WikiLeaks: What our politicians didn't want you to know

By David Fisher, Jonathan Milne

Herald on Sunday senior staffers David Fisher and Jonathan Milne have obtained a 250,000-word dossier of secret WikiLeaks cables. The vast collection will embarrass some politicians but raises key issues of national security. All of the cables will be uploaded to nzherald.co.nz over the next few days.

Don Brash, former National Party leader. Photo / Herald on Sunday.
Don Brash, former National Party leader. Photo / Herald on Sunday.

Former National Party leader Don Brash was "not unhappy" about losing the 2005 election because it meant he didn't have to work with NZ First.

"Winston Peters really is a nutter," he is quoted as saying by a United States Embassy staff member in a November 2005 diplomatic cable. The comments come in an intelligence briefing to Washington after Peters' first big trip as foreign minister.

Brash said yesterday: "I don't recall saying that but it doesn't really surprise me. I certainly don't have a very high regard for Mr Peters." The disregard appeared mutual. Peters said Brash had little experience or credibility as a politician. "He lost the unloseable election."

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Labour leader Phil Goff is called "hard-charging" by US Embassy staff in a 2007 briefing. It describes him as "extremely hard-working" in his trade and defence portfolios.

The cable stated "Goff shares [Helen] Clark's gift for detail" and was "determined to succeed - quickly - at anything he tries".

The cable talked of Goff doing a parachute jump from a military plane. He argued for a jump over water because it required less training, then argued the amount of training down to two hours. Goff a was "very focused on the job at hand". "This sums up his working style in a nutshell."

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Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley has a working style that is "well-planned, well-researched and well-executed".

"A hard-working politician, ruthless or pragmatic as needed."

However, it also describes Shipley as shocking and leaving uncomfortable her fellow National Party cabinet members.

The cable stated: "In one unusual caucus meeting, Shipley offered to educate National MPs on how to examine themselves for sexually transmitted diseases. Her embarrassed colleagues declined."

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Labour nuclear disarmament minister Marian Hobbs was unkindly called "Boo-boo" and lived up to her nickname when meeting a special ambassador sent by President George Bush.

Hobbs met Jackie Wolcott Sanders in March 2005. Hobbs lined the US up with one of the countries named by its president as forming the Axis of Evil. She said New Zealand wanted "a world free of nuclear weapons".

"This is the same thing I tell Iran." A diplomatic cable a month later stated: "The minister knew she had offended the group in some way but seemed genuinely surprised at the reason."

- Herald on Sunday

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