The Dim-Post

April 2, 2012

Exit Strategy

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:28 pm

Today the Cabinet agenda included deliberation over whether it would fund Judith Collins’ defamation suit against Radio New Zealand and two Labour Party MPs. The outcome of that deliberation is that Collins has ‘chosen’ to fund her defamation suite by herself, presumably because the Cabinet was advised that suing two MPs protected by qualified privilege and a media outlet for broadcasting a live interview would be an incredibly expensive exercise in futility.

Collins is in a tricky position. If she backs down she forgoes her reputation as ‘Crusher’, and becomes a Justice Minister with a reputation for empty legal threats. If she goes ahead and loses then she looks even weaker, and becomes a Justice Minister with a reputation for vexatious litigation.

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54 Comments »

  1. Either that or the Herald was prematurely ejaculating what they pass off as news and Collins never asked the question.

    Comment by DavidW — April 2, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  2. “Never asked cabinet” doesn’t mean “didn’t discuss” or “didn’t ask the Prime Minister in advance of the meeting, who said he thought it would be a bad look, so didn’t bother asking”.

    At least that was my first thought. Then Felix Marwick tweeted “PM says Judith Collins indicated to him last Wednesday she would pay cost of defamation suit herself.”

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 2, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  3. There seem to be so many ways this could go wrong.

    Comment by dubwisenz — April 2, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  4. I doubt that Cabinet would consider it without a decision being required. I presume Cabinet Papers and minutes are subject to the OIA so the formality of a Cabinet meeting would hardly be the appropriate place to discuss strategy or PR as an item of general business. Those sorts of discussions, I imagine, would be carried out by an inner circle and would leave no evidence that they occurred or who said what.

    Comment by DavidW — April 2, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  5. Crusher Collins lets nothing stand in her way, in MediaHypeWorld.

    But back on Planet Earth, remember she wanted Barry Matthews out when she was Corrections Minister, she refused to express confidence in him, John Armstrong swooned at her ruthless determination and … well, nothing happened. Matthews didn’t play along, and kept his job.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 2, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  6. Aha but where is he now I ask?

    Comment by DavidW — April 2, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  7. Retired, like most over-65’s.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 2, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  8. Ha! The Crusher cleverly used compulsary retirement to liquidate her political enemies.

    She is a master of both time and space.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 2, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  9. She is a master of both time and space.

    Ah so that was the disturbance in the Force I felt.

    The interesting/gobsmacking thing is that none of this appears to have made a difference if the Colmar Brunton pollsters are correct

    Comment by TerryB — April 2, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

  10. I am surprised the idea of funding this with public money was ever on the table, even if only as a formality.

    Comment by Hugh — April 2, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  11. The initial press release is here:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1203/S00383/acc-minister-initiates-defamation-proceedings.htm

    Looks a bit governmenty for a thing that’s going on between private citizens in their private capacity defending their private self aagaisnt scurrilism.

    And i do find it odd that she didn’t announce she was paying for it until now. If she told the PM on wednesday night, as key told felix marwick, then why the secrecy on that point from either of them?

    And it also means it was about the checkpoint i/v on weds evening, rather than the morning report one on thursday, as a lot of people have been assuming.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 2, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  12. “if the Colmar Brunton pollsters are correct”

    They aren’t.

    But not just this time. Every published poll in 2011, and in 2010, and in 2009 … gave National more support than the voters did, on actual ballot papers, in an actual election.

    Maybe Colmar Brunton should work for Treasury.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 2, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  13. Perhaps she’s anticipating the leak’s source being revealed in the not too distant future. If it’s shown not to be her then Mallard and Little will have been shown to be liars and it really wont matter poltically what happens in the courts.

    That seems to me her only way to a quick win.

    It could all be just hubris on her part but she does seem awfully confident.

    Comment by NeilM — April 2, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  14. I honestly don’t know Neil. If I was confident I would have been talking about how I was going to pay for this in the original press release, which would have been on MP letterhead, and not issued by the NZ Government. And from memory, the claim wasn’t that she leaked it herself, it was that she arranged for it to be leaked. That was why the focus on the email she printed out, questions about which she failed to answer due to ‘public interest’.

    Again, if I was confident, I’d have answered the question and shut the story down on the spot.

    There are odd aspects to her behaviour.

    Anyway, if the case does go ahead, discovery will surely shed some light.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 2, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

  15. it would be gratifying in a sense if this could be resolved cleanly one way or the other. What’s more likely is that it will slowly fade but each twist in the saga will add finer detail of who said what when, making the whole thing look like a sort of Mandelbrot set where looking closer doesn’t lead to greater understanding.

    But if I was Andrew Little I might by wondering whether or not Collins is bluffing.

    Comment by NeilM — April 2, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  16. as others have pointed out, “I didn’t leak an email” is not the same as “I didn’t print out an email and oops left it by the photocopier”.
    Also the idea that political questions get settled by threats of legal action rather than ANSWERING THE FRIGGING QUESTION is something that should worry us all.

    Comment by deemac42 — April 2, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

  17. Maybe not the wisest action for Miss Collins to take but as a law society president one would guess she is on solid ground. On the other hand Mallard needs a jolly good kick in the head, he flings mud around hoping some will stick, be good to see him on the receiving end for a change.

    Comment by David — April 2, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  18. David @ 17.
    That is one of the most pathetic posts I have ever seen (even on this blog).

    What the hell has Mallard got to do with Collins idiocy?

    An idiot is an idiot. End of story.

    Collins became a National Party Politician because she knew she could “make a difference”.

    She is doing well.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 2, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  19. Minister Ratched has had maybe 1 car crushed? And with the defamation lawsuit, I thought she had a thicker skin than that.

    Does Colmar Brunton even poll people via cellphone/smartphone? If not, then they’re seriously behind the times.

    Comment by deepred — April 3, 2012 @ 1:42 am

  20. Further to my point, veteran political commentator Colin James certainly thinks so:

    “Mr James says that there are serious issues involved with polling.

    “One is that a decreasing number of households and individuals have landlines and the fact that a high percentage of cellphones are pre-paid makes them an unreliable sample,” he says.”

    Comment by deepred — April 3, 2012 @ 1:44 am

  21. Perhaps she’s anticipating the leak’s source being revealed in the not too distant future. If it’s shown not to be her then Mallard and Little will have been shown to be liars and it really wont matter poltically what happens in the courts.

    http://goo.gl/Lc0j4

    Comment by amythompson — April 3, 2012 @ 2:03 am

  22. This whole “OMG we lost blame the polls” strategy is so Bomber-Trotter-2011 of yous.

    L

    Comment by Lew (@LewStoddart) — April 3, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  23. It would be, if anyone here was saying it.

    The polls were wrong. That’s not why Labour lost. Simple as that.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 3, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  24. Wrong, or simply measuring a different thing to what the election measured, at a different time?

    L

    Comment by Lew (@LewStoddart) — April 3, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  25. Speaking of internecine sniping

    Comment by merv — April 3, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  26. So, apart from “of course she did it” and “she denied it, which is evidence that she did it”, what evidence is there that Collins leaked this?

    /Serious question, haven’t seen any evidence yet, but I guess someone has *something*.

    Comment by Rick Rowling (@rickrowling) — April 3, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  27. It could be that the polls were very accurate at measuring the mood of the nation, but the people who actually voted were a smaller subset of the nation and that skewed their predictive power.

    Comment by danylmc — April 3, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  28. Hi Danyl

    I commented here via twitter (for a change) an hour or so ago. The comment has disappeared. Was that a twitter failure or was I deleted for saying the wrong thing?

    Comment by Rick Rowling — April 3, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  29. Judith has unsheathed her sword and has been recklessly flailing it around. Already Nic Smith has felt the stinging bite of Judith’s sword and there have been others wary of Judiths touch which can bring ruin.

    Comment by Kevin — April 3, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  30. > as a law society president one would guess she is on solid ground.

    Except she doesn’t seem to know much about the, um, law.

    http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?p=505

    Comment by Ross — April 3, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  31. > Does Colmar Brunton even poll people via cellphone/smartphone?

    Jeez, not that old canard again. I thought that had been put well and truly to bed. Weren’t the polls going to be miles out and Labour was going to romp in at the last election? How’d that go?

    Comment by Ross — April 3, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  32. It could be that the polls were very accurate at measuring the mood of the nation, but the people who actually voted were a smaller subset of the nation and that skewed their predictive power.

    If this were the case, then a Tauranga’s worth of registered voters intended to vote for the Nats but couldn’t be arsed turning up on the day. Quite possible actually, but it takes some squeezing to reconcile this with the blog hypothesis that turnout hurt the left.

    (polls are an estimate of what would happen if an election were held tomorrow, and thus they’re supposed to screen out non-voters, but there’s no way they can do this perfectly since many people only decide to non-vote on the day)

    (also the set of people who voted is prolly twice as big as the set of people who would respond to pollsters when called)

    Comment by bradluen — April 3, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  33. A long time back, but @4 – Cabinet papers and minutes are OIAable (but minutes are usually just a summary of whether Cabinet agreed to the recommendations). Cabinet secretaries take notes of the discussion and these are not released under the OIA (and are incredibly tightly guarded so very hard to get hold of). So if the Cabinet wanted to have a formal or informal discussion of funding her legal costs they could do so and you might not even be able to find out it had happened (and presumably this would be a good way of dealing with it because it would be embarrassing for Collins if a paper from her went to Cabinet recommending she gets funding and the Cabinet decision was no).
    Not sure this is the entire reason, but at least part of the reason the discussions aren’t released is that it would make it impossible to maintain collective responsibility.

    Comment by BeShakey — April 3, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  34. This seems like a real pundits wet-dream. I haven’t kept a close eye on the news for a few weeks and struggle to make head or tail of the whole scandal. But it doesn’t arouse ire, just confusion. I’ve had to actually research to find out what the hell is going on. I expect this is why this sideshow isn’t showing up in polls – it’s convoluted and technical, and really fucking strange. It looks like some kind of fight between Nat factions, which is a really, really odd thing for all those Nats to do. It speaks of loose cannons going off in all directions. I can’t understand any of the motivations of Pullar, to turn on her apparent benefactors. Perhaps this was just misread by Collins who acted in an *incredibly* foolish manner, turning the whole thing into a giant shit-fight.

    If it had been about making ACC look bad, it misfired terribly. Instead it makes them look a bit incompetent, but it makes the Nats look downright evil.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 3, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  35. Ben, it’s worse than that. It doesn’t even look like factions of mps within National squabbling over the leadership to be, though that’s the way it’s starting to get reported.

    It looks to me though, that the real squabbling is between two groups of semi-prof campaign management groups within National.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 3, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  36. I’m not exactly sure why she is concerned about her reputation. In many homes around new Zealand it probably couldn’t be any worse than it is.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — April 4, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  37. “Six month’s in a leaky boat, Aotearoa”

    In hindsight Collin’s may well regret her decision to sue, principles are a fine thing but to whom does it matter?
    The National frontbench have that edgy “I’ worried about something” look about it. Doe’s this ACC imbroglio have horns on it’s legs to whip the feet out from anyone else? Can Boag faithfully keep her top lip buttoned, and where will it all end up?

    Comment by Kevin — April 4, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  38. >Doe’s this ACC imbroglio have horns on it’s legs to whip the feet out from anyone else? Can Boag faithfully keep her top lip buttoned, and where will it all end up?

    Tune in next week, when Spiderman says “eeeeeeeeoooooooooeeeeeeeeeeooooop”

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 4, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  39. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6696973/ACC-Minister-Judith-Collins-lays-job-on-the-line

    Collins offers to resign if anyone in her office, including herself, is found to have leaked the letter.

    Something tells me that she knows who did it, and it isn’t anyone in her office.

    Comment by Vanilla Eis — April 5, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  40. Something tells me that she knows who did it, and it isn’t anyone in her office.

    with Labour unable to provide evidence for their claims it’s looking like that. Now is the time to strike if they could.

    Her certainty is either based on hubris or on specific knowledge. All Labour is going on is Mallard shooting his mouth off. And Litlle went along with for some reason, he’s got the most to lose.

    Comment by NeilM — April 5, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  41. Trevor Mallard shooting off his mouth? You libel him Sir.

    Comment by merv — April 5, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  42. It has been pointed out elsewhere that Collins offer of resignation means nothing. After all, if it turns out that the leak had come from her office or herself and her previous denials were lies, she would be gone anyway.

    Comment by wtl — April 5, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  43. Hmm, no posts for a few days and the most recent post is called Exit Strategy. Might Danyl be trying to tell us something?

    Comment by alex — April 5, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  44. Back to the polls …

    If they’re not plain wrong, they’re certainly … different?

    http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2012/4761/

    17% – so where do I apply for a place on the Greens’ list?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 5, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  45. If you slap a dirty linear trend-line through the Greens polling data from June 2011 onwards, then they ‘should’ be sitting at about 14%… +3% for margin of error = 17%

    Yeah, I can live with that as an acceptable datapoint.

    Comment by Phil — April 5, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  46. Latest Roy Morgan has the Ruling ANATU-MP coalition dowN to 46.5% and Labour/Greens on 47% with Winnie steady on 5%.

    Interesting times.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 5, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  47. Ah! The difference in Colmar Brunton and Roy Morgan is so large, given they were conducted over the same time, that they exceed credulous margins of error. Anyone know why?

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 5, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  48. If you slap a dirty linear trend-line through the Greens polling data

    On election night, for a lark, I asked wonkish folks to project the Greens’ vote growth forward to tell us when NZ would be a one-party Green state. Don’t quote me, but I think the tipping point was in 2023.

    Lies, &c.

    L

    Comment by Lew (@LewStoddart) — April 5, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  49. Anyone know why?

    Query of the decade Sanc, along with just why the Brolmar has been consistently Right-leaning ever since inception. It is, after all, a science, just like that rocket stuff. Even more decadian-queerier, why didn’t this make – let alone lead – the 6 o’clock telly news, like fracking near every single of the 57 – yes, count em – from yesteryear?

    Soooo 2011-contheoracy-spiricist of we poor relics I know, but it’d be exceedingly interesting to record how often this year’s Grillabour-leading polls get a mention in the press compared to last year’s Nact-leadingers. But that would require a principled, independent, non-conflicted media pundit. Bugger.

    Comment by ak — April 6, 2012 @ 12:10 am

  50. If you ever needed any evidence that there are some serious questions about the methodology of the polls being taken, then you can’t ask for anything better than the disparity of Colmar Brunton’s findings and Roy Morgan’s findings. Taken over the same period, with the same method with contradictory results. At least one of them is using a seriously flawed method that is either over-representing one party or under-representing another and it ends up undermining their entire raison d’etre.

    Comment by Vagabundo — April 6, 2012 @ 1:02 am

  51. “Taken over the same period, with the same method with contradictory results. At least one of them is using a seriously flawed method…”

    If they’re using the same method, how could only one be using a flawed method?

    Or for that matter, why aren’t they returning identical biases if they’re both using the same method with the same flaws?

    Comment by Hugh — April 6, 2012 @ 1:54 am

  52. Both were done using landlines, but one of them could have used a flawed sample like maybe the majority of the phonecalls went to an area that predominantly supported one particular party. Could be anything, really.

    Comment by Vagabundo — April 6, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  53. I forgot to also say: When a poll basically suggests the first 4 months of National’s second term never happened like the Colmar Brunton Poll did, I do wonder what their methodology or the application of it was.

    Comment by Vagabundo — April 6, 2012 @ 8:28 am


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