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A Week Of It: Brash's Leaking Office Special Ed.

A Week Of It: Don Brash's Leaking Office Special Edition

By Kevin List, Lyndon Hood & Alastair Thompson

Dr Brash email Leaker to Herald on Sunday Pinpointed.
The Need For Public Service Radio Is Made Abundantly Clear
There's A Hole In My Party
Political Gossip Sheets Play Find The Leak
Act Holds Garage Sale
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy


Richard Long, National Party spin-meister checks his watch - the shoppers of Lambton Quay, & Rodney and Murray, are waiting.

Click Images To View Full Video

Dr Brash email Leaker to Herald on Sunday Pinpointed.

Last weekend two Sunday newspapers produced emails revealing National Party leader Don Brash has connections with the hard right of New Zealand's political spectrum.

Whilst the Sunday Star-Times contained references and excerpts from screeds of emails from among others Roger Douglas, Roger Kerr and Listener columnist David Young (Former PR man for the Business Round Table) the Herald on Sunday seemed only capable of obtaining one solitary leaked email.

The single email obtained by the Herald On Sunday, from Roger Kerr to Don Brash contained the line "It remains for Don to knock Clark off".

Following the Sunday Star-Times story, forensic computer experts have been called in to locate the source of the 'leaking'. A Week of It has no idea who the Sunday Star-Times sources are, but advises the forensic detectives to check the outboxes of National's media unit late Friday/early Saturday if they want to track down the culprits who leaked to the Herald On Sunday.


The Need For Public Service Radio Is Made Abundantly Clear

Following a National Party press conference in which the subject of leaked emails from the National leader's office was raised, a Newstalk ZB journalist seemed concerned that a politician was willing to answer tricky questions. Some hours after the press conference the journalist suggested to Newstalk ZB drive time host Larry Williams that politicians should avoid questions they don't like!?

"The problem with Don Brash really, I think Larry, is that he tries to answer questions that he shouldn't really address at all. If it was Helen Clark she would have said 'look get over it - the email story is an old one we are not in the pockets of the Business Round Table and the Business Round Table is simply a lobby group like the trade union movement is - and they [The BRT] have as much right to offer us advice as the trade union movement offers the Labour party advice.' He [Don Brash] doesn't do that, he tends to get himself tongue tied and certainly did at a stand up today."

One of these people in the picture above may have gone 'too far' in Newstalk ZB's opinion. Just how far they went has yet to be ascertained


There's A Hole In My Party

Dr Brash said yesterday the e-mails were sent in late 2003 and were being used to divert attention from the important issues of the campaign.
"Frankly, I won't be diverted.
"E-mails received nearly two years ago are not relevant to this campaign. I made it clear National Party policy is developed by the National Party, not by anybody else. Anyone in the Roundtable who backed my leadership must be pretty disappointed by our policies."

- Dominion Post – Vernon Small - Brash takeover team set $3.5m war chest target

Yet A Week of It understands from its very own National party sources that included in the documents leaked from the office of Party Leader Dr Don Brash are emails far more current than those in the bunch revealed last week by the Sunday Star Times. In fact according to the usually reliable sources they include emails from this year – and one of them is even quoted in the Sunday Star-Times article (something Dr Brash must have missed during his Sunday Morning reading).

From the Sunday Star Times

" More recently Roundtable chairman Rob McLeod was facilitating more of that flow of donations.
In an email on June 8 this year, he tells Brash the son and daughter of one of New Zealand's richest men, John Spencer, want to meet him and John Key. Brash agrees enthusiastically to the meeting.
"Berridge and Mertsi Spencer have been talking with me about the possibility of increasing their financial contribution to your election campaign. They are also very keen to meet John after hearing about him from you," writes McLeod.
And McLeod praises Brash on National's progress in the election campaign "You guys are doing great keep it up!"

This of course notwithstanding the view of Executive Director Roger Kerr expressed to Scoop Wednesday morning that Don Brash is probably going too far with his race-relations agenda in proposing the abolition of the Maori Seats without Maori consent.

This wee nugget puts paid to the theory advanced by National all week - and Don Brash on Wednesday - officially, that long dead email communications are of no relevance.

It also runs in opposition to blogger speculation that the documents were obtained by an executive assistant from the old administration loyal to Bill English who went feral on Dr Brash after his (13 votes to 12) coup against the former leader in late October 2003.

(As an aside: Those with long memories recalled at Wednesday's press conference with Bill English and Don Brash that the reason Press Gallery swipe card access to the National Party's caucus room had been removed was fallout from the coup, after which Nick Smith needed a short break.)

Not being completely averse to the fun art of speculation, A Week of It can reveal the findings from its inquiries into the same mystery.

  • Firstly A Week of Itunderstands that the Dominion Post's Vernon Small received his very own brown paper envelope full of documents on Thursday. Moreover, so far as A Week of It is aware it did not come from fellow Fairfaxers at the SST.
  • Secondly as noted above, while the National Party media unit may have been the leaker to the Herald on Sunday, the rest of the material in the public domain seems unlikely to have come from Richard Long's desk.
  • Thirdly, as you will note below, Molesworth & Featherston on Tuesday referred to TV stations receiving similar (or the same) material to that received by the Sunday Star-Times. This may be true, but there is little evidence of it being so except for one small email quoted by TV3's John Campbell on Monday Night.

    According to the TV3 report this email from Roger Douglas to Don Brash (just prior to the leadership vote)read ...

    "My only concern is that National MPs will see you as narrowing the party's appeal not widening it. Attached paper my suggestion of what you might send to MPs to overcome this problem."

    Attached paper contained a list of key issues designed to appeal to a wider range of voters than we currently are... "

    Number one on that list was the single word: race

    This email doesn't appear in the Sunday Star-Times and in the circumstances probably would have given the angle they took. One can therefore speculate that there is more than one cache of documents out there.

    That said A Week of It would have suspected that had TVNZ or Duncan Garner had their own motherload of Brash emails they might have run the story a little harder.

  • Fourthly as previously mentioned in this column it doesn't appear that IRN's Barry Soper has any of his own emails. And nor does it seem have Fran O'Sullivan, John Armstrong and Audrey Young - all at the Herald.


    Political Gossip Sheets Play Find The Leak

    Unsurprisingly the source of the leak remains a matter of considerable interest and much speculation. Both subscriber-only inside Parliament tip-sheets, Molesworth & Featherston and Trans Tasman, updated their subscribers this week on their guesstimates.



    Media tattle - Not first at six

    We hear on the grapevine that the emails linking Don Brash, Act and the Business Roundtable that were leaked to the Sunday Star Times (of which a small subset found their way into the hands of the Herald on Sunday as well) may have gone to several news outlets, including TV3 and One News, some time ago. Surprising, then, that Susan Wood or "that little creep" John Campbell didn't leap on them sooner than the SST and run another election campaign blockbuster along the lines of last election's Corngate. Some on the left are already calling it a "reverse Corngate" thanks to the in-fighting it has sparked between National and Act. Influential Nats believe the Business Roundtable chair Roger Kerr and Act bosses Catherine Judd and Sir Roger Douglas, were less than influential in Don Brash’s elevation to the leadership anyway. They say none were insiders in the coup that installed him and little of their advice was followed.

    Among those who might have leaked the emails, few of those with access had motive and few with motive had access to the leaders’ in-box – although, with only one exception, virtually all Bill English’s staff in the leaders’ office were kept on by Dr Brash after the coup. Dark questions are being asked about the loyalties of one or two.

    Conspiracy theorists note the emails were taken only from Dr Brash’s inbox. No emails sent by him seemed to escape, suggesting they were obtained by someone who didn’t have full access to his computer (if emails to him are news, how explosive might frank replies be?).

  • Of course, Molesworth & Featherston noted back in the day that the National Business Review was -- oddly -- paying for Dr Brash’s media training.
  • *** ### ***


    Play Of The Week - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

    Tales of people going through National finance spokesman John Key's rubbish have been added to the whole affair of the stolen emails. We predicted last week the election would now get nasty and this is probably only the start. It'll be low down and dirty from now on.

    The emails from Don Brash's computer, which turned up in the Sunday Star Times' rather overheated story last weekend, turned the campaign feral. The hunt is on to find the source but perhaps only one thing more divisive and distracting than having such a leak is actually finding the leaker, especially if the source is, as the story seemed to indicate, a disgruntled National Party person.

    One of the things journalists have to do to protect anonymous sources is not only not name them but write the story in a way which points away from those sources. The fact the story seemed to point to a disgruntled ex-staffer suggests it quite possibly wasn't. The obvious beneficiaries are Labour, and any Nat who doesn't want a Brash-led party to win and who is prepared to take such an embittered and highly risky action.

    The other perhaps unexpected beneficiary of course is Winston Peters. Just when the tales of his being in trouble in Tauranga started hitting home he comes out with this message - only "NZ First can stop National's secret agenda."

    And with one bound, the Tauranga magician is back on the front pages again.

    Also ....

    National had investigators looking at the leak of emails containing advice to Don Brash from the Business Roundtable and senior ACT figures. Not that it was expecting to turn up the culprit. But presumably it wants to staunch the flow of any further damaging material. Of course the timing of the release suggested it had been carefully orchestrated


    Act Holds Garage Sale

    A Week of It notes with interest evidence that Act's normal fundraising sources may have suddenly, inexplicably dried up.

    No doubt feeling a lack of right-wing classically liberal grannies to bake treats for a cake stall, they decided to auction off party memorabilia on

    Party staffers have clearly had a good rummage in their cupboards for stuff they didn't need or that might suddenly become valuable if the party ceased to exist.

    The "exciting new fundraising initiative", which opened this week, offers a variety of party memorabilia as well as some impressive donated items.

    One of these is two week's accommodation in Fiji. This prize was no doubt donated by an Act supporter with fond memories of Rodney Hide's 1999 trip to Fiji, where he spoke at a seminar of Investors International. That company's principal, Rudolf van Lin, was later arrested and charged with Securities fraud in the US.

    At the time of writing bidding on that item, " A Week In Paradise - Fiji Accommodation", had reached a generous $375. A week's spring accommodation in a Provence cottage had hit $500, and a luxury weekend at the Cassimir Lodge was worth a cool $150.

    However, Act supporters apparently have a penchant for powerful high-tech machinery: for the headline item, a ride - or rather, an "experience" - on the Aquada amphibious car, bidding was at and astonishing $715.

    Bids like these indicate just how far Act's famously cash-strapped supporters are prepared to go to support freedom.

    Total bids on all items, as of Friday afternoon, had hit of $2392.50. Given that, in the 2002 election, the Act Party's declared expenses amounted to $1,625,558.79, they might have a little bit to go yet.

    The auctions, at are set to close during next week.


    The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

    Next week Scoop will explore the mother of all election advertising campaigns. For your visual pleasure below are pictures of a thirty foot high Prime Minister in downtown Wellington and one of the million or so National party taxathon pamphlets (sitting on a snazzy brown leather couch).

    Click for big version

    **** ENDS ****

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