A very experienced political journalist told me: “The whole culture of the Wellington public service towards the OIA is governed by two things – the need not to embarrass your minister or your department (putting your chances of promotion or even your job at risk ) and the need to uphold the law, which public servants are more conscious of than you might think. The result is that public servants block requests for as long as they can and delete as much as they can using whatever section of the OIA act that they can.” –David Fisher, NZ Herald
Link received Thu, 23 Oct 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
### NZ Herald Online 2:56 PM Thursday Oct 23, 2014
David Fisher: OIA a bizarre arms race
NZ Herald journalist David Fisher gave the following speech to an audience of public officials in Wellington on October 15. We republish it here to help the public understand the systematic difficulties faced by those seeking information on their behalf.
Good afternoon everyone. I am David Fisher, a reporter with the NZ Herald. I have worked as a journalist for 25 years, mainly in New Zealand but across a number of other countries.
I think there’s some value before I start in placing a context around the current situation in relation to the media and the OIA. In doing so, it should be said each of the following allegations is denied.
At the moment, there is an inquiry underway into whether a blogger gained some advantage in receiving information from the SIS for political purposes. There are also allegations of preferential treatment over the OIA involving the same blogger and the former Justice Minister.
The police are also facing allegations of trying to cover up juked stats by burying an OIA. And a former Customs lawyer has said his organisation preferred to let requests languish in the Ombudsman’s office than dealing with them.
In the 25 years I have worked as a journalist, there have never been so many questions, or such a loss of faith, all at once.
Comment by Russell Garbutt
Submitted on 2014/10/24 at 10:40 am
I see that the mighty NZ Police have now decided to prosecute Nicky Hager over the fact that as a journalist he will not reveal who gave him copies of the emails that implicated so many of the National Party in downright crude manipulation and God only knows what else. Even that very friendly Speaker of the House has been forced to find that Key is a devious, slippery sod by not revealing his relationship with that scumbag Cameron Slater (watch the interesting exchange at yesterday’s question time here. http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/34526)
Isn’t it extraordinary that the NZ Police – such an independent body of public servants – jump so quickly whenever Donkey Jonkey and his mates want action, yet they are pleading under-resourcing for really serious crimes? Remember the infamous John Banks (you know, the little forgetful coot from Auckland) cup of tea PR stunt with Key? Key lays a complaint about the recording and the cops jump immediately. Collins, Key and others are shown to be dirty manipulators in Hager’s book and the cops immediately follow up. And how many others could say that their well-documented complaints have been diligently followed? I know of a few for starters, but let’s start with the Crewe murders and the bent cops who planted evidence. Did the cops diligently pursue anyone else when Thomas was pardoned? Not even when Rochelle Crew asked them to do so. The two bent cops were praised for their integrity and diligence by the very top cop after they died.
I could go on, but the perception out there is that the cops are politically driven.
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*Images: tvnz.co.nz – Dirty Politics: Cameron Slater, Nicky Hager; newstalkzb.co.nz (Getty) – John Key PM looking tired
28 responses to “John Key’s Godzone and the OIA”
### NZ Herald Online 2:45 PM Friday Oct 24, 2014
Nicky Hager gets high-powered legal help
By David Fisher
A high-powered legal team has formed around Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager to challenge the validity of the police search warrant which was used in the hunt for the hacker Rawshark. The team, led by Julian Miles QC, will file papers in the High Court next week seeking a judicial review of the search warrant which saw police seize computers and files from Hager’s Wellington home. Media lawyer Steven Price and barrister Felix Geiringer make up the rest of the team which was boosted by public funding of about $80,000 raised in New Zealand and internationally. Mr Price said the judicial review was one of two strands of the case and sought to examine whether the warrant granted to search Hager’s home took account of source privacy.
Now I see that Donkey Jonkey says that he knows who the person is that hacked the fat blob Cameron Slater’s computer which led to the Dirty Politics book. At least he says he does. What he actually says is that “someone” rang him and gave him the name. Probably Slater or one of his mates.
So now will we see that fiercely independent NZ Police place this person under surveillance? Probably, because that is what the politicos want. Nobody should feel safe who threatens their desire to do what they really want. And we know that when a politician wants the Police to do something then it gets done pretty quickly. Just look at the action the Police took when they raided Hager’s house.
And what of the Roastbusters decision? Nowhere in the lengthy Police document released yesterday is there any justification for their lack of immediate action, their lying press statements about no victim complaining etc. Nowhere any mention of the accusation that one of the “boys” was the son of a member of the Police. Yet another example of the Police saying that the evidence that they had gathered didn’t meet the requirements of this anonymous body who apparently decide whether the prosecution case has a chance of succeeding. I thought that was the job of a jury.
And of course the Police are now headed up by a Commissioner who supports bent cops (Crewe case) and a Minister who is not much more than a little cockerel. Great eh?
Careful Russell. I think that you will find that if you publicly discuss sudden losses of underage virginity that might involve other parties without the permission of whatever authority is currently choosing to do absolutely nothing about it, then you may end up in in legal difficulties. This may happen in much the same way as if you discuss sudden deaths in similar circumstances.
There is not enough evidence (is there ever these days?) to say that the better connected those who are associated with such events are, the more chance there will be of you getting into trouble for talking about it. However, some suspect that there may be a link.
I particularly like the statement made by the Family Court when Nick Smith (not a person I generally agree with) was ‘done’ for doing something similar in 2004:
“Dr Smith “usurped” the court’s role by making his own inquiries into the case, and publicising details in media releases, the judges said.”
So just watch it!
Russell, you won’t be shattered by the revelation that the new Minister of Police has a drink drive conviction. Before this newsbreak I had observed in Woodlouse video clips someone that might have his (rugger, Nat and GOB) system well oiled. Here it can be blamed on youth.
Our new venerable Minister of Police can be seen to be all things to all people, but nothing specific to any specific person, if you know what I mean. But hey! what’s different? He’s been that all along since entering parliament on an unelected mandate. What is commonly known as a “good team man”. A key person really.
Link received Thu, 13 Nov 2014 at 5:40 p.m.
No surprise, read full post at The Standard
### thestandard.org.nz 2:33 pm, November 13th, 2014
Slater’s OIA requests about David Bain
You have to hand it to National. They will always bend the rules as far as possible for political advantage.
Labour’s Megan Woods has with the assistance of information gleaned from the FYI site raised questions about how accurate National’s response to OIA requests has been. She has reviewed responses to OIA requests given by the Minister of Justice and has come up with some concerning questions.
“New documents obtained by Labour show Judith Collins did not log OIA requests from Cameron Slater that were completed by her office on December 21 2012 and February 12 2013…. cont/
If it’s a wet weekend, and it could be, then a Google of, Wikileak TPPA will give all the reading one could wish for. Comedy, horror, intrigue, political groveling, gut wrenching nausea. It’s all there. Why on earth our government even wants to contemplate going along with the concept beggars the imagination. NZ would be sold into servitude, totally beholden to the large nations, and worse to the international corporations. One can only think there is something in it for the ‘pollies’ themselves. There’s most certainly nothing for the citizens.
I think it is servitude or poverty; not a great choice, Calvin.
As an example of why you should be nice to the big boys – did you see the Aussie PM on TV as three Russian warships headed towards his country. This was straight after his meeting with Mr Putin where he had boasted how he was going to talk tough to the Russians? He looked extremely foolish and had nothing much to say.
He is extremely foolish and doesn’t have much to say!
Recently Gough Witlam died to total acclamation for his progressive stance on a number of social issues.
John Howard, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Key and Ms Clark will never be remembered for any such contribution.
Link received Fri, 14 Nov at 1:16 a.m.
### stuff.co.nz Last updated 10:24, November 13 2014
Kiwi tech firms Open Source winners
By Tom Pullar-Strecker
The Kiwi makers of a low-cost 3-D printer and a website that helps people make Official Information Act requests won gongs at the Open Source awards in Wellington. Auckland companies Diamond Age and Mindkits won the business award for their work creating the DiamondMind 3-D printer.
“Hundreds” of the $2000 printers, which print objects in biodegradable plastic, have been sold online.
Open source project award winner fyi.org.nz has helped people lodge 2000 OIA requests, the responses to which are published on its website.
### ODT Online Thu, 27 Nov 2014
PM should accept it’s game over – Little
Prime Minister John Key should accept it’s “game over” and acknowledge his office’s dirty tricks operation rather than continuing his string of recent lies about it, Labour leader Andrew Little says. Mr Key has been forced on to the back foot over his incorrect answers to questions about his recent contact with Cameron Slater. APNZ
I thought Andrew Little came across very well. I hope this is a sign that Key is now starting his descend into political oblivion.
There are two possibilities, both of them disturbing.
Since he is a politician people tend to automatically assume he is lying.
The other possibility is that he is experiencing short-term memory loss as part of a health issue, Previously “on-top-of-it-all” people struggle to accept this, it’s not pleasant especially when one is aware that if it’s what they fear the future is only going to get worse. Anger at their lapses being remarked on, confabulation to invent reasons for their lapses – these are familiar to those who work in elder care.
If the reason for his forgetting a very recent event of such importance, in the context of a report on what became a political scandal, is the onset of a progressive deterioration in function NZ should not leave sensitive negotiations and decisions to him alone as a lapse in short-term memory at a crucial time could result in long-term repercussions. He presents well to public and other leaders, but for the sake of NZ’s economic and strategic safety it would be prudent to make sure that he is accompanied by a senior minister or public servant to ensure that no commitments are made, no unsound decisions taken, on the basis of ill-remembered recent information.
I well remember Little arriving in Dunedin at the time F&P closed on the Taieri, with the loss of 450 plus jobs and the threat to the workers that if they talked to the media they may jeopardize receiving their redundancy. Helen Clark was PM and the unions didn’t want to affect her chances of re-election. They appeared not to give a stuff about those who lost their jobs. I don’t think anything has changed.
Don’t tell me the Mosgiel “PoolTogether” GOBs are mustering the “high performance sport / ‘rugby tourism for China universites’ PM” ready for the new year DCC Annual Plan assault. Amongst other non-OIA activity. But let’s check with the keepers of his diary, folks.
No doubt that pro-rugby scrubber Woodlouse was in the middle of this. How to make the fubar stadium work when Christchurch has put off its spend on a new stadium, due to council DEBT issues.
So. I might be wrong. Or not.
### dunedintv.co.nz December 12, 2014 – 6:03pm
Prime Minister John Key sneaks into town
Prime Minister John Key has been in town, but he’s kept his visit quiet. It’s understood he was involved in several private meetings. There was no official word of his visit to Dunedin, and he didn’t make any public appearances.
Ch39 Link [no video available]
Ah yes. No coincidence, Key met with Mr Gerard, official patron of PoolingTogether….
“[Mr Key] had been visiting the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, upstairs in the station with some athletes named on the honour role. They included former Silver Fern and player Lois Muir and former captain Joan Harnett, swimmer Dave Gerard and former New Zealand hockey captain Jenny McDonald.”
As you know they will be lobbying like stink. But Key is facing rather large problems on the fiscal front that could be foremost in his mind – and Dunners is a Labour stronghold. What would you do if you were Key? I thought so – same as me.
Mick. Simply, Key is the privileged, and while in my activitied I slip easily enough in between privileged and not privileged and all the shades of underprivileged between (as does Mr Key), I refuse to grease the chains of the wide boys – unlike Mr Key.
December 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm
I refuse to grease the chains of the wide boys – unlike Mr Key.
I meant that he would do nothing for the Mosgiel Pool lobbyists – there are no votes for him here. He will only grease the chains of people from whom he will benefit. You must have witnessed his performance(s) with H.M. going back to when he was with Merill Lynch. Leopards and spots come to mind.
Oh, thanks for that Mick. I’m just not so sure with the pool number – due to the way it’s pitching for South island and national (and international) sports training in the (timing/resourcing) hole that quake-damaged Christchurch leaves. It seems peculiar that a suburban pool complex might be getting racked up as something worth way over $15M in the end – but look at “Our Stadium”, High Performance Sport, and the Economic Development Strategy partners. Nah, there’s stuff afoot.
Agreed there is stuff afoot alright – but I thnk Key will have his fingers in his ears.
Although not keen to dissuade progress in preparing athletes for competition, let’s hope fingers and sealing wax apply!
He could have found out a bit about how that affects families in Dunedin by visiting the Corstorphine people who have embarked on their own community support systems and community garden because when you’re trying to manage on the smell of an oily rag – an increasingly threadbare rag at that – unity is strength, unity may even give you power that poverty took away. Keep the poor so busy just existing that they don’t have energy left for polical involvement, such as demanding a fair suck of the sav. It works right up to the time they either unite in significant numbers, or individually realise they’ve damn-all to lose at which point they’re very dangerous.
Doing something about poverty is no longer about decent civilization – forget such sentimental nonsense! It’s about security and the right to be rich and to rule.
Key knew this from way back, Nothing new to him.
### NZ Herald Online 3:14 PM Monday Jul 13, 2015
Police conducted chilling search of Hager’s home: Lawyer
By Nikki Papatsoumas – NZME News Service
The lawyer for Dirty Politics author and investigative journalist Nicky Hager says police conducted an invasive and chilling search of Hager’s home during a raid last year. Hager is seeking a judicial review into the steps taken by police during a raid at his home last October. The raid was carried out following a complaint from blogger Cameron Slater, who claimed his emails had been illegally hacked. The emails taken from Slater were then disclosed to Hager, and formed the basis of his tell-all book Dirty Politics.
…. [Hager’s lawyer Julian Miles QC] has argued that police should not have applied for the warrant, as the source material for Dirty Politics was subject to journalistic privilege under the Evidence Act. He said as an investigative journalist Hager has to promise confidentiality to his sources. The need for journalists to protect the identity of their confidential informants was recognised by New Zealand statue and common law, Mr Miles said.
### NZ Herald Online 4:28 PM Friday Jul 31, 2015
Dirty Politics: Police clear blogger over Labour hacking claims
By David Fisher
Not so Dirty Politics after all.
That’s the message from police over a blogger accessing Labour Party computer systems to gather financial and membership details. The country’s most senior detective Rodney Drew today told the Labour Party that “there is no evidence of criminal offending”. “While the matter may raise privacy and ethical issues, these are not the domain of criminal law.” […] Hager wrote how Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater conspired with a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office, Jason Ede, to access Labour Party information through a hole in its website. He reported how Ede had avoided being identified by using a “dynamic IP address” which meant efforts to track him failed. The details revealed in the book led to the Labour Party complaining it had been hacked, among other claims. The other matters were dismissed by police last year.
### Stuff.co.nz Last updated 15:00, November 3 2015
Taxpayers fork out $600,000 to chauffeur VIPs around the South Island
By Hamish McNeilly
Taxpayers have forked out more than $600,000 chauffeuring VIPs around the South Island this year. Figures released under the Official Information Act revealed costs for transporting VIPs around the South Island reached $627,108 between January and August.
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 at 8:55 p.m.
█ Message: Wayne Stringer’s observations are spot on and throw more light on just how politicised the NZ Police have now become.
### thestandard.org.nz Sun, 15 Nov 2015 at 10:25 am,
Scoop’s second Hager document release
Following on from its earlier release Scoop has uploaded further documents filed in the Hager v Attorney General case. The documents include Hager’s affidavit, various other affidavits, police disclosure and some exhibits. Discussion is building about why police resources were put into the case at all. An affidavit by former Police Controller Wayne Stringer expresses surprise at the way the case was handled.
Notice this comment to the post re Wayne Stringer:
15 November 2015 at 2:32 pm
The ‘senior police officer’ you quote is an ex Police Officer, has been a friend of Hagar’s for 20 years, is a past employee of David Parker, and obviously wear Hagar tinted glasses.
For propaganda to be effective it must be seen to come from a reliable and trustworthy source – unfortunately this fails on both counts.
█ Chilling details of intrusion into Nicky Hager’s privacy
### NZ Herald Online 3:58 PM Thursday Dec 17, 2015
Police house raid on investigative journalist Nicky Hager found to be unlawful
By David Fisher
The police search on the home of investigative journalist Nicky Hager has been found unlawful by the High Court. In a judgment released today, Justice Denis Clifford ruled against the way police went about obtaining the search warrant used to search Hager’s home in the hunt for identity of the hacker Rawshark who supplied information for the Dirty Politics book.
The judgment also delivered police a rap on the knuckles for the way they went about allowing Hager to claim journalistic privilege, saying the way detectives went about it was “not the type of facilitation that I consider the Search and Surveillance Act anticipates”. He also said detectives sought the search warrant with little more than a “hope” they would find useful information.
Hager said the court victory was important “for his family and because of the important principles it upholds”. He also declared it to be “very good news for New Zealand journalism”.
█ Scoop copy of judgment: HagervAttorneyGeneral.pdf
Judgment: Hager v Attorney-General
Thursday, 17 December 2015, 4:59 pm
Press Release: New Zealand High Court
HIGH COURT OF NEW ZEALAND
TE KŌTI MATUA O AOTEAROA
MEDIA RELEASE – FOR PUBLICATION ON 17 DECEMBER 2015
NICHOLAS ALFRED HAGER v HER MAJESTY’S ATTORNEY-GENERAL
 NZHC 3268
This summary is provided to assist in understanding the Court’s judgment. It is not part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at Judicial Decisions of Public Interest http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz
Mr Hager is the author of the book Dirty Politics. Mr Hager wrote Dirty Politics relying, to a significant degree, on material hacked from the computer of Cameron Slater. Mr Hager obtained that material from a person to whom he promised confidentiality. Mr Hager stated on a number of occasions publicly that he knew who his source was, but that he would not disclose his identity. After the publication of Dirty Politics, Mr Slater complained to the police about the unlawful access to his computer which had generated the material Mr Hager used.
In late-September 2015, as part of their investigation of Mr Slater’s complaint, the police obtained a warrant to search Mr Hager’s home. They executed that warrant on 2 October. During that search, Mr Hager raised a claim of privilege, based on s 68 of the Evidence Act 2006. Section 68 makes journalists not compellable in civil or criminal proceedings to answer questions or produce documents that would disclose the identity of a confidential source. The Court may, on application, override that protection if it considers the public interest in disclosure of the identity of the informant outweighs the likely adverse effect of the disclosure of that information. The police, once Mr Hager had made that claim, in general terms seized and sealed, but did not search, Mr Hager’s computers and paper files. They were delivered to the High Court in Auckland, where they remain. The police then commenced proceedings to have Mr Hager’s claim to privilege determined by the High Court.
Notwithstanding, Mr Hager commenced these proceedings in which he sought judicial review of the lawfulness of the warrant and of the police Search.
The High Court has determined that the warrant and the Search were unlawful. It has done so principally because the application for the search did not draw the attention of the issuing officer, a District Court Judge, to the particular issues that arise when the police apply for what is known as a “media search”. Those particular issues are set out in the 1995 judgment of the Court of Appeal in TVNZ v Attorney-General. Those issues reflect not only the general importance of protecting the identity of journalists’ sources, but the public interest in the media’s role in disseminating information and promoting free speech. Applicants for warrants owe a duty of candour to the court to draw all relevant matters to the attention of the court, including matters the consideration of which would suggest that an application for a warrant should be declined or modified in some way. The importance of that principle, together with the importance of the issues relating to free speech and the dissemination of information, led the High Court to conclude that in the absence of these matters having been drawn to the attention of the issuing Judge, both the warrant and the search were fundamentally unlawful.
Mr Hager also challenged other aspects of the way in which the warrant was applied for, issued and executed. The High Court declined to consider most of those claims as they raised disputed and complex questions of fact which are not appropriate for determination on the basis of untested affidavit evidence. The Court did conclude, however, that some aspects of the terms of the warrant and of the way in which the search was conducted provided limited support the finding of unlawfulness.