It would have been naive in the extreme to have expected any mention in yesterday's Speech from the Throne of the revelations contained in Nicky Hager's book, Dirty Politics.

The prime task of that speech - delivered by the Governor-General on the first day proper of the new post-election Parliament - is to lay out the Government's broad legislative and policy programme for the next three years. It is broad-brush. It is always devoid of detail on how any of the initiatives in the "shopping list" of policies will actually work.

Above all, the speech is always relentlessly positive. There is no room for listing political embarrassments - such as the exposure by Hager during the run-up to last month's election of National's covert dirty-tricks campaign.

National is hardly keen to resurrect the matter. The Prime Minister's success in shooting the messenger to kill the message, National's subsequent stunning victory at the ballot box, and the thrashing handed to Labour and that party's post-election meltdown have pushed the contents of Dirty Politics well out of the political limelight.


The rotten smell lingers, however. And National should think seriously about acknowledging it is badly tainted and do something which shows it is genuinely cleaning up its act.

No doubt many in the party are instead quietly revelling in what comes close to state persecution of Hager for the trumped-up crime of exposing the ugly truth about the true level of National's adherence to New Zealand's fundamental democratic and constitutional principles. No doubt many think the party has got off relatively scot-free despite indulging in some pretty abominable behaviour.

They would be very unwise to make that assumption. The laws of politics are like the laws of physics. What goes up tends to come down. Things that might seem to be working in your favour can suddenly turn around and bite you in the face.

True, National has suffered casualties. Judith Collins was sacked. Jason Ede has exited. Or was exited.

There are men and women of honour at the higher levels of the Beehive - Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, Anne Tolley and Chris Finlayson come to mind - who must be appalled by what was being done in the name of the party for which they serve. But no one in National has yet to express any regrets.

It might be politically wise to do so, however. The new Parliament is up and running. Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First yesterday all flagged they would be using whatever mechanisms available to them to make those responsible for National's dirty tricks accountable for their actions.

National might think it is all over. It might be just the beginning.

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