The Jackal: July 2020

31 Jul 2020

Heron lets National off the hook

Michelle Boag - Leaker
The Heron report (PDF) was released yesterday, and it was a bit disappointing to say the least. It correctly found that former National Party president Michelle Boag and National Party MP Hamish Walker were politically motivated in leaking peoples private medical information, but didn’t look further into who else within the National Party was involved in using the sensitive information for political gain. It didn’t even properly look into Boag’s previous leaks in her capacity as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust to National MP Michael Woodhouse, or seek evidence to corroborate his very questionable side of the story.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Covid-19 patient leak: Hamish Walker sent private patient details after being labelled racist, inquiry finds 

Disgraced National MP Hamish Walker sent private Covid-19 details because his judgment was impaired after being called racist, an inquiry has found. 
And former National party president Michelle Boag sent the highly sensitive information to Walker in an attempt to help clear his name. 
The investigation, headed by former solicitor general Michael Heron, QC, was tasked with getting to the bottom of the leak and investigate whether patient data could have been kept more secure. 
Heron did not forensically examine Boag, Walker or Woodhouse's email addresses or computers and took them at their word. 
He said it was "a fair comment" that these people shouldn't be taken at their word given their actions, but said he had no reason not to believe them.

We shouldn’t take them at their word, but I took them at their word anyway?

It should be patently obvious to all involved that we shouldn’t believe people who would leak private medical information for political gain. The altruistic reasons Boag provides for leaking sensitive information to the National Party are clearly false, which should have been exposed more distinctly in this report.

Heron should have also investigated Michelle Boag’s other leaks, and what the National Party did with that information. But here we are, with the report stating:

Ms Boag had earlier provided similar personal information (but different spreadsheets) to Michael Woodhouse, MP. I received information relating to those other occasions from Ms Boag and proactively from Mr Woodhouse. Mr Woodhouse advised he did not forward such information on and has now deleted it. I considered whether I should pursue the deletion further with Mr Woodhouse, but ultimately because the information was similar in nature and it was not central to my inquiry, I determined it was not necessary to pursue it. I accept Mr Woodhouse deleted the information. Ideally, he would have counselled Ms Boag not to disclose such information and/or alerted the Ministry or Minister.

Michael Woodhouse - Leak recipient
Why would you accept what Michael Woodhouse says at face value, when he has recently been caught lying about a homeless person he claimed received free lodging at a COVID-19 isolation facility in Auckland?

Heron has unfortunately let the National Party off the hook, which isn’t a good result for ensuring our elected officials are held to account for their unacceptable and in my opinion illegal behaviour.

Leaking private medical information for political gain is an atrocious abuse of power, and hopefully we will see some further action taken against the known perpetrators. Hopefully we will also uncover who else within the National Party received the sensitive information that was leaked for political gain, because the rot obviously doesn’t just stop at Walker and Boag. In fact it likely goes to the very core of the very grubby National Party.

30 Jul 2020

Collins blunders on expat policy

I hope we can all agree that charging only certain returning expats for isolation costs is the right call. Instead of a blanket fee, which may have resulted in a small number of Kiwis deciding not to return home because of financial reasons, the Government has chosen to implement a fair and principled cost structure.

People visiting for 90 days or less, some on temporary visas, and the wealthy going for a holiday overseas will still have to make a contribution towards their isolation costs when returning to New Zealand. However the fees are pretty nominal and shouldn't hinder New Zealanders or breach their legal right to return home.

People in financial hardship can still apply for exemptions from payment. However those that can afford it will be charged just over $3000 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the same room.

Here’s the Green Party’s Golriz Ghahraman with the news:

Strangely Judith Collins, despite the National Party proposing almost the exact same fee structure, isn’t pleased with the policy decision.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

National and NZ First promise to charge more returning Kiwis after election

National have a policy to charge all returnees a similar fee, with a narrow set of exemptions. 
Leader Judith Collins said the policy was “a total failure” and “the kind of policy you have when you don’t want a policy.” 
She said her party would replace the scheme entirely with its policy if elected in September. 
Collins said that there was a growing discontent with overseas Kiwis from unemployed New Zealanders trapped at home.

National to charge for quarantine 

Additional adults in a room if a couple has arrived, will be charged an additional $1000.
Children under 3 years will have no cost and over 3 years will see an additional $500.
There will be exemptions only for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents on compassionate grounds and in cases where they are facing financial hardship.

Claiming that the Government’s policy is a total failure, when there's nothing really materially different to National's proposed policy, is incredibly stupid! I mean why would you bother replacing the entire scheme for tens of dollars?

Collins would've been better off saying that the Government was copying National's policy. But instead she has made herself look foolish by going entirely negative! Crusher is either criticising the policy for the sake of it, or she doesn't actually remember what her own party proposed only eleven days ago.

Either way, it's clear that the National Party, with the deluded Judith Collins in charge, isn't fit to govern.

21 Jul 2020

No excuses for Falloon

Disgraced National MP - Andrew Falloon
On the back of numerous resignations since she became leader of the opposition, Judith Collins has attempted to mislead the public about why another disgraced National Party MP is leaving Parliament.

Andrew Falloon, who has been sending pornographic material to young woman, has now resigned. But the way in which Crusher Collins initially tried to downplay the situation and mislead the public about why he was throwing in the towel is highly questionable.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Police reveal results from investigation into Andrew Falloon's 'unsolicited image' to young woman  
In a statement on Monday, Falloon cited "unresolved grief" following the recent suicide of a friend as his reason for resigning. He said: "I have made a number of mistakes and I apologise to those who have been affected." 
Collins also put out a statement on Monday saying Falloon is "suffering from significant mental health issues". 
Falloon will remain as an MP until the election.

So we had Crusher claiming that Falloon was resigning because of mental health issues while saying nothing about him sending unsolicited pornographic material to a young woman. Collins made her disingenuous press release after she had already received a letter via the Prime Ministers office informing her of the nature of the complaint.

But if that wasn't bad enough, we then had Falloon claiming that he hadn’t actually sent the unsolicited pornographic material himself, but had instead left his cellphone unattended at a party. He claimed his acquaintances were to blame, which was of course another blatant lie!

Today, Stuff reported:

National MP Andrew Falloon faces allegation of sending explicit photos to a third young woman 

National MP Andrew Falloon has allegedly sent explicit images to another young woman, a third allegation that he has acted inappropriately. 
The National Party has confirmed it received the latest allegation on Tuesday morning, the second allegation the party has received directly, after it was revealed that Falloon sent an indecent image to a 19-year-old woman, spurring him to abruptly resign. 
Stuff has also revealed that Falloon sent sexually explicit material to a young woman, who has not complained to the National Party.

Crusher Collins
Instead of being honest about why Andrew Falloon was resigning, it's patently clear that Judith Collins also attempted to use the excuse of failing mental health as a tactic to try and gain the public's sympathy, in order to reduce criticism of the National Party once the truth came out.

It’s one thing to use the suicides of your friends as an excuse for reprehensible behaviour, but for Collins to also try and illicit people’s empathy by playing the mental health card, knowing all the while Falloon was resigning because he sent unsolicited pornographic images to a number of young women, is disgraceful!

The public deserve more from the opposition than shameless spin and unrepentant disinformation, particularly in these unprecedented and trying times. But instead Crusher is playing the same old dirty political games as always…tactics that are neither acceptable nor working as intended.

Combine this with the woeful way the National Party recently used the leaked medical information of COVID-19 patients as a political weapon, and it’s plain to see that Crusher and the current blue “team” don’t deserve to be in power ever again.

16 Jul 2020

National in tatters

Judith Collins - Dirty Politics practitioner
It’s little wonder that the beleaguered National Party is in complete disarray! They've clearly been stabbing each other in the backs again. Take for instance the internal poll leaker telling the world that they were doing terribly and had no chance of winning the next election under Simon Bridges. This disunity was an obvious sign that the blue “team” was unravelling at the seams.

Betrayed by his own party, Bridges then lost his leadership position by only one vote to a largely unknown MP, Todd Muller, who was beset not only by his own failings, but also by the same destabilising leak concerning internal polling that helped destroy his predecessor's political aspirations.

But that wasn’t the reason for Muller's shock resignation. Instead, another National Party MP, Michael Woodhouse, informed media that the then leader of the opposition did in fact know about Michelle Boag leaking the private medical information of COVID-19 patients to himself and other National MPs so they could use it against the Government, something Muller had point blank denied the previous day, which ultimately caused his downfall.

Dishonest Todd was simply too tarnished by Michelle Boag's leaking debacle to be considered a credible alternative to the highly popular and genuinely honest Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. But instead of choosing a contender with the required credentials, the National Party doubled-down on Tuesday and went with the queen of Dirty Politics herself, Judith Collins.

However, the bad news for the right wing doesn’t end there.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Live: Revolt - National Party MPs Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams quit politics 

Senior National MPs Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams are quitting politics, creating a massive headache for new leader Judith Collins. 
National MPs have been left blindsided for the second time in a week, following Todd Muller's resignation on Tuesday. 
Collins is due to announce this morning what was planned to be a "minor" reshuffle - now she has to scramble to replace two experienced MPs who were former ministers in the last National administration. 
Adams told the Herald she decided to quit when Collins didn't let her keep the Covid-19 recovery portfolio she'd come out of retirement for.

You can see why Adams and Kaye want out. Collins has left a wake of destruction during her ascendancy into the National Party’s leadership position. Dirty Politics, of which Collins is a proficient practitioner, is obviously the unspoken reason for their departure. It will also be the reason many right wing voters decide not to support the National Party at the next election.

In fact the only thing Collins looks set to crush are the careers of her fellow caucus members.

The main problem however for Crusher and her propagandists is that they’re staring down the barrel of at least a three term Labour led Government. Collins is (according to her Wikipedia page) already 61 years of age, meaning she will be nearly 70 by the time the National Party can conceivably get another shot at the Government benches.

Now I don’t mean to sound ageist, but politics is a gruelling sport…and only a truly deluded and arrogant right-wing fool would believe that Crusher has it in her to stay the course. In fact it’s much more likely that she will retire after the crushing defeat National experiences on September 19.

So who’s your pick for the next leaker...I mean leader of the National Party then?

15 Jul 2020

What’s wrong with Crusher?

Judith Collins - National Party leader

The National Party, after Todd Muller’s quick exit stage right, have chosen Judith Collins as their new leader in what can only be seen as a desperate attempt to regain some of the conservative voters they’ve lost in recent months.

There are numerous pros and cons to picking Crusher as leader of the opposition. On one hand she’s ruthless, and in a nest of vipers certainly has the required venom to be top snake. But on the other hand she has baggage, and requires a number of media servants to continuously clean up after her.

Crusher is also going up against a younger and stronger opponent who is incredibly popular! Let's be honest, she really doesn’t have a hope in hell of getting National back in the game. In fact only the most deluded right-wingers think the blue “team” has any chance at all of winning the next election.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Judith Collins is new National Party leader, Gerry Brownlee is deputy leader after Todd Muller quits 

New National Party leader Judith Collins is already targeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - and ensuring she won't get away with any "nonsense" - but one of her own senior MPs may be the first in her sights. 
Collins would not confirm today whether Michael Woodhouse would retain the critical health portfolio, following the scandal last week over Covid patients' details being leaked by former party president Michelle Boag and MP Hamish Walker - a saga that played a role in Todd Muller's decision to quit as party leader. 
Woodhouse also received information from Boag and his future as National health spokesman will be determined today. 
"That is a very good question and one I will be answering pretty soon, once I have looked at the facts. I have had no oversight of that," Collins told RNZ when asked whether Woodhouse will retain the role.

It would be great if some unbiased journalists also asked Collins, who knows all about leaking private information for political gain, if she also knew about Michelle Boag conspiring with National Party MPs to leak COVID-19 patient’s medical information?

She said she was "absolutely not at all comfortable" around the leaking of patients' details. 
"I have not seen anything quite like that and I am taking it quite seriously. 
"I'll be talking to Michael today, we'll be getting some information on that and then I'll be making a call."

Collin’s may want to appear like a strong and principled leader by crushing dirty politics practitioner Michael Woodhouse, or she may want to downplay the seriousness of the National Party’s leaking fiasco by keeping Woodhouse on.

Crusher may also just want to remove another dangerous and messy operator from being a threat. Either way, her decision will have nothing to do with the moralities of the matter and everything to do with the optics and how things might play out in the news cycle.

I could go on all day about Crusher’s numerous conflicts of interest and underhanded tactics, but suffice to say that she’s clearly not suitable Prime Minister material. In my opinion she's not suited to being a Parliamentarian either.

14 Jul 2020

Muller resigns, National in disarray

Todd Muller - National Party MP
Todd Muller’s shock resignation today really only points to one possible conclusion; there’s further damning evidence linking him directly to National’s latest dirty political episode that will likely be unearthed during an official inquiry.

Obviously Muller being directly involved in the leaking of COVID-19 patient’s private medical information for political gain would make his position untenable, and National appears to have chosen to front-foot the issue in order to try and limit their brand from being damaged further.

Not only was Muller probably directly conspiring with former National Party president Michelle Boag, but he also blatantly lied to journalists about when his fellow MP Michael Woodhouse became involved in the leaking fiasco, meaning he simply had to go.

Today, the Guardian reported:

New Zealand opposition leader Todd Muller resigns just two months before election 

Muller steps down after just 50 days in the job, saying he was not a good fit 
The leader of New Zealand’s opposition party, Todd Muller, has resigned after just 50 days in the job. 
Mueller ousted former leader Simon Bridges in May, but after a fortnight of scandals, Muller said he had realised he was not a good fit, saying the country needed an opposition leader who is “comfortable in the job”.

If nothing else, being a proficient liar is an obvious prerequisite to being National Party leader.

It’s hard to see the right wing ever recovering from this omni-shambles of a political campaign. Not only was dishonest Todd terribly unsuited for the job, but the damning leak debacle also meant he would never be a trustworthy Prime Minister in the eyes of law-abiding citizens.

But who will be his replacement? Clearly Simon Bridges isn’t a contender, because further details implicating him in the procurement of secret Chinese donations are likely to emerge during a High Court trial. Likewise, Judith Collins’ extensive baggage and age largely precludes her from vying for the position.

Some people have ignorantly proposed Paul Goldsmith, but he doesn't have any kerb appeal, and would simply be a placeholder. So National supporters are really only left with Amy Adams or Nikki Kaye, who would both be good choices if only to curtail the overabundance of male chauvinists who seem to congregate on the right.

11 Jul 2020

Dishonest Todd should stand down

Todd Muller - Dishonest National Party leader
It seems that dishonest Todd Muller is, like many right-wing politicians, entirely morally bankrupt. I mean just look at the National Party’s leaking omni-shambles over the last week or so. They’ve imploded in a spectacular display of backfiring dirty politics, the likes of which we haven't seen since Nicky Hager wrote about the right wing poisoning New Zealand's political environment in 2014.

Not only did the corrupt leader of the opposition know all about the illegal leak of COVID-19 patient data from former National Party president Michelle Boag, which was a gross breach of private medical information for political gain...Muller also personally tried to politicise the leak and use it to unfairly criticise the Government.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

National Party Covid leak: Why did Todd Muller not say he knew Michael Woodhouse had the data? 

Muller said he learned on Tuesday Woodhouse had been sent patient records, but believed it was a "distinctly different issue" from Hamish Walker, whose career is now over. 
Walker leaked the information, but Woodhouse did nothing with it, Muller said.

If you believe that, I have a used car to sell you.

Walker admitted on Tuesday evening he was behind the leak of patient records to media. His source was former party president Michelle Boag. 
Woodhouse revealed yesterday he told Muller that he'd also been sent details by Boag. 
But the next day Muller was specifically asked if he'd checked whether Woodhouse had received similar information. 
Muller said: "No. It's very clear from our perspective that there is a conversation that's occurred or a connection that's occurred between Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker."

There’s no question that Todd Muller blatantly lied to journalists when asked direct questions about who else within his caucus had received leaked information from Michelle Boag.

Michelle Boag - Leaker
Woodhouse, who was previously caught lying about a homeless person he claimed received free accommodation, had also been provided privileged information so he could unethically attack the Government with it, a fact that Muller knew and deliberately lied about.

But instead of completely owning up, Muller and Woodhouse are now trying to make us believe that the National Party is too incompetent to coordinate a dirty political attack using illegally obtained information, and that this ineptness is an excuse for continuing to smear the Government while knowing Boag was the leaker.

Woodhouse said that before sending him the information last month, Boag called to say she "had some information around Covid that would be helpful to me" and asked for his private email address. 
He said he opened one email, saw it was patient information and "clearly there was nothing that I could benefit from and I did not use it". 
Boag sent him three more emails between June 21 and 25. Woodhouse said he didn't open them as he was away from his Dunedin electorate office.

If you also believe that, I have another used car to sell you.

On Monday, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins launched a powerful inquiry headed by Michael Heron, QC, promising to uncover "exactly who" was responsible. 
That same day Walker told Muller he was the leaker but later sent him a legal letter asking not to name him, citing privacy. 
Muller got his own legal advice and pushed forward with getting Walker to publicly confess. On Tuesday evening, Walker took responsibility for the leak. 
At the same time, Boag revealed she was his source. 
Woodhouse said after the pair admitted their actions, he gave Muller "a quick call to say I think there could be another dimension to this story". 
"He asked me to talk to Amy Adams in the morning about that, which I did." 
He deleted the emails from Boag that evening. He and Boag say they have contacted Heron and will cooperate with the inquiry. 

Let me get this straight. Woodhouse is claiming that he's cooperating with an official inquiry that's just been launched while at the same time deleting emails pertinent to that very same inquiry?

Good god National! At least try to make your excuses somewhat believable.

Muller said he stood by Woodhouse "100 per cent". 
"The critical error of misjudgment was Hamish Walker's in terms of leaking that information."
Muller said he was disappointed Woodhouse hadn't told him sooner "but it needs to be put in the context that he obviously didn't do anything with it". 
Muller has not asked all his MPs whether they'd also received sensitive information from Boag. 

Michael Woodhouse - Crooked Politician
After Woodhouse was also exposed as another recipient of Boag's emails, Muller again told journalists that no other National MP had received sensitive information, when he hadn’t even checked with them to see if his claims were true. Clearly the only way Muller would know this for sure is if he had directly conspired with Boag. The body language of Amy Adams and Gerry Brownlee during Todd Muller’s sweaty stand up on Thursday also tells a completely different story.

The problem for the National Party is that we’re only a couple of months out from the election, which isn’t enough time for voters to forget that the blue “team” used the private information of COVID-19 patients in another despicable dirty political attack.

Surely Muller’s chief advisor, Matthew Hooton, should remind the current National Party leader (who should stand down) that it’s not the original misconduct that they necessarily need to worry about, but the continued attempts to cover it up that’s much more politically damaging.

10 Jul 2020

Woodhouse must resign

National MP - Michael Woodhouse
What a surprise! Michelle Boag also sent National’s Michael Woodhouse confidential emails about COVD-19 patients, and he continued to publicly attack the Government over these very same breaches of privacy.

This is the biggest political self-own since the Act Party’s David Garrett admitted in Parliament that he used a dead baby's identity to illegally obtain a false passport.

Michelle Boag, a former National Party President, has subsequently resigned or been sacked from nearly every position she had. So how on earth is Woodhouse still on National's front bench, let alone a Member of Parliament?

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Michelle Boag quits the National Party, sent Covid patient details to Nat MP Michael Woodhouse 

Former National Party president Michelle Boag has quit the party after revelations she sent Covid-19 patient details to another National MP. 
National Party health spokesman Michael Woodhouse confessed this morning to receiving four unsolicited emails from Boag between June 21 and 25 which contained patient details, but it was not the same information that was sent to disgraced MP Hamish Walker. 
His confession follows National Party leader Todd Muller's comments yesterday that he had not asked his MPs whether they had received confidential information as Walker had. 
"The issue is sorted from my perspective," he told reporters yesterday. 
But a party spokeswoman told the Herald that Muller knew about Boag's emails to Woodhouse on Tuesday. 
Woodhouse said this morning he deleted the emails from Boag.

Woodhouse was likely trying to cover-up his involvement.

"I recognised that the information in those emails was private so I did not share it with anyone else and I subsequently deleted them." 
He did not say why he had not gone public with this information earlier.

Yeah right! Woodhouse has been all over the news blaming the Government for breaches of privacy, while knowing beyond any doubt that the leaks were coming from none-other than National Party stalwart, Michelle Boag.

Clearly Woodhouse has brought Parliament into disrepute, and therefore must resign. But instead of ensuring Woodhouse does the right thing, it appears that Todd Muller has also lost his moral compass. In fact he's failed to show any signs of proper leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic at all.

By allowing National Party MPs to conspire against the Government using illegally obtained privileged information, Muller has essentially signed his own political death warrant. But who within the beleaguered blue “team” can replace the dishonest boy from the Bay? Certainly nobody who could remotely be considered Prime Ministerial springs to mind.

9 Jul 2020

It’s all over Tova

Attack journalist - Tova O'Brien
We all know that much of the mainstream media in New Zealand is terribly biased. They are in effect another branch of the National Party, and can often be even more prejudiced than their right wing bosses.

In fact many right wing politicians moonlight as journalists and vice versa, which makes for some terribly lopsided attack articles clogging up our print media. Newshub for instance has an overabundance of morally bankrupt broadcasters who probably couldn’t do balanced reporting even if they tried.

It’s not just Kiwi commentators who've noticed the problem of an extremely biased fourth estate in New Zealand either.

Today, Al Jazeera reported:

How New Zealand's media endangered public health 

The New Zealand government's COVID-19 response was a success story, national media's coverage of it was not. 
Taken over time, New Zealand's reporters have appeared focused on managing perceptions, berating and cajoling a fearful public on numerous fronts. In doing so, and from the earliest stages of a four-level alert system, public health concerns have been eclipsed by a clamouring commentariat, all seeking to score political points and undermine the government's health-first priorities. 
A case can be made that the nation's media, laundering many of the opposition's attack lines and big business talking points, have repeatedly endangered public health.  
This was driven not only by the country's clutch of prominent Fox News-style commentators - Mike Hosking, Heather du Plessis-Allan and Duncan Garner - each of whom hawks anger and division to drive ratings, but by senior reporters and editors. 
The problem with all of this is, however, that the two women who drove to Wellington did not "kiss and cuddle" their friends; that was an incendiary exaggeration by the political opposition. 
After reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing widely, authorities found no evidence that Woodhouse's homeless man existed.  
The media's claims of systemic failings at managed isolation facilities began to look more like isolated instances, blown out of proportion. Numerous returning Kiwis said that the facilities were well run. 
A month on, and with tens of thousands of tests conducted, there is no evidence that the virus has reseeded in, let alone spread throughout, the community. 
The inescapable conclusion is that the media willingly colluded with the opposition's attack lines, relying on the fear and scandal that generated to attract eyeballs - clickbait.

It’s not until you see it documented like this that you realise just how corrupt the mainstream media in New Zealand actually is. In particular, Tova O’Brien, who is perhaps the right wings most prolific manipulator of public perception, comes in for well-deserved recognition in this excellent Al Jazeera opinion piece.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a camera capture Tova’s face as she read the honest to goodness truth about her right wing disinformation? The realisation on her wee face that people no longer have the stomach for her particular brand of dirty politics would be priceless.

Boag rides to oblivion

Former National Party President - Michelle Boag
After the complete botch job Hamish Walker made of leaking the private details of COVID-19 patients to the mainstream media last week, the best-case scenario for Todd Muller and the National Party would be if the news cycle went quiet about their involvement.

But unfortunately for the right wing that’s never going to happen.

Not only is the egregious breach of privacy a major news story both nationally and internationally that simply cannot be ignored, most of the apologists for the right wing who would normally try to defend National at all costs have now given up. Some have even started to grumble about just how bad the breach of privacy and its fallout is, and who else might be implicated in the damaging scandal.

But instead of keeping quiet, the source of the leak, Michelle Boag, just keeps on digging. Incredibly, the former National Party President is now attempting to spin the privacy breach as some sort of failure on the part of the Ministry of Health.

Of course it’s a completely ludicrous argument. Boag was the CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter trust when she received the private information in good faith, information she had no moral or legal right to forward on to the National Party. Furthermore, Boag initially claimed that the data was accessed through her role as CEO of the trust, which caused many to question the extent of their involvement.

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust have subsequently investigated their processes and found that Boag’s account of events is lacking in a crucial component, namely the truth.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says Michelle Boag had no access to its Covid-19 patient data 
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says it did not breach the privacy of Covid-19 patients, despite National Party stalwart Michelle Boag claiming she received the now-leaked data as acting chief executive of the trust. 
Helicopter Trust chairman Simon Tompkins, in statement issued Wednesday morning, said the trust had reviewed how it protects patient information and “that none of this patient information has been subject to any privacy breach”.

So Michelle Boag initially linked the privacy breach to a trust she was acting CEO of, and is now trying to divert responsibility for the leak onto the Ministry of Health. It seems that everyone is to blame here except for the leaker herself.

Here’s Michelle Boag's statement from last Tuesday:

Press Statement From Michelle Boag 
Today I am announcing that I am the person who passed on details of current Covid19 cases to Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker, who then passed on that information to a number of media outlets. 
The information was made available to me in my position as then Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, although it was sent to my private email address. 
This was a massive error of judgement on my part and I apologise to my colleagues at ARHT whom I have let down badly.

National Party leader -Todd Muller
The exact details of how and when the COVID-19 patient's data was leaked to National aren’t the only questions that remain unanswered in this privacy breach debacle.

For instance, after Hamish Walker made his racist press release on 2 July, he then boasted about being in possession of information that supposedly backed up his claims. Thankfully some media outlets, as well as deciding not to use the leaked data, have now publicly contradicted Walker’s statement concerning what the information contained.

But the real kicker here is that after Walker shot himself in the foot, Muller claimed that he didn’t find out about a National MP making an arse of himself in public for another four days. Surely Walker boasting that he was (wrongly) in possession of people’s private information should have gained the attention of a competent leader in much less time?

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Muller told Newstalk ZB's Mike Yardley that he was informed Monday lunchtime that Walker was the leaker and after the inquiry was announced, made it clear Walker had to co-operate. 
He then sought legal advice and once receiving that, made it public.

Clearly Muller’s timeline of events isn’t very credible.

It seems much more likely that he knew about Boag’s leaking ages ago and decided to use the confidential information she provided to the National Party to maliciously try and damage the Government's credibility on COVID-19 related issues.

Sadly for the blue "team" however, Walker’s public outburst meant National and their number one stalwart, knowing they would be found out, had to come clean.

While continuing to viciously attack the Government over a breach of information they themselves instigated, it appears that the National Party generously gave themselves an entire week to deliberate and decide about how best to front foot the issue.

That’s likely what we’re seeing right now, the right wing in damage control mode and trying to spin the leak in their favour. But unfortunately for Todd Muller’s credibility, the execution of that spin by Michelle Boag and other right wing propagandists isn’t going so well. In fact it’s another complete train wreck of a political disaster for the beleaguered National Party. Let's hope they all get obliterated at the 2020 election.

8 Jul 2020

Dirty tactics backfire on National

Michelle Boag - Former National Party President
When Todd Muller decided not to discipline Hamish Walker for his horribly racist press release last week, you had to wonder if his lack of proper leadership had something to do with a shared belief system? After all, the whiteness of the blue “team” isn’t exactly a secret.

But with Walker now being revealed as the leak of the COVID-19 patient data, perhaps Muller's inaction was because he's complicit in the privacy breach? The leak originated from Michelle Boag, who was instrumental in Muller attaining his leadership position, which certainly gives grounds for people to believe that Muller is implicated in National's latest smear campaign.

Muller clearly isn’t displaying much aptitude in his new role by labelling Walker's crimes as just a simple 'error of judgement' and stripping away his non-existent portfolios. I mean how pathetic! As well as removing Walker outright, Muller really needs to take some responsibility as leader during National's latest dirty politics debacle.

However, instead of acknowledging any fault from the party or their leader, National and their propagandists are now trying to make us believe that Muller commands such low levels of respect from within his caucus that they would leak career ending information to the media entirely behind his back.

This is a highly dangerous game to play, being that it’s much more likely that Muller was an integral part of the conspiracy to try and undermine the Government using what are clearly immoral and illegal methods.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Live: 'Others' fingerprints all over this': Police Minister on National MP Hamish Walker's Covid privacy breach 

Police Minister Stuart Nash believes an investigation will show other National Party MPs or members were also involved in a Covid patient data leak. 
Last night, MP Hamish Walker and former National Party president Michelle Boag confessed to being behind the massive privacy breach of Covid-19 patient information.

I’m not sure what’s worse; the National Party breaching COVID-19 patient's privacy for political gain or that Hamish Walker thought releasing people’s confidential information would somehow justify his blatant racism?

"I simply can't believe that this is just Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker. There'll be others' fingerprints all over this," Nash told Newstalk ZB this morning. 
Muller told Newstalk ZB's Mike Yardley that he was informed Monday lunchtime that Walker was the leaker and after the inquiry was announced, made it clear Walker had to co-operate. 
He then sought legal advice and once receiving that, made it public.

You know who else apparently received legal advice, Hamish Walker. In his initial press release the idiot claims that no crime has been committed, clearly showing that he and his supposed legal advisor are ignorant of the law, which is no excuse.

Muller will of course hope that by quietly removing Walker, people will become disinterested in who else within the National Party was involved. However it’s pretty obvious that Walker and Boag didn’t come up with this plan all by themselves. In fact it has a distinct stench of Muller’s right hand man, Matthew Hooton, all about it.

The other problem for Muller and his hopes of one day becoming Prime Minister is that many of those COVID-19 patients who had their privacy breached would have been National Party supporters. Clearly the National Party’s dirty political tactics have gone down like a lead balloon on the left, but they won’t sit well with many on the right either.

Their distaste at private information being leaked for political gain will grow exponentially if it is revealed that Muller knew about and did nothing to stop the smear. Because if Muller knew and chose to allow a crime to be committed, he is also gone, just like the National Party’s hopes of winning the next election.

7 Jul 2020

National lacks credibility on housing

National MP Nicola Willis
Housing, which I would argue is a fundamental human right, has long been a problem in New Zealand. Not only do we have some of the most overpriced houses in the entire world, much of the housing stock is substandard and therefore affects not just people’s health and our standard of living, but also our productivity and subsequently the economy as well.

So what can be done about it? Well despite the National Party’s repeated claims, the Coalition Government has in fact been doing a lot to try and fix the housing crisis. Has it been enough? No! But we’re talking about a problem that has been decades in the making. For the right wing to argue that it should’ve been fixed in just one term of a Labour led Government is slightly absurd to say the least.

Through their own ineptitude, the National Party has little to no credibility on important issues like housing, and therefore are unable to effectively critique the current Government, which is a serious problem for political discourse at the moment. In fact much of the right wings criticism is for problems they ignored or largely created while in power, which makes their disapproval of the current administrations progress, albeit incremental, all a bit ridiculous!

Today, NZ Stuff reported:

National Party admits it sold too many state houses

National’s new housing spokesperson has admitted the party was wrong to sell and convert more state houses than it built when it was last in office.
Nicola Willis, who took the housing portfolio in a recent reshuffle, told RNZ the net reduction in state houses under the last National government showed that governments needed to continue increasing the number of state houses.
Willis said National sold or converted “a couple of thousand” state homes.
“I think what we can see from that is yes, the Government needs to build state houses,” she said.
Willis accepted there was net loss of state houses under National.

Now if only National would stop denying reality on all those other important issues as well.

Willis said National acknowledged government building was part of the solution to the housing crisis, but it had to be supplemented by things like reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and rental regulations, which were discouraging investment.

A large part of the problem is that many politicians view housing as a commodity and not as an essential service. It therefore doesn’t matter if the Resource Management Act gets repealed or if there’s a promise to build more state houses, because the crucial cause of housing being scarce and unaffordable will remain unless there is a fundamental change to how those in positions of power view their investments. That’s because the housing market isn’t governed by supply and demand, it’s currently governed by rich and powerful people’s greed.

There are 200,000 empty houses in New Zealand, many of them perfectly suited as places of residence. They sit vacant while various political factions endlessly argue about who has failed the most on housing. Invariably those assets will continue to gather dust while the often idle owner’s paper wealth increases. Unless a large chunk of those properties are reintroduced into the housing market, the problem of unaffordability, homelessness and a dilapidated rental stock will remain very strong handbrakes to any economic recovery post COVID-19.

The other problem is that the current Government, Banks and RBNZ have done everything they can to ensure the housing market remains over-inflated. A two-tier welfare system, mortgage holidays, business subsidies and an incredibly low OCR are all designed to stop the housing bubble from bursting. That’s because many politicians and public officials have investments that would be negatively affected if the market properly corrected itself. Nicola Willis for instance has pecuniary interests in at least four properties, meaning she, like most politicians, will never implement any policy that might decrease the excessive wealth tied up in property.

She said that National’s record on housing would have been better if it had been allowed to stay in power for longer, as many better, well-insulated houses were under construction when the party left government after the 2017 election.

This is just rubbish! There was no evidence that National was going to build anywhere near the number of state houses that New Zealand requires. In fact they spent most of their time in power denying there was a housing crisis at all.

The current government was also having difficulty defending its own record on housing. Its flagship KiwiBuild housing programme was meant to build thousands of homes a year, but to date, fewer than 400 have been completed.
It was so far behind that it would take more than 400 years to reach its ten-year goal of building 100,000 houses.
It had a far better record on state housing, adding thousands of houses to the stock, although this had not been enough to keep up with a skyrocketing housing wait list.
Willis said the latest figures were “an indictment on the Government”.

Unfortunately for political reporter Thomas Coughlan and the National Party's housing spokesperson, as of May 2020, 575 houses had been built and sold under the KiwiBuild scheme, with another 321 awaiting sale. By using out-dated figures, you’ve got to ask if Nicola Willis is suitable to be a Member of Parliament at all, let alone promoted into Todd Muller’s shadow cabinet? I mean where exactly is the merit in having a dishonest idiot at the table?

It’s one thing to finally admit that John Key oversaw a net reduction of state houses, but to then ignore that her own government used unfair criteria to remove thousands of people from the state housing waiting list is incredibly dishonest! There's no question that the current Government’s removal of those restrictions is why there’s a large increase in people on the list. To ignore this fact and claim a system that now better recognises the true depth of need in our communities is extremely deceitful, even by National Party standards.

You would have to be exceptionally biased to believe that the state housing mess that National created over nine long years could be fixed in just one term. But I guess delusion, plus a good amount of self-interest, is what still drives the National Party these days. It certainly appears to motivate Nicola Willis’ wilful ignorance of her own party’s woeful track record on housing.

5 Jul 2020

Bullied out of Parliament

I think we can all agree that the mainstream media in New Zealand has a very different set of rules for the right wing compared to the left. While Labour and Green Party politicians don’t seem to be able to fart without it becoming a sackable offence, National and Act MPs appear to get away with the most appalling behaviour without any real consequence or scrutiny by the MSM.

Take for instance the recent racist press release by National MP Hamish Walker, which barely touched the news cycle. If he were a left wing MP, every single nuance of his intolerance towards Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans would still be on high rotate. The mainstream media would be demanding his immediate dismissal, and then relish in and report on every detail of just how that transpired.

The MSM would then criticise National’s untested leader, Todd Muller, no matter what the outcome. But because Walker is a right wing MP, journalists aren’t demanding any accountability at all. Generally they aren’t even reporting on the response from those who were unfairly targeted by the National Party's prejudiced propaganda.

Unfortunately there are numerous other examples of similar bias shown by our so-called fourth estate, which has essentially become a propaganda tool for the right wing. Take for instance the case of Clare Curran being bullied out of Parliament by National Party MPs and their dishonest attack dogs. You’ve really got to ask why aren’t the MSM demanding that her tormenters resign like they would if the shoe was on the other foot?

Yesterday, the Spinoff reported:

‘I physically felt like I was going to die’: Clare Curran opens up on politics, toxicity and trauma 

During an exclusive interview in her Auckland hotel room in June, Curran brings out a plastic folder of grainy images from a debate held before the National Party’s Mainland Region conference in April 2012, attended by MPs including Nick Smith, Michael Woodhouse, Jacqui Dean and Eric Roy. They were posted in a Facebook group that was “not quite private”, and later sent to her. One of them shows Woodhouse posing with a bright blue toilet seat emblazoned with a photograph of Curran. 
The toilet seat was apparently the trophy presented to the winning debating team, headed by author and former broadcaster Jim Hopkins, a Waitaki District councillor. The moot: “That South Dunedin is turning blue.” Hopkins says “one of the Dunedin MPs” – presumably Woodhouse, a Dunedin based list MP, and not Curran who represented Dunedin South – had been given the seat after Curran was labelled “potty mouth”. She’d told the Otago Daily Times that KiwiRail’s decision to sell the Hillside Engineering workshops in Dunedin meant “KiwiRail and the government have pissed on Dunedin”. Hopkins says the moot referenced both politics and language. 
Some might call it toilet humour, but Curran says it’s worse than dirty politics – it’s just nasty. “I was so shocked when I saw it I have never been able to speak of it publicly because I felt embarrassed. I still feel quite traumatised by it … I imagine whether they have used it or not and it’s a sense of humiliation and weirdness. There’s something sick about that. People who are prepared to do that … What else are they prepared to do? They were literally encouraging people to piss on me.” 
Curran says she was a top target for the likes of rightwing blogger Cameron Slater and lobbyist and commentator Matthew Hooton throughout her four terms. “They hated me.” In some of his many posts about her, Slater described Curran as “something dreadful” and “dumber than a bag of hammers”. On May 10, before deleting his Twitter account when he began working for new National Party leader Todd Muller, Hooton wrote that he had blocked Curran on the platform “because she is a dishonest idiot and it adds nothing to read anything she says”.

Clearly putting a duly elected officials face on a toilet seat is a despicable and sackable offence. Likewise, the promotion of such hateful material on Facebook should also lead to dismissals from office. Contrast the lack of any real response to that atrocious act with how the MSM have hounded Labour MP David Clark out of the health portfolio for riding a bike.

Contrast also Clark's minor indiscretions with those of his predecessor, Michael Woodhouse. As well as being a woeful Minister who underfunded our health system so it became terribly run down and indebted, Woodhouse has more recently been getting away with rampant disinformation about a homeless person he claims attained free lodging at a COVID-19 isolation facility in Auckland.

Where exactly is the journalistic integrity on this issue; let alone any accountability from within the National Party itself?

There's no question that Clark had to resign specifically because of the mainstream medias unbalanced reporting. He didn’t want to be a distraction because he knew biased journalists would mercilessly hound Labour right up until the election if he didn’t go. An ‘open weeping wound’ they called him, while largely ignoring National’s campaign of dishonest politicking over COVID-19.

Apparently National Party MPs are allowed to bring Parliament into disrepute with impunity, while Labour MPs aren’t even allowed to go for a walk on a beach.

So instead of holding the bullies to account, we have journalists like Andrea Vance pretending to care about the environment and having a go at the Greens because NZ First has been a roadblock on progress…we have clearly prejudiced political editors like Tova O’Brien trying to criticise the PM because Clark apparently wasn’t sacked quickly enough, and we have NZ Herald hacks like Audrey Young trying to argue that Labour supporters, and not biased journalists, are to blame for Clark's resignation.

Surely we need to call time out on the partisan politics while COVID-19 threatens not just our livelihoods, but also our very existence. Because if we aren’t working together for the common good of defeating this insidious virus, and we simply allow the right wing and MSM to distract and continuously attempt to trip the Government up in these trying times, New Zealand has lost and the bullies have won…and that’s not something any Kiwi, no matter where they come from, should accept lying down.

4 Jul 2020

Todd Muller’s very low standards

Racist National MP Hamish Walker
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should have noticed that many National Party MP’s are racist! Even before Todd Muller's coup ousted Simon Bridges by a single vote, it was patently obvious that the blue "team" promotes and stands for white privilege. In fact they’ve always worked to ensure the discriminatory status quo in New Zealand doesn’t change.

So it’s no surprise that Muller, after initially appointing an all white shadow cabinet that was clearly not chosen on merit alone, failed to discipline National Party MP Hamish Walker for a blatantly racist press release he made last Thursday.

On Thursday, Stuff reported:

National MP Hamish Walker defends remarks dubbed 'racist' by Labour 

First-term National MP Hamish Walker has been called racist for a press release claiming that up to 11,000 people from “India, Pakistan and Korea” could be heading to Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown for quarantine. 
Walker did not single out arrivals from other countries. 
Housing Minister Megan Woods called the press release racist. 
“I think it’s disgraceful and reprehensible. It’s scaremongering and frankly it’s racist,” Woods said. 
“I don’t think stirring up this kind of sentiment has any place in modern New Zealand.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But Walker defended the remarks, saying they weren't racist – and that his claims could be substantiated. 
“Calling me a racist is Labour’s default tactic when they are unable to defend their blatant failures. It’s not about race,” Walker said. 
“This is about the live cases in NZ and what countries they come from.”

Except Walker’s claims cannot be substantiated. The fact remains that there are more Kiwis returning from predominantly European nations with higher rates of COVID-19 than those mentioned in Walker’s racist statement. For him to single out and fear-monger over only Asian countries is a clear sign of racism!

Here’s the National Party’s racist propaganda:

It looks like Hamish Walker, as well as being a blatant racist, also has a bad case of NIMBYism just like his fellow National Party MP Todd McClay. There is in fact no evidence that Dunedin, Invercargill or Queenstown are unable to isolate returning Kiwis effectively or that proper PPE isn't available in any of these centres.

So you've really got to wonder what National’s tactic is here?

As well as being strategies to keep the National Party in the news, it’s pretty obvious that the MAGA hat on display in Muller’s office and the upside down Tino Rangatiratanga flag, while being subtle enough devices to not offend the majority of National’s party faithful, were both designed as signals to right wing racists that the National Party deserves their support.

However the overtly racist press release by Hamish Walker cannot be as easily explained away. The problem Muller now has is trying to convince the general voting public that the National Party isn’t explicitly racist…and the only way to effectively do that is to dismiss Hamish Walker.

But instead of doing the right thing, Muller has weakly slapped the racist with a wet bus ticket.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

National leader Todd Muller disappointed in Hamish Walker's 'racist' statement 

Muller today said he'd spoken to Walker about the statement. 
"I've expressed my disappointment and I certainly don't condone what he said." 
Muller refused to answer questions about whether he thought the statement was racist and what his concerns were. 
Walker defended his statement last night after Cabinet Minister Megan Woods called it racist.

It’s pretty obvious that Walker isn’t being held to account for his racism because Muller shares similar beliefs. His claim of disappointment in Walker is only because the racism wasn’t subtle enough, and the discriminatory aspect of the press release cannot as easily be explained away.

Walker’s racism and Muller’s inaction looks even worse now that the Prime Minister has removed candidate Kurt Taogaga from Labour’s list for his anti-Islamic tweets. So while Jacinda Ardern has shown strong leadership and ensured support from all non-racist Kiwis, Muller has lost the support of ethnic minorities with his acceptance of Walker’s statement, racist views that he remains entirely unapologetic for.

Only one of these strategies will be a winner in New Zealand, which has one of the most diverse and culturally aware societies in the entire world. For Muller to risk the election by accepting such low standards from his fellow caucus members clearly shows that the National Party's racism isn’t just skin fact it goes right to the very top of what is principally a political party run for and by racists!