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Speaker: On the upland road

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  • Kate Hannah,

    +1

    and beautiful use of High Country Weather.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Michele A'Court makes much the same plea, equally as eloquently -
    I'm hoping for a groundswell of engaged citizens and politicians to bring the country to its senses - not its knees...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I actually think this has gone beyond "dirty politics" and into outright corruption.

    The UK police distinguish between cops who are "bent for the job" (those who use illegal and unacceptable practices to pursue those they honestly believe to be guilty) and those who are "bent for themselves" and protect criminals for personal gain. Of course, one often tips over into the other.

    I think there's a similar thing in politics. The right is intrinsically "bent for the job" - they seek to promote the interests of the wealthy as a group through "legitimate" policy settings and laws. But this has, as can be expected, tipped over into being "bent for themselves" and taking money from individuals for privileged treatment (ranging from a photo with the Minister through to escaping prosecution for large scale fraud).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But we also have to ask how media and bloggers, (disclosure: I’m an occasional blogger) should be required to make clear their allegiances and their motivations, to prevent, or at least shine a light on, their abuse of others. Some of the core allegations of Dirty Politicsare that bloggers were presenting others’ copy as their own, often because they were being paid to.

    Political blogs don’t have to be balanced, we all understand that. But perhaps we need to find a way to make them subject to at least a basic level of transparency and fairness as the media are, as recently proposed by the Law Commission.

    David Slack and I discussed this yesterday on Firstline. Most of it really is just behaving decently: don't run anything under your own name that you haven't written, declare your interests, don't be a hateful bully.

    You don't need to join OMSA or anything else to conduct yourself ethically.

    I would have joined the overarching regulator proposed by the Law Commission -- and duly smacked down by Judith Collins -- but I don't think OMSA is actually the right body.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Warren Clark,

    It is probably unworkable but I would like to see some kind of mandated disclosure of all paid for content that's run where you would normally see content ie if you are paid to run content of any kind that's not obviously an advertisement it should be labeled as such.

    In the Lower Hutt. • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Sean Hughes of the Financial Markets Authority was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan. He came across as a conscientious public servant, who had been hounded out of his job. It made me more angry than anything else I've heard in this whole business.

    Destroying is easy, building up institutions - and the spirit of those who staff them - is a longer and harder road.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks, Colin. Yes, the OIA needs strengthening, including more realistic timeframes for release of simple information and fewer avenues for political interference. Maybe expedited timeframes for journalists too?

    I’ve long wanted journalism’s legally-protected status to depend on actual practice – if someone is behaving like a journalist (researching, writing, checking, declaring interests, being even minimally accountable and ethical) then they qualify. If they aren’t, no matter where their output appears, then they don’t.

    Existing remedies can then apply, preferably along with a beefed-up broad media regulator with teeth. Media organisations may find some hacks too risky and expensive to employ any more.

    I’m fundamentally sick of lies bringing no consequences for those who make and spread them. Of people defending falsehoods and nastiness by bleating about their ‘free speech’. Publishing of any sort is a privilege, not an unfettered right. Go say whatever you like in person and it’s hard to do too much harm. A megaphone or transmitter of any nature brings extra responsibilities.

    Similarly, I’d like to see the Auditor-General, Ombudsman, Privacy Commissioner, etc, not subject to government strangling their budgets. Someone suggested making the government agency being investigated liable for the costs of the investigation, adding another incentive for them not to misbehave. Imposing firm timeframes for investigations seems fair too. Justice delayed suits the powerful just fine.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    We need to strengthen the OIA and remove ministers from the ability to control the manner of their departments’ releases.

    I don’t think the OIA will be a complete fix for this (whatever ‘fix’ entails), but IMHO as part of strengthening the OIA, the Office of the Ombudsman also needs to be strengthened. Right now it’s chronically underfunded for the work it’s lumped with, and the amount of funding available to it is reliant on Parliament, and consequent political interference.

    In 2012, Shane Jones presented a Bill based on an idea that the Ombudsman should be able to invoice its time back to the entities it investigates. Maybe the Bill needed some tinkering from the first reading but I think the premise was good. It would have isolated most of the Ombudsman’s funding from parliament, and at the same time created an incentive for Departments and Minsters to actually follow the law lest they be lumped with an extra bill for having it investigated. Obviously some stuff will always be naturally controversial, but when that comes up, a Department’s going to be in a much clearer position to budget for expected complaints from that project than the Ombudsman.

    National basically laughed the Bill out of parliament at its first reading, saying that it’d just be used by people to sabotage deparments’ funding by lodging gratuitous complaints. Apparently the solution for gratuitous complaints is to keep under-funding the Ombudsman, making sure that those complaints can’t go anywhere because the hinges on the gate for all complaints are crippled.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Sacha,

    Someone suggested making the government agency being investigated liable for the costs of the investigation

    Heh. You beat me to it. :P

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    if someone is behaving like a journalist (researching, writing, checking, declaring interests, being even minimally accountable and ethical) then they qualify.

    Agreed, but who should make the decisions on whether someone's behaviour is consistent with journalism? And is the decision to be made on the basis of the writer's entire body of output (applying the "innocent until proven guilty" principle to new writers), or is each piece of writing to be judged on a case-by-case basis?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to izogi,

    Ta for the detail
    #tagteam

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    who should make the decisions on whether someone’s behaviour is consistent with journalism?

    Media regulator I mentioned, in response to complaints I’d imagine.

    And is the decision to be made on the basis of the writer’s entire body of output (applying the “innocent until proven guilty” principle to new writers), or is each piece of writing to be judged on a case-by-case basis?

    Both – again, in response to complaints.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    People in leadership positions are expected to be at least as moral as the rest of us, and we are all expected to obey the law and for good reason.

    If I may, I would like to add benevolence to the mix. Y'know, rulers making sure the ruled actually have all they need. And Mencius, I paraphrase: "Why are you talking about profit? Great way to create a failed state as everybody goes grabbing all they can for themselves. Benevolence and righteousness - be a good person and take care of the people, that's how you run a country. Oh, and don't go blaming the weather, take responsibility for your actions as ruler." If they could figure all that out in Warring States China, then....

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to izogi,

    saying that it’d just be used by people to sabotage deparments’ funding by lodging gratuitous complaints.

    Nice to see how much faith they have in humanity. To me that says more about the quality of this government than it does about the people of NZ.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    Media regulator I mentioned

    By "who should judge", I meant, who should be on the regulatory body, and how should they be appointed, to ensure an independent judgement not subject to political or industry influence.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to simon g,

    Sean Hughes of the Financial Markets Authority was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan. He came across as a conscientious public servant, who had been hounded out of his job. It made me more angry than anything else I've heard in this whole business.

    I've written some more on this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    ah, hadn't thought that far. I'm sure it's doable.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    David Slack and I discussed this yesterday on Firstline. Most of it really is just behaving decently: don’t run anything under your own name that you haven’t written, declare your interests, don’t be a hateful bully.

    I'm probably on a hiding to nothing on this, but I'd add "Don't run anything entirely based entirely on anonymous sources unless there is a clear and proven risk of harm to said source." And no, just chanting public interest doesn't cut it, and I'm not much interested in hearing "but everyone does it" either. Don't accept it from children, so why should I from alleged adults who can destroy people's reputations? Who knows, it might actually improve the quality of mud being slung if they've got to do it in the open.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster,

    The scary thing is that it seems that a moral way of living is going to have to come from the ground up as there is little sign of it existing in a tenable way amongst the so called leaders in most areas. Politicians, public servants, police, business heads all seem infected with indifference to the greater long term good.
    With an election only a few weeks away now is the time for real leadership to be exhibited. I do not see many coherent and reassuring signs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Pharmachick, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I agree Craig. I think this post is really excellent and an eloquent attempt to put into words things a lot of us feel. However, I personally just cannot get past the fact that these e-mails were illegally hacked/stolen. Everyone lost the high ground when the hacker resorted to crime to make a point. And Mr. Hagar resorted to benefiting from the proceeds of a crime - and he's done it before to Don Brash and to Helen Clark. EVERYONE needs to do better, including the author of the politics book.

    Since Apr 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Pharmachick,

    I agree Craig. I think this post is really excellent and an eloquent attempt to put into words things a lot of us feel. However, I personally just cannot get past the fact that these e-mails were illegally hacked/stolen. Everyone lost the high ground when the hacker resorted to crime to make a point.

    "Unofficial information" is vital in a democracy and almost all of it -- leaks or whatever -- is to some degree stolen or shared without permission. But yes, the way this information was accessed does appear to be criminal.

    And Mr. Hagar resorted to benefiting from the proceeds of a crime – and he’s done it before to Don Brash and to Helen Clark. EVERYONE needs to do better, including the author of the politics book.

    No, no and no. There are very clear legal precedents with respect to using such information if it is in the public interest, which is very clearly the case here. Hager says the correspondence in The Hollow Men was not hacked and for all the noise and a considerable amount of investigation, there's no evidence that it was. He had sources.

    Also, we need to dispense with the myth that Hager gets rich off what he does. The receipts from the sale of his books add up to considerably less than what a working journalist earns, and that's saying something. Whatever you think of him, he's not doing it for the money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Pharmachick, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think the bar for public interest has to be very high Russel. While I'm maybe buying that some of this is in the public interest, some of it was really salacious piffle. I also don't like that Mr. Hagar apparently only received e-mails etc about one party. I think there's a lot of stinky stuff on all sides and that very few of our current crop of pollies cover themselves in decency (let alone glory).

    I agree that the Brash e-mails were "leaked" by a third party. There is some glorious hair splitting in "leaking" not being "theft".

    Mr Hagar may not get rich (although my reading of the crimes act says that if the proceeds of this book exceed 30K he had better be able to prove public interest or he may well be toast). I think Prof Geddis was quoting a couple of sections that the hacker definitely breached earlier, whether or not Mr. Hagar is also criminally responsible is a matter for the courts/crown prosecutor to decide.

    Also, an argument can be made that Hagar targets both sides (Key, Brash and Clark) and makes no money so he's even handed and fighting the good fight. I simply don't trust his motivations pulling this stuff out just before elections every 3 years. It is divisive and sends the electorate down sensationalist channels when we should be talking about policy and about moving NZ forward. Oh yes, and Mr Hagar is a novelist, not a journalist, when he publishes books. There's already been one precedent before the courts that says book writers don't have the protections of their sources in the way that journalists do. Again this will probably be a precedent setting case if it heads to court.

    Perhaps as Kiwis we need to be asking if we want this attack stuff at all - not just Whaleoil blogs etc, but Mr. Hagar's particular brand of politics as well. So many people I know on all sides of the spectrum have gone beyond angry and they're just tired of it all now.

    Since Apr 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Meanwhile over on Pundit, Law Commissioner Wayne Mapp is saying

    Can society really afford to have the blogosphere limited only by the criminal law and the law of defamation?

    The Law Commission’s report into new media is increasingly looking like unfinished business.

    Which can only be taken as a threat.

    This isn't to deny the clear ethical problems displayed by Slater and DPF. But I'm not sure that a government crackdown on what has become a vital democratic forum is tha answer here.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Pharmachick,

    I think the bar for public interest has to be very high Russel. While I’m maybe buying that some of this is in the public interest, some of it was really salacious piffle.

    I think most of what’s the the book meets a very high bar. And not just in the book. I’ve just written about how important Matt Nippert’s stories on the campaign to undermine financial regulators are. He got his break from emails supplied to him by the hacker. Are you going to accuse him of doing it for the money too?

    I think Prof Geddis was quoting a couple of sections that the hacker definitely breached earlier, whether or not Mr. Hagar is also criminally responsible is a matter for the courts/crown prosecutor to decide.

    His legal advice was unequivocal on that score. How many books he sells has nothing to do with it.

    Also, an argument can be made that Hagar targets both sides (Key, Brash and Clark) and makes no money so he’s even handed and fighting the good fight. I simply don’t trust his motivations pulling this stuff out just before elections every 3 years.

    Yeah, another myth. Two books, Seeds of Distrust and Dirty Politics, 12 years apart. I’ll leave you to count up up how many elections there were between them.

    Oh yes, and Mr Hagar is a novelist, not a journalist, when he publishes books. There’s already been one precedent before the courts that says book writers don’t have the protections of their sources in the way that journalists do. Again this will probably be a precedent setting case if it heads to court.

    No, he’s not a “novelist”, for goodness sake. And I’ve written about how dreadful Justice Winkelmann’s decision on David Fisher’s book was. Hager was mindful of that when he gave back the material to the hacker, so he couldn’t be compelled to hand it over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Pharmachick,

    some of it was really salacious piffle

    Such as?

    I also don’t like that Mr. Hagar apparently only received e-mails etc about one party.

    They're the government. If they are exploiting the machinery of state to keep themselves in power, don't you think it's in the public interest to know this?

    I simply don’t trust his motivations pulling this stuff out just before elections every 3 years

    If it's important, and in this case it is, then prior to elections is exactly when the public needs to know about it.

    Oh yes, and Mr Hagar is a novelist, not a journalist, when he publishes books.

    Eh?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

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