The Dim-Post

July 3, 2014

Deep state syndrome

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:09 am

The fiasco over the Malaysian Diplomat seems pretty typical of what happens when you get organisations like MFAT – elitist, pointlessly secretive, largely unaccountable. The incentive is for officials in these departments to act in their own short-term interest, which then gets conflated with ‘the national interest’. After all, are they not our intellectual elite? Do they not know best? Thus it was in the national interest for an alleged attempted rapist to just quietly leave the country, because the alternatives would have been really awkward and meant a load of extra work for everyone in the protocol department.

As usual the Minister responsible is claiming ignorance. If there’s anything happening inside the Labour Party these guys are always all over it, happy to relay rumours and disinformation to the media, but if anything important happens in, say, the GCSB or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – for whom government Ministers are the only oversight function – they never know, not their place to know, not their job, not their problem or responsibility.

Update: Via Toby Manhire:


July 1, 2014

Tracking poll and small parties

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:50 am

Peter updated the code to include the Internet/Mana Party so I’ve generated graphs for the smaller parties. The trendline prior to their alliance is the Mana Party, then the Mana Party plus the Internet Party. Then Internet/Mana.  Here is the bias corrected graph. Non bias corrected here.

Big difference for New Zelaand First. What we don’t know is whether the polls just prior to the 2011 election underestimated the level of support for New Zealand First or whether the teapot tapes saga swung voters from National to New Zealand First after the sample periods ended. Also, what impact will voter turnout have on that party’s chances of getting back in? He could get the same number of voters, but if turnout is higher still drop below 5%.

Internet/Mana are doing better than I thought they would. Almost exactly level with the Conservatives in the non-correcting graph. (I don’t think Colin Craig’s party will go much higher. I think that in 2011 he was a blank canvas that some Conservative voters could project their own values onto and now he’s a weird, silly canvas.) I have no idea how high  Internet/Mana will go. My wild guess about the voter behavior on the left is that the Greens are losing votes to Internet/Mana and Labour are losing votes to the Greens (also, Labour voters are probably switching to undecided). Ordinarily I’d expect Internet/Mana voters to act kind of like Green voters and not actually turn up and vote, but they say they’re pouring their resources into voter turnout so who knows?

Here are the graphs for the large parties. Bias corrected. Non bias-corrected here and a screen-shot below.


June 29, 2014

See, the thing about roads is . . .

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 12:44 pm

DPF has had a couple of posts up recently about environmentalists, one revealing that some Greenpeace staffer flies on a plane twice a month, the other that some Green Party candidate drives a car! The general gist is that if you argue that we should move away from a carbon based economy because of the environmental impacts you shouldn’t use any kind of carbon based transport system, which, unfortunately for environmentalists, means they’re supposed to work and campaign without travelling anywhere, because its pretty much all carbon based, which is exactly what they’re campaigning against.

Meanwhile, the National government has just announced their first policy for the election. An extra $212 million dollars on ROADS. This government loves ROADS. They announced a $12 billion dollar roading package about two years ago. I read somewhere – but can’t quite remember – that their total spend on ROADS is about $30 billion.

And here’s the thing. ROADS are SOCIALIST. They are!  The government takes your tax money, some central planner decides where to spend it, they build something that the state owns and anyone can use it for free. That is the textbook definition of socialism.

So I guess I’d like to hear from DPF as to why he isn’t just a huge disgusting hypocrite for using roads, when he claims to be a classical liberal who opposes socialism and champions the free market. And I guess he’ll say something like, ‘I pay my taxes so I’m entitled to use them.’ Or ‘I’m an advocate for toll roads and public private partnerships.’ But that’s not how it works with environmentalists. They pay their plane fares, and they’re ‘advocates’ too, and they’re dirty stinking hypocrites for flying on planes, somehow. How can DPF ever travel on ROADS? Shouldn’t he be named and shamed every time he sets foot on a footpath (perhaps a better term would be gulag-path)? Isn’t it time people who care about freedom stand up for it and stay at home, forever?

More seriously, it’d also be fun to hear from the Prime Minister and Joyce as to why the dead hand of the state needs to distort the market and build so many roads? Why doesn’t the private sector intervene? The answer, of course, is that just as the private sector outperforms the state in some areas, the state is a better solution for plenty of others, and ROADS is one of them. National MPs aren’t allowed to think that though which is funny, because they really, really, really love ROADS.

June 27, 2014

The difference

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 7:31 am

The Herald editorial is in defensive mode insisting ‘Cries of bias will not stop reporting.’

It is common in election years for political parties under pressure to attempt to shoot the messenger. In 2005, the Herald was stridently criticised and accused of bias by National supporters for our reportage of Dr Don Brash and the Exclusive Brethren. In 2008 it was the turn of Winston Peters and his New Zealand First people to call for resignations of the editor and political editor for the inconvenient revelation of funding from millionaire Owen Glenn, despite his “No” sign. Last election it was National partisans again, livid at the Herald on Sunday and Herald for John Key and John Banks talking openly before a microphone accidentally left on their “cup of tea” table in a cafe.

This year it is the turn of Labour and its leader, David Cunliffe, incensed at reporting on the donations to the party and its MPs by the controversial Chinese migrant Donghua Liu — and that party’s connections to him.

Mr Cunliffe is considering unspecified legal options against the Herald. Party supporters have weighed in with accusations of political bias and complicated right-wing conspiracies.

The Herald is a large and complicated institution. Editorially its a right-wing newspaper that favors National and the ACT Party, and when you talk to journalists who work there they’ll happily admit that, although some of them say things like ‘We are a pro-business newspaper that you might consider right-wing.’ Whatever. Editorially its a right-wing paper.

But its journalism is usually pretty balanced. Just like it says in the editorial, their reporter Jared Savage broke the story about Donghua Liu’s links with Maurice Williamson. They covered the teapot tapes story, and Don Brash’s links with the Exclusive Brethren. When the story about Liu’s donations to Labour broke I thought most of Labour’s senior party figures were going to have to resign, because I took Savage’s journalism seriously.

But the difference, I think, between the stories about Maurice Williamson and Don Brash and the tea-pot tapes is that those stories turned out to be true. There really was a tea-pot tape. Maurice Williamson did phone the police. Don Brash did collaborate with the Exclusive Brethren. But the Herald’s story that Donghua Liu gave Labour $150,000 and that Labour didn’t declare that donation has turned out to be false. Weirdly its the Herald’s own reporting that proved that, but they tried to fudge it and didn’t issue any kind of apology or correction, and they’re still demanding to know what happened to the other $15,000, or $38,000 or however much they still reckon Liu gave Labour, although they have yet to provide a shred of proof that any donation took place.

And maybe I’m a big, wide-eyed conspiracy theorist, but since we know that person who took the false statement from Liu – a major donor to the National Party – passed the information in it onto the Prime Minister several weeks before they gave that statement to the Herald, I’m pretty confident in saying it came from National. If the Herald wants to rule that out – they have NO obligation to protect a source who fed them false information – then they can do so.

But failing that, the sum total of the Liu story is that we have a newspaper with right-wing editorial sympathies who published a false smear story about a left-wing political party fed to them by the government in the immediate run-up to the election. And it’s still ongoing. Yesterday they published a story about a former Labour Party fundraiser called Steven Ching, linking him with Liu and Labour. Ching issued a statement disputing all of the allegations and adding that the Herald never even bothered to contact him to check their story. At this point in the train-wreck you’d think they’d be a little more cautious.

June 25, 2014


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:38 am

Jared Savage at the Herald reports:

Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.

Today, Liu said: “I did say I made a contribution of close to $100,000 and that is my closing comment in my statement…that is how much I believe I have donated in total to Labour and some of their MPs during their last term in Government.”

He said the figure was the total payments to Labour and its politicians which included the wine auctions, a $2000 donation to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, the Yangtze River trip and anonymous donations to MPs.

“I have no reason to inflate this number. It’s as best as I can remember,” said Liu.

So the figure of $100,000 – the original Herald story claimed it was $150,000 – that Liu insists he donated to Labour includes $50,000 to $60,000 that he spent on a staff function on the Yangtze River, which Rick Barker attended, and the money he gave to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, which is, y’know, not actually the Labour Party, but rather a rowing club?

This is a fucking joke.

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 23, 2014

Guessing the story behind the Liu story

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:55 am

We know a couple of things. Here’s the Herald’s first story about Donghua Liu’s donations to Labour:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The story was written by Jared Savage, who’s been very good at fronting on twitter to ask questions about his stories. This morning I asked him:

Okay then. In the Herald on Sunday story in which the announcement of the $100,000 donation was made public we learned that the Herald’s story was based on a signed statement dated May 3rd, two days after Maurice Williamson’s resignation, which came after the revelation that he interfered in the police investigation of Liu. The Prime Minister stated on Thursday 19th of June that was aware of this second donation for ‘some weeks’ as well as the letter Cunliffe wrote on behalf of Liu back in 2003.

So there are two separate sources. One – the party source – went to the Herald with the story about a $15,000 donation. The other went and talked to Liu shortly after the Williamson resignation, obtained details of his dealings with Labour Party MPs, made the Prime Minister aware of this information but withheld it from the media for about five weeks, finally making it available to the Herald on Saturday 21st June – the Herald’s editor won’t say who provided it to him but it wasn’t Liu. So that’s not very mysterious.

Did this $100,000 donation take place? Labour have been very strong in their denials. I heard their party president claim on 3News that there was ‘no trace’, and that everyone would have remembered such a large donation. And Liu doesn’t seem totally reliable. It sounds as if his ‘$50,000 trip hosting Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtzee river’ was just a staff function for Liu’s company that Rick Barker attended.

On the other hand, on the Electoral Commission website we see these returns for 2007:

New Zealand Labour Party Palmer Theron, Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client PO Box 2721717, Papakura 2244 150,000.00
New Zealand Labour Party Simpson Grierson, Barristers & Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client Private Bag 92518, Auckland 50,000.00
New Zealand Labour Party Morrison Kent, Lawyers, on behalf of an undisclosed client PO Box 10035, Wellington 30,000.00

I asked Jared Savage if he’d asked Labour about these donations. He replied that there was no point since they were anonymous.  Graeme Edgeler clarified that the identity of the donor only had to be unknown by the party at the time the return was filed. It’s okay if they found out afterwards. Also, I basically do not believe that any political party would receive donations for $50,000 or $150,000 and have no idea where they came from, so it’d be good to hear from Labour if they could rule out that none of those donations came from Lui. It’s not very credible to insist that you have ‘no trace’ of a donation while simultaneously insisting that you don’t know who gave you $150,000.

Update: On RNZ:

Mr Barnet dismissed a suggestion that a $150,000 anonymous donation made in 2007 via the law firm Palmer Theron might cover the Liu claims.

“What we’ve done is to check Donghua Liu’s lawyer whether he has a link with any of the three law firms through which we receive donations and there’s no link that we can see. The allegation is that he paid at an auction $100,000 – you wouldn’t pay $100,000 as an anonymous donation through a lawyer.”

The editor-in-chief of the Herald on Sunday says it stands by its decision to publish a statement from Mr Liu about donations to the Labour Party.

Editor-in-chief Tim Murphy said there were dates and other aspects of Mr Liu’s statement the paper needed to clarify, but said the Herald verified the signed statement was from the businessman.

He said it was yet to be seen whether Mr Lui’s claims were correct, but said he would not hand the statement to Labour.

If the Herald can’t substantiate anything the heat is going to go on them to release the statement. You can’t make allegations like this on your front page in an election year and then refuse to provide any evidence which might help the subject of the story defend themselves.

June 22, 2014

Wait – maybe it is all a big something after all.

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:21 am

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.

This raises a few questions, like why the Herald ran a story yesterday that stated:

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

But whatever. What’s going on? The options as I see them:

Liu is lying or mistaken.

Liu is telling the truth but the donation was structured in such a way the current Labour Party has no visibility of it

He’s telling the truth and Labour does know about the donation but Labour are being cute and Cunliffe is going to wind up on the news explaining that the donation was made by Liu investments, not Donghua Liu, or that it was made to the Labour Party Trust, not the Labour Party, or that under the electoral laws at the time spending $100,000 on a bottle of wine counted as a purchase not a donation, or some similar piece of sophistry.

In an ideal world the electoral commission could investigate and we’d find out before the election whether they’d ask the police to press charges, and get at least some indication of who is telling the truth.

Update: Andrew Geddis writes in the comments:

Well, given that (1) it is unlikely any offence was committed even if Liu did give $100,000 (or, bought wine for that amount) back in 2007; and (2) even if one was, the law had a time limit on prosecutions of 6 months, there is no chance of the police getting involved here at all.

We need to realise that the laws in place in 2007 weren’t those of today – it was quite possible to give this amount of money and still be “anonymous”. Just how Labour forgot that he did so is another matter.

It’ll be interesting to see what Labour comes back with. Given the events of the past few days I can’t see them trying to fudge or lie their way out of this. If they issue a strong denial and then the Herald pops up with some substantiating documentation then the leader, party president and general secretary will come under great pressure to resign, and Labour will probably end up replacing all its leadership roles a couple months out from the election.

Update 2: Andrew writes over at Pundit:

Well, if you go back to the financial returns from political parties for 2007, there is listed a donation to Labour of $150,000 from “Palmer Theron, Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client” (as well as two other donations of $50,000 and $30,000 from other law firms on behalf of similaraly “undisclosed clients”). For balance, you might also note that in that year National reported $40,000 in anonymous donations, as well as $513,000 from three trusts that it had been using to launder donations previously.

Is it credible for Labour – after a week of denials – to now say something like, ‘We have no idea who gave us this very large sum of money and we cannot say that it was not Donghua Liu’?

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.

June 19, 2014

Good grief

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:58 am

Via Stuff:

In the latest political poll, the party has dropped 6 percentage points to 23 per cent. National is soaring on 56 per cent, which would allow it to govern alone.

Obviously this precedes the Liu stuff. My guess is that its a bit of an outlier but still part of the trend of Labour losing votes to National. And I don’t think that’s really Cunliffe’s fault (although obviously he isn’t helping). Like I said the other day, lots of Labour voters seem to be freaked out by Internet/Mana so they’re switching to National. And Internet/Mana look as though they are picking up votes off the Greens.

Now, Internet/Mana might make good on their promise to turn out loads of young low decile voters, which might not show up in the polls but will have a huge impact on the actual election – and good on them if they do. But at this point it looks like the Harawira/Harre/Dotcom contribution to the election will be to cannibalise the left vote and scare the centre vote over to National, possibly gifting them an historic victory.

If the trend continues Labour will have to take a risk (for once) and rule out Internet/Mana from a Labour government.

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