Archive for July 12th, 2008

News from the weird

July 12, 2008

The Right’s response to Hager’s revelations about National and C/T has been (a) to try to pretend that all political parties engage in the sorts of practices with which C/T seem to be associated (they don’t), and (b) discredit Hager.

Far-right attack dog Fran O’Sullivan has a go this morning. I have to say that, like Ethical Martini, I had trouble following O’Sullivan’s line of “thought”. But here goes. After outlining an Australian television satire called, spookily (not!), The Hollowmen, and in which politics is run more like a corporation than a constitutional democracy, O’Sullivan argues that:

“… instead of examining whether New Zealand’s incumbent Prime Minister also employs such tactics, Hager trots out the line that National’s continued employment of Australian political strategy firm Crosby/Textor (just one of the consultants the party has hired) is proof positive that aspiring PM John Key is little more than a political puppet for “foreign” ventriloquists who feed him all his lines.”

Leaving aside the deliberately misleading summary of what concerns Hager and the rest of us — see right-wing counter-attack (a) above — O’Sullivan doesn’t produce any evidence that Helen Clark employs such tactics. She then switches to right-wing attack (b):

“On Planet Nicky, NZ political journalists are nothing more than ready dupes who unknowingly parrot the lines conjured up by the real power brokers who, ipso facto, must be irredeemably evil.”

More arrant tosh. Again, there is no evidence that this is how Hager views NZ political reporters. (With the exception perhaps of the likes of Colin Espiner, who features in Hager’s The Hollow Men for, well, parroting the lines conjured up, etc; and who is now cited on almost a daily basis by Farrar and other right-wing bloggers.) Ethical Martini goes so far as to suggest that, “It seems to me that Fran has perhaps not read Nicky’s piece in the SST.” He could be right.

Then there’s some stuff about Keating and Rudd, and Hager being thin-skinned. Impossible to follow, but it may be bad subbing that’s at fault. Another sudden unrelated shift in her argument and we have Brash’s letter to someone about the emails being stolen. It’s treated as gospel, but there is no evidence to support any of this. (See a pattern emerging?)

Then nasty insinuations about a policeman and finally we come to the (non) conclusion, “Maybe it’s time that Planet Nicky came down to earth and investigated the real constitutional issues.”

Weird. Someone tell O’Sullivan she needs a break.

O’Sullivan’s echo chamber (a.k.a. The Hive) gushed about “one of New Zealand’s very best political journalists writing [this] in the biggest newspaper.” True. And, after a similarly disjointed and incoherent ramble (though they claim not to be O’Sullivan), they say:

“Maybe the Police should be taking note. It is not too late to be absolved….We won’t be releasing the e-mail until 4 days before the election so be patient on this one, but it is a hum dinger!!”

There is no earlier reference to an email, so we cannot say for sure what they are talking about. Maybe they share the same subbie. Maybe they should join O’Sullivan on her holiday break.

Oh, and the post is headed “Where Did The E-mails Come From Pat (we mean Nicky)?” I guess Pat knows who he/she is. All very weird.

End in sight for Winnie?

July 12, 2008

Like a b-grade horror movie monster, Winston Peters has stalked the NZ political scene for decades, crawling back out of the slime at the edge of the frame whenever we thought him done for, to terrorise more innocent folk.

Could he finally have reached the end? You know, been dropped into the firey volcano or shot into deep space with no space suit? (Sorry for getting side-tracked here, but these are such comforting images.)

Turns out that private emails show that Owen Glenn gave NZ First money. And when multi-billionaire Owen Glenn’s involved, we’re not talking loose change. (At a dinner to celebrate his $7m donation to the University of Auckland Business School he said cheerily that he would have given $10m had he been asked for that much.)

Here’s the February 2008 exchange between Glenn and Steve Fisher, his PR man, following a Herald report on Glenn’s political donations:

Fisher: Our plan worked well. There is nothing new about you in here Owen. Note that Winston says you have never made a donation to NZ First, so at all costs you must stick to that line. It was definitely the right thing to do to deny the Maori party offer as well.

Glenn: Steve, are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?

Fisher: No, just stick to the line of referring stuff to NZ First. What I’m saying is we don’t want to contradict Winston.

This spells trouble for Winston. Earlier this year, then NZ First president Dail Jones said that an anonymous donation — “closer to $100,000” than $10,000 — had appeared in the party’s accounts last year. Peters denied this, saying it was an aggregation of smaller donations, and famously holding up a “No” sign when questioned about the donation(s).

But there are more serious questions still. Farrar pulls no punches in his post on this: “… confirmation directly from Owen Glenn that he did donate to NZ First – despite Winston Peters denying it, and NZ First filing a donations return which said it received no donation over $10,000.”

Farrar also canvasses various scenarios in which Peters may not have lied. The most obvious is that Glenn loaned Peters the money, the interest foregone coming to less than the $10,000 that would have had to be declared. While most of us would see the interest foregone as a donation, including Glenn, others may not; Glenn would have got or expected his money back if it were a loan.

Farrar says this is “difficult to reconcile” with the known facts. I disagee. Remember, Glenn did loan Labour a similar amount. So, Winston may, once again, rise out of the swamp. But when Farrar says there must be an investigation, its hard to disagree.

Update: The Standard points out, amongst other things, that if Glenn (or his associates I might add) did donate a large sum to NZ First, Peters didn’t lie as a Minister, and nor did he mislead the House.
Peters remains tight-lipped.
The heat goes on Peters, with John Key — the man Peters is likely to be talking to first after the election — calling for an investigation. Happy Bastille Day, Winnie!

Veitch must go

July 12, 2008

This  morning’s Herald reports the views of several employment law experts that TVNZ has sufficient grounds to sack Veitch. This has been my view as well, although my expertise in employment law is undoubtedly less extensive.

It is true that TVNZ would have to give Veitch an opportunity to explain himself, and would need to investigate any matters that Veitch raised. That’s called “natural justice”, and we would all be poorer if we didn’t follow these principles in our legal and employment dealings. The idea that TVNZ would have to “[consider] alternative posts” is a new one for me, and I’m inclined to disregard that.