Dunne's position untenable | The Jackal

7 Jun 2013

Dunne's position untenable

Today, Stuff reported:

Government Minister Peter Dunne has quit after the release of a report into the leaking of a Government Communications Security Bureau report.

In a statement, Prime Minister John Key said the report by David Henry into the leaking of Rebecca Kitteridge's review to Fairfax Media reporter Andrea Vance showed that Dunne had not met all the requests for information.

There can really only be one explanation for withholding information, Dunne leaked the report.

Dunne had given a categorical assurance to Key that he did not leak the report and the Prime Minister said "I want to believe him" but, because Dunne could not cooperate, he had no choice other than to accept his resignation.

Even John Key appears to believe Dunne leaked the report... Why else would Dunne offer up his resignation and John Key accept it? This is very serious indeed, as leaking official government documents is by all intents and purposes an act of treason.

Section 78A of the Crimes Act (PDF) states:

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, being a person who owes allegiance to the Queen in right of New Zealand, within or outside New Zealand, (a) knowingly or recklessly, and with knowledge that he is acting without proper authority, communicates any official information or delivers any object to any other person knowing that such communication or delivery is likely to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand.

There is no doubt that the leaking of the Kitteridge report (PDF) caused the government a huge headache. Whether that amounts to prejudicing the security and defence of New Zealand is yet to be seen.

Today, Winston Peters made a formal complaint to the Police about the issue, which is likely to accuse Peter Dunne of being a traitor. If found guilty, Dunne would be automatically expelled from parliament. That would likely cause a snap election, being that the government would not be able to pass any legislation the Maori party didn't agree with.

The choice Dunne has to make is whether he wants to drag things out in the vain hope that his teams prospects of winning the next election improve. In my opinion, the discredited Peter Dunne should do the honorable thing and resign from parliament forthwith. Of course that would mean an end to his numerous perks of the job, so he's likely to hang on as long as he can.