Sick of hearing about dirty politics? Me, too. During the campaign I started to take note of allegations that came to light after publication of Nicky Hager's book of the same name, but stopped because I was running out of bandwidth.

To name a few, major and minor: possible involvement by Judith Collins in efforts to undermine the head of the SFO, which may or may not have been what led to her resignation; manipulation of figures over gang involvement in crime; the PM's apparent pre-knowledge of a private advertisement in the Press that put the Government in a favourable light; the extraordinary revelations made in Auckland Town Hall by the world's top three whistle-blowers, Glen Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, about our involvement in mass surveillance, overshadowed of course by the Kim Dotcom debacle.

Then we learned Solid Energy had kept from the Pike River families news that the mine had been assessed as safe to enter a year ago, which, given the amount of time and effort the PM and senior Cabinet ministers had put into the issue, had serious embarrassment implications for the Government.

At the very least, all this shows there is something wrong at the heart of the administration. This is not the New Zealand way of doing things. At whatever level this behaviour is known about and sanctioned, its eradication needs to come from the top to have any chance of restoring our faith in our most important institutions.

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One reason a lot of voters discounted the dirty politics revelations was that they were too much to absorb. Just as we got our heads around one piece of blatant cynicism another popped up to take its place. It was easier to dismiss it on the grounds that "all politicians do it". Anyone who believes that clearly has no idea just how odious "it" is in this case.

All politicians do it a bit, but not this systematically, cynically and extensively. It is impossible to know that and not be appalled.

And although it suits the Government for you to believe so, "everybody" has not always done it. Any evidence to the contrary would be most welcome.

And following the election, what has the Government done to allay our fears about the sort of culture it is using to run the country? It has said: "Hey, look over there — a new flag."

The most appropriate design for a new flag would be a plain red one, to ensure that the warnings of recent weeks are not ignored.

The end of the election campaign must not be the end of efforts to restore faith in the integrity (within limits, of course — no one is expecting miracles) of our leaders.

Let's hope we will be able to look back on September 20 and see it as the end of the beginning.


Labour spent the week showing everyone who might have thought twice about not voting for the party that they made the right decision.

David Cunliffe, apparently not sufficiently humiliated by the defeat to which he led his team, was determined to heap more ridicule on himself and his few remaining MPs with a vainglorious attempt to hang on to his dying party's leadership as it enters the palliative-care stage.

Labour is on the road to oblivion and the sooner the better, because at the moment this circus — and I apologise to circus performers everywhere for the comparison — has given the Government precious breathing space by diverting attention from scrutiny of the issues outlined above.

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