If you don’t know what’s happening in New Zealand right now, here’s a quick summary:
Investigative journalist Nicky Hager released a book called Dirty Politics. It’s based on a large number of emails and Facebook messages stolen by a hacker from a right-wing blogger called Whale Oil. The hacker passed on the hacked files to Hager anonymously. The book gives details about the links between the National Party (the main party in government) and right-wing bloggers who have run smear campaigns, attacks and spread slander online about opposition politicians and parties. In one case, classified security documents were declassified and given to bloggers to use in attacks against opposition politicians. In another, a Minister gave personal details about a government employee to the blog Whale Oil for an attack which resulted in that government employee getting death threats. The Prime Minister’s staff also stole information from an opposition party’s computer and gave the information to bloggers to use in attacks on the main opposition party. Basically all this shit has been revealed about how the government has been acting dirty to kill off its opposition and secure another election win. But now the book has been released, journalists are just following around the Prime Minister asking him questions about the book to the point where he is visibly angry, walking out of interviews and basically falling apart. What’s more, the actual stolen emails are being released slowly, day-by-day by an anonymous person on Twitter. So every day there is new stuff coming out and it’s a big shitstorm and it’s great.
Additional info: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Some actual quotes from the book by Cameron Slater, who runs Whale Oil:
Slater tells a friend in the wake of the February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake:
What i can’t believe … is how we have to bail out those useless pricks in the sth island, again. … Those [Christchurch] suburbs are hard core Labour … the owners will be Nat voters though and the voters tenants, so the houses are gone and the scum are gone too, and so they should get nothing. (p. 27)
Slater is talking with another blogger, “Barnsley Bill”, about the response to a post Slater wrote describing the death of a West Coast man in a car accident as that of a “feral” who had “done the world a favour”.
Why would I apologise to that slut [the dead man’s mother]? … J[ohn] K[ey] rang me … [and said she] was the same feral fucking bitch that screams at him when he goes to pike river meetings. (p. 133)
[29 men were killed in the Pike River disaster (and their bodies are still trapped in the mine). The government initially tried to convict the company running the mine as 25 breaches of health & safety were identified. They were ordered to pay $110 000 to the families of each miner, but only paid $5 000 because “they ran out of money” and eventually the charges were dropped.]
And then there’s this:
Besides Len Brown, other people Slater had asked for dirt on included John Boscowan, Labour MPs, the Herald’s editors and Duncan Garner.
[Image from here]
Furthermore, which is arguably even worse, is that John key refuses to investigate any of the allegations, instead resorting to his own attacks, mostly against the character of the journalist. He also refuses to sack the minister who abused her power, Judith Collins (who ironically is the Minister of Justice) despite the fact that she was on her “final warning” at the beginning of the year. John Key is refusing to face up to growing evidence and instead implies that other parties use these tactics too (of which there is no evidence). He refuses to answer questions on the matter, and journalists are getting increasingly frustrated. Additionally, an Official Information Request was granted unusually quickly to Slater, who asked for the same information as other members of the media who had not received any information. The PM was in charge of the SIS (the intelligence agency) and is claiming that he knew nothing about Slater’s request. Yet for information to be released that quickly, surely the Minister in charge would know. It’s also alleged that a member of his office told Slater what to write in the request to get the information. In relation to the hacking of Labour (the opposition)’s computers, he is trying to write it off as something anyone would do, when it is clearly unethical. Yes, as John Key argues, all political parties speak to bloggers who are increasingly influential in the media, but no, they do not use them to launch personal attacks and underhanded campaigns to “bring people down”. The kind of tactics that have been used by this government that have come to light are not only sickening, but downright disgusting.