. In both cases, these were stories that the subjects wanted suppressed but were of public importance revealing how various media were involved in setting up the Internet Party, without disclosure.

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Whale under attack

January 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Cam Slater’s Whaleoil site was offline early this afternoon after being swamped by a denial-of-service attack (which sees a malicious hacker buy space on a network of hijacked PCs to send an avalanche of connection requests that overwhelm a website’s capacity).

“It’s a DoS attack, originating in New Zealand,” Mr Slater told NBR.

The site went down several times last night under DoS attack, then was taken offline completely at around 8am this morning.

The controversial blogger has no shortage of enemies. He named a couple of people covered by recent Whaleoil stories whom he thought could be responsible for today’s attack – but you’ll have to wait until his site goes back online to read those (so far) unsubstantiated allegations.

“I have also been getting death threats via text and on Facebook,” Mr Slater told NBR. 

The cellphone and Facebook threats do not seem to be related to the DoS attack; it’s just a particularly bad day at the Whaleoil office.

“I have notified police, especially [over] the text messages,” Mr Slater said.

The death threats are bad enough, but the threats against Cam’s children are so far beyond the pale that I hope those responsible are getting visited by the Police.

The DOS attacks are probably unrelated, but obviously are arranged by someone who thinks that a site that says something you disagree with should be closed down.

Hopefully Whale Oil will be back online in the near future.

 

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Editorials on whether blogs are media

December 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

A recent decision by a District Court judge that the well-known, some would say notorious, Whale Oil blog is not a news medium highlights the difficulty. …

In a paper on new media published last year, the Law Commission observed that bloggers are often highly partisan, can be offensive and abusive and are not accountable to anybody.

The commission later modified that view to note that some of New Zealand’s 200 or more current-affairs bloggers have become a rich alternative source of information and commentary.

The Whale Oil blog run by Cameron Slater certainly fits the commission’s first description. His commentary on a wide array of topics is heavily tendentious and often gratuitously rude.

His campaigns can also be wrong-headed, the most notable being a wildly irresponsible campaign a couple of years ago against name suppression that resulted in his incurring convictions and stiff fines.

But he also attracts more than 1 million visitors a month, more than the next five New Zealand bloggers put together and he has broken stories that have been taken up with gusto by other media.

These facts, Slater argued in the District Court recently, were sufficient to make him a journalist and his blog a news medium as defined in the Evidence Act.

He made the plea in order to be able to claim a protection provided by the act so he would not have to reveal his sources in a defamation action that has been brought against him. The judge rejected the submission.

While Slater’s blog is miles short of what most people would think of as a responsible medium that should be entitled to the protection of the law, the decision is almost certainly wrong.

Very good of The Press to argue that blogs can qualify for media protection. An unthinkable view from them a few years ago.

The Herald editorial agrees:

Blogger Cameron Slater has been told by a Manukau District Court judge his “Whaleoil” website is not a news medium. This will surprise everybody aware of the Len Brown affair. Whaleoil broke that story and was almost alone among news media in covering the seamy details. Muckraking to that degree might not be to everyone’s taste but if anybody wants to rake it or read it, they have a right to do so. The ruling by District Court Judge Charles Blackie will not stop them but it denies Whaleoil a right asserted by all news media to protect their sources from discovery in court.

The case has nothing to do with the Brown affair. Slater is defending an action for defamation on a different subject. The judge’s ruling is important for its general application to news and comment online, and possibly for the future regulation of mainstream media too.

The ruling does have wide ramifications.

The right that Slater seeks is not particularly generous, or final. If a case goes to the High Court, news media may be forced to betray a confidential source to the judge, who will decide whether confidentiality overrides other considerations in the case. Other jurisdictions give media freedom higher protection. A blogger might not have the means to challenge this ruling in a higher court but it should not stand. News comes in many and varied forms and the courts should recognise it when they see it.

Again, very welcome to see the Herald take this view.

Maybe the Newspaper Publishers Association Media Freedom Committee could consider assisting with the appeal?

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Are blogs media?

December 2nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Media lawyer Steven Price blogs at Media Law Journal:

As the NZ Herald reports, the owner/operator/author of NZ’s most widely read blog is being sued for defamation. The plaintiff has formally asked him whether he knows the name of his source. (You might have thought that the answer to this might simply be “yes”. But I guess there’s an obvious follow-up). Slater has refused to answer on the grounds that he is a journalist, writing for a news medium, and therefore does not need to reveal his source. This rule is contained in s68 of the Evidence Act 2006.

Note a couple of things. First, in order to get this source protection, Slater has to show that his blog is a “medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news.”

Second, even if he is a journalist, that doesn’t guarantee that he won’t be ordered to reveal his source(s). The judge can order him to identify his source on the grounds that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the negative impact on the source and the general impact on the flow of information to journalists. This rule applies to all journalists.

So if you are recognised as media, it does not mean you will automatically not have to reveal your sources. It means the threshold for you to be forced to reveal them is higher.

The Judge ruled:

Whale Oil is a blog site. It is not a news medium within the definition of s68… of the Defamation Act. It is not a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news.

Price comments:

The judge gives very little reason for this conclusion. It seems a very questionable one. Whatever you think of WhaleOil, it’s hard to deny that he breaks news stories, and that he writes commentary on news. When you factor in the requirement that the courts are supposed to have regard to rights of freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act when interpreting statutes – and there’s a respectable argument that protecting sources facilitates the flow of important information – then there seems a powerful argument that this section ought to be construed widely enough to encompass at least some bloggers.

It is a pity the Judge gives no reasoning at all. As Steven says, the conclusion is questionable – at a minimum.

Yet another problem is that the Commission’s inclination was to allow bloggers to be included in the regime, on the grounds that it made no sense to distinguish between mainstream media and bloggers when both were serving the interests of free speech. It would have treated anyone as media who regularly published news and opinion of current value to a public audience, providing they agreed to be bound by an ethics regime. This last element is problematic for Cameron Slater’s case. But in the end the thrust of the report is the need to recognise the valuable news-role played by at least some bloggers.

So in the end, the judge’s conclusion is simply not convincing.

Basically the Law Commission actually said blogs should be able to qualify as media, so long as they had a code of ethics and were subject to an independent complaints process like other media.

It gets worse though. The judge goes on to consider the High Court rules. He cites a rule that says a defamation defendant doesn’t have to disclose sources before trial when pleading honest opinion or privilege. The judge says this rule doesn’t apply because Cameron Slater didn’t argue a defence of “honest opinion on a matter of public interest.” This reasoning seems particularly weird to me. The defence of honest opinion no longer requires  that the comment be on a matter of public interest. He doesn’t need to plead public interest: it would be superfluous. It seems to me that this rule surely applies to a defendant who pleads honest opinion, which Slater did. So I think the judge is wrong there too.

All sounds ripe grounds for an appeal.

UPDATE: Russell Brown blogs on this issue also:

But this is really to misread the Commission’s overall perspective on blogs and similar internet publications – which is that they can and do play an important role in public debate. It ultimately proposed a new news media regulator, which blog publishers could opt to join and be subject to.

He also declares that Whale Oil fits the definition in the Evidence Act:

Whatever you think of Slater’s personal style, I don’t think you can reasonably argue that Whaleoil does not do this.

Brown looks at the wider ramifications:

On this site we do not and are not likely to attract defamation actions in the way that Cameron Slater does. But I was threatened with such action this year. I was aware at the time that a discovery order was a possibility if it went ahead – and also confident that discovery would not reveal anything harmful to my defence. Sources weren’t really an issue. But had things been different, it would have been extremely undesirable to have had my rights ruled out on the argument offered by Judge Blackie.

He concludes:

Anyway, Slater is appealing the decision and I don’t need to defend his work in this instance to hope he succeeds.

Maybe people can help donate to fund the appeal.

UPDATE2: Greg Presland at The Standard also blogs:

It may be that for the greater good Cameron Slater must succeed in his appeal.  

Rare agreement across the political spectrum.

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Lengate losers and winners

October 18th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Normally I call these posts winners and losers but in this case there are far more losers than winners. Let’s take them in approximate order.

Losers

  1. Len Brown. May keep his job but not his credibility or dignity. If he holds on he is a lame duck Mayor who will face three years of people tittering about him at public events. No real chance  of winning a third term. Faces weeks or more of investigations into whether there was improper spending, his providing a reference to Chuang etc.
  2. Luigi Wewege. Exposed as a liar, and someone who uses a romantic relationship to pressure his partner into political favours. Now a household name in a bad way. Political future is non-existent.
  3. Bevan Chuang. She’s had her criminal history exposed, her love life, and her employment history, Worse, she did it all voluntarily with a giggling tape recording of her exploits with Brown, and a sworn affidavit. While she attracts a lot of sympathy as being somewhat naive, she also has no political future.
  4. Jock Anderson. Fired as NBR Chief Reporter for writing an editorial supporting Brown keeping his job against alleged instructions for NBR to take a neutral line on the issue.
  5. John Palino. Palino has done nothing wrong, and I do not believe for a second he knew anything of this. However the actions of Wewege have created a perception that will leave doubts with some. An unfortunate victim, who might have been Mayor if the affair had been exposed before the election.
  6. The threatening texter. The person who sent the threatening text to Chuang pushed this issue into the open. A huge backfire. Will their identity be revealed, and who may they damage by association when it comes out?
  7. The voters of Auckland. They have to wait three years (unless Brown resigns) to have their say on whether they found the behaviour acceptable.

Winners

  1. Cameron Slater. As the Civilian points out Whale likes nothing more than page views and visits. He’s had 750,000 page views in two days. He not only broke the story, but covered himself by insisting on tape recordings and sworn affidavits. Cameron doesn’t want to be liked – he wants to be relevant, and this week he has set the news.
  2. Cameron Brewer. Brewer wisely didn’t contest the 2013 Mayoral elections. He must now be a front-runner for 2016.
  3. Penny Hulse. She doesn’t want the job, but if Brown resigns she is the most likely candidate for the left, and could well end up Mayor. Will depend who stands against her.

In terms of the story itself, the Herald reports:

Bevan Chuang is confident Len Brown will be cleared by a spending inquiry in the wake of their extra-marital affair, saying he paid for everything out of his own pocket.

However, she believed that some of the rooms he booked for the pair were offered free of charge by hotel managers. …

Ms Chuang said she met Mr Brown three times at the Langham, SkyCity Grand and Hilton hotels for sex after collecting the keys to the rooms from reception at the Town Hall.

A spokeswoman for the Hilton said the hotel would not give complimentary rooms to Mr Brown, while a spokeswoman for SkyCity Grand would not comment on guests for privacy reasons. A spokesman for the Langham did not return a phone message. …

The 32-year-old former mistress said: “He sometimes takes some time off and goes to hotel rooms, and quite a few times managers would tell him ‘it’s fine, 

it’s on us. We can organise somewhere private for you’.

“He often feels uncomfortable and wanted to go down and pay but usually the manager would [insist] ‘no no, it’s on us’.”

The rooms also came with antipasto food platters and nuts, she said.

Ms Chuang believed the rooms were offered free to Mr Brown so that he could “talk about” and “recommend it” for council patronage.

I think the only thing which might be worse than having had the Council pay for hotel rooms for the trysts with your mistress, was if the hotels were providing free rooms for the trysts. It’s like he’s the Prime Minister of Italy.

Just imagine if Sky City were providing free hotel rooms for Mayoral trysts, at the same time as Len Brown was backing the convention centre deal with them? Hard to argue that is not a public issue.

Mr Brown would check-in at the hotel himself and then arrange for a spare room key to be delivered back to the council in an envelope addressed to Ms Chuang.

Ms Chuang, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, claimed Mr Brown used the mayoral car and driver to pick up and drop her off on two occasions when he took her to council dinners as his interpreter.

Again, hard to argue that this isn’t use of Council resources.

In another story the Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay are refusing to answer key questions arising from the mayor’s extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang, including whether he breached the council’s code of conduct.

The two most powerful figures at the council have stonewalled the Herald for two days on whether Mr Brown has broken council rules and what the rules are for council staff having sex in the workplace. …

Mr Brown and Mr McKay also refused to say if Ms Chuang had a council contract at the New Lynn market. She claimed to be paid $500 a week by the council as a co-ordinator at the market.

So if I have this right:

  • Chuang was a Mayoral appointee to the Ethnic Panel – personally appointed and re-appointed by the Mayor
  • Chuang gained a job at a Council CCO after the Mayor provided her with a glowing reference
  • Chuang has a Council contract as a market co-ordinator

Again, makes it very hard to argue this is entirely a private matter.

The questions

Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay have yet to answer the following:

• Did [Mr Brown's actions providing a reference for Bevan Chuang] comply with the Council Code of Conduct, including the Conflicts of Interest Policy and the guidelines of the Office of the Auditor-General?

• Did the mayor seek advice from the chief executive or the Office of the Auditor-General before deciding to provide a reference or act as a referee?

• Did the mayor provide any other references/act as a referee for Ms Chuang on other occasions?

• Has Ms Chuang been contracted by the council in any other capacity, including the New Lynn market?

• What are the rules around council staff having sex in the workplace?

Len’s now cancelled all appointments for two days in a row. The story will not go away until he fully fronts, and these questions are answered,

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Whale Oil breaks an alleged scandal

October 15th, 2013 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil has a story from Stephen Cook (ex Herald on Sunday) with allegations from an Auckland Council employee of an affair with Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

Obviously they are allegations, and there are often two sides to a story. However the woman has provided a sworn affidavit (which is a serious offence if false) backing up the allegations, and also it seems has retained some text messages.

This is an explosive story, and again we are yet to hear if the allegations are denied or not.

In terms of whether there is a public interest in the allegations, my answer would be there isn’t if she wasn’t a Council employee and any (alleged) encounters took place away from the Council. But if the allegations are correct, and they involve a Council employee on Council premises – that is harder to pass off as no public interest.

I have no first hand knowledge of the allegations beyond what has been reported, and the fact that a sworn affidavit has been provided. The allegations are incredibly detailed and specific.

UPDATE: The Herald now is running a story.

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The power, the power!

July 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young quotes Phil Goff in an article on David Shearer:

But Goff said that Shearer, like every Leader of the Opposition, was up against the combined resources of a Government machine with huge resources and of some powerful bloggers behind it, intent on discrediting him.

Powerful??

Influential one could argue, but powerful? Who exactly do we have power over?

Sure both Cam and I have had good stories that have damaged Labour. My rumbling of the Labour MPs at the Sky City box, and the leak to Cam of the Labour Party rule changes, including the man ban.

But to blame bloggers for the political incompetence that should have stopped both stories before they even gestated is making excuses. Likewise the inability to respond to the stories when they did emerge. Labour managed to drag the Sky City story out an entire week by trying to hide who actually attended. The was nothing to do with powerful bloggers, just stupidity.

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Good research from Whale

March 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Whale has done some good research on a family highlighted in the media as being unable to afford a house. He did some basic research and found out they did have enough money for:

  • booze
  • pets
  • cigarettes
  • Playboy branded paraphernalia
  • iPhones
  • tatoos

He also reveals that they simply paid no rent at all at the place they were previously living at.

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Some good Whale

September 26th, 2012 at 2:22 pm by David Farrar

Three interesting posts by Whale.

  1. An analysis of NZ blogs by their readability. The raw data is here.
  2. A Colin Craig pamphlet with Craig as an Obama type Messiah, trying to entice youth to join. The hilarious highlight is the quote from Colin Craig which is “Great leadership is about doing what is right, not about trying to be popular”, right alongside his demand for binding referenda!!
  3. A post on Wesley School, which in 2007 attacked National’s food in schools policy saying it was an insult to their parents, yet in 2012 being used by Labour as a campaign prop for their food in schools policy.
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My spawn

May 3rd, 2012 at 4:06 pm by David Farrar

I spoke to the Northern Region of the National Party on Monday night on the MMP review. Was a very good discussion. Somewhat amused that on almost every issue I had to say “This is the National Party view, and this is my view” as they differ a fair bit. However it led to some good questions and discussion.

But wanted to share the funniest part of the evening, which is when I was being introduced. The speaker said I had become well known through Kiwiblog, and how this had spawned off Whale Oil and Cactus Kate.

I immediately quipped that I didn’t think Cameron would be too happy being described as my spawn, which got a fair bit of laughter. I then added that I wasn’t sure I was too happy with it either – which got even more laughter.

Of course (according to Open Parachute) Whale is the most read blog in New Zealand, and Cactus Kate has a dedicated following also, so my “spawn” are doing very nicely.

Technically Kiwiblog is the spawn of NZ Pundit, a blog I still miss. Gordon, Craig and Grant were a good team.

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Whale v Sister

March 3rd, 2012 at 1:09 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

I just had a phone call from the sister of the Turangi Child Rapist, Raurangi Marino. …

Then she started into a lecture about how her wee brother was hard done by. How the police fitted him up and he was only wasted and fell onto the little girl. How it was all a fit up by the girls mother.

It sickened me. What a bunch of losers. Explaining away hours of surgery to repair the damage that this shit-bag did to a 5 year old on “just being wasted”.

This family is disfunctional. They are justifying crimes and excusing abhorrent behaviour.

The last thing she said is that I breached her poor wee brother’s privacy by posting photos he put on Facebook….on his open and public page. I told her to get fucked, that I won;t ever take down the photos and they could whinge all they liked to the Privacy Commissioner.

She told me she would before she hung up. I can’t hardly wait.

This confirms all my worst fears. This suggests all the remorse is a sham, and that the offender probably has no one in his life telling him how what he did is so horribly horribly wrong.

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Pimping the Poor

February 23rd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Readers may recall the publicity over a Tania Wysocki who was considering prostitution as a way to cover childcare costs so she could study to get off the benefit.

Whale Oil has actually met with and interviewed her, and done a three part series on her situation, which is a fascinating read. His blog posts are:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3

 

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Is this why Len won’t back his board?

January 8th, 2012 at 12:18 pm by David Farrar

You’re the Mayor of Auckland and one of your largest commercial facilities in paralysed with industrial action. Even worse, it is a facility owned by your Council.

Over several weeks you have seen Auckland’s economy get battered after first Maersk and now Fonterra announce they are abandoning Auckland for Tauranga and Napier, due to the militant industrial action taken by the Maritime union.

So it should be a no-brainer to come out publicly and lean on the Maritime Union to stop driving businesses away from Auckland. I mean ever Wellington’s Celia Wade-Brown stood up for the wellington creative industries when a militant union looked set to destroy them.

So why has Len been so silent and non-commital? It didn’t make sense.

Well it didn’t, until I read at Whale Oil that the Maritime Union was one of Len’s donors. They also donated to Mike Lee.

I guess that was one of their better investments.

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Who has the numbers?

December 5th, 2011 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

A very nicely done video by Whale of a duck counting numbers in caucus. If the numbers are accurate then Shearer would win 19 votes to 16. I presume there are 35 votes as it is not yet known whether Burns or Huo are in caucus.

Whale also has a conspiracy theory that almost all of Shearer’s endorsements have come from those who were at Matthew Hooton’s bbq last Sunday. Of course I wasn’t at the bbq (I was celebrating with friends down at the Viaduct), and have said I think Shearer represents a better chance for Labour to win in 2014.

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Ask Whale anything

November 22nd, 2011 at 4:37 pm by David Farrar

Whale is running a live chat tonight where you can ask him anything. Guaranteed to be fun and no censorship. Starts at 8.30 pm.

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A media fail

September 20th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil has a great scoop.

The Waikato Times had a big article on a family struggling to make ends meet in Hamilton. The mother is quoted as saying she could never vote National, used to vote Labour but this time thinks the best option for her is to vote Greens.

Nowhere in the article do they mention her partner, and father of her child, is the Green Party candidate for Hamilton East – Max Dillon.

This is not a trivial oversight. It undermines the entire article.  It means either the Waikato Times never asked if they had a political affiliation, or they knew and didn’t care.

I think the fault lies not only with the newspaper though. To agree to be interviewed as a typical struggling family, who have decided to vote Green, without disclosing the father/partner is the Green Party candidate is rather unethical.

UPDATE: This appeared today:

This is very interesting. First it tells us that this was pretty much a Green Party sting. Even worse according to the Waikato Times they say they specifically asked Ms Campbell if she had any links to the Greens.

It is interesting that they used Twitter to obtain interview subjects. It makes it far more likely those with a political agenda will be interviewed as they are more likely to volunteer. Once upon a time media would have used networks to hunt out a family to profile. Better to profile someone who does not volunteer but somewhat grudgingly consents. They are more likely to be genuine.

If the Waikato Times did ask Ms Campbell for any links to the Green Party, then one can’t hold them responsible for being lied to. However we don’t know exactly what they asked and exactly what the answer was. I think there is still a lesson here – they could have searched Twitter or used Google and discovered the link quite easily.

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Trevor’s Chat

September 7th, 2011 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

Trevor Mal­lard is host­ing a Live chat tonight at 7pm.

You can ask your ques­tions & fol­low my answers via the ‘LabourLive tab’ on the New Zealand Labour Party Face­book page or by going here.

It is on from 7pm Wednes­day for about 30min.

Your mis­sion should you choose to accept it is to ask ques­tions, like these suggestions:

  • When you retire, which Labour MP do you think should inherit your seat?
  • Who is a bet­ter leader, Helen Clark or Phil Goff?
  • How do you think the Labour Cam­paign strat­egy is get­ting on?
  • Do you think Paul Quinn’s list posi­tion is indica­tive of the lack of diver­sity in the National Party?
  • Has he ever felt like hit­ting Tau Henare again?
  • What’s more impor­tant; diver­sity or competence?
  • Is 24 years in Par­lia­ment too long?
  • Why do you think social media is more impor­tant than door knocking?
  • Did Chris Carter get a fair trial, or has he been proved right?
  • Was there ever an Amer­i­can bagman?
  • Does you think Shane Jones will make a good Labour leader?
  • What’s it like know­ing you are going to lose the next election?
  • Can he give an uncon­di­tional assur­ance to Hutt South vot­ers that he will go full term if/when Labour loses, or should they vote for Paul Quinn?
  • How many pairs of under­pants has he stolen so far?
  • Which polling com­pany do you trust the most?
  • What does Blue State Dig­i­tal think about your social media strategy?
  • Do you think Win­ston will get back in?
  • Why did Win­ston lie to the select committee?
  • Are you a mem­ber of the gaggle?
  • Is there a mean­ing­ful role for a straight white male in mod­ern Labour?
  • Is Phil Goff a corpse-cuddler, just like Helen was?
  • Will you apol­o­gise to Pansy Wong?
There are a few, I am sure loyal Army mem­bers can come up with a few more to fill in the 30 minutes.
Feel free to suggest your own questions below, or even better to login at 7 pm and ask them live.
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More Labour disagreements

September 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

As an election gets closer, a party normally gets more disciplined. MPs are usually well versed in not offering views on issues that are not party policy, as a party won’t get elected if it has different MPs saying different things on what they want their party to do in Government.

Labour seems to be going the other way. Whale has audio of Trevor Mallard saying that you shouldn’t have an earthquake levy, and within 24 hours also Shane Jones saying you should have an earthquake levy.

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Duck wins

August 21st, 2011 at 3:59 pm by David Farrar

Congrats to Trevor Mallard who won the 60 km bike race against Whale Oil by several kms at least. He’s just crossed the line. Trevor has done a very good job of downplaying expectations, and exceeding them on the day.

I did note earlier this month:

I’d have to say that Trevor would be considered the favourite and Cameron the underdog.

Trevor is basically a professional full-time cyclist, an amateur part-time blogger and an occasional MP. He did the 160 km Taupo cycle race in under 5 hours in 2009. Off memory he was in the top 5% of cyclists for his age group.

Cameron got on a bicycle around three months ago for the first time in 10+ years. Now Cameron has been training pretty hard, doing 20 km rides most days. But Trevor used to be able to do 20 kms in around half an hour. Whale does have a slight advantage with the course being local to him.

Now of course the big factor is Trevor’s bike crash and broken bones. If Trevor had not had his injury, it wouldn’t even be a contest. What we don’t know is to what extent Trevor is still injured. The crash was just over four and a half months ago which normally would be enough time to rebuild some of the leg muscles etc. And I suspect his overall level of fitness is still pretty good.

I was tempted to joke about what an achievement it is to beat a sickness beneficiary who hadn’t been on a bike for 10 years, until three months ago, but that would be unfair to Trevor who did have a pretty nasty injury to overcome. Full credit to him.

In one sense I think the race has been a win-win. It gave Trevor the motivation to get back on the bike seriously, and it gave Whale the motivation to get seriously into shape and be better both physically and mentally.

Anyway congrats to Trevor and Cameron, and I look forward to donating $1,000 to the CCS far more than I suspect Cactus will enjoy donating $1,000 to the Labour Party!

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Whale v Duck tomorrow

August 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm by David Farrar

David Fisher in HoS:

In a year of mismatched and painful political races, tomorrow’s is likely to be the silliest.

The blogger known as Whaleoil will face off against the “bovver boy” of the Labour Party in a 60-kilometre bicycle race in Auckland’s eastern suburbs.

In a sport often called “chess on wheels”, the bike race between Cameron ‘Whaleoil’ Slater and Trevor ‘Duck’ Mallard will hear little mention of the word “mate’”.

There is mutual loathing.

That’s a little tough. More opponents than enemies.

The contest came after Slater goaded Mallard by calling him “cripple” over his badly broken leg.

The elder statesman of the Labour Party lashed back, calling the comfortably-padded Slater “blubber boy’”.

“I bet he is too chicken,” Mallard said.

Well, he did accept.

It is worth remembering that Trevor did challenge Whale and call him chicken. So Whale had little choice but to accept.

And Slater – known for obsessively hounding issues – has turned his compulsive nature to the race and cycled about 15kg off his frame.

Best thing Labour has ever done for Cameron.

Slater, who Mallard calls an “obsessive character”, is relentless.

“He is a cripple. And he’s running a crippled campaign.’”

Slater has been in training and, as his physical fitness improved, so did his mental health.

Slater had publicly struggled with depression, and credits getting off anti-depressants, good vitamin B levels and a good diet with the improvement.

I should see if Trevor would challenge me to a half marathon – could be just the motivation I need :-)

Otago University zoologist Philip Seddon said whales in the wild would always be faster than ducks.

“Almost whatever kind of whale you thought about,” he says.

Seddon – who runs the university’s Wildlife Management Programme – said smaller whales were faster.

Slater’s time could, perhaps, dictate whether the blogger was truly small and dangerous.

“Maybe he’s an orca… a killer whale,” said Seddon.

I love how they went to a zoologist for a comment!

The race starts at 1.30pm tomorrow, at Musick Point reserve at Auckland’s Buckland Beach.

If you’re up in Auckland go along to view the fun!

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Whale challenges Bomber

July 25th, 2011 at 12:54 pm by David Farrar

Yesterday Bomber Bradbury blogged at Tumeke:

Take Auckland as an example, 35% of households in Mangere and other south Auckland electorate’s have landlines, 50% in Mt Albert and other isthmus electorates have landlines, close to 80% in most North Shore electorates have landlines. A decade ago those differences were less than 10% and all electorates had the majority of people on listed landlines, now they don’t and you can easily see by that breakdown in Auckland alone how biased these cheap brainfart telephone polls can be.

There is no reference for these figures. Whale Oil responded quoting the latest census statistics:

But if you look at some real facts, not just the one pulled out of his rec­tum you find:

Man­gere: 76% of house­holds have landlines

Mt Albert: 89% of house­holds have landlines

North Shore: 94% of house­holds have landlines

If you go through all of the Auck­land seats, you can’t find a sin­gle one that even remotely matches Bombers fig­ures. So Bomber is say­ing (I sus­pect he invented the fig­ures from his rather large and expand­ing arse) than since the 2006 cen­sus, 40% of House­holds in Man­gere have given up their land­line and 39% of those in Mt Albert have also given up their phone lines.

Bomber doesn’t do his ten­u­ous grip on real­ity any good by spout­ing totally made up fig­ures. He should retract his lies and apologise.

Bomber then posted again, just repeating his numbers, without any reference on which they are based.

So Whale has responded with this challenge:

I issue a chal­lenge to Bomber then, that if he can prove his num­bers, cat­e­gor­i­cally, then I will donate the equiv­a­lent of a 5 year mem­ber­ship to the NRA to the Mana Party. But if he can’t pro­duce any proof of his asser­tions then he has to join the NRA for 5 years.

I bet he isn’t man enough to accept this challenge.

Sounds fair to me.

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More unauthorised Labour ads

July 22nd, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

I am writ­ing to lay an offi­ical com­plaint about the brochure the Labour Party has recently sent to elec­tors in West Auck­land. I have attached a scan overleaf.

(Image 1, Image 2)

It was dis­trib­uted on 20 July 2011 in and around the Hen­der­son, Auck­land area.

It does not have an autho­ri­sa­tion state­ment, which I believe is a legal require­ment for any elec­tion advertising.

The Labour party also under­took to dis­con­tinue to send out these types of brochures in a press release of 9 July shortly after the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion referred another brochure to the Police for pros­e­cu­tion. Their spokesman, Grant Robert­son said:

So on 9 July Labour said they’ll stop using unauthorised election advertisements, yet on 20 July they were caught doing exactly that again.

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