Stephen Franks on the GCSB issue

Grant Robertson will be suffering in his jocks with the post from Stephen Franks today. He probably won’t suffer too much as he is reputed to use fabric softener on his jocks and with his leadership challenge weight-loss programme going along nicely there is a bit more room as well.

Franks though gives him and his shopped lines to the media a good kick in the slats.

Interesting to see even the sophisticated Peter Cresswell parrotting the establishment line that Ministers should stay out of appointing their own direct reports.

But disconcerting that he casually throws in “separation of powers” as if Key has infringed some constitutional principle.

Peter that convention/principle urges separation and mutual respect and a balance between the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature.

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Executive. He should have a vital interest in who reports to him, in every portfolio. The current convention that Ministers get a veto power after an independent vetting process is not prejudiced by a Minister shoulder tapping candidates to suggest they put themselves forward. Separation of powers is an important constitutional protection. It is cheapened by attempted application to criticise actions entirely confined to the Executive. 

The weak link in our defence of appointment quality is the SSC. If the SSC does not have enough mana to insist on its standards in the vetting and short-listing there is ample room for the appointment of incompetent cronies whatever the formal restrictions on Ministers.

The media lapping up the opposition line should think to ask Mr Robertson “what would stop a future government ensuring that a third party does the shoulder tapping of favoured candidates, if it was true that a Minister should not do it directly?”.

Our media promote pathetic debate.


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  • PlanetOrphan


  • kohibruce

    Franks for Epsom

    • le sphincter

      That desperate eh !

      • kohibruce

        Guess it scared the shit out of you!

  • peterwn

    But then Grant just says what he likes – he does not balance it against previous Labour’s actions such as the former Labour President’s six sinecures. Grant would be most upset if John Key gave Peter Goodfellow six sinecures. Perhaps John should give him one or two just to annoy Labour.

    • Liberty

      If labour want an inquire. Fine give them one and back date it.
      until the beginning of the reign of Clark and the rise in the power of the sisters.

      • BJ

        I’m beginning to not trust the process of ‘enquires’

  • JC

    When this first blew up I said Helen Clark would have gone to a third party to shoulder tap.. which then made me realise that a million MPs have done this for several hundred years.

    What was it our friendly judge said of the Winebox Affair?..

    “Its the form that counts, not the substance”.


  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Folks – See what Sheep is able to achieve within a very short time in power – “The Government’s coffers are in better shape than expected, new Treasury figures show, although the boost in tax take came ahead of the widespread drought.

    Financial Statements for the eight months to the end of February showed the operating balance before gains and losses was a deficit of $3 billion.

    This was some $556 million better than forecast at the time of the half-year update in December, with core Crown revenue $719m higher than expected, Treasury said in a statement”.

    • Dave

      Sheep…. Power……. Has he used his funds from the US bank account to buy a power station, its about as close to power as he will ever get SCS.

  • le sphincter

    The issue is Keys lies.

    Not whether he shouldnt choose a top job for a middle level bureaucrat

    • Gazzaw

      And Shearer doesn’t?

    • AzaleaB

      You don’t lie? All politicians are ‘agile’ with the truth. Look at Clark.

    • In Vino Veritas

      What lies are you alluding to Schpink?

      • le sphincter

        remember Pike River ?

        Guess who lied about recovering the bodies.

        • johnbronkhorst

          NEVER lied, ALWAYS SAID that money wasn’t the problem only safety. It was EPMU that lied about safety, by saying before the ,last election, that they had PROOF that it was safe to recover the bodies before Christmas….now that was the lie surrounding Pike River!!!!!!!

        • In Vino Veritas

          Oh Schpink, I think you are being a little expansive with the truth if you are trying to pin a lie on Key about that one. Suggest you read his comments about it before pulling the “lie” call out of the bag.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Name the lies….list them. and I’ll list labour’s.
      Go on, I’ll start.
      1. There was a video of John Key being briefed at GCSB.,
      2. Some story about a roof painter.

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Add “No bank account worth remembering despite filing tax returns for 4 years”

    • BJ

      Obviously you are not a parent of a teenager. If you want your teenager to be totally honest with you about the important things then don’t pry by asking meaningless petty questions about nothing significant to trip them up and put them in a corner.
      Do I care if JK remembered he phoned someone but didn’t lay it on the line in the House? No! Do I care that he tells the truth about the SSC’s independent criteria process? Yes!

      This has been reduced – as every attack on the leader of our country is – to school yard tattletale, innuendos and discredit of professional people that are in positions held in high regard. Give me some concrete meaningful wrong doing and I’ll be impressed.

    • Troy

      Everyone lies… even you rectumface. If you want to be holier than thou fuck off to red alert and spin it.

      • le sphincter

        Good point.
        But getting caught in politics its the kiss of death.

        Ask Bredan Horan

        • johnbronkhorst

          Yeah he lie winnie lied, shearer lied hone lied………….but funny how you can’t name a lie told by John Key!!!…Just innuendo and mis or reinterpretation of the truth.

          • pukakidon

            That is because the arse is typical Labour. Ask for any substance to his claims and he is full of shit.

  • Marcus50

    Franks has conveniently glossed over a more important consideration is not that Key shoulder tapped Fletcher which in itself was probably unwise but not a huge issue but that he was more than economical with the truth regarding his involvement to the point of being deliberately misleading.

    Interesting to watch Rennie change tacks through the day yesterday. He was On the attack defending the PM early then backing off to cover his own arse later in the day.

    Labour has scored a small hit to Keys credibility on this but it is not going to be particularly damaging unless he is caught out again on other issues where he is not straight up.

    There is nothing that pisses the voters off more than being treated like idiots and key is dangerously close to that here

    • Mr_Blobby

      Very true he is treating voters like idiots.

      Then again 10% vote Green, 5% vote Winny, 1% vote maori, .05% vote no mana

  • I suspect that the reason the Prime Minister couldn’t recall calling Mr Rennie is that Mr Key called a number of people he thought would be good for the job and that they didn’t want the job.

  • unsol

    So Robertson created a line that no decent PM would allow to exist as not only should he be free to give character references where appropriate (& you’d think when it comes to the GCSB it would be even more important), but also ensure that as the chief of the executive he knows who is being appointed to what role & what their credentials are.

    In other words Key knows how to run a country & Robertson doesn’t; just say Key had personally appointed Fletcher to GCSB – isn’t that more or less the same as appointing Ministers to various portfolios? Or is it that in Robertson’s eyes finance, education & health are just not that important?

  • tarkwin

    Try reading the bit in the business section of today’s Horrid. John Drinnan goes on about what a wonderful job Campbell is doing when he interviews Ferguson. He says “Rather than offering the usual Labour versus National tarrying, it examined the views of a concerned respectable public servant and the reputation of the shoulder shrugging P.M. It was a significant move from a retired civil servant who clearly placed a lot of trust in Campbell.” What absolute bullshit. This tosser is racing Garner, Espiner and co to the bottom of the journalistic heap. The only question I have is how can he type and felate Campbell at the same time? Anyone who can suck that well should be hanging around Hunters Corner.

    • blokeintakapuna

      Rumour has it, he could suck the chrome off a tow ball… Ohh hang on… That might have been about Robertson… I can’t quite recall…

      • Dave

        With a memory like that John, you have just qualified for leader of the labour party!

        Our mates at the CTU have set up NZ bank accounts for the automatic transfer of your $US funds in the names of AN Other and TX Dodger, a thou a week in each will do thanks.

  • BJ

    As Stephen Franks says “It is cheapened by attempted application to criticise actions entirely confined to the Executive.” AND “The weak link in our defence of appointment quality is the SSC.”

    John Key should be commended for phoning someone he thought would be a good candidate for the selection process directly. By doing that it should be seen to be overtly keeping his actions out of any direct involvement with the process which would then start with the SSC panel reading their CV before even deciding to interview them – whereas, if he had approached the SSC for them to then go and approach the potential candidate (considering they had just negated the desire to proceed to the interview stage with any other applicant), could be seen as covertly stepping in to their jurisdiction to direct them.

    Stephen Franks has done a good job – it reads well and is spot on but why is there no other journalist turning childish, petty, criticism of something that is meaningless in regard to the independent process of selection, in to a genuinely commendable action by Key.

  • In Vino Veritas

    Fabric softener would not clean up Roberstons jocks. I’d imagine it’d need a bit more elbow grease than your basic softener.