PQ 2. Prime Minister—Communications with Press Gallery
[Sitting date: 02 December 2014. Volume:702;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]
2. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : How many of the 46 journalists currently holding full Press Gallery accreditation had he advised of his new cellphone number by the end of October, after his number was changed following the Whaledump document release?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I sent my new phone number to the media numbers that were programmed into my phone that typically contact me by text. That group includes many press gallery contacts as well as media contacts outside the gallery, and I am unable to tell the member exactly how many were notified by the end of October.
Dr Russel Norman : Is the reason he said that he had given the number to “every member of the media” because he was trying to justify the fact that he had given it to Cameron Slater?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.
Mr SPEAKER : Sorry, I did not even catch that.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.
Dr Russel Norman : Did he text Cameron Slater his new cellphone number, or did he advise him of it in some other way?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I did the same thing with Mr Slater as I did with every other person. I sent them a text.
Dr Russel Norman : So is the Prime Minister saying—just to be clear—that the way Mr Slater got the Prime Minister’s new cellphone number was that the Prime Minister, off his own bat, texted Mr Slater his new cellphone number?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes, I sent a text message to all of the people. As I have said, I updated people, and the reason I did that, of course, was that I had to change my phone number because an illegal hacker had decided to put my phone number on the internet. That is the illegal hacker that the member seems to support.
Dr Russel Norman : Why did he ensure that Cameron Slater had his phone number but did not give it to senior political reporters such as the political editor at Radio Live?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I gave it to the people whom I have had text conversations with in the past from the gallery. That is not all of the gallery but it is a fair number. I gave it to other people who are in the social media. I can say I did not give it to Kim Dotcom, as, I am sure, that member probably has Mr Dotcom in his mobile phone from the time he went up there for lunch. That was the time when his high horse he parked up there got Ebola.
Dr Russel Norman : Is the reason he responded to texts from Cameron Slater over the last few months but did not respond to texts from press gallery journalists because Cameron Slater is a friend or because he fears Cameron Slater?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In answer to the last part of the question, I, for the most part, actually do answer the text messages I get from press gallery journalists. Sometimes they are reporting about what a muppet that member makes of himself when he asks me questions.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it now acceptable for members to use names of other members in the way that was just done in that answer? Because that exact word has been ruled out of order by Speakers in the past.
Mr SPEAKER : I am not ruling the word out of order; I am certainly saying that it is not helpful to the order of the House for the answer to be toned in that way by the Prime Minister. But I took particular note of the question, which suggested that he may have been acting in fear, and that determined my judgment as to whether the answer was giving some political playback to the way the question was asked in the first place.
Dr Russel Norman : Considering that Mr Slater has verbally abused two dead boys, and accused the victim of an alleged sexual attack of making it up, how disgusting would Cameron Slater have to be before the Prime Minister severed all contact with him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have made it quite clear in the past that I do not condone all of the statements, blogs, or actions taken by Mr Slater. But if the member wants to believe that the people who make outlandish or aggressive statements are limited to the right, then maybe he might want to check out “Bomber” Bradbury’s comments made on the left.
Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I just need some assistance from—[Interruption] Order! I need some assistance from members to my left. This is a point of order.
Dr Russel Norman : The question was: will the Prime Minister sever all contact with Cameron Slater? I would like an answer to that question.
Mr SPEAKER : I invite the member to go back carefully and look at the Hansard when it is printed. That was not the question that the member asked.