Reaction to claims about spying and mass surveillance on New Zealanders will unsurprisingly fall along political lines unless something more concrete can be found to support or refute those claims.

No matter how excited National Party opponents may be at the prospect of the Prime Minister being caught out over allegations made by prominent whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, an electorate still punchdrunk thanks to the Dirty Politics affair will need more than smoke and mirrors.

Mr Snowden claimed this week that New Zealanders' metadata was included in a data harvesting programme used by the US and that there were two NSA bases in New Zealand.

Mr Key says the claims are unsubstantiated, though his explanation that he checked overnight with the head of the GCSB Ian Fletcher and former head of the GCSB Bruce Ferguson and both had told him there were no NSA bases in New Zealand is worrying.


Surely the Prime Minister and SIS Minister shouldn't need to double check such things?

For many observers, everything comes down to reputations, and a matter of trust. For Mr Key and Kim Dotcom, who facilitated the Moment of Truth event at which the spying claims were made, reputations are on the line.

And with the lack of more information - these are what observers will base their judgments on. Who do you trust?

Questions have been raised about surveillance and about our nation's role in spying that we need answers to.

It's understandable that our national security apparatus can't be completely laid open to scrutiny, but we do need confidence that our leaders aren't lying to or misleading us - or, for that matter, spying on us. And quickly.

With just three days until the election, the dominant issue on the agenda is not the economy, housing, immigration, the treaty, health or education - it's spying.

Doesn't the whole Whale Oil/Judith Collins saga seem so long ago now?