Time for John Key to admit he has mislead the country

Key press conferenceIn the light of revelations today that John Key admitted in a press conference that he was “told me that [Warren Tucker] had released them because he has to tell me that under the ‘no surprises’ policy.” Earlier in the press conference he also made comment about having information whilst in the United States about Phil Goff and speaking about it while over there. This also obviously puts into question Mr. Key’s claim yesterday that he wasn’t briefed about Cameron Slaters OIA request because he was on holiday. Mr. Key obviously was active with conversations with ‘someone’ when he was on holiday to get the skinny on Mr. Goff, why would we then believe that the SIS didn’t inform him about this bombshell that was about to come out?

A couple of things

If Mr. Key did, or didn’t lie, it actually makes no difference as he is 100% responsible for the actions of the SIS and his office, he is responsible and therefore needs to take responsibility.

Section 3.5 of the Cabinet Manual states

Ministers decide both the direction and the priorities for their departments. They should not be involved in their departments’ day-to-day operations. In general terms, Ministers are responsible for determining and promoting policy, defending policy decisions, and answering in the House on both policy and operational matters. 

I bring your attention to – Ministers are responsible for defending policy decision and answering operational matters. 

So whether Mr. Key did, or did not know what was happening in his office whilst he was on holiday in Hawaii he cannot claim “I wasn’t informed” as he was still responsible…not just ethically, but according to the rules of Parliament

Secondly, if we take for a moment that Mr. Key had no knowledge of the meeting, and we choose not to hold him accountable for what should be his responsibility, then his department is failing in its duty. A department that he still needs to take responsibility for.

Section 3.16(a) of the Cabinet Manuel states

In their relationship with Ministers, officials should be guided by a “no surprises” principle. They should inform Ministers promptly of matters of significance within their portfolio responsibilities, particularly where these matters may be controversial or may become the subject of public debate.

The section states that officials should inform Ministers, not the Ministers office, not the Ministers aides, not ‘don’t worrying about not informing them if they are on holiday”. John Key was the Minister, this was the release of a document to a blogger which was going to be “controversial” and “become the subject of public debate”, therefore if John Key wasn’t informed, it’s a catastrophic failure in his own department…for which he is responsible. 

John Key needs to now fess up and tell the public of New Zealand the truth. If I was advising John Key I would say, ‘front foot this, tell them you lied, ask them to forgive you, and state that you still believe that you, and the National Party are the best option in this election.” If he doesn’t take control of this situation now, he could well be sitting in opposition as I predicted 18 months ago.

So where we are at is either Mr. Key has lied, or his office and department are incompetent, it must be one of the two, and neither situation sits comfortably with the office of any Prime Minister.

It’s about much more than just policy

Since the Nicky Hager book Dirty Politics came out seven days ago we have heard the catch cry “let’s talk about policy.”

Whilst the idea of talking important is extremely important, I’ll move away from the pack a bit and offer the suggestion that it’s about a lot more than just policy.

Let me explain.

I believe that policy is incredibly important, but likewise the calibre of those implementing that policy is equally important and that’s why the revelations in Dirty Politics are incredibly valuable to the voters of New Zealand.

I have talked about this before with the Len Brown debacle and challenged Don Brash in 2011 as to how important it was to understand what happens ‘behind closed doors’ where we asked him acknowledging his two affairs and asked how could the people of NZ trust him when his closest relationships couldn’t? He responded that it was a fair enough question. It matters.

If you disagree with me let me ask you these questions. Would you vote for a known tax avoider? Would you vote for a wife beater? Would you vote for a paedophile? Whilst I acknowledge that the last example there is extreme, what it demonstrates is that we all have our lines within the calibre of a person, that we find important enough to influence our vote. The question here is not that Nicky Hager’s book is irrelevant to the election and we should be talking about policy, the question is if the accusations and issues in the book cross that line of importance for you to influence you vote as it’s shows the calibre of the person/people.

I do hope we don’t only hear about Dirty Politics from now until September 20th, but I have to be honest with you, if you think that it doesn’t matter at all when we talk about the calibre of the person making decisions that effect us all, then I believe you are either being disingenuous or naive.

PS – We have a chance to speak with Nicky Harger for 20 minutes of this weeks Slightly Correct which you can check out here

Why the Government, the Opposition and the Media may help Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail walk

On the weekend when the story broke of the diplomat invoking diplomatic immunity to flee potential charges over a sexual assault I was amazed and concerned as to the tone of the reporting, and the comments made by many as to the alleged incident. Notice I used the word alleged there, I did that on purpose and it’s what many who have spoken publicly have not done, which now may be a genuine defence for Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail’s lawyers.

We have a think in our justice system called Sub Judice where “it is generally considered inappropriate to comment publicly on cases sub judice, which can be an offence in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings.” This is also linked quite closely to the legal requirement for a court case that all accused are “innocent until proven guilty” but in a more basic way it’s all about not speaking publicly about a case that may influence the jury, and therefore the outcome of that case. It applies only when charges have been brought so I acknowledge this technically isn’t in breach of that convention, but I would argue that there has already been an atmosphere created that may not allow Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail to get a fair hearing. If someone cannot get a fair hearing…they walk.

Some specific comments that I would point to.

John Key

“Our hands are effectively tied, but we still expect justice for the victim”
“we will do everything that we possibly can to make sure this person is held to account”

David Shearer

“…justice is not done for the victim here and we don’t see that that person is brought properly to justice”

Now these statements (which are a couple of many, many public comments made by politicians, talkback hosts, bloggers, commentators etc…) paint a picture of justice needing to be done for a victim, If there is a victim there is a crime and they are associating that crime to the diplomat. They are saying he committed the crime and needs to face justice for the victim.

A quick Google on the subject around the time the news broke shows many headlines that talk in the affirmative of a crime being committed and linking it to the diplomat.

HeadlinesNow this post is in now way a support of the diplomat, or a defence of attacks on women so please don’t see it that way, I am purely looking at how this may, or may not proceed in a legal sense. I am left wondering, due to the environment flamed by John Key, Murray McCully, David Shearer and all in the media who have inadvertently, or blatantly, convicted Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail of committing a crime, have now also given his lawyer the ability to argue that his client cannot get a fair hearing.

And I think he may have a point.

Please can we stop talking up ‘election bribes’

Key and Cunliffe handing out the presents at election time

So today Labour has promised to eliminate school donations by giving “an annual grant of $100 per student for schools in lieu of voluntary donations” to finally make primary education free in New Zealand. I like this policy, I applaud this policy, I endorse this policy however, as you well know, I fight for politicians to be consistent.

Just 2 days ago, or “aggggges ago” as it is seen in the world of politics, both Russel Norman and David Cunliffe were deriding John Key for offering election bribes in the form of roading projects.

Can we please settle this once and for all and can I ask you politicians to stop looking like idiots, they are either all ‘bribes’ or none of them are. You decide and move forward accordingly.

John Key you cannot go on Larry Williams or Duncan Garner this afternoon and call ‘free education’ a bribe unless you accept that your roading projects are as well, and Mr. Cunliffe you must acknowledge your offer of $100 per student to families is a bribe or Nationals focus on two lane bridges are not.

Simple ah?

Well that’s the end of David Cunliffe

It has just been revealed that David Culiffe either has had a memory lapse that John Banks would be embarrassed by, or he has lied to the people of NZ.

Labour and David Cunliffe has been hammering National over various issues surround businessman Donghua Liu and now it appears that while slamming National’s connection to ‘money for access’ and Maurice Williamson’s resignation over contacting police about an assault claims against Mr. Liu, all the while Mr. Cunliffe had ‘forgotten’ that he had written a letter of support for Mr. Liu to Immigration NZ. You can see the letter here.

Even up until yesterday the memory failed Mr. Cunliffe

From stuff.co.nz

Asked yesterday if he was concerned Liu was granted permanent residency – against official advice – Cunliffe said: ”Look I am not familiar with the circumstances of that decision. and I don’t think it is appropriate for us to go back and try and re-visit every single immigration decision that has ever been made.

”As far I am aware it was before my time as minister and it was certainly years before there was any suggestion that he made any donations.”

He said there was ”no evidence” of a donation for Liu.  ”It’s historical and it’s purely an allegation.”

Cunliffe couldn’t recall meeting, and when asked if he advocates for residency, responded: ”No, I did not.”

Asked if he was aware it was granted against the recommendation of officials he said: ”Not to my recollection.”

It will be interesting to see what comes of the press conference at 2.45pm, but at first glance you have to think this is the end for David Cunliffe. If not officially, then certainly in the polls and the eyes on NZ.

John Key must be laughing his arse off.

Should he step aside? Probably yes. Will he step aside? Probably no. What will the Labour Caucus do? Probably start in all seriousness to look to 2017.

John Banks might be the reason for the early election

At 2.20pm this afternoon when I heard the breaking news that John Banks had been convicted of  falsely declaring an electoral report I had a thought, it was the first time I had this thought…but I pondered it all the same.

Assuming that John Banks is now no longer an MP as statute says if a sitting MP is convicted of a crime that could result in a two year or more prison term, and this conviction is that, then they must resign as an MP AND assuming there is no time for a by-election then from now until Thursday 14th August when Parliament is dissolved the Government must go to the Maori Party to pass any legislation. Even if Mr. Banks stays in Parliament through that period as he has not been sentenced yet, it will be wise for Mr. Key not to use his vote to pass legislation as that would open him up to significant, and justifiable, criticism from the opposition using the vote of a convicted criminal to pass law.

If the election date had of been the usual end of November, then Parliament would have dissolved at the end of October and National would have had to go cap in hand to the Maori Party for another two months.

I just wondered today is John Key took the ultimate gamble and, rather than Government business at the end of the year, he was worried that John Banks may have been convicted and would have had a lame-duck Government for longer than was desirable.

I know it may seem a little conspiracy theory, but if it was one of the contributing factors to the election date you’d have to say, whether you agree with his politics or not, it was a genius move by the Prime Minister.

As a side note, if a by-election is called in Epsom John Key will no longer be able to call any referendum driven by the left as a waste of money, because a by-election weeks out from an election would be the singular biggest waste of money of recent time.

Why Jeremy Clarkson is going no where

Ever heard of the phrase “too big to fail”? Well it’s apt to use when it comes to Jeremy Clarkson and consequences to his actions. He, and by definition Top Gear, is too big to fail for the BBC. It is the holy grail of television shows and the golden calf of all cash cows.

Here’s some things you may not be aware of.

Top Gear has no budget, by that I don’t mean they scrape together favours to make it one the skin of their teeth…I mean their budget is limitless…they have no budget and it shows when they want to test a car and the company won’t comply and lend them one, they buy one.

Evidence of this excess in spending has been seen in NZ when the Top Gear team were on an island in the Hauraki Gulf and Jeremy Clarkson wasn’t able to purchase the correct brand of cigarettes, so a helicopter was sent back to the CBD to pick some up for him. As I said…they have no budget.

On top of that, the series is shown on over 200 territories, and each episode gets watched 50 times, that’s right each episode is watched once, then repeated on average 49 more times in those territories. Shall we do the maths? One episode, times 212 terrotories, times 50 viewings is 10,600 viewings. And there has been 166 episodes in total. That’s a mind blowing 1.76 million episodes that have been, or will be viewed thus far.

It’s been revealed today that “Jeremy Clarkson is on his last warning“. It was always going to be a slap on the wrist, he was never going anywhere. Jeremy Clarkson and the whole Top Gear team is likely one of main funders of dozens of other BBC programmes purely due to the amount of money that they bring in.

Money talks in this days and age and you need to understand that the hugely successful model that has built up around Top Gear means their hosts are almost untouchable and for the BBC they are too big to fail.

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