Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Letter

451 Responses

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  • Idiot Savant,

    it seems possible that the Cunliffe letter came up in the course of OIA requests around Liu's interactions with various National Party ministers. (On the other hand, John Key seems to know an unusual amount about Labour's historical business here and if he's bragging that he's had a copy of the letter for weeks, then it would be interesting to know how and why.)

    No surprises policy: Ministers get informed (but do not get to make the decision on) anything significant, usually by being given a copy slightly pre-release (see also: Willaimson and the police, where Key was briefed on the request the day before). If Key's had it for months, it may have been released some time ago, and either sat on or just had its significance noted.

    And of course, you or anyone else can use the OIA to find out, by OIAing a copy of the request which resulted its release, as well as all correspondence and advice related to that request. If you do, I recommend using FYI, so we can all see the result.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    A couple of things strike me about all this. First is our media seem to have no sense of proportion, electorate MPs actually should be a legitimate port-of-call for people struggling with government bureaucracy. This letter is nothing. However, Rick Barker's junket is actually a story worth telling.

    Second is that it seems to me that Mr Liu is not someone who (in hindsight) should have been allowed to immigrate.

    Third our representatives in all parties need a strong reminder that the public of New Zealand does not pay them their salary so they can go on corrupt junkets and abuse their position to generate party funds. Seriously, there appears to have been a shift in understanding of what is acceptable in terms of corruption down at parliament.

    There would also seem to be a story worth telling about just how National is getting inside information on Labour Party activities.

    And the politicians wonder why we can't work up the energy to even vote any more - when they all behave like this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    While there has been some spin from the usual left wing suspects along the "Yes but" your last line says it all
    One PR disaster after another from Cunliffe is leading the floating voters who change Goverments in this country to think that we are not ready for a left leaning government yet

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 576 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Wow. I thought John Armstrong's piece yesterday was unhinged. But no, Armstrong was mild:

    David Cunliffe has an unfortunate manner on the moral high ground. He adopts a tone of solemn, heavy-hearted condemnation befitting a preacher in hell.

    Or:

    But mainly Mr Cunliffe had wanted to know when Mr Liu could expect a decision, much as former National minister Maurice Williamson was not trying to influence the police on his behalf when Mr Williamson contacted a district commander about a domestic assault investigation.

    He said he just wanted to ensure the police were on solid ground.

    Please excuse me while I struggle to see the equivalence.

    This story has a very suspicious smell to it. I can't shake the feeling that it's a huge National tu quoque to distract attention from National's own highly dodgy relations with Donghua Liu and others.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Second is that it seems to me that Mr Liu is not someone who (in hindsight) should have been allowed to immigrate.

    Which was the official advice regarding both his residency (granted by Labour) and his citizenship (granted by National).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Second is that it seems to me that Mr Liu is not someone who (in hindsight) should have been allowed to immigrate.

    And Immigration was telling that to ministers both Labour and National all along...

    ETA: Snap! Russell.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I approached my MP about my husband's residency application in 2002. No one tapped me on the shoulder for a donation afterwards.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Has anyone ever seen Donghua Liu
    and Kim.com in the same room?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    had Cunliffe not stoutly denied any contact with Liu

    But he didn't "stoutly deny" such contact. He said he couldn't recall such contact. That's about as far from a "stout" denial as one can get short of saying that such contact occurred.
    The only "stout denial" was that he'd "advocated for" Liu, and after reading that letter it's a big stretch to call it advocacy. Certainly in the context of Williamson ringing the cops about someone with whom he had a personal relationship it's not advocacy of any sort.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    My guess is that in a day or so someone will "discover" a photo of Mr Cunliffe and Mr Liu in the same place at the same time. This will be "proof" that the two were known to each other and had met. Therefore DC must be not telling the truth. Of course MPs meet heaps of people all the time without knowing who they are but if Labour is a threat....

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Rick Barker's junket

    So a politician who goes on holiday is on a junket? I see.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Surely Mr Cunliffe could have signed the letter without ever meeting the man? Office process would have an electorate Secretary processing the request of many constituents and DC signing. (Although at that time Mr Liu was not a constituent of anywhere in NZ.)

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    __Rick Barker’s junket__

    So a politician who goes on holiday is on a junket? I see.

    I think serious questions should be asked as to the precise nature of his visit to Liu in Chongqing. One does not often visit factories belonging to business people looking to move to and invest in one's own country while on holiday.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    having been caught out in his denial he has removed his party’s ability to pursue National

    Exactly as intended. This year Joyce and co have been faithfully running Karl Rove’s strategy that got Bush elected. A compliant media has helped, along with a Labour back office that doesn’t seem to know how to do the basics, despite McCarten’s track record. Sadly if their vote does collapse, too many of the MPs who survive will still be the deadwood.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You know what really surprised me – hearing Cunliffe say on Campbell Live last night that his office didn’t even retain a copy of the letter for (unspecified) “privacy reasons.” I wouldn’t find anything particularly sinister about MPs offices keeping file copies of all correspondence with public agencies – which, I shouldn’t have to say, I have perfect confidence are overwhelmingly conducted by MPs and their OOP staff with the utmost integrity.

    @Ianmac:

    Surely Mr Cunliffe could have signed the letter without ever meeting the man? Office process would have an electorate Secretary processing the request of many constituents and DC signing.

    Full disclosure: I used to work for a list MP, and while I could easily believe Cunliffe never met Liu I find it disturbing that any MP would sign anything even tangentially related to an immigration matter unawares, let alone not keep a copy on file.

    Look I agree with Russell – nobody can seriously suggest Cunliffe is even remotely in the same sleazy ballpit as Taito Philip Field. But it’s also impossible to muster a great deal of sympathy for a politician whose categorical denial of any interactions with a man he’d turned into a litmus test for political probity came back to bite him in the arse.

    Exactly as intended. This year Joyce and co have been faithfully running Karl Rove’s strategy that got Bush elected.

    Oh, come on Sasha -- that's about as absurd as suggesting Brash's severe case of running foot-in-mouth disease that pretty much cost him the 2005 election was all the fault of Rovian cunning and lefty media. As I said on Twitter, Jared Savage did the kind of basic follow-up on a legitimate story that journalists should be doing as a matter of course. I'm sorry if this time it's been politically inconvenient to the Labour Party, but I'd like to see more of it not less. And let the chips fall where they may.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I think serious questions should be asked as to the precise nature of his visit to Liu in Chongqing. One does not often visit factories belonging to business people looking to move to and invest in one’s own country while on holiday.

    One is not normally a minister who makes decisions about such things, so “normally” is a pretty foreign concept to you and I in this context.
    Unless Liu paid for his trip, it’s not a junket. If Liu did pay for the trip, there ought to be a paper trail in terms of the Register of Members’ Interests, since even cheap return airfares NZ-CN are above the de minimus for declaration.

    Barker having overridden Immigration’s advice is a story. If Barker got a paid-for trip from Liu, it’s a story. Barker having visited Liu’s businesses whilst on a self-funded holiday is not a story.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • LouisM,

    My experience with using the OIA is that you have to very specific about the information that you want, otherwise it will be declined. I'd have thought it would be hard to get your hands on this document if you didn't know it existed in advance.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    categorical denial of any interactions

    Cunliffe said he couldn't recall meeting Liu, or writing a letter for him. He was only certain that he hadn't advocated for him, and whether asking Immigration to clarify the time-frame on a decision constitutes advocacy is splitting hairs in comparison to Williamson phoning the cops about a mate's domestic violence strife.

    I'm certainly confused as to how "I don't recall" has suddenly become certain and unequivocal.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I send umpteen letters to MP's ,Opposition and current Government. I get plenty of replies I choose the appropriate MP or Opposition spokespeople. I have never been asked for a friggin donation. I have however been ignored and that has made me feel like the Politician isn't doing their job. I would expect Cunliffe to have signed that letter in 2003 if it were me making enquiries.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Ianmac,

    Surely Mr Cunliffe could have signed the letter without ever meeting the man?

    You'd have thought so, particularly since the letter was written by an office staffer of Cunliffe's and, IIRC, the approach came from an immigration agent rather than directly from Liu. It's entirely possible Liu has never set foot in any of Cunliffe's offices.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    bragging that he’s had a copy of the letter for weeks,

    That is all we really need to know. John Key, once again derailing democracy for his own ends. The timing is just about right to cause the most damage, a thing Mr Key knows all about, after all that is how he made the run on the NZ Dollar when he was trading.
    We really have to look at the actual letter, where did it come from and why does a copy even exist? is it even real, what exactly is its provenance?

    Also, I sent you an email the other day about electioneering material I received from "the office of John Key" that was paid for by Parliamentary Services, a blatant breach of the rules. Perhaps you could have a look at that.
    As usual John Key is "Out to Lunch" while the shit hits the fan so he remains squeaky clean and the Herald does his dirty work. We can't allow this rort to carry on. National must go. Expose the corruption.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to LouisM,

    My experience with using the OIA is that you have to very specific about the information that you want, otherwise it will be declined.

    Well, yes and no. I obviously don't have the text of Savage's OIA in front of me, but requesting all correspondence relating to Liu between MPs and the NZIS is hardly an egregiously broad fishing expedition.

    And while Idiot/Savant could speak to this with more authority, some ministries/departments are a LOT better at promptly and fully dealing with OIA requests than others. I don't know where Immigration sits on that spectrum.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    is it even real, what exactly is its provenance?

    It's definitely real. A copy was found in electronic files of a former staff member of Cunliffe's electorate office. Unless you're going to posit a truly cunning (and criminal) stitch-up job that involves planting a fake Word document along with a physical document?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    is splitting hairs in comparison to Williamson phoning the cops about a mate’s domestic violence strife.

    I’m not even going to start playing that game. My view of Williamson – and his “move on, nowt to see here” defenders – is perfectly clear and well on the record. That doesn’t make him a human shield for Cunliffe’s own words, actions and IMO (which you’re not obliged to agree with), at best, serious lack of judgement.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Unless you’re going to posit a truly cunning (and criminal) stitch-up job that involves planting a fake Word document along with a physical document?

    I wouldn't put it passed them, would you?
    It is, in fact, easier to create a false record "electronically" than a paper one, especially when you, or the GCSB, have the tools to do it. This thing just stinks of "convenience"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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