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Key rejects calls for Inquiry into Govt links with Slater; Feb video shows Key saying he often talks to Slater "about lots of political events"; National Tax plan due

Key rejects calls for Inquiry into Govt links with Slater; Feb video shows Key saying he often talks to Slater "about lots of political events"; National Tax plan due

By Bernard Hickey

With less than three weeks to go until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news on Monday September 1 2, including Prime Minister John Key rejecting calls for a full Royal Commission of Inquiry into Cameron Slater's links with the Government.

Key told a news conference in Wellington the Government had decided to postpone the announcement of its fiscal plan, possibly until after Wednesday, because of the two fatal shootings at an Ashburton Work and Income office and the ongoing manhunt for the killer.

Meanwhile, former Financial Markets Authority CEO Sean Hughes, said the personal attacks against him by Cathy Odgers and Cameron Slater were partly responsible for him not seeking a second three-year term.

He told Radio NZ the attacks were aimed at deterring the FMA.

"They were distasteful, they created an unnecessary distraction and anxiety for the organisation and the team that I was leading, and of course the personal attack on me was just unnecessary," Hughes said.

"It was not fair on my family, or myself, to put myself through an ongoing experience such as this," he said.

Meanwhile, former SFO director Adam Feeley told Radio Live he thought the SFO and the Police would be considering their own investigation into the 'smoking gun' email that emerged on Friday and brought down Judith Collins. Cameron Slater said in the email that Collins was "gunning for Feeley."

"It's almost certain that several offences could have been committed if people were undermining a police or an SFO investigation, absolutely," he said.

"I would be surprised if both SFO and police weren't thinking about that today," he said.

Key talked to Slater

A Stuff video from February also emerged showing Key saying he rang Cameron Slater to discuss Slater's report that Winston Peters had visited Kim Dotcom's mansion and that he talks to him "about lots of political events."

Key had been asked if he had used the SIS or GCSB to spy on Peters, which he denied.

Key was questioned about whether Slater had told him about the visits. Key would not confirm Slater as the source, but confirmed he regularly talked to Slater.

"I rang him. He's a blog site. He writes a lot of stuff. I don't necessarily agree with all of it. I speak to lots of blogsters," Key told reporters on February 14.

He was then asked what his relationship with Slater was: "I just know him." He was then asked why he called Slater: "Because I talk to him about lots of political events. To see what he's got on his site and mind."

Key said he spoke to "heaps" of bloggers. Here's the Stuff report on the comments from February 14.

Key was questioned at length by Guyon Espiner about the same episode on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report this morning, and again virtually confirmed that Slater was his source.

Earlier, Labour and the Greens called for a much broader Royal Commission of Inquiry into Slater's links with the Government.

They also called for Collins' office to be sealed to prevent evidence tampering. Key rejected the call for a Royal Commission.

Bill English called the allegations detailed in the email that brought down Judith Collins on Saturday as serious and quite bizarre.  English has previously distanced himself from Collins and Slater and their "style of politics."

"It looks awful and that’s why it has to be dealt with," he said on Q+A .

Polls turning on National

Key has yet to actually condemn Slater's opinions or style of politics and the extent of the Prime Minister's personal discussions with Slater are the biggest risk for the Government's future. Most voters have yet to lose faith in Key personally, who is National's core strength in the mind of the electorate.

This photo of Key and Slater is now routinely shared on social media.

Key's strategy of simply dismissing the 'Dirty Politics' book as a left wing smear and talking over the heads of the media to the public has failed now that Judith Collins has resigned and he has had to launch an Inquiry. Until now, the public have mostly believed Key that there was nothing of substance in the book and it could be ignored.

The polling suggests that support is beginning to slip for National and Key.

44% don't believe Key

A TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll found 41% believed Key when he said he was not personally informed by SIS about an OIA request from Cameron Slater, while 44% did not believe him and 14% said they did not know. The poll also found an increase in the proportion of those believing the claims in Nicky Hager's 'Dirty Politics' book from 28% to 41% and an increase in those having negative views about National rising from 9% to 18%.

"Every time I lose one of those polls I find it a bit soul-destroying," Key said on TVNZ Breakfast.

National's party support in the poll fell 2% to 48%, while Labour rose 2% to 28% and Green support rose 1% to 12%. New Zealand First rose 1% to 6% and Conservative rose 1% to 3%. Internet Mana fell 2% to 2%. The poll of 1,000 eligible voters from August 23 to 27 (before Judith Collins' resignation and before the leaders debate) found 12% were undecided. It had a 3.1% margin of error at the 95th percentile.

National Party-aligned PR man Matthew Hooten said on TVNZ's Q+A programme on Sunday that National's internal polling had also shown a dip in support in recent days.

However, the Colmar Brunton poll also found Key's support as preferred Prime Minister rose 2% to 47%, while David Cunliffe rose 2% to 12%.

SIS inquiry

Meanwhile, members of Key's office and Slater himself face questions from Cheryl Gwyn , the Inspector General of the Intelligence and Security, as early as next week over the now infamously expedited OIA request to Slater over Warren Tucker's briefing to Phil Goff . The hearings are not public.

Fast OIA responses were not just given to Slater for political purposes, it seems. Stuff reported this morning that a request from the NBR over a letter of apology from Feeley to Collins was processed by Collins' office in two days.

Bill English is scheduled to speak at Victoria University in the afternoon. Key is expected to release the terms of reference into the Inquiry into the Judith Colllins email on Tuesday or Wednesday.

(Updated with delay of National fiscal plan, Sean Hughes on how the blogging attacks partly caused him to leave early and Adam Feeley saying he expected the SFO and Police to consider their own investigations into the Cameron Slater email about Judith Collins)

I'll update this regularly through the day.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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Gee, Bernard - I see the Three Stooges don't like you or at all (see today's whaledump, mh c&m instructions 4).
I'd like to think it's also got something to do with the all the intelligent commentators you get in here :-).

Woof woof

Thanks Kate. Not that hard to get on the hit list these days. Lots of people on it. :)

Instruction manual on how to maintain NZ's reputation as the "least corrupt country in the world"

Key who is hopelessly conflicted in this mess rules out a royal commission
As Jack Nicholson snarled in "A Few Good Men" "you (minions) cant handle the truth"
And, only the government has the power to call a royal commission
The investigation by the Inspector General, Cheryl Gwynn, will be held behind closed doors
You fools can't handle the truth

Matthew Hooton on RadioNZ quotes that the convention in the 90 days prior to polling day is for any enquiry questions/contents be determined in conjunction with the Opposition leader. 
Wonder if Key is aware of the convention?

The trick is trying not to get caught.. not so smart some of them.

Key is starting to look tired in his photos.
A PM who once promised so much is approaching his sell by date. Fitting really they way his government has sold out to vested interests. A government that doesn't represent all of NZ is always going to fail. Kiwis won't take the piss.

Key is the minister for NZ security services. He is  also the prime minister. Yet he claims he could not have been personally briefed on the SIS/OIA request. He wants us to believe his batch in Hawaii is off the nett, no land line connection, no sat phone , no encrypted secure commincations, no daily breifing from his office, nada, nothing. Yeah right! His defence in the media spot light is reminicent of Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex the that woman". What suprises me is the media meekly accept this crock without asking about his daily communications before he hits the surf or golf course in Hawaii!

I agree - and his cell phone records, probably can get these from Snowden :).
The media just believe JK except he is only telling his and National's version  of the truth. Where is JK's evidence????

Here's a question:

If National are still able to sneak in and win this election, can John Key continue as prime minister?

He lost all credibility with me a couple of years ago but now surely his integrity is under much scrutiny.

It's all depending on what colour shirt you have one today!  I remembered the last PM sent in the SAS troops while telling the nation that we are not getting involved.  IMO, they are as bad as each others.

Surely (to corrupt the old adage) 
"They are all bad but some are badder than others"

Then it's a question is should you stick to the devil you know?
The last one we had now sits comfortably in the high floor of the UN !

Not in the same league

I trust Team Kim has downloaded the Beehive hard drives.  Else we'll have to go to the NSA.

FYI Updated with a delay in National's plan for tax cuts.
Key told a news conference in Wellington the Government had decided to postpone the announcement of its fiscal plan, possibly until after Wednesday, because of the two fatal shootings at an Ashburton Work and Income office and the ongoing manhunt for the killer.

I'm not sure how announcing tax cuts would affect the manhunt, or does he mean it wouldn't get the same front headline on the news. I'd rather have the longer time to work out where the money was coming from, particular as they have already said the discretionary spending in the budget is for an number of other things.

Or, because Paula Bennett is out of the office, she can't announce that the tax cuts are being paid for by benefit cuts

Can't wait to hear it from the left that the rich (who in the left world dont pay taxes) are going to be the ones benefitting from any tax cuts....

I gather John Ansell ("Iwi/Kiwi" billboards) will be running a well financed anti-Green "fear the Communist FemiNazis" campaign over the next few weeks.

and the Herald have a conversation between Collins and Slater about the SIS OIA, strongly suggesting both Slater and Collins knew the full details ahead of time
Collins also knowing is new.

FYI have updated with Sean Hughes saying how the blogging attacks partly caused him to leave early and Adam Feeley saying he expected the SFO and Police to consider their own investigations into the Cameron Slater email about Judith Collins.

Many thanks. Corrected now.

Hi Bernard,
So I haven't commented on here for a while. But hearing the latest about these appalling attacks against you I thought I would just say hi and how very much I have and still do enjoy this site. I stopped commenting due to how petty and vindictive it all gets online now so now just have a read every now and then to stay informed.
All the best, and don't stop what your'e doing. 
Enjoy hearing you on the Panel with Jim Mora also. 

Welcome back Justice. Haven't been down your neck of the woods for far too long  and yearn for it. Fond memories of lingering at McKee Reserve in Ruby Bay, big blue sky, lapping waves, wood pidgeons...sigh. Hope all is well with you and yours. You haven't by any chance run into our old mate Wally. Still missing in action......

Hi Snodgrass,
Thanks. Wally missing? He's not commenting on here either? Always found his post amusing. Yeah Nelson is great but the local politics here needs some serious investigating. Local mayor loves 'Blue' way too much for my liking.

Wally is missing Justice, hasn't commented in these parts for a few years now. He was a gentleman and a scholar who could take as good as he gave. An original stalwart of Bernards Blog what became this. Hope he is OK.

Many thanks Justice.
I can understand on the commenting issue.
It always surprises me what some people are willing to say online that they would never say to your face.
I had a very pleasant coffee with Cathy Odgers a few months ago. No mention of what she really thought. Hard to fathom really.

BH: Seems he would rather a tour than commission (royal that is). 
for the time poor take 30 seconds to see from the 13 minute mark..
Oh for the happy days of April past....