The Bennett standard is John Key's standard
[UPDATE-- 10AM: The hypocrisy continues this morning. From David Farrar: "It is part of our constitutional conventions of parliamentary privilege that people can give evidence to select committees without fear of retribution for what they say. Therefore I regard it as a bad look..." ...right. But beneficiaries aren't allowed to "go public" without the Minister releasing their confidential details to the media. What is that if it is not retribution? Confidential details that the fink then relays on his blog too. Oh, he thinks that's fine. What a sleazy Tory prick. Constitutional conventions!? He reckons there's a constitutional convention for Ministers releasing a person's private information to the media if they get uppity. What a joke. Look what Bennett is forcing these apologists to do to cover her. And ironically enough Farrar has headlined the post "A bad look".--UPDATE ENDS]
[ADDITIONAL: and shame on Matthew Hooton for attempting to defend it. Defending Bennett is turning the supposedly "good" Tories into the sleazy and contemptible merchants of spin that many have always regarded them as. He even gets Kathryn Ryan angry - that takes some doing! - and makes Chris Trotter sound reasonable. RNZ - mp3 from yesterday's Nine to noon show.]
John Key's judgement rides or falls on backing Paula Bennett's. At the moment Key and the Senior Ministers will be maintaining their distance from her and letting her try and handle it herself without much direct involvement. But what she says is what must now be the standard for the National government. This just isn't a personal standard or "style" of a particular Minister - this is the test now for all the Crown's Ministers in the administration of the government. Because now the Cabinet manual reads:
1.1 A Minister may seek from a department for which the Minister is responsible any personal and confidential information held by that department on any person that in the opinion of the Minister may be being used by the Opposition party for political ends and/or has otherwise "gone public" in criticising government policy, esp. in a public forum or as a member of an organisation.
1.2 The Minister, without any authorisation necessary, may immediately release that information to the media.
That's what the Ministers of John Key's government - and that includes Pita Sharples, Peter Dunne and Rodney Hide etc. too - are now to be held up to. That is what the public may expect from a department now - that their personal information is public the moment they complain. To take it to its logical conclusion, Bennett might delegate that authority to WINZ workers can't she - via the Director-General. A local WINZ boss gets some grief in the local rag about the service: just fax everything over to the paper - it's OK the Minister does it. It becomes a matter of scope and consistency of application.
The Bennett edict will render the government inoperative. A liberal democratic government cannot have that rule and still be a liberal democratic state. The further out there she goes in her public proclamations about what she can and cannot do with confidential information and her assertion that a minister is able to breach privacy, trust, departmental protocols, the cabinet manual and every other rule in the book makes saving her look more untenable by the hour.
She has very helpfully insisted in the House that she will not be caught out "lying in unison" - a reference to the affair in which the otherwise competent Lianne Dalziel was forced to resign. Bennett though wants to be very open about her leaks - she wants the leak and the fact that it was leaked by her to be well known. Known and feared.
She has been at pains to stress that she made the call on this one and that she - and she alone - is going to take full responsiblity for this decision - her decision. She can't turn to anyone, it's all on her. This is the way she wants it.
Good. Good of her not to try to drag anyone else down with her - that includes people from the office too. It'll make it cleaner for them.
The soft ride and benny-bashing from the corporate media continues to let them get away with it. But they constructed this story and they can demolish it. She's gloating and patronising at the moment, but that can turn around very quickly. But at the moment the NZ Herald's editorial line is that beneficiaries are second class citizens and don't have the normal rights that others are afforded.
That sickening Tory class hate and fascist abandonment of the rule of law and of legal protections and rights is what the Herald epitomises. The editorial on Wednesday is the very definition of "The Man". The man is a cunt - upholding cuntiness at it's most cunty. This is precisely why people lose faith in "the system" and figure that anything goes. The editorial printed the confidential material FFS. I hope they sue those fucking scumbags. Would they print the tax records of someone who complained about tax policy in their editorial? Of course not - they are a different class of person. Everyone who published those private details - that are obviously confidential - should be ashamed. If they are claiming that "Paula said it was OK" as a defence then let them offer it in court. If David Farrar thinks it is OK for him to publish these confidential dealings with the Crown (and he has and I've got an image of it) then it must be alright for me to publish all his confidential dealings with the Crown - I guess he'd be OK with that. In fact he never stops talking about Parliamentary Services and party funding etc. let's open his book's up, eh? I'll just email the ministers... fucking Tory, arsehole hypocrites.
This defines the "Right" - when the Libertarians instinctively side against a class of person or a status of person rather than follow the principles of justice and fairness then that makes them reactionary conservative Tories; and if we add the laissez-faire economics to it we have a conventionally understood 'Right wing' person. They are highly prejudiced. The fact they can't admit it or claim to see it is probably why they worship a humourless author as a cult and then claim religion is stupid... oh, that's right, they too are fucking Tory, arsehole hypocrites.
But the corporate press are also whores and fickle toe-rags. Tomorrow their line may change from 'Benny-bashing hero dobs in greedy solo-mums' to 'Lying "bully" minister must quit.' That's "the lesson" - to use her term - that Paula Bennett dearly deserves to learn. John Armstrong might grow a brain at some point and write something other than the embarrassing piece on Wednesday about what a great little scrapper Bennett is and that there's no problem here. Well there is a problem because the swelling number of beneficiaries are now going to be have their rights abolished. And it's now an open question over whether this applies to every sort of person in a department's files or not. Some Nixon-Hoover regulations that are being tested out on the lower orders of society is what this is and it may not be able to be so breezily dismissed when they work out the implications.
Ask Peter Dunne about the scenarios in which he would release IRD information. Ask all the Minister's that question of their respective departments. Do the Bennett edicts apply to all departments, or just hers?
Paula Bennett has told parliament on Tuesday:
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I refer the member to the guidelines for Ministers on the Privacy Commissioner’s own website, which show that people can give implied consent for Ministers to discuss their personal circumstances by going to the media.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I looked at the guidelines that were on the Privacy Commissioner’s website. Let us be quite clear: there are no new standards, and this is not something we will be making a practice of. The standards that were set by the previous Government were underhand, at best. I seem to recall a “lie by unison” call from previous Labour Ministers.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: As I stated in my answer, I certainly referred to the guidelines for Ministers that are on the Privacy Commissioner’s website. I felt that that was adequate.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, I took big steps to check that the information was correct.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Steps were taken to ensure the information that we held was put out there, and that is all the information I had available to me. That is the information we put out.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: At the end of the day, I presented the information that was available to me. I took steps to get the information that was available through my own ministry, and that is what I presented.
Paula Bennett has told parliament on Wednesday:
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I have not established any new criteria. I have followed the practice established by previous Governments. The only difference is that I am upfront and honest about doing it, unlike Ministers in the previous Government.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am not sure exactly where the information came from. I myself asked my staff for the information, they accessed it for me, and, as such, it was put forward.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Let us be quite clear: I asked my Ministry of Social Development officials for the information. The information came to me. It must have come from the official Ministry of Social Development database, because that is where the information is held, and it was given to me. It is as clear and interesting as that.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I made a judgment call based on the ministerial guidelines from the Privacy Commissioner. I stand by it. I believe that a complaint has been taken to the Privacy Commissioner. I welcome the outcome of that.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: At the end of the day, I made a judgment call based on the ministerial guidelines from the Privacy Commissioner. The member disagrees with that call, and that is her right. I understand that a complaint has been taken. I look forward to that process going through, and we shall see where it lies.
Hon Annette King: When was Peter Hughes, the chief executive officer of the Ministry of Social Development, made aware of her decision to release to the media the personal details of two solo mothers? Hon PAULA BENNETT: To the best of my recollection, I had a conversation with Mr Hughes about it after it had been done.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: What I gave the media was simply the information that I had access to via my department. It may surprise the Opposition but there is no cloak-and-dagger, no smoke and mirrors, or anything else, going on. I have been quite upfront about what I did and about what information I presented to the media. I am quite happy to stand by that judgment decision of mine. There were no vanilla envelopes slipped under doorways, which is what those members are used to. This is quite upfront. There is nothing secret about it.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would not repeat in this House that I thought they were ungrateful bludgers...
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would say neither of those. They have just taken assumptions that are there. The media can be a pretty vicious thing when one gets into the middle of it, and I suppose those women are seeing that now in quite how it has been. I suppose there is a lesson about what it might actually be like to allow the Labour Party to use a person as a political football.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: At this point, I would just say that there is a lot of information out there about these women. They have put out a lot of information via the website and via TradeMe. These women have put out personal information about money they are receiving, what they are, and everything like that, so that is probably the statement that I would stand by.
Paula Bennett has told Campbell Live outside the House:
It's not a breach of the Privacy Act... no it's happened many times before - and it's not.
where people have put their information out there... ministerial guidelines... and they are there and I looked at them... and took some advice...
it went back a few years... a ruling from the Privacy Commissioner
I took advice before I did it... from my office... I've got people there to give me this advice and I took that advice and I was certainly told that it had been done before and I certainly saw the piece that came off the website from the ah, instructions...
They were in the papers, Labour stood them up as poster girls for this and kept telling their stories, they kept saying that they thought it was unfair... from my perspective I thought well let's actually see what the public think... they put themselves in the public, Labour then put them up as political football and I just felt let's make sure the information is all out there...
But of course Bennett won't release her own DPB information. Paula Bennett welcome to the fucking Tory arsehole hypocrite club. She has to go and the remaining Ministers have to "clarify" the cabinet manual.