Prime Minister John Key believes an orchestrated campaign
by left-wing activists led up to the release on Wednesday of
Nicky Hager's book, which contains damning allegations against
the National Party.
First came the Kim Dotcom video encouraging young people to
chant ‘‘F*** John Key''. Then came an effigy of his likeness
being burnt and posted online, followed by a billboard
defacement campaign and a parody song, which the Electoral
Commission has since banned television and radio stations
''Then comes the book containing baseless allegations.''
Asked in Dunedin about Mr Hager's book, Dirty Politics: How
attack politics is poisoning New Zealand's political
environment, Mr Key said Mr Hager joined a whole lot of dots
that could not be connected.
''There has been a build-up from the left all week until
Wednesday. That's when you have people saying: ‘We can't beat
National on policy, let's throw muck and see what happens'.''
Mr Key, despite constant questioning, denied any involvement
of the National Party, his staff or National Party staff in
the deeds alleged in the book.
He constantly attempted to turn around the allegations
against the political left.
And while not saying the emails were a work of fiction, Mr
Key carefully skirted around the issue, saying he was
unlikely to take a serious look at any of the allegations. He
was not likely to read the book before the election and his
staff had said there was nothing for him to investigate, he
Mr Key said he would be happy for any investigation to be
undertaken by any agency into the allegations, and when told
the Greens wanted a royal commission inquiry, he urged them
to pursue such a course.
He again accused Mr Hager of being a left›wing conspiracy
theorist and said any actions undertaken by Whale Oil blogger
Cameron Slater were undertaken solely by Mr Slater and not
under the direction of the National Party.
Some of the damning emails published by Mr Hager alleged a
conspiracy between National Party staff member Jason Ede and
Mr Slater. They suggested Mr Key gave tacit approval if Mr
Ede had undertaken trawling through Labour's website after Mr
Slater alerted the site was open to public scrutiny.
Mr Key denied to the Otago Daily Times he had any involvement
in any of the alleged deeds contained in the book and was
particularly annoyed he was said to have made offensive
remarks about a West Coast resident.
''That type of speech is not me,'' the Prime Minister said.
Labour Party secretary Tim Barnett said Labour was seeking
legal and other advice and would consider the matter at its
scheduled New Zealand Council meeting at the weekend in
''Meanwhile, we are focusing on running a positive campaign
centred on the issues New Zealanders are telling us they care
most about - work, home and families,'' he said.
Green Party co›leader Metiria Turei said the party planned to
lodge a series of complaints with the police, Parliamentary
Service, Inspector-general of Intelligence and Security and
the Privacy Commissioner.
Mr Key had degraded New Zealand's democracy, she said.
''The National Government is up to its neck in dirty politics
and may have broken the law while smearing opponents. The New
Zealand public cannot have any confidence in our democracy
until these claims are investigated.''
A police spokesman said any complaint received by police in
relation to the book ‘‘will be assessed in line with our
''We cannot provide a timeline for how long this may take.''
In contrast to claims in the book National wanted to reduce
voter turnout, Mr Key told those attending an Otago Chamber
of Commerce function to make sure they urged their friends to
vote. He expressed concern voter numbers were falling and
were possibly headed to a below 70% turnout from a turnout of
more than 90% six elections ago.
Labour MP Grant Robertson asked a series of questions in an
emailed statement, one of which asked what involvement Mr
Keyor his office had in the release of SIS material to Mr
Slater. Mr Key denied any involvement and said all the
decisions to release any material were made by the SIS.
And he reiterated he and his team gave no direction to Mr
University Book Shop general manager Phillippa Duffy said
copies of the book sold out within about two hours of
arriving yesterday morning. She declined to say how many
copies were sold. Another consignment had been ordered, and
would be in stock this morning, she said.
- Additional reporting, Eileen Goodwin