In 2014 it was revealed that, three years earlier, the Beehive had used secret SIS material to smear then Opposition leader Phil Goff through the Whaleoil blog.
The Ardern Government's smearing of Charlotte Bellis, the pregnant New Zealander stuck in Afghanistan after the Government denied her permission to return home to give birth, is in a similar category.
In mitigation, then Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins at least did his smearing transparently rather than anonymously through social media.
But aggravating his offence is that the Ardern Government knew that what Hipkins was saying about Bellis was not true.
Hipkins has now apologised to Bellis, but only after threats of defamation proceedings.
Making his words even more hollow, the public apology comes five months after Hipkins must have been advised that his smear was untrue and more than three months after he apologised to Bellis privately.
For five months, Hipkins has allowed the public to believe that Bellis had twice been offered government assistance to return home from Afghanistan but had turned it down — implying she was some kind of drama queen making a political point, rather than a mum-to-be wanting to give birth in her hometown of Christchurch rather than Kabul.
For her part, Jacinda Ardern says the main thing is that an apology has now been given.
I believe the sequence of events smells of the public apology being cynically delayed until the Government was required to release official information revealing its lie and after Hipkins had been relieved of his Covid responsibilities in last week's Cabinet reshuffle.
Were Hipkins still Covid-19 Response Minister when it all became public on Wednesday, Ardern would have had to sack him. He still remains Minister of Education, Minister of Police, Leader of the House, fifth-ranked in Cabinet and Minister for the Public Service, making him head of the entire Wellington bureaucracy.
Once, Hipkins remaining in Cabinet at all would have been untenable. But standards have progressively fallen, first under John Key's Government and further under Ardern.
Those who still think ministers should meet previous standards of integrity might celebrate that at least one brave woman has squeezed an apology out of the Beehive.
But the Government this week wouldn't apologise to the hundreds of other pregnant New Zealanders who were blocked from returning home by Hipkins' MIQ lottery and emergency allocation system, which the courts have found operated after September 1, 2021 as a legally unjustified limit on the right of New Zealand citizens to enter their own country. By October, 229 New Zealanders had applied for emergency MIQ allocation to return home pregnant, but only 23 were allowed in.
Advised that the system was of dubious legality, the Government's practice seems to have been to take seriously only those applicants with the means to sue — and even then to wait just before an actual hearing to back down.
The priority was not helping desperate New Zealand citizens return home. It was avoiding embarrassing Ardern and Hipkins by preventing court judgments that might find the system unlawful.
The Government is not appealing these High Court judgments. Yet it has also made clear that it will not be apologising to anyone.
To do so, it fears, would provide grounds for more New Zealanders to ask the courts to examine the way they were treated by Ardern's Government and perhaps seek damages. That would never do, since it could hurt the Prime Minister's global brand, set to be on display at the Nato summit next week in Madrid, EU headquarters in Brussels and at a photo op with embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.
Former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark is among those concerned about Ardern's tilt towards the US and Nato and away from the "independent foreign policy" pursued by Bill English, Key, Clark herself, Jenny Shipley and Jim Bolger for three decades.
God only knows what David Lange would think of Ardern addressing the annual summit of a US-led military alliance based on nuclear deterrence.
On her visit to Brussels and London, the Prime Minister will be accompanied mainly for illustrative purposes by a carefully vetted "business" delegation to present her as pro-business to New Zealand voters worried about economic security.
In truth, real New Zealand businesspeople are gearing up to fight the Government's ongoing attacks on their viability with bans on immigration, constant minimum wage increases and the return of 1970s-style national awards and stagflation.
If more were needed to reveal the Government as a mere focus-group-driven PR charade, five years since the Prime Minister appointed herself Minister for Child Poverty Reduction and declared that her Government would build 100,000 new homes, KidsCan founder Julie Chapman reports that "poverty is the worst it's been for families", mainly because of housing.
The State of Child Health Report from Cure Kids, in partnership with the Paediatric Society, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Otago University's Child and Youth Epidemiology Service, found that New Zealand's rates of dental disease, respiratory conditions, skin infections, acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease are too high relative to other resource-rich countries. For dental disease and respiratory conditions, hospitalisation rates continue to worsen.
According to the Government's Children's Commissioner, Frances Eivers, "on many measures, New Zealand is currently one of the worst places in the developed world to be a child."
There comes a time when governments simply must be thrown out. It's bad enough that the Ardern Government has proven incompetent at delivering any of the things it was elected to do. Its performance over Bellis shows it has now joined some of its most infamous predecessors in the slime.