Election eve nightmare for National | The Jackal

19 Sep 2014

Election eve nightmare for National

The bad news for National and their leader, John Key, has been unprecedented during this election campaign. First there was the release of a book by Nicky Hager called Dirty Politics that threatened to derail the right wings campaign entirely.

However, it wasn't until the dishonest John Key made a dogs breakfast of his response to the very serious allegations that it became totally apparent he and his advisors really had no countermeasures.

Then there was the leaked emails and the Moment of Truth, which also put the PM on the back foot. Key handled that terribly as well, resorting to name calling, which was a really bad look.

Today, the news got even worse for a worn out John Key, with the NZ Herald reporting:

Ex-Customs lawyer claims he was told to bury info that could embarrass the Government

A former high-ranking Customs lawyer says he resigned from his job after allegedly being told to bury information that could embarrass the Government.

Curtis Gregorash said he was told by senior Customs executives to refuse Official Information Act and Privacy Act requests, which he believed was at the direction of former Customs Minister Maurice Williamson.

It comes at a time the Prime Minister's office is under inquiry over the release of intelligence material through the OIA and accusations that former Justice Minister Judith Collins was manipulating OIA responses for political purposes.

Clearly there needs to be a Commission of Inquiry into these unconstitutional activities by top National party officials, which would have the power to compel them to give evidence under oath. Anything less would simply be window dressing over an incredibly serious situation.

The lawyer turned whistleblower said: "I've sat on it for a long time. But the story itself is so awful it needs to be told. I think people really need to see what ministers and some senior executives do."

He had decided to speak because he believed the alleged instruction "was unlawful", undermined the way the public service was meant to operate and was given for what was ultimately political reasons.

"The direction came down (from the minister) through the CEO (Carolyn Tremain) and group manager (of legal services) Peter Taylor to me saying 'you don't release anything - I don't care what the OIA says, I'd rather fight it in the courts'."

Mr Gregorash said it was as if ministers were prepared to say: "F*** the OIA, I'd rather fight it through the Ombudsman because it takes three years."

The Official Information Act 1982 (PDF) is a great piece of legislation that deserves far more respect than the National party has been showing it. This Act gives the general public a way to hold sate officials to account, and should be at the centre of any progressive government with New Zealand's best interests at heart.

The complete disrespect shown by the corrupt Maurice Williamson and other National party officials will hopefully be another wake up call to voters. In fact it would appear that this is another election eve nightmare for National...a nightmare that I'm sure they wish they could wake up from.