The Jackal
 


28 Aug 2014

Why hasn't Collins resigned?


It seems highly unusual for a Minister of the Crown who has repeatedly transgressed and abused her position to still be a Minister. Not only has Judith Collins been found to have leaked the private information of a public servant to attack blogger Cameron Slater for the express purpose of abusing Simon Pleasants, she has also been found to have leaked the private information of ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar in order to defame her.

There is no doubt that Judith Collins’ underhanded tactics have directly caused people to be harassed and abused online. I find this somewhat ironic being that it was Crusher Collins herself who first initiated cyber bullying laws which have only recently come into effect. It's also ironic that a so-called Justice Minister has acted with such disregard for natural justice and the letter of the law.

Clearly in breach of her duty to act fairly, the Minister hasn't even bothered to apologise for her numerous and entirely unacceptable transgressions. Believing herself above the law, the Minister has even claimed that she's already been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Collins forced to backtrack over claim she'd been cleared

Under-pressure Justice Minister Judith Collins has had to backtrack this morning, after mistakenly saying the Privacy Commissioner had cleared her of wrong-doing in giving the details of a public servant to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

But Privacy Commissioner John Edwards did no such thing, and suggested that he would investigate if the public servant in question, Internal Affairs official Simon Pleasants, laid a complaint.

Ms Collins' actions were exposed in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics. She gave the details of Mr Pleasants to Mr Slater, who published them, leading Mr Pleasants to be abused on his WhaleOil blog.

However, it was far worse than just a bit of abuse. In passing on the private details of a public servant she didn't like, the Minister and her attack blogger caused Simon Pleasants to receive serious death threats. This is something Collins won't even acknowledge let alone be properly interviewed about.

Believing herself immune to public pressure, the Minister of injustice is displaying a complete lack of any moral judgement. Clearly the unwise Judith Collins is therefore not fit to be a Minister, and in my opinion she's not fit to be in parliament at all.

Why then has the Prime Minister not sacked her? Surely John Key cannot condone such despicable behaviour as that displayed by Judith Collins? Because of the serious nature of such underhanded dealings she has been a party to, I believe it's important to find the reasons behind the apparent lack of any standards within the National party, standards that John Key had promised he would hold his Ministers accountable to.

Some commentators have claimed that the reason the Minister hasn't yet been sacked is because it would look bad in the lead up to an election. However the overwhelming consensus is that Judith Collins must have some dirt on John Key and is effectively blackmailing him to retain her position. This may seem far-fetched unless you've actually read Nicky Hager's excellent book, Dirty Politics, to see what these evil people really get up to.

Personally I think it's a little bit of both...Key cannot afford to lose such a high-profile Minister just week's before polling day. He also cannot afford to have Judith Collins and her attack blogger go feral and start campaigning against him. However there is the distinct possibility that Judith Collins has something over John Key, something that the Prime Minister will do just about anything to keep out of the public domain.

27 Aug 2014

Anne Salmond - Hero of the Week

New Zealander's in general may not be aware that we have some of the best writers in the world here in Gods own country. In terms of literature, us Kiwis certainly punch well above our small populations weight. One such author who in my opinion always raises the bar and perhaps doesn't get the recognition she deserves is Anne Salmond.

Not only is Salmond meticulous about the veracity of what she's writing, her scholarly articles often get right to the heart of the topic and provide well-timed advice for the government and voters alike. That's exactly what her latest article set out to achieve...provide solutions to a particularly serious issue that the government cannot continue to ignore, Dirty Politics.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Royal commission needed to clean up dirty politics

The Dirty Politics saga cuts to the heart of political life in New Zealand. Over the past 10 years there has been an insidious shift in the way that government works, with increasingly autocratic, arrogant ministers taking away the levers of power from citizens and civil servants.

The independence of the civil service has been eroded, with ministers routinely interfering in operational decisions. Last year, the Law Society felt impelled to report to the United Nations that Parliament had been used to pass a succession of acts that strip away rights, freedoms and protections from citizens, in breach of the Bill of Rights. Ministerial accountability has become a farce.

Anne Salmond isn't the only one to have noticed our government’s steady decline into a strange form of neoliberal totalitarianism. Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk’s fascist agenda has clearly caused the foundations of our democracy to erode.

It is this steady erosion of democratic checks and balances in New Zealand that makes politicians feel above the law and contemptuous of those they represent. As the old adage goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

If many Kiwis feel disgusted with politics and politicians, and powerless at present, they have good reason.

If the Prime Minister's office has indeed worked with the SIS to attack the Leader of the Opposition, or colluded with a muck-raking blogger to vilify people who disagree with the ruling party, this is reprehensible, and a constitutional disgrace. It is the kind of governance that makes Kiwis feel terrible about their own country. It's not okay.

Through their attack bloggers, the National party has been sowing the seeds of distrust throughout the land. They have perpetuated an agenda of hate that has in many cases destroyed lives. That's not the type of country we should accept now or leave for our children to clean up.

In terms of a solution, the distinguished University professor's words speak for themselves:

Unless executive power can be reined in, however, we can expect a succession and perhaps an acceleration of such abuses, no matter who is in power.

What's needed is a truly independent and high-level inquiry (perhaps a royal commission) to investigate the internal workings of government in New Zealand, and recommend a form of governance that has integrity, is truly democratic, and fit for the 21st century.

An election is one time when politicians are forced to listen to ordinary people. Kiwis from across the political spectrum have the chance to demand a much higher standard of conduct and decision-making from their elected representatives.

We have the right to live in a democracy where our leaders do not lie to us, or abuse their powers, or strip away our freedoms. They need to represent what's best, not what's worst about New Zealand. We are entitled to feel proud and confident about the way we're governed, not embarrassed and ashamed.

There are decent people in all political parties. They must take urgent steps to clean up politics in New Zealand, and to restore democratic checks and balances to the political process. It must adversely affect the lives of politicians, and make them wonder what happened to their own ideals, and how they became complicit in such a dirty game.

This article by Anne Salmond is another fine feather to her literary cap, which is why she wins this week's Hero award. Keep up the good work.

26 Aug 2014

National kills its own candidates

National MP Mark Mitchell
After reading Nicky Hager's book, Dirty Politics, which documents the underhanded way certain right wing attack bloggers operate to destabilize our democracy, I was surprised at just how devious National's very own black-ops team acted towards certain prospective National party candidates they didn't like.

It appears that the more moderate and conservative the National party candidate was, the more abuse he or she would receive from Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk on behalf of the candidate they were representing.

All of this was designed to shift National away from the political centre and further in line with Slater & co.'s questionable belief system. Unable to enter politics themselves, these traitors instead focused on cutting the throats of anybody who stood in the way of their extreme right wing agenda.

Today, the NZ Herald reported on one such example:

Disclosures disgust defeated candidate

Church-goer who sought National seat speaks out over blog’s ‘smear campaign’.

National Party member Brent Robinson says he is disappointed and upset about what he calls an "atrocious" smear campaign during the Rodney candidate selection in 2011, as outlined in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics.

And although speaking out will do the party no favours, he hopes it will see politics cleaned up.

Mr Robinson was one of five hopefuls for the Rodney selection in 2011, eventually won by Mark Mitchell, who went on to become MP.

Dirty Politics, based on emails stolen from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, appears to show Mr Slater collaborating with political strategist Simon Lusk to push for Mr Mitchell.

Whether Mark Mitchell was paying for the services of the deplorable Whale Oil is still to be determined. However, what we do know for certain is that such dirty tactics were raising serious concerns within the National party itself.

Back in May 2012, 3 News reported:

Secret minutes reveal split in National’s ranks

Leaked minutes of a National Party board meeting in March show major concerns over a party member who is so close to some of the party's MPs that he presents a serious risk to the party and its image.

But when 3 News asked Prime Minister John Key to explain, he said he did not know of any concerns.

Under questioning though, he did start to recall.
The man in question is Simon Lusk, who loves the outdoors but who also sees himself as a big fish in the National Party.

3 News is told he gets paid to give strategic advice to about a dozen of the party's MPs and aspiring MPs.

But secret National Party board minutes from March released to 3 News show the party is so worried about Mr Lusk's influence that his "agenda represents a serious risk to the party".

It's hard to determine just how many current MPs have been unfairly assisted into their positions within the National party because of Whale Oil's smear campaigns. But in terms of subverting our democratic process, this would seem to be Slater's greatest success story. However, because he has now been exposed, Slater was ironically and unknowingly undermining the National party.

I wouldn't be surprised if long time National supporters find this revelation hard to accept. Some may even choose to try and ignore National's dirty politics, but I suspect many will be so repulsed by Cameron Slater and his close ties to various National MPs that they will look for a different party to vote for in the upcoming general election.

The National party can no longer claim they stand for the long held beliefs and values of its founders. Instead, it has a sickness that if not promptly dealt with will further weaken the entire party. That's another valid reason why it's important to change the government on September 20, to give National the time it needs to clean up its act and take out the trash.

25 Aug 2014

National's campaign Advert - Harpooned

This is a take on the National Party's first campaign advert for 2014, taking into account the blogger Whale Oil's influence on the party's direction.

Journalists turn against corrupt government


There's been an extremely lot of articles written about and comments on the factual information Nicky Hager has expertly expressed in his new book, Dirty Politics. Many bloggers and journalists alike have conveyed their utter distaste at such an ugly system of smear campaigns and attack politics operating in Gods own New Zealand, and quite rightly so.

What has surprised me is that many presumed right wing journalists have also jumped ship and condemned the current administration for their unconstitutional manipulations. Not only has National been copping it from the left, their campaign is also getting derailed by journalists that have sometimes been sympathetic to national's now unrealistic campaign to be re-elected.

Here are some of the more notable articles:

On 18 August, RadioLive's Duncan Garner reported:

The dirtiest election campaign ever - and mud sticks.

We are witnessing something never seen before: this is the dirtiest campaign in New Zealand political history.

Yes, politics has always been gutter, but this is a new low. This is hacking, stealing and fear. This is about a group of bloggers and political operatives dealing to opponents with brutal tactics and blackmail. The Mafia would be impressed.

On the same day, the Southland Times editorial was equally damning:

Consequential questions

If those persistently high polls have been giving the impression that John Key can walk on water, the first post-Hager poll will show whether he can walk on sewage.

Just how deeply National's progress towards election day becomes mired in the underfoot unpleasantness that Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics has laid out will depend on more than the immediate public reaction.

[...]

Certainly the initial, seemingly airy rebuff that the public will see through all this and won't care is looking like a perilous approach. In particular, attention must turn to the charge that blogger Cameron Slater was tipped off by the Prime Minister's office to seek SIS documentation that embarrassed former Labour Leader Phil Goff.

Then on 21 August, the Otago Daily Times editorial made some valid points:

Cleansing process needed

Justice Minister Judith Collins has become a liability to Prime Minister John Key, the Government and more widely, and disturbingly, the country.

How a Minister of Justice, entrusted with upholding the highest standards in the land, can lower her own personal standards to feed confidential personal information about a civil servant to a right-wing blogger - knowing full-well the consequences of her actions - is beyond most right-minded people.

Mr Key should sack Ms Collins now, but will not take that action.

The reason he will not sack her is, of course, because the election is a month away and to remove the Justice Minister now will give further oxygen to an issue he has already handled badly.

Not to be outdone, last saturday's NZ Herald Editorial made similar assertions:

Crusher' must be put in her place

Whaledump's release of emails has forced Mr Key to stop defending Ms Collins. It must surely have also cemented her fate. Ms Collins has never hidden her wish to lead the National Party but it now seems inconceivable that she could head off the competent Steven Joyce when Mr Key departs. Indeed, those who would gather around her in a caucus now have real pause for thought on how not to tarnish their own political brands.

Today, the NZ Herald's chief political commentator, John Armstrong wrote:

PM resolves to harpoon 'Whalegate'

Having failed to talk Hager into submission, Key has suddenly gone silent. At his post-launch press conference, he simply refused to answer questions on the subject. The media had had a "good chew" and "we have moved on from there".

Some very pertinent questions remain unanswered, however, namely why Key has not sacked Judith Collins from the Justice portfolio and why she has not apologised to the public servant who received death threats after she passed private information to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

The switch in tactics is understandable, if not defendable. Last week was the week from hell for the Prime Minister. He is in no mood for a repeat.

This is just a few of many mainstream media articles that are damning the National led government and their underhanded operations to covertly smear opponents using attack bloggers.

Surely the Prime Minister cannot ignore the fact that these centre right journalists are rightfully asking the hard questions about his and his Ministers involvement in dirty politics?

It's well past time that John Key stepped into the light and gave some proper answers as to why such corruption has been allowed to fester in our halls of power.

If he's unwilling to come clean, then he should simply resign for his dereliction of duty and complicity in National's unacceptable and undemocratic behaviour.