Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: October 19

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John Banks. Photo / NZ Herald
John Banks. Photo / NZ Herald

The problem with riding out a political controversy is that it makes it very hard to draw a line underneath it. High profile resignations eventually allowed the Government to draw a line under the ACC mess. Compare that to the problems Mr Dotcom is causing, which are numerous and largely unresolved. John Banks' involvement is still creating fallout, with the Prime Minister again having to back his coalition partner. This is despite revelations in a letter from Banks' lawyer that the Act leader - who repeatedly stated he had nothing to hide - was concerned about what journalists and Opposition MPs might do with his statements to the police - see: Key still backs Banks, despite letter.

Of course the actual statements are still to be revealed - another political grenade waiting to go off, even as related issues keep John Key occupied. David Shearer's claim that there was a video of the PM discussing Kim Dotcom in February clearly wasn't a knockout blow and as Patrick Gower reports, Shearer's Labour colleagues weren't exactly enthusiastic in support - see: Has Shearer's GCSB claim backfired?.

In the (un)parliamentary melee that erupted as John Key sought to correct a previous statement to the House there were no real blows landed, just some brawling that was difficult to referee - see: Jane Clifton's Smith on a hot tin roof with points-ordering. As Corin Dann points out, however, that is probably enough for the opposition at the moment: 'The fact is that the Government is now having to fight a number of fires on different fronts. It's starting to look a little rattled' - see: No 'gotcha' moment for Key.

The nature of the GCSB may also be preventing Key from dealing with the politics of the issue says Patrick Smellie: 'If lawyers are unwilling to be open about the truth, spy agencies are both obliged and pathologically inclined to withhold information. He simply can't defend himself. In the process, however, his position is eroded' - see: Trust easily lost in age of new media. However, heads may be beginning to roll at the spy agency, albeit slowly, as it appears Hugh Wolfensohn - a key player in signing off on the illegal spying of Dotcom is on 'gardening leave' - see Patrick Gower's Senior spy faces sack over Dotcom debacle.

There will undoubtedly be some gardening leave on offer soon at the Ministry of Social Development. The seriousness and scale of the problem has been underlined by the head of the Government's IT programmes being ordered to do an urgent stocktake of all public computer systems in use by government departments: - see Claire Trevett's Scramble to safeguard IT systems.

Despite denials that the Minister, her office and her department had nothing to do with the outing of Ira Bailey, suspicion remains. Not least because the Minister has a track record: 'Ms Bennett has done a similar thing in the past, releasing the weekly benefit details of a solo mother who challenged a National Party policy. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei wants a forensic investigation of the computers in Ms Bennett's office' - see: Bennett accused of breaching privacy again. There is clear evidence that Bailey's identity was known in the Beehive. Holly Ford, a member of Ms Bennett's staff, checked out Bailey's LinkedIn profile just before it was leaked to the Herald's Claire Trevett - see: Chris Keall's LinkedIn trail leads to Bennett's office - Ng.

The independent journalist at the centre of it all wasn't impressed with his source being forced into public view, but Keith Ng will be happy with the public response to his work - over $5,500 in donations so far to support his work - see: Blogger raises donations for breaking Winz story.

In other recent articles of interest:

* Is David Shearer getting away with anti-immigrant 'dog whistle' politics? Vernon Small thinks so: 'I have to say when I read the speech I expected to hear swift cries from the usual suspects that Shearer was indulging in ''dog-whistle'' politics to the anti-immigrant lobby. But so far silence. Would Winston Peters be so lucky?' - see: Shearer's dog whistle.

* Bill English told the Maori Council to 'bring it on' and they are obliging - see RNZ's Maori Council goes to High Court over SOE sale. Meanwhile the opposition is dismissing the offer to some iwi to buy shares on credit, but there are claims that iwi leaders support the proposal - see: Adam Bennett's Power shares offer 'cynical'. David Farrar is careful to reassure everyone that no special deals are being given to Maori: 'This is the key point. All shares will be purchased at the same price as other New Zealand buyers' - see: 65 Iwi offered a chance to *purchase* shares.

* The legislation to enable charter schools to be established has provoked an outcry because they will be exempt from the Official Information Act. A very effective user and watchdog of the act, blogger No Right Turn is unimpressed: 'it also means that if your kid goes to such a school, and they are treated unfairly, then you will have no right to demand answers, or to fair treatment, unless of course you are rich enough to be able to bring a High Court judicial review under the BORA - because that thankfully will still apply. If you're poor, however, you can kiss justice and fairness goodbye' - see: National's agenda: unaccountability and secrecy. The Southland Times also thinks we have the right to know what the schools are doing with their taxpayer funding - see Editorial: Partners in what, exactly?. The Herald, however, is disappointed that more educationalists are not jumping at the chance to be involved - see: Partnership opportunity for teachers.

* As with the charter schools, media generally argue for more transparency but a Waikato Times editorial suggests that less public information about executive pay rises would be better - Closing the income gulf.

* The NZ First leader has always had a strained relationship with Speakers of the House but his moving a motion of no confidence in Lockwood Smith is a rare challenge - see Audrey Young's Peters' stoush with Speaker gets serious.

* Undershooting the 1-3% inflation target has spurred further calls for the Reserve Bank to be more pro-active (see TV3's Greens seek rate cut after low inflation) but the government is not having any of it - see Audrey Young's Bill to extend Reserve Bank power fails first reading.

* The original advocates for radical monetary reform put the case for no-interest credit - see Stephnie de Ruyter's Time for Reserve Bank to review interest.

* Labour has given up the fight to have unions removed from lobbying disclosure requirements - see: Exemptions for unions no longer sought.

* Despite the Department of Labour estimating the cost at nearly half of Bill English' previous estimate, Tova O'Brien reports that Government continuing with parental leave veto.

* Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has been criticised for refusing to take part in a court action that will have a dramatic impact on waterways - see: Marty Sharpe's Fish & Game gets hooks into minister.

* Who will be the Next Wellington Mayor? David Farrar looks at the likely contenders.

* The Waitangi Tribunal continues to challenge the government's performance as a treaty partner - see Danya Levy and Kate Chapman's Crown failed kohanga reo says tribunal.

* David Farrar's rankings of MP performance have been the source of friction amongst NZ First MPs - see: NZ First infighting. Farrar's suggestion that Shane Jones could jump ship to become the NZ First deputy leader also won't endear him to that caucus: Could Shane waka jump to NZ First.

* Housing New Zealand tenants are wrong to consider they have a 'home for life' says today's Herald editorial: State housing shuffle fair use of stock.

* The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is very critical of the select committee report on the Emmissions Trading Scheme: 'we now have one in place that will have very, very limited effectiveness and has locked in subsidies to to the worst emitters indefinitely." - see RNZ's Commissioner dismayed by emissions report.

* The new proposal for lower rates for young workers coming off a benefit may fall foul of Human Rights legislation which prevents discrimination based on someone's 'employment status' - see TVNZ's Greens lay complaint over 'starting wage'.

* Commerce Minister Craig Foss appears to have wrong footed his leader over a review of superannuation's long-term viability. The official line is that there is no issue to look at - see TVNZ's Key in the dark over superannuation review.

* About that economic recovery... Unemployment of 7pc predicted as job adverts fall.

- NZ Herald

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Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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