Gerry Brownlee

Winston’s double standards when it comes to taxpayer cash

Winston Peters is having a whinge about the cost of the investigation into the salad dodger Gerry Brownlee and his transgression with airport security

NZ First leader Winston Peters says Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee should pay for $43,550 in legal and staff costs for an inquiry into his security breach at Christchurch Airport last year.

Mr Peters released information obtained under the Official Information Act which showed the total cost included $21,275 for a peer review of the CAA’s findings by lawyer Mary Scholtens and $17,490 in staff time for the Civil Aviation Authority.   Read more »

We go take on ISIS, the war will come to NZ

Kiwi war correspondent Jon Stephenson says fighting ISIS will make New Zealand more of a target for an attack.

In an interview with Radio Live, Mr Stephenson talks about New Zealand’s role in the fight, and says “fighting ISIS will put us at risk”.

“The reality is that New Zealand contributing troops to Iraq is likely to make New Zealanders more at risk because it will raise the possibility of attacks at home.”

While the risk of an attack was “relatively minor”, he says it would certainly increase the possibility, and in his opinion would “also put New Zealanders in the region at risk”.

Mr Stephenson then took a swipe at Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

“When I heard Gerry Brownlee yesterday talking about how they’re almost an existential threat to New Zealand travellers because New Zealanders travel around the world and this is a group that could present danger.

This is just really embarrassing to have a Defence Minister who’s either incompetent or so poorly advised or just being wilfully disingenuous to suggest that ISIS poses an existential threat to New Zealand travellers.”

Out of all the Five Eyes partners, we’re the only ones that haven’t had an Islamist terrorism attack on home soil.   Labour, the Greens and most other lefties argue that we should not go help defeat ISIS on the basis that doing so will attract the wrong kind of attention, and people might die.   Read more »

Ok so now we know Gerry reads Whaleoil

Everyone knows that I am no fan of the salad-dodging, pie scoffing Gerry Brownlee.

However it has become apparent that he is an avid reader of Whaleoil, using the word “ratbags” (at 3:27) in parliament in answering terrorist enabler Phil Goff.

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I’ve got bad news for Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards must have hit the crack pipe before writing his last woeful column of the year.

Apparently National had a horror year…or so the headline screams.

Yes, John Key’s National Government won a spectacular third term victory. And yesterday the Herald gave the reasons that National can be positive about its achievements – see the editorial, Govt comes out on top in colourful year.

And nearly every political journalist has awarded John Key the title of Politician of the Year – see, for example, Patrick Gower’s Politician of the Year.

But, it was still an incredibly torrid year for National, and even the PM pointed to the election campaign as one of his low moments of the year – see TV3’s Key found campaign ‘a low-light’ for 2014.

Tracy Watkins also stresses that it’s been a terrible year for the National Government: ‘His government was assaulted on every front with scandal, trouble and controversy. Ministers resigned, his coalition allies ended the year diminished, and he ended the year looking evasive and tarnished by his links to dirty tricks and shock jock blogger WhaleOil’ – see: One clear winner, plenty of dashed hopes.

Not only did the election campaign take its toll, but as I pointed out recently in another column, The downfall of John Key, the challenges and allegations of Dirty Politics were really starting to bite after the election. See also, A year of (neverending) Dirty Politics.

Even Matthew Hooton thinks the Government has suffered, especially since their election victory, and he details National’s incredibly arrogant behaviour since the election, pointing to the main offenders: John Key, Christopher Finlayson, and Gerry Brownlee – see: For John Key: summer of reflection please (paywalled).

Likewise, Duncan Garner says that although Key deserves to be the ‘politician of the year’, ‘The first few months of the new regime have been largely underwhelming. Not telling the truth about his contact with attack blogger WhaleOil hurt the prime minister. It was a royal stuff-up and he admits this privately’ – see: Key my politician of the year, but now for the third-term blues. Garner believes the Key’s reputation is on the decline: ‘It’s happening for Key, slowly. His jokes don’t seem as funny. He looks more haunted and hunted these days’.

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Josh Forman and his attempt to leak information from his government job

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Josh Forman

Josh Forman thought yesterday that he would try and nail the PM by releasing an email between me and him.

Little did he know that I had smelled a rat some days ago and set him up.

However over the course of the past month he has been sending me information that he came by in his role working in the state sector, specifically information designed to undermine CERA and the EQC, but especially Gerry Brownlee.

He states in his email suggesting a blog post and potential set of OIA questions the following from a temporary email account.

The Comedian <[email protected]>
To: camslater

Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 7:20 PM

RE: OIA suggestion + Article suggestion

OIA suggestion + Article suggestion

When it comes to corruption, New Zealand does pretty damn well.

Where there are large amounts of taxpayers money available in a bureaucratic environment there is bound to be the occasional hiccup, but you would expect that processes would be in place to detect and deal with such instances.

This is a fair and reasonable expectation when you are dealing with a large, long established organisation such as ACC or Work and Income – while they have had their issues with largesse in the past, there has not been, to date at least the wholesale embezzlement of state funds.

What then are the safeguards that are in place when a small crown entity is forced to rapidly and massively up scale its operations, make up policy on the fly, deal with a complex disaster situation, while juggling the responsibility of dealing with billions of dollars in levy payers funds?

I’m talking about the Earthquake Commission and its primary recovery agent. Fletcher EQR.

What assurance does the public have that the organisation formerly employing 20 staff, which now has in excess of 1000 employees which has paid out almost $8 billion dollars in either cash settlements or repair works for earthquake damage in Canterbury alone, has put in place the safeguards necessary to ensure that the money is spent appropriately?

In short, there are no guarantees when it comes to EQC and EQR.

Today we submitted an OIA Request to EQC requesting specific information on it’s operations and seeking answers to the questions outlined above.

[REDACTED: 14 potential OIA requests, some defamatory in nature]

If intending to publish this I would appreciate if you could refer to me as your source close to the rebuild based in Canterbury and leave it at that. this disclosure and OIA suggestion puts me at significant personal risk.Do not identify me.

The Comedian

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Compare and contrast

via RNZ

via RNZ

Guilty of breaking the law, but even then he’s just kidding around.

Mr Brownlee has been stung $2000 for breaking security rules at Christchurch airport while trying to make a flight in July.

He says he accepts the findings and has learned his lesson. Read more »

Greens busted playing dirty politics

The Greens have been busted stealing people’s email addresses and using them to astroturf support in submission to ECan.

What was that citizens initiated referendum for again? That’s right it was a database exercise done by taxpayer funded staff to further subvert democracy, it’s the Greens so the ends justify the means as they do it for a higher cause…the planet.

The Green Party has been accused of “subverting the democratic process” by lobbying Environment Canterbury (ECan) on behalf of individuals without their knowledge.

Four people were surprised to receive emails from ECan thanking them for their submission on the region’s proposed bus changes when they had not submitted.

A further 20 submissions, of the 165 submissions sent in by the Greens, were found to have incorrect email addresses.

ECan received 2357 submissions for its proposed bus changes.

All submissions from the Greens were a standard response asking for more investment in public transport and more services for elderly.

Emails given to The Press by ECan, with personal information removed, showed people were unimpressed.

“I nevet [sic] sent this email! How did this happen?” one said.

“I actually didn’t give permission for the Green Party to send that submission on my behalf,” another said.

Another questioned the ethics of the practice.

“It does not accurately represent my thoughts . . . I’m not sure I agree ethically with this practice.”

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The topsy turvy world of “Tainted” Fisher

Kim Dotcom’s tainted and embedded journalist David “tainted” Fisher is still revelling in stolen and hacked data.

His latest “outrage” is that people comment on my blog…and some of them are staffers in Parliament.

The press secretary of Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee has admitted posting anonymously to the Whale Oil blog as the impact of Dirty Politics continues to hit the election campaign.

Nick Bryant was named in Dirty Politics as the person who had used the pseudonym “Former Hack” to post anonymous comments encouraging blogger Cameron Slater’s campaign against a public servant which resulted in death threats.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

Under “Former Hack”, Mr Bryant told Slater “well done” on a post which attacked Simon Pleasants. He told others he agreed calls should be placed to ask why Mr Pleasants was still employed and told Slater “you might have one for the harpoon gallery there” – the so-called Whale Oil roll call of sacked officials.

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Hooton on Labour’s skulduggery in Te Tai Tokerau

Matthew Hooton uses his NBR column to explain about David Cunliffe’s skullduggery in Te Tai Tokerau.

Less widely reported was Mr Key’s reference to the Maori Party. Like National voters in Epsom and Ohariu, the prime minister told those in the Maori electorates to back his support parties’ candidates.

This is a bit cheeky: National doesn’t run candidates in the Maori electorates because, theoretically, its policy is to abolish them (although it’s extremely doubtful Mr Key personally agrees, given his commitment to national reconciliation).

That’s why Mr Key’s nod to the Maori Party is so important. Under MMP, this election remains too close to call. For National to have a chance of a third term, Mr Key may well need Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell to retain Waiariki. Even more important is the result in Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau electorate, which spans Cape Reinga to West Auckland.

Most commentators assume Mr Harawira is completely safe, especially now he has scored Kim Dotcom’s dosh. But that reveals they haven’t looked at the data very carefully.

Three years ago, Mr Harawira only sneaked back into parliament, beating Labour’s Kelvin Davis by a mere 1165 votes, 6% of those cast. Labour won the party vote easily, by 10%. For his part, Mr Harawira’s majority was well less than National’s party vote and also NZ First’s (see table below). Obviously, many National and NZ First voters backed the Maori Party’s candidate, while Green voters backed Mr Harawira.

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This time, the Maori Party has Te Hira Paenga as its candidate. He would make an excellent MP. A father of five, he has post-graduate qualifications and is assistant principal at Hato Petera College. Whatever: he should fall on his taiaha.  Read more »

David Cunliffe and his travel troughing

David-Cunliffe-piggy

Yesterday Andrea Vance rightfully gave Paul Foster-Bell a swift kick in the goolies for his troughing.

There was another MP though that significantly increased his travel expenses during a selection battle…David Cunliffe.

The Cunliffe had a large spike in his air travel expenses during the Labour’s got talent contest and shortly after then his air travel spending appears to have returned to normal.

Jan 1 – Mar 31 2013 – $7,208

April 1 – June 30 2013 – $8,538

July 1 – 30 Sept 2013 – $14,071

Oct 1 to Dec 31 2013 – $20,909

Jan 1 – Mar 31 2014 – $8,493

All this makes Grant Robertson’s attack on National yesterday somewhat an own goal.   Read more »