John Roughan

Rodney Hide on democracy and the left’s failure to accept it

Rodney Hide comments on the US election and the left’s and Media’s failure to accept it:

The New Zealand Herald’s John Roughan wrote this week: “The amazing thing about democracy, when you stop to think about, is that it makes the right decision far more often than not.”

I pick on Mr Roughan because he is normally so sage and sober. He is not a paid-up member of the screaming lefty, greenie, PC, I’m outraged/offended, how-could-anyone-be-as-stupid-as-you brigade.

No, he is a considered, conservative commentator. But Donald Trump’s candidacy and election has caused even him to unhinge and lose perspective and objectivity.

The absurdity of his comment must completely escape him. I am at a loss to understand how that could possibly be.

There’s no “right” decision for democracy. There’s just a result. It’s a process with an outcome that we broadly sign up to as a mechanism of dumping governments without having to cut throats. It doesn’t prevent the abuse of government power but it does stop it getting too out of line. That’s it.   Read more »

Roughan on rail

John Roughan says rail is dead, live with it.

Thanks to the national transport planners, the part of Auckland that is probably best served by public transport is the one part that has no railway. The North Shore’s busway is probably the fastest flowing artery in the region and it is about to get better. AT has posted out a plan to Shore households this month that simplified all bus routes into loops between busway stations. It looks ideal.

Transport planners can do so much more with wheels on roads that it is hard to fathom their attachment to iron rails. Trains have a romantic hold on the human imagination, mine included. Long-distance rail journeys are some of the happiest travel I have had. But the romance shouldn’t blind so many to its limitations, particularly in this country.

The narrow gauge railway system laid through New Zealand in the 19th century is a dog, not just for urban commuting but obviously for national freight too. The present Government put more than $1 billion into a “turnaround” plan for Labour’s renationalised KiwiRail in its early budgets. We have never heard where that money went.   Read more »

Waikato Times slammed for front page fiction [UPDATED]

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The Waikato Times has been slammed by the Press Council for their front page fiction about Young Nats burning Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics, a story gathered by their “news” team from the Facebook page of a NZ First activist.

The Press Council recognises that social media are a frequent source of information that can be checked and developed into stories capable of meeting the standards of accuracy, fairness and balance expected by readers of a reliable newspaper.

In this case the Council does not believe the newspaper had sufficient corroboration of the claim on Facebook. The Times’ additional source, a student who would not be named, claimed to have seen Mr Letcher with more than 200 books. If that statement were true, it does not establish that Mr Letcher intended to burn them.

The Facebook posting as reported by the Times, said, “So apparently the CNI Young Nats (and presumably the NZ Young Nats) are buying up copies of Nicky Hager’s # Dirty Politics….and burning them.” The word “apparently” should be noted. It suggests the information was at best hearsay, at worst an assumption by a person associated with a rival political party.

The Times called it “rumour” but its report also claimed to have confirmed part of the rumour. It is therefore difficult to accept the Regional Editor’s response that the paper was merely reporting an allegation. Its confidence in its own source and its decision to splash the book burning allegation across its front page would have given the story credibility in the minds of some readers.

While Mr Letcher’s denial was also reported prominently, this does not redeem the report. Newspapers need to be careful when dealing with rumour that is denied. A false accusation can easily be made for the purpose of forcing a political opponent to deny it publicly. That indeed is said to be a device of “dirty politics”. Newspapers should take care to ensure they are not unwitting instruments of it.

The Waikato Times could not substantiate this rumour to a standard that meets the Press Council’s principles of accuracy and fairness. Mr Letcher’s complaint is upheld.

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Another Fabian socialist using his paper to try to silence free speech

According to Rod Oram I am responsible for the ending of society and what it could have been because I call crusading scientists to account.

This Fabian socialist ignores the fact ( while he crusades on Nicky Hager’s behalf ) that a journalist was hacked and crimes were committed by the very people he is now crying a river of tears for.

He claims that I am trying to suppress debate.

Is free and rigorous debate increasingly suppressed in New Zealand?

No, says, John Roughan, John Key’s biographer and a New Zealand Herald editorial writer, in his article available at http://bit.ly/Roughan

Yes, says, Nicky Hager, investigative journalist. He laid out chapter and verse in a recent article in the UK’s Guardian (http://bit.ly/Hager), as he did in his book Dirty Politics. His piece triggered Roughan’s blistering response.

I say yes.  Suppression of evidence, ideas and debate, in ways subtle and now increasingly brutal, is my experience as a business journalist in New Zealand. It is no consolation we are just a micro example of an accelerating trend worldwide.

Far from suppressing debate I am actually encouraging it. I am actually providing the other side of the debate. In order to have a debate one must have two sides, but all too often the Orams of this world and the so-called researchers he is defending don’t want a debate. They want their story only told…and when you push back against them they cry out that you are trying to suppress them.

The whole premise behind ‘Dirty Politics’, as stated by the hacker and his mouthpiece Nicky Hager was to “shut down” the network of people who were challenging their pals. Yes they used the words “shut down”. In other words it is they who have decided that the debate must be suppressed, that illegal means, foul means, criminal means must be used to justify the ends.

Let me give you two examples from my work last week. At the Population Health Congress very good experts from many science and other professional disciplines were wrestling with the escalating issue of childhood obesity, alcoholism, and many other extremely complex societal issues.

But many of them know they are taking great professional and personal risks to do this critical work. They are painfully aware of the ruthless way Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham and others have tried to destroy Prof Doug Sellman, director of the University of Otago’s National Addiction Centre.

The facts of their despicable acts were laid bare in Dirty Politics. It was just one of many such campaigns they continue to run.

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John Roughan on Labour’s leadership spill

John Roughan echoes my stance on Labour’s leadership problems and Helen Clark’s legacy.

But he discusses just precisely how if any one of the four mediocre people standing for leadership of the Labour party at the moment was elected that our economic policy, at least, wouldn’t change that much.

Labour’s leadership problems began with Helen Clark’s retirement announcement on the night her Government was defeated. The audible groan from Labour people in the hall that night was possibly not simply sorrow at her sudden departure. Seasoned members, as most seemed to be, might have sensed what would happen.

In need of a new leader quickly, the caucus elected the next most experienced minister still in its ranks, Phil Goff. When Goff went down to predictable defeat, he followed Clark’s example. It may seem the noble and proper thing to do, but it is not in a party’s interest. It is better that the defeated leader soldiers on, suffering the taunts and indignities of a lame duck, until a natural successor emerges from the pack.

To force the issue so soon after a devastating election defeat not only runs the high risk of choosing another poor leader, it increases the risk that the party will be destabilised in its policies and direction too. This might be exactly what returners from the Alliance desire.     Read more »

John Roughan on Hager’s preciousness

John Roughan makes a few telling comments about Nicky Hagers ongoing preciousness.

The day police searched his Wellington home he was in Auckland giving lectures at the university, so he ought to be able to tell us more about the fear gripping the faculties. I think it is time he did some regular reporting and told us the actual experiences of those “chilled” academics and the voices that have been “closed down”.

Like a real journalist, Hager says he will refuse to co-operate with the police in their attempt to discover who hacked Cameron Slater’s computers and stole his private emails.

“I believe the police actions are dangerous for journalism in New Zealand,” he said. “It matters to all people working in the media who could similarly have their property searched and seized to look for sources. People are less likely to help the media if the police act in this way. The police want people to respect their role in society; they should in turn respect other people’s roles in society.”

It always embarrasses me when we react hysterically like this. To the public we must sound precious, irresponsible and unprofessional. People know we have a job to do and so do the police.

The reason we reserve the right to refuse co-operation with criminal investigations is, as Hager said, because informants may be afraid to talk to reporters in confidence if they think we will comply. But we tend to garnish that practical reason with a great deal of self-righteousness about the public’s right to know.   Read more »

A rare moment of media honesty and genuine insight

The opinion pieces about Labour, the election, Kim Dotcom, Dirty politics, and the Labour leadership are coming thick and fast.  The leaks are like a geothermal field full of geysers and the usual crew are trying to set the scenes for their own teams.

Have we ever seen a more stunning election result? Watching the campaign it was hard to believe the attack on the character of John Key would have no effect.

Even when polls showed the public unmoved by the hatchet book and the news frenzy that followed, it seemed hardly possible that none of the muck would stick.

Until people work out why it didn’t work, they will continue to get it wrong.   And I’m not going to help them.  I know there are screeds  of politicians, their henchmen and media that don’t understand why a month of negative about Key, Whaleoil and myself has actually resulted in a better result for Key, and an absolute strengthening of  my position.

The fact they don’t understand this means they don’t understand much at all.   Read more »

Roughan on Dotcom’s conspiracy theory

John Roughan damns David “tainted” Fisher with faint praise, this morning, for his big reveal that wasn’t.

Conspiracy theories may be mad but they are fun. When my colleague David Fisher unearthed documents this week showing how the Security Intelligence Service had cleared Kim Dotcom’s application for residency in New Zealand, only Dotcom could imagine that it did him much good.

The SIS had described him as a “bad but wealthy man” who was under investigation by the FBI, but let the application go through after a call from the head of Immigration New Zealand asking why they had it on hold. “Apparently there is some political pressure to process this case,” one SIS officer told another.

The director of the SIS was briefed at that point and it was decided Dotcom could not be blocked on security grounds. But they advised Immigration to talk to the police about the FBI investigation. The agency repeated that advice a few days later and went so far as to have one of its staff brief Immigration’s intelligence man before a meeting with his minister at the time, Jonathan Coleman. After that meeting, the immigration official could only remind his SIS contact that the residence category for “high rollers” was a Government priority.

So it would seem fairly clear how Dotcom got in. Immigration admits it did not talk to the police. Coleman is a nice man, a doctor, who would give anyone the benefit of a doubt. Dotcom’s wealth explains the “political pressure”.

If this week’s disclosure reflected badly on Dotcom, his own take on the events was even worse. His theory is that the SIS dropped its opposition to his entry at the request of the FBI who believed that once he was in New Zealand he would be within their clutches.   Read more »

Awkward is the best you can say

John Roughan’s column continues the Herald’s jihad against Len Brown.

People who have had dealings with Len Brown of late say it is awkward. The light has gone from his eyes. He can see what they are thinking. If they are meeting in the mayoral office and he invites them to take a seat, he probably notices their hesitation. We have all had too much information.

Two months ago when the scandal broke, many of us paid to comment on these things seemed to think that if the mayor kept his head down and nothing worse emerged, it would all blow over in time. How wrong that is turning out to be.

I had a call from someone the other day from the Ngati Whatua room saying no one was sitting down. Just awkward people standing around…sniggering. What I can’t believe is that Len Brown claims there is nothing more. Plenty of commenters have alluded to it, I have alluded to it…yet Len Brown maintains there is nothing more. He knows what I know, he knows what others know and yet he maintains the lie. Oh well.  Read more »

John Roughan on mowing of berms

John Roughan misses the point somewhat on the mowing of berms.

It is a bit of a chore to mow the berm. I live down a right of way and have to push the machine up there for a wedge of grass between my drive and the next. Too often I forget. It had never occurred to me that the council should do it.

The council most definitely should not. This is fast becoming the defining issue in Auckland’s election and it is a good one. It might seem trivial beside long-term population plans, housing densities and commuter rail schemes but unlike them, an uncut verge is visible, pressing and very close to home.

The problem John is that the council has socked those people 30% rates increased and reduced the services they are paying for. Their berms were mowed by the rapacious council, now they are getting less, despite paying more…of course that is going to cause anger.   Read more »