The Dim-Post

July 29, 2009

A precedent!

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:58 am

One of the talking points around Bennett’s probable breach of the privacy act is that Labour did the same thing all the time, they just didn’t get caught. The problem with that is that while Labour did leak confidential information all the time I couldn’t actually think of a single instance of a media outlet publishing private material about individuals. Radio New Zealand political reporter Jane Patterson raised the issue of Lianne Dalziel leaking a lawyers notes regarding an immigration case to TV3, which Dalziel lied about and was forced to resign over. It’s not a perfect comparison but so far it stands as the only valid example of Labour Ministers doing this; however it also means there’s a precedent of them being sacked when they get caught.

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20 Comments »

  1. “there’s a precedent of them being sacked when they get caught”

    When they get caught doing what ? Lying !

    Comment by cj_nza — July 29, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  2. Well, they ran the “it’s all Goff’s fault” line over Richard Worth’s misplaced ardour. I guess they are hoping it will work for them again.

    Comment by Don — July 29, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  3. I couldn’t actually think of a single instance of a media outlet publishing private material about individuals

    How about former Police Commissioner Peter Doone for starters?

    Not just selective (and biased) leaking of the report which misrepresented the facts, but people like Mallard suggesting Doone was drunk, the driver was drunk etc.

    Comment by ZenTiger — July 29, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

  4. How about former Police Commissioner Peter Doone for starters?

    Absurd analogy. It’s not illegal for the Prime Minister to lie to the media. If she were breaching the Privacy Act by revealing confidential information about Peter then you’d have something.

    Comment by danylmc — July 29, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

  5. I think cj_nza is correct – I had thought Dalziel was fied for lying over the release of the information, rather than for releasing the information. Happy to be corrected.

    Comment by Graeme — July 29, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  6. “Absurd analogy. It’s not illegal for the Prime Minister to lie to the media.” Phew, so that makes it alright, then: no actual laws broken (although I’m no big city employment lawyer working for Mr Doone).

    “It’s not illegal for the Prime Minister to lie to the media.” But its a sacking offense when an MP does it…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 29, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  7. I am amazed you do not recall Erin Leigh. Because she publicly complained about the Minister forcing the Department to hire Clare Curran, Trevor Mallard got up in the House and read out a huge amount of personal info on her – some of it false which the Department apologised for. And the effect of that was probably to destroy Leigh’s chance of gaining a job for some years – way way way worse than than merely revealing the amount of someone’s benefit.

    Comment by dpf — July 29, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  8. Your memory is better than mine, but a search of the stories at the time doesn’t show Mallard revealing any confidential information about Leigh. I’m happy to admit that he acted like a jerk (he claimed she was incompetent) but he didn’t breach the privacy act and abuse his position as a Minister to put confidential information into the public arena – which is the crux of this entire debate.

    Comment by Danyl Mclauchlan — July 29, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  9. @danyl, i think you might find that dpf is fomenting happy mischief on the “distract from real issue” front, as he was with mr. worth.

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 29, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  10. Umm your staff record is highly sensitive and absolutely covered by Privacy Act. Mallard only escaped liability because he read it out in Parliament and had privilege.

    And as I have said I think Bennett was within the law, but will respect the decision of the Privacy Commissioner.

    Comment by dpf — July 29, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  11. It’s not illegal for the Prime Minister to lie to the media.

    Nice one.

    If she were breaching the Privacy Act by revealing confidential information about Peter [Doone] then you’d have something.

    I think the contents of the report were confidential at the time, and certainly contained personal information about a personal issue, and was designed to use the power of the government in an immoral and possibly illegal way, which is the crux of the debate here. Even if this current action by Bennett proves to be legal, doesn’t mean that makes it right.

    Comment by ZenTiger — July 29, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  12. dpf, re Paula Bennett: “I am almost certain Labour Ministers have done this also for I recall blogging my approval.”

    dpf, re: Trevor Mallard: “It was a shockingly inappropriate attack on a young woman from a bullying Minister.”

    Comment by pete — July 29, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

  13. Dalziel’s press seccy went to the gallery with private details about the Sri Lankan refugee’s details because of the minister’s outrage at the lawyer’s “unethical manipulation” – if everything else failed, the lawyer said, let’s tell your story to the fourth estate. Which they did.

    There’s a pattern here somewhere.

    Comment by sally — July 29, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  14. Pete: You are comparing apples and oranges. My first comment refers to the situation where someone is demanding more money or services from the Govt, and as I said I defended Labour on a couple of occasions when some beneficiary or lobby group demanded more money and (off memory) a Minister responded with some info or facts. Am trying to dig up the specific.

    The Erin Leigh situation was very different. This was a whistleblower alerting the public to a serious breach of public sector neutrality. And she had false and defamatory info read out under parliamentary privilege about her. Info that the then Minister refused to say outside the House.

    Comment by dpf — July 29, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  15. >You are comparing apples and oranges.

    That rather ruins your “Labour did it too” argument then, doesn’t it?

    Comment by pete — July 29, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  16. Pete: No as what Labour did with Erin leigh was so much worse – especially doing it under parliamentary privilege where she had no recourse under the law.

    Comment by dpf — July 29, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

  17. No dpf your just showing your true colors as a natianal sycophant.

    Your sites a nasty sewer and I advise people not to step in it

    What two faced Bennet has done is shown how the Nats will respond to criticism of their policys and decisions.

    This is meant to intimidate those who would criticize the govt and its rather nasty.

    One of the things which show Bennett as two faced is she is not prepared to disclose how much help and assistance she herself got when she was a solo parent trying to progress in life.

    I bet Bennet got down on every allowance and dollar she was entitled too. But she wont tell us.

    Shallow dreamers who could not think for themselves often got sucked into the ‘nanny state’ bullshit spread by one sided muck rakers like dpf and Hooton.

    But the nats are more ugly and scary.

    Hence my belief of Labor = bad and rotten …………… natianal=plain evil

    Welcome to the predatory society.

    Comment by nznative — July 29, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  18. dpf, i’m more than willing to concede that Labour are a bunch of gutless hyporcrits who used underhand techniques when they were in power, but there were a lot of people out there including myself that were willing to give National a go to get some sort of new direction.

    I’m not about to sink to calling National anti-women etc but if National don’t own up to a mistake then they will sink in my opinion. It was a flagrant abuse of power that you should come out against.

    But i’m relieved that the Nats take Obama seriously on foreign policy, unlike Labour.

    Comment by neil — July 29, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  19. Totally agree, Danyl. Infinitely preferable to stick to either having your press secretary trash someone off the record down the Press Gallery, or do it yourself in the House under privilege — where you can quite legally talk smack that would be actionably defamatory if said (and reported) anywhere else.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — July 30, 2009 @ 4:45 am

  20. -“It’s not illegal for the Prime Minister to lie to the media.” But its a sacking offense when an MP does it…-

    I’m not an expert on parliamentary processes but:

    – I think it is a sacking offence to lie to or mislead the house. It can be a sacking offence for a minister to mislead the Prime Minister (as ministers require the Prime Minister’s confidence). As for a Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition being caught lying either in the house or out of it, the impact could vary – because if the deed was publicly despised the PM’s/Leader of the opposition’s own party could roll them from their position, or the voters can at the election.

    If the offence is grave enough, I believe the Governor General can be called on to remove the individual through the use of the position’s reserve powers. http://www.gg.govt.nz/role/powers.htm

    Comment by Sean — July 30, 2009 @ 10:50 am


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