The report itself is here. The main issues have been well covered by the media.
Here’s what struck me. One of Key’s big achievements as Prime Minister has been the expansion of the size and powers of the state security services. That’s fine. There’s been plenty of debate around that. The public seem ‘relaxed’ about it.
But what we didn’t know is that the same time Key was expanding the powers of the intelligence agencies he also – as revealed in the Gwyn report – delegated over-sight of those agencies to National Party operatives working in his office, a role that had previously been exclusive to the Prime Minister. And, the Gwyn report goes on to tell us:
. . . as part of his role as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr de Joux was involved in
the media work of PMO, as was Mr Ede, who was also a political adviser.
Consistent with those roles, Mr de Joux and Mr Ede treated information that they
were given as available for release for political purposes unless they had been
advised otherwise. This was contrary to the assumption by NZSIS that the
information that it provided would be held in confidence unless expressly
approved for release.
I issued a production order to Mr Ede in
respect of his personal email accounts after it became apparent from evidence,
including evidence provided directly by Mr Ede, that some of the correspondence
pertinent to this inquiry was conducted from non-official email accounts. Upon receipt
of the production order, Mr Ede provided a supplementary written statement to the
inquiry in which he advised that the emails had been permanently deleted prior to the
commencement of the inquiry and could not be recovered. I made my own enquiries
and confirmed this was the case.
If staff in Key’s office are using non-official accounts like this then they’re breaching the Public Records Act, and should be prosecuted. If they are, or were exchanging classified information on non-official accounts then that’s, like, an actual major national security issue. I don’t know who investigates these matters but they’re pretty important no matter which political tribe you support. Unless everyone on the right is totally cool with the SIS and GCSB reporting to Matt McCarten in a couple years, and McCarten forwarding it all onto Bomber?
Seems that this is also a pretty big victory for Nicky Hager. This was one of the key claims in his book, and Key flatly denied it and called Hager a crazy conspiracy theorist. We now know that this accusation stands up. Key isn’t admitting that, of course. He’s running around crowing that he’s been exonerated, somehow, because he knows that virtually no member of the public will read the report. But this is a stain on his record as Prime Minister. Historically he’ll be the guy whose office collaborated with the SIS to falsely smear the opposition leader.