Nicky Hager says he did not write Dirty Politics to
change the outcome of the election, but is confident it will
lead to ''concrete change'' in New Zealand's political
Hager made the comments to a packed, adoring audience of
about 200 at Otago Museum, where he was hosted by the
University Book Shop last evening.
National's polling has hardly changed in the three weeks
since the book was launched, with the latest
Herald-DigiPoll survey showing the party could still
govern alone on 50.1%.
Hager said he could never understand opinion poll results,
but changing the government was not the motivation behind
writing the book.
''Even though ... I got the information in election year and
I was writing it before the election deliberately, I knew
that I was working during an election year where the election
outcome was a foregone conclusion.
''So I wasn't writing thinking this is going to change the
election; I was thinking this is going to raise really big
issues which we have to face up to sooner or later, anyway.''
''I wasn't doing it for a change of government or a change of
And while people on the Left were feeling ''tremendously
strongly'' about the issues in the book, polls did not
measure depth of feeling.
Despite the polls, he was still confident it would lead to a
''concrete change'' in New Zealand politics.
If National was re-elected they would try to laugh it off and
say ''nobody cared'', but the public's opinion of the party
would still be ''completely'' changed.
In the ''less likely'' event there was a change of
government, then some of the things he was pushing for - like
increased transparency and greater participation in politics
from people in the public sector - would likely happen more
In either case, the political landscape would change.
''I think ... on the back of the controversy and on the back
of the horror that it's caused for lots of people means there
is going to be concrete change, if not now, then later.''
Hager also disputed suggestions the focus on Dirty
Politics had drowned out debate on policy.
''I know from my own research that we weren't going to have
an election of policies this time.
''We were going to have an election just like the 2011 one,
which was a series of smears and manufactured scandals.''
This had been avoided because the Government knew ''how
blatant'' it would look if it used these tactics after the
Dirty Politics book came out.
He disagreed with an assessment, put to him last night by
host Dr Bryce Edwards, New Zealand was becoming ''very
New Zealand, with a few exceptions - at which point a member
of the audience interjected, shouting ''Dunedin City
Council'' - was largely corruption-free.
''We are very lucky to live in a country where most police
officers and most officials would think it was completely
outrageous to take [bribes].''
However, New Zealand needed to fight to take things further
and fix broken parts of the political process.