Prime Minister John Key has defended his choice of a
government inquiry into former Justice Minister Judith Collins'
dealings with former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley in
the face of Opposition calls for a broader inquiry into Dirty
Politics allegations that also takes in the Oravida affair.
Mr Key this afternoon confirmed he had ordered a "government
inquiry" - a new form of investigation with powers to compel
evidence - to investigate matters which prompted Ms Collins'
resignation as a minister on Saturday.
Mr Key said he would order an inquiry when a 2011 email
surfaced last week in which WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater
said Ms Collins was "gunning" for Mr Feeley.
The email appears to refer to an alleged campaign to
discredit Mr Feeley run by Slater and public relations
consultant Carrick Graham on behalf of former Hanover Finance
director Mark Hotchin, whose affairs were at the time subject
to an SFO investigation.
Mr Key has indicated the inquiry will examine only the issues
around Ms Collins' relationship with Mr Feeley.
However the Opposition have pushed for a more serious royal
commission to also examine wider allegations about Mr Key's
Government's involvement with Slater which were raised in
Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics.
Labour's shadow attorney-general David Parker this afternoon
released wide ranging terms of reference or matters Labour
believed an inquiry should examine.
They include central allegations made in Hager's book such as
the 2011 release of SIS documents to Slater to embarrass then
Labour Leader Phil Goff, the unauthorised access of Labour's
online membership records by Mr Key's former senior adviser
Jason Ede, and Ms Collins' passing of information about
senior public servant Simon Pleasants to Slater.
However, Labour also says the inquiry should examine Ms
Collins' conduct in relation to Oravida, the export company
her husband works for.
Ms Collins was put on notice by Mr Key earlier this year when
it emerged she had met with Oravida bosses and a Chinese
border official during a ministerial visit to China last
Labour says an inquiry should examine whether her family's
financial interest were brought into conflict with her
ministerial duties and whether that potential conflict of
interest was a breach of the cabinet manual.
Mr Parker told reporters this afternoon that the Oravida
issue had been included because "it's part of a pattern isn't
it?" "I think there's plenty of unanswered questions there."
He said Mr Key was trying to "close down" the Dirty Politics
furore "by creating a process in respect of that single
issue" around the SFO.
"I think that particular issue is likely to be investigated
by the police and the broader issues relating to the conduct
of government and whether there's a new style of Government
that has arisen which uses government official information in
a way that we haven't seen before."
A letter setting out Labour's arguments in favour of a
broader inquiry which included its proposed terms of
reference was sent to Mr Key and other party leaders by
Labour David Cunliffe yesterday.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters this morning said a
wide ranging royal commission of inquiry into Dirty Politics
allegations would be a "bottom line" in any post-election
talks for his party.
Mr Key has said a broader inquiry into the Dirty Politics
allegations isn't warranted and the Opposition push for one
was politically motivated.
Speaking to reporters in Christchurch this afternoon he said
the difference between a Government Inquiry and a royal
commission were "a bit semantic".
"The powers of the inquiry we are proposing to establish are
identical to the ones of a royal commission. The only
difference is actually who appoints the actual people, and
who it reports to.
"The real powers of a Government inquiry as we're proposing
are very thorough, very broad and no different to a royal
commission." He said Mr Peters had "lots of bottom lines".
"This is just another one. As I've said before, I'm not going
to get into bottom lines prior to an election. We'll go and
talk to political parties afterwards." He suggested those
calling for a wider inquiry should be careful what they
"There are lots and lots of different players involved in
this. And, push come to a shove, maybe that wouldn't be what
[Peters] would want.
"The blogger in question has said that half the Labour caucus
is involved. To cast a wide net across the media,
realistically we all just need to take our breath for a
moment here. There's a specific allegation about a particular
minister. She utterly refutes it and her position is
supported by the State Services Commissioner.
"But I, as a Prime Minister, have to get an answer to that
question and I'm setting up a Government inquiry." A
Government Inquiry has powers to order people to give
evidence and produce documents and other evidence or face
conviction and a $10,000 fine if they refuse.
Labour has now also filed a complaint with police in relation
to Dirty Politics allegations.