Rodney on the Panama Papers…again

Rodney Hide uses his HoS column to deride the left for leaping on the Panama Papers bandwagon.

The Panama Papers big reveal proved better in prospect than reality.

We had the promise of New Zealand as a tax haven, squillionaires hiding their ill-gotten gains, Prime Minister John Key shown to be dodgy, and the rich getting richer through wholesale tax avoidance.

The expectation was political carnage.

Labour Leader Andrew Little looked strong: he promised to ban foreign trusts, overturning law from Roman times.

Sure, it was Nicky Hager who has history of getting to 7 by adding 2 plus 2. But this appeared different. Hager was working with a team of top Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand journalists .

Maybe, just maybe, they had something.

And then the Big Reveal. The names making the headlines were Alan Hubbard, as a shareholder of some or other company; a Tauranga-based Elvis impersonator, who had his address listed for a Mr Basil Al Jarah registering a company in the British Virgin Islands, and Greenpeace, but it seems Greenpeace was on another leaked database, and that it wasn’t really them.

There was one rich lister and political donor named but his donation was to the Greens, not National.

Oh, and it was explained, just because someone is named doesn’t mean they have done anything wrong or improper.

Turns out fewer than 200 New Zealand trusts have links to Mossack Fonseca, all of which are properly disclosed and subject to information sharing requests from other countries and Inland Revenue.

Confused? Yup. Don’t care? Yup.

It took seven journalists destroying their reputations, the seven intellectual pygmies if you will, led by a cockwomble in Nicky Hager, to find out there was nothing in the Panama Papers. That didn’t stop Andrew Little going all in on them, declaring that people named in the papers were grubby and that he would ban all foreign trusts. The left-wing have been left looking more embarrassed than the Moment of truth back-fire.

TVNZ put out a press release saying its collaboration with RNZ and Hager “exposes more New Zealand links to secret offshore trusts that are operating in this country to avoid paying tax”. It didn’t.

TVNZ declared: “Our joint investigation raises serious questions about New Zealand’s trust laws, and the ease with which they are manipulated”. They aren’t.

It continued that New Zealand is a tax haven and a country “embarrassed and tarnished” by the contents of Mossack Fonseca’s secret files.

We aren’t.

RNZ wrote of when “the Shewan really hits the fan” – a play on the name of tax specialist John Shewan, former chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who the Prime Minister has asked to review the rules covering New Zealand-based overseas trusts.

The politest thing to be said is TVNZ and RNZ extrapolated well beyond their data set. It seems lots of documents – and lots of collaboration – don’t add up to lots of stories.

The Panama Papers fizzled before they flickered.

I think some OIA requests are in order. To TVNZ and RadioNZ on how much they paid ICIJ for access to the Panama Papers and how much they paid Nicky Hager.

The seven intellectual pygmies can now all be safely ignored as fools of the highest order….and political operatives under the protective wing of Nicky Hager.


– Herald on Sunday


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  • Phenandra

    The seven dwarves should have realised they were in trouble once Peter Dunne jumped onto their side.

  • Aucky

    I’m sure that the Herald would have been looking for a better headline than ‘Australia Comes Second in Eurovision’ today.

    What a crock for the Media Party this weekend.

  • XCIA

    When something does not meet its advertised specification in the real world, you can send it back for a full refund if you are not satisfied with its performance. From what we are led to believe, the weasel Hager was the intermediary here, so surely he is the source we are due a refund from.

    • OneTrack

      Can we do the same with the stupid seven jornolists who are indirectly employed by the taxpayer? I want a refund.

  • Dan

    “Labour Leader Andrew Little looked strong: he promised to ban foreign trusts, overturning law from Roman times.”

    Another such law from Roman times some people might want to overturn is sedition.

    1.incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.
    2. any action, especially in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.

    • Dave

      overturn, no way, how about use the law.

      One Nicholas Hager: Sedition: As you kindly point out.

      Now if there is total proof then there is no sedition, but when they make a myriad of claims to come up empty handed, they deserve to be locked up, one for use being mad, and then for anything else that sticks, including FRAUD, promising the Taxpayer funded public broadcasters much and delivering nothing.

      • Big_Al

        I think it’s time Hager moved to North Korea, along with of his journalist cohorts, and carried out their “investigative journalism” to help undermine Kim Jong-Un. That would go down well for him but i doubt he would have the balls.

  • Graham Pilgrim

    What I don’t quite follow with the Panama Papers saga is this. If Hager spent months and months combing through thousands of documents, as is claimed, he must have known that there were no “meaty bits” in there. Alan Hubbard and an Elvis impersonator do not qualify as “meaty bits’.

    So, why did Hager contrive to create a “big reveal”, in the knowledge that there was nothing to reveal?

    Was it an exercise to sell a non-story to anyone who would buy it, in this case, the taxpayer, represented by TVNZ and RNZ?

    I really believe that we should know how much Hager was paid, if anything, by these publicly funded broadcasters, to lead us all up the garden path.


      Maybe our friend Hager kept the juicy bits for his next book… be published a few weeks before the next election, of course.

      • Graham Pilgrim

        I should hope that, by now, what little credibility Hager had, has been totally shattered, and any such book would be treated with utter contempt.

        I suspect there will be no book, at least not on this subject. Aren’t there other individuals who have studied the Panama Papers? I can’t see Hager having exclusive rights to any “juicy bits”.

        • sheppy

          You can guarantee there will be a book attacking the government in the run up to the election, it’s what Hagar does. It won’t make any difference to anyone apart from his tinfoil hat wearing followers as usual, but he’ll keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, just like the rest of those with KDS

      • Time For Accountability

        In which case he has withheld info from his employer.

      • BG

        Hope so. It was such a great success last time round

    • Brian Smaller

      I was wondering the same thing. It would have been pretty obvious that there was nothing that would break the government.

      So…with my conspiracy theory hat on I wonder exactly who this was aimed at. Who has been made to look the most foolish in all this? Andrew Little. Who is gunning for him? Well I think we can safely assume that it is no one from the National Party as he is worth more to them as leader of Labour. So that leaves…….

    • shykiwibloke

      The staged big reveal with not much to show is more like the normal modus operandi of the German.

    • Nebman

      I think it’s is simple as this – Hager is so driven by his ideology, he fails to grasp that what triggers moral outrage in him, barely causes a flicker to pretty much everyone else with the exception of his colluding mates in his “team”.

      I really do believe it is that simple.

  • Keeping Stock

    I’m no expert in matters pertaining to the Official Information Act, but to my mind these questions must be answered:

    * What was the total financial commitment from RNZ to its joint Panama Papers operation with TVNZ including staff costs, any costs incurred in obtaining information from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and any other costs incurred during the operation?

    * Did RNZ make any payment to Nicky Hager?

    * Who gave authority for the use of taxpayer funds for this operation?

    * Did RNZ separately. or jointly with TVNZ agree not to investigate the identity of “John Doe” as part of deal with the ICIJ, Nicky Hager, or any other person or organisation?

    I am strongly considering writing to Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams calling on her office to conduct a full inquiry into the use of taxpayer funds to attack the Government. It is high time Radio New Zealand was reminded that the taxpayer funds its operations.

    • one for the road

      They will just argue journalistic independence… That would be fine if the reporting was balanced and not one sided!!! Start writing Keeping Stock.

    • exactchange

      How about posting the OIA request via

    • David

      I think we should all email Ms Adams and Mr McClay about this matter. Hager would not have given his services free so taxpayers’ money has been squandered. I want to know why.

    • Rob

      Please do!

  • sonovaMin

    When the images of the suckers in the TVONE bunker collaborating with Hager flashed up on my TV screen, I saw something I am sure wasn’t the intention.
    Hager moved about the room with his usual supercilious smirk on his face, pausing every now and then to tap his finger on a document in front of his adoring pupils. Their facial expressions ranged from smug ‘look at me’ to the bafflement of the very average confronted with a complex mathematical equation to solve.
    That TVNZ allowed Hager to come in to their newsroom and take charge of an attempted hit against John Key needs investigation.
    The fact that it was all hot air shows how gullible they were.

    • Bartman

      Perhaps Herr Hager was calling in a few debts?

  • Doc45

    Readers may be interested in knowing that the International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ) is funded by a wealthy Australian, Graeme Wood, who funds the Green Party and various climate change issues in Queensland.

    • Dave

      As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted. But at least the Aussie Greens have elected representatives, unlike their scum list kiwi counterparts.

      • D-Rad

        They have one – Adam Bandt, the rest are senators, they are elected on a quasi-proportional ballot.

  • one for the road

    What John Key and the govt should do is make sure the Boards of RNZ and TVNZ are required to ensure that their excutive management are spending $ wisely and are not meddling in politics, and that whatever money got paid to Hager for leading them down the garden path with a rubbish story about what was in the database is now recovered by the organisations and if Hager doesnt pay, then to take him to court. He clearly has sold the the enterprises’s seven dwarfs a pup, the owners need to get their money and effort back.. And keep their name and reputations clean.

    • Kiwiracer

      Can you imagine the frothing at the mouth from the left if this happened

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Several comments about the Media party segment that were graced by having an opportunity for the big reveal. The irony is that it was the taxpayer funded portion that got duped but it has split their party somewhat as they are no the grubby section and the dirty section.