The Dim-Post

August 21, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:23 am

Via Stuff:

Labour MP Phil Goff says he has evidence the prime minister was briefed about a decision to release Security Intelligence Service documents to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

John Key, who is also the minister responsible for the SIS, has denied his office had anything to do with the release in 2011 of the documents used to embarrass Goff, who was then Labour Party leader.

Goff had denied being briefed by then SIS director Warren Tucker on a security matter, but the documents showed he had been fully briefed.

Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics, alleges Slater was tipped off by Key’s staff to ask for the papers.

Key has insisted that this absolutely did not happen, and that the SIS released the information themselves. Why did they do it so quickly? Because Phil Goff had questioned Tucker’s word, and so Tucker obviously had an incentive to get the information out as quickly as possible.

There are a few problems with that version of events. The biggest is that Fairfax had requested the same document a few days earlier and the SIS refused to release it to them. The second big problem is this dialog in the Slater/Bhatnager correspondence dumped by whaledump yesterday:

Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:03am Should be a big day tomorrow if my PO Box has a nice brown envelope with OHMS on it
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:04am oh, whats that about?
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:05am I OIAd the briefing minutes and notes for Goff’s SIS briefing it has been expedited in the public interest
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:05am oh yes
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:06am it is devastating for Goff I am told

Surely if the SIS wanted this information to be published they’d have released it to Fairfax, who asked for it first? It is also hard to imagine the SIS Director’s office calling up Cameron Slater and crowing to him about the contents of his request that they’d just ‘expedited’. 

August 15, 2014

DPF Hacked!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:18 am

Via Stuff

David Farrar, whose company does polling for National and who operates the National-sympathetic Kiwiblog, was also a subject of Dirty Politics.

He posted on Kiwiblog this morning that after a careful reading of the book, he realised Hager had information “that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office”.

The two most likely scenarios were that his computer system had also been hacked, or someone had physically removed documents from his office or apartment, Farrar said.

Or, y’know, Hager could have talked to one of Farrar’s employees, who read the scripts hundreds of times, and if you look in the footnotes to Hager’s book it turns out that information about Curia is attributed to an ‘employee’. 

June 24, 2014

I love this shit

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:15 am

So here’s my theory about the great Labour/Donghua Liu mystery.

  • Like I said in my previous post there are two separate stories about two separate donations. The ‘party source’ who told the Herald that Liu gave Labour $15,000 for a book signed by Helen Clark at a Labour Party fundraiser and the mystery source who obtained a signed statement from Liu shortly after the Williamson story broke and then gave the statement to the Herald over the weekend. The statement claims that Liu paid ‘close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser’.
  • We’ve also seen this photograph of former Cabinet Minister Rick Barker handing over a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark to Liu’s partner at a 2007 fundraising auction.
  • It’s weird, isn’t it, that the first source didn’t say anything about the $100,000 donation for wine and Liu’s statement doesn’t mention anything about a $15,000 donation for a book. It matches up with the way Labour’s made a big deal about ‘nobody remembering a $100,000 donation’.
  • My guess is that the different sources are all talking about the same donation with inaccuracies in each story: that Liu paid $15,000 for a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark – which is the bottle of wine we see Rick Barker handing over in the Herald photo – that the ‘party source’ – let’s call him Shane Gones – misremembered slightly and said it was a book, and that Liu misremembered the amount and claimed it was $100,000.
  • If Liu eventually fronts up with proof he donated $15,000 – and not $100,000 – it will be a bit awkward for Labour, but it will be awful for the Herald.

June 21, 2014

It’s all a big nothing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:43 am

I think Fran O’Sullivan has the right perspective on the great Cunliffe/Liu scandal of June 2014. That it is, in almost immediate retrospect, trivial nonsense.

Maybe it’s because the elegance of the trap – such an artful piece of political gamesmanship – was almost instantly undermined by National’s clumsy attempts to publicly gloat over their handiwork while simultaneously denying they were involved while also promising there was more to come. I mean, WTF?

And it looks like there’s not ‘more to come’. Stuff ran a story last night:

Labour is bracing for the expected release of an affidavit claiming six-figure donations were made to the party by wealthy businessman Donghua Liu.

A spokesman for Liu told Fairfax this week: “No comment is to be made at this stage.”

It is understood the affidavit was being pored over by lawyers today because there was a lack of documentation.

Prime Minister John Key this week referred to rumours about ‘‘hundreds of thousands’’ of dollars in undeclared donations from Liu, but refused to elaborate.

He said he would be ‘‘very amazed’’ if Liu had not donated more than the $15,000 he reportedly paid for a book signed by former Labour leader Helen Clark.

The rumours have been circulating for weeks in the media and in Parliament of much bigger payments by Liu to Labour, including suggestions a sworn affidavit existed.

And this morning the Herald’s run a story indicating that the rumours are probably mostly bullshit:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu has confirmed for the first time that he donated to the Labour Party.

The 53-year-old has been at the centre of political scandals involving National and Labour for months but yesterday broke his silence to say he had given “equally to Governments of both colours”.

But Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.

May 1, 2014

National’s week

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:03 pm

This election isn’t about whether National can beat Labour. It’s about whether National can win enough seats to cobble together a nice manageable government for its third term, or whether they’re going to spend three long years dependent on United Future, New Zealand First, the Conservative Party, Te Ururoa Flavell and some ACT Party doofus to pass any legislation. That means maximising turnout, not alienating probable voters to stay at home on election day or to cast a protest vote for Colin Craig or Winston Peters.

So I think this Williamson resignation is a pretty big deal. Superficially it resembles the case of Nick Smith resigning after intervening in an ACC debacle. The big difference is that Smith intervened on behalf of a friend who was struggling in her dealings with the agency, while Williamson intervened on behalf of a National Party donor who assaulted his wife and her mother by informing the police that the accused was very wealthy. Smith looked like a Minister who abused his position. Williamson looks like a horrible, hateful crooked scumbag who obviously doesn’t accept that he’s done anything wrong: he’s given a ‘sorry if I caused a perception of wrongdoing’ non-apology and insists he’s going to stand again in September.

National can’t do much about Williamson. But putting forward two tobacco lobbyists as candidates in one week seems like another vote-suppression technique. Maybe I’m wrong, an out-of-touch liberal, yadda yadda yadda; but running this twenty-three year old tobacco shill in Southland just seems like its designed to provoke voters down there into saying, ‘Screw you guys! I’m voting for Winston.’

April 24, 2014

The Beatification of St Jonesy

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:19 pm

This has been even stupider than I thought it would be.

The majority of the media commentary regarding Jones has been – as Malcolm Tucker would put it – borderline homoerotic. Morning Report featured Damien O’Connor, Clayton Cosgrove, John Tamihere, Chris Trotter and progressive left-wing commentator Michael Bassett, all gushing over the horrible loss of this good, simple, plain-speaking, decent blue-collar man. Labour cast him out! Labour should be a Broad Church! It must tolerate diversity! Labour drove good honest St Jonesy away with its lesbians and political correctness and desire to form coalition governments with other parties under the MMP electoral system! 

Firstly, Jones wasn’t ostracised by the current Labour leadership. He was front bench. Fifth ranked. One of the top MPs in the party. Spokesman for Economic Development and Maori Affairs, and a host of other senior portfolios. What else were they supposed to do, exactly, to accommodate this guy who had passed no significant legislation, never won an electorate seat, immolated himself in several humiliating scandals, and came a distant third in the leadership race, winning only 13% of the members vote? Make him leader anyway? Is the definition of a ‘Broad Church’ a party in which you just hand the leadership to an underperforming MP who openly despises the rest of his party because if you don’t he’ll take a giant shit on you during the run-up to the election?

Secondly: St Jonesy hasn’t exactly stepped down to spend time with his family here. He’s not going to work in the community. He’s not even going into the private sector. He’s taking a massive payment of taxpayer cash from Murray McCully to leave Labour while inflicting the most damage possible on his former party. Labour are playing nice about this. They’re pretending that Jones is a good guy and they wish him well, because they want the story to go away, and because he was one of their highest ranked MPs and they don’t want him leaking anything to National that could damage them further during the campaign. That seems like a naive hope to me. If good old Jonesy knows it, McCully probably knows it, or will.

Thirdly: If Maori and the working class loved Jonesy so much, as we’ve heard hundreds of times over the last three days, why didn’t they, y’know, vote for him? Labour won 40% of the vote in Tāmaki Makaurau during 2011. Jones won 33% and failed to carry the seat. Shouldn’t this fertility demi-god, legendary orator and hero of the people have outperformed the horrible old Labour party during its worst election of all time?

It’s useful to compare the media treatment of Shane Jones with the way the press gallery conducted themselves over Chris Carter. When Carter betrayed his party because he was unhappy with Goff’s leadership he was treated with utmost contempt and the gallery – literally – chased him around Parliament. When Jones betrays his party because the Nats waved a cheque in front of his face its a nationwide tragedy and all the Labour Party’s fault.

December 1, 2013

Inside outside upside down

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:44 am

I got to experience the joy of being a political insider this week: for the first time I knew what the real story was behind a breaking political story – the great Green Party leadership challenge of 2013.

It kicked off on Wednesday: former Green Party candidate David Hay announced his intention to challenge Russel Norman for the Green co-leadership. It became a news story, presumably because it was all so weird and unexpected. Rachel Smalley declared that Hay ‘had the numbers’. Patrick Gower declared that Hay was trying to raise his profile and boost his list position, and that this was proof that the Greens were ‘greedy’, and also ‘crazy’. Chris Trotter decided that David Hay was a ‘philosopher king’ and that Hay was a stalking horse for a more serious unnamed challenger along with some other conclusions that I struggle to comprehend. Others talked about a grassroots revolution against the Parliamentary wing of the Green Party. Martyn Bradbury announced that change was needed because the Greens performed poorly in Auckland, only beating their nation-wide average in four Auckland electorates (a statistic that actually indicates the Greens performed strongly in Auckland.) 

The real story, I learned from an anonymous senior Green Party staffer when she came home from work in a bemused mood, was that Hay had been a problematic candidate in the last election so the Greens were about to block him from standing as a candidate in the next election. Hay was unhappy about this so he announced his leadership bid as a last-ditch attempt to prevent the decision: if they went ahead with blocking his candidacy just after he’d announced his leadership bid wouldn’t it look undemocratic?

(They blocked him yesterday; Hay announced that this was an act of ‘self-mutilation’ and called for both leaders to stand down, behavior which helps explain why he was dumped as a candidate in the first place.)

So that’s pretty straightforward but it wasn’t something you could really guess based on the available facts, so all of the analysis was wrong. Which makes me wonder: is almost everything I’ve written and read about politics a series of sensible guesses that were wrong because they were reasoned out based on incomplete information? Is this what 90% of political stories look like to government insiders?

May 1, 2013

Bizarreer and Bizarreer

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:21 am

DPF takes issue with my graph of the NZX in wake of the Labour-Greens power policy announcement:

I’m amazed Danyl is trying to argue that as the overall sharemarket is up, then the destruction of value in some companies doesn’t matter.

To use an analogy, it is like someone going into your street and burning your house down, but then telling you not to complain about it because the value of the rest of the street has risen.

Yes the NZX is up.That is because global investors are buying shares in Xero like it is the next Google. Now that is great for Xero shareholders like myself. It isn’t much use however to the person who only has shares in Contact Energy.

So. My original post was about the claim that KiwiSaver accounts have been devastated by the policy announcement, which they haven’t because the market is up and no fund in the country is exclusively invested in Contact Energy shares. If you’re a kiwi mum and/or dad and you only have shares in Contact Energy then the last few weeks have been pretty shaky for you, financially – not that bad though. Contact Energy shares are still at a higher point than their average over the last year, and other events in the market (I have no idea what they were) have wiped out far more value than the Labour-Greens policy announcement.

And there’s an important lesson to learn there, one that I’ve bored everyone to death with ever since the Mixed Ownership Model was announced: ordinary people shouldn’t directly invest in the share market. They should buy index funds or put their money into a KiwiSaver account, and that graph of Contact Energy’s share performance is an object lesson in why: individual shares can lose huge amounts of their value very quickly. It’s the most basic rule of investing, and it’s very unethical for the government to spend millions of dollars on an advertising campaign trying to convince people to break that rule because the Finance Minister needs to drive up the sale value of these assets.

The other point to be made here is that Labour and the Greens argue that the share-value of these companies is over-inflated  because their profits are artificially high – because the current policy settings allow them to price-gouge. So changing the policy settings isn’t wealth destruction, but rather wealth-transfer from the shareholders to the customers.

To pick up DPF’s house price analogy, it’s a little like your neighbor claiming that your back yard is actually part of his property, which inflates the value of his house but at the expense of your own. If you claim it back and it knocks $100k off his RV have you just ‘destroyed’ that wealth? Pft.

April 7, 2013

Conspiracy theory of the day, GCSB timeline edition

Filed under: intelligence,Politics,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:52 am

A timeline of GCSB/Kim Dotcom/Ian Fletcher/John Key related events, mostly just to try and understand in my own mind what’s going on:

  • Early 2011: New Zealand Police contacted by the FBI to assist into an investigation of Megaupload, a file sharing site founded by Kim Dotcom, on the grounds that the site was involved in copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. The Prime Minister has assured us that he knew nothing of the investigation until the Solicitor-General briefed him in January 2012, and that the GCSB were not involved in the investigation until mid-December 2011.
  • Mid 2011: Prime Minister John Key rejects a short-list of applicants for the role of new GCSB Director and calls Ian Fletcher, who he knew slightly as a child, but has not seen for thirty years, asks him to apply for the job, and advises the selection panel that he did so. Fletcher’s has no experience in intelligence but his previous role was in the UK Civil Service where he was Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office.
  • 8 September 2011: Fletcher is appointed Director of the GCSB, scheduled to begin in early 2012.
  • December 16 2011 (a Friday): GCSB begins illegally spying on Kim Dotcom and his associates
  • December 19 2011 (the next Monday):  Acting GCSB Director Simon Murdoch retires.
  • January 19 2012: The Solicitor-General briefs the Prime Minister on Operation Debut, the raid on Dotcom and his operation that is scheduled to be carried out the next day. GCSB’s involvement in the operation is not mentioned.
  • January 20 2012: Dotcom is arrested in an armed raid and imprisoned in Mount Eden. Email correspondance within GCSB and between them and other involved agencies indicates GCSB consider the operation a great success.
  • January 29 2012: Ian Fletcher starts work as GCSB Director
  • February 16 2012: Detective Inspector Grant Wormald – head of the Police operation – attends a debrief of GCSB staff and is surprised when a GCSB staffer points out that that there may be ‘potential issues’ with the legality of GCSB’s involvement.
  • February 22 2012: The Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) contacted the GCSB to advise that there were ‘serious issues’ related to the residency status of Dotcom and his associates and the GCSB surveillance of them.
  • February 22 2012: GCSB replied that they had provided a summary document to their legal adviser ‘for future reference’ but there would not be an inquiry or ‘witch hunt’.
  • February 29 2012: Prime Minister John Key visits the GCSB offices to meet with staff and receive an overview of the bureau’s capabilities. He’s still not briefed on Kim Dotcom. Apparently Dotcom is briefly mentioned in a presentation, but neither John Key or Ian Fletcher remember this when questioned about it subsequently.
  • August 17 2012: Deputy Prime Minister Bill English signs a Ministerial Certificate suppressing details of the GCSB’s involvement. English is acting Prime Minister while John Key is out of the country. It appears to be the only such warrant signed in recent history, but English does not advise Key about it on his return. The GCSB does not advise English that they acted unlawfully, and English is not aware of this until Key tells him in mid-September.

Remember, the GCSB still hasn’t advised the Prime Minister that they were illegally involved in the Kim Dotcom operation, even though Dotcom is on the news almost every day, one of Key’s Ministers – John Banks – has been embarrassed over his links to Dotcom, and Dotcom’s legal team are requesting information regarding the GCSB’s involvement in the case – which is why GCSB has English sign the warrant suppressing that information.

  • September 17 2012: GCSB Director Ian Fletcher advises the Prime Minister that his department unlawfully spied on Kim Dotcom and his associates. 

Now that I’ve laid it all out like that I don’t really know what to make of it. This reminds me (a) of that season of Lost - I think it’s Season 4 – in which all the dramatic tension relies on the fact that none of the main characters ever stop and have a very brief conversation with each other about what they know and what they think is going on, and (b) one of those undergraduate statistics exercises where you multiply together a bunch of medium probability events to reach a very low probability outcome.

I could just be coincidence that Key decided the GCSB needed change management a year before the dotcom fiasco came to light and decided to hire his old acquaintance who was an expert in intellectual property just as New Zealand’s law enforcement agencies became involved in a huge, international copyright investigation – which Key knew nothing about, despite his dealings with the Hollywood Studios who lobbied for the investigation. It could also be coincidence that Fletcher is then the only guy interviewed and the independent selection committee also decides that he’s perfect for the role, and that he starts work one week after the Dotcom raids, which were seen as a huge success within the Bureau, then briefs Key a few weeks after that but forgets to mention the operation to him.

There’s no one thing here that’s impossible to believe, and some of the coincidences are probably just big ol’ coincidences. But aggregate it all together and it just feels like we’ve been lied to quite a bit and we’re still being lied to about something.

January 4, 2013

Chart of the day, plus ca change edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:04 am


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