EXCLUSIVE: Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?

By   /   September 11, 2014  /   95 Comments

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So how did Slater and Farrar manage to refer to a story in their blogposts that had yet to be written and uploaded onto the NZ Herald website?

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair.

– Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules’

What appears to be an orchestrated  Beehive plot to dig dirt for throwing at Labour leader, David Cunliffe, ahead of a crucial parliamentary debate is revealed in a paper trail linking Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, and the Parliamentary Press Gallery offices of the New Zealand Herald and TV3.

Hatched in National’s anticipation of a hammering in a debate on Wednesday 18 June (note the date) prompted by the resignation of ACT leader, John Banks, the plot was pivotal on having Cunliffe first deny helping Auckland businessman Donghua Liu with his residency application – before producing an eleven-year-old letter from Immigration’s files as proof that the Opposition leader was either a liar or had suffered serious brain fade.

On its own, the letter was innocuous. A routine inquiry seeking an estimate of the time required to process the application, the letter was signed by Cunliffe as the MP for New Lynn and dated 11 April 2003. It sat in a file until May 9 this year when Immigration officials in Visa Services began working on an Official Information Act (OIA) request received the previous day from the Herald’s investigations editor, Jared Savage – and subsequently declined;

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jared savage OIA request 8 may 2014 declined

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Savage’s OIA request resulted only in the release of  a brief, and somewhat pointless, Media Response to Radio NZ, dated 13 March 2014. This sole document gave a date when Donghua Liu’s business migration application was approved, and referred to a previous application being declined;

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radio nz 13 march 2014 immigration nz

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All other material was denied to him, ostensibly under privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, John Key’s Chief of Staff,  Wayne Eagleson, confirmed  that the Prime Minister’s office was made aware of the existence of the letter on the weekend of the 10th/11th May of this year;

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3 july 2014 - wayne eagleson - donghua liu - prime minister's office - OIA request

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Although deciding to withhold the whole file, including the letter, under the privacy clause in Section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, Visa Services sat on their response until, without any obvious reason, they advised Savage of their decision first-thing on the morning of Monday 16 June. Four hours later, on the same Monday, Savage emailed a fresh, more specific “Urgent OIA Request” for correspondence from MPs supporting Donghua Liu’s residency bid prior to 2005.

Jared Savage confirmed this to me in an email, on 17 July;

I initially asked for his entire residency file under the OIA on May 8. I note that the next day Minister Woodhouse asked for the file.

I was declined the entire file on privacy grounds on June 16. As I was really only interested in whether MPs were involved in his residency bid, I refined my request to ask for any correspondence from MPs because this is clearly in the public interest.

I specifically mentioned prior to 2005 because this is when Mr Liu was granted residency, against advice. There would not be any correspondence after he gained residency.

Unfortunately, it was clumsily worded because Immigration officials interpreted the word prior to exclude 2005 in the response. I then lodged a further OIA request which revealed Mr O’Connor intervened 3 times in the lead up to residency being granted – including waiving the English language criteria – the day before the 2005 election.

[…]

Coming back to the June 16 request, two days later, I received the letters. I have no idea why Immigration released it so quickly. Probably because they had already processed my earlier request of June 16 so the file was available, but you’d have to ask Immigration.

Savage’s OIA request on 16 June;

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jared savage OIA request 16 june 2014

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Savage received this response two days later, on 18 June – and this time his request was treated more favourably;

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Immigration NZ - letter to jarerd savage - nz herald - donghua liu - 18  June 2014

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The timing of the above release is critical to this Affair.

A similar request followed an hour later at 2.11PM, on the same day (Monday), from Brook Sabin, TV3 political reporter and son of National MP, Mike Sabin;

“Hello,

We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency application back in 2005?

Also, can we please request under the OIA:

All briefing notes, correspondence and emails regarding Donghua Liu’s residency applications

Cheers”

Both requests were sent straight to the “OIA team” for processing.

The next morning, on Tuesday, at a media briefing on Labour’s Kiwisaver policy, Sabin’s TV3 gallery colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about his relationship with Donghua Liu. A transcript of the exchange (below) was published the next day (Wednesday) in identical format in several places simultaneously with the released letter, and was used by two National ministers to attack Cunliffe in the debating chamber that afternoon.

This was David Cunliffe’s Q & A to reporters on Tuesday 17 June – broadcast the following day  on Wednesday 18 June. Again, the dates are critical;

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Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe - donghua liu - TV3 - Tova O'Brien

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Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Those questions – whether   audio, video, or written,   were generally not available until Wednesday.

On Wednesday,  Cunliffe was confronted by the press gallery (Ibid) on his way to the chamber and accused several times of having lied the previous day. Just half an hour after being given a copy of the letter, which he’d forgotten about, and possibly underestimating its value to his opponents, the Opposition leader continued to insist that he never supported or advocated for Liu’s residency.

He eventually had to leave to ask the first question of the day which is to Bill English who is naturally keen to exploit the opportunity to dent Cunliffe’s credibility,

“I find it a lot easier to stand by my statements than that member does to stand by his . . . that member has been remarkably inconsistent (about donations) . . . that member, who seems to have trouble agreeing with himself.”

English then led National in the weekly general debate. “The reasons no one trusts him (Cunliffe) is this” he says before quoting directly from the transcript of TV3’s questions and answers on Tuesday. “Today, of course,” he continues, “we have the letter that he wrote advocating exactly for his permanent residency.”

Also quoting directly from the transcript, Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, added an intriguing reference to a second letter, from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter.

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (7)

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Released by his office at the same time as Cunliffe’s it was totally overlooked by the media in their rush to crucify the Labour leader.

Immigration Minister Woodhouse said;

“But do you know what? He (Cunliffe) is not alone.”

The Immigration Minister then quoted from the Carter letter, sent five month’s prior to Cunliffe’s, seeking “any consideration that could be given to expediting” Liu’s residency application and reporting that he had deposited $3 million in a bank account with a view to purchasing a building for redevelopment.

The fact that the letter identified the bank as the ASB in Auckland did not deter Woodhouse from getting in a cheap shot. “I hope it was not the Labour Party’s bank account,” he said, concluding:

“That was Mr Chris Carter, on behalf of Mr Dongua Liu. In fact, the letter was from Carter’s electorate agent and begins, like the Cunliffe letter, “I have been approached by a local constituent . . .”

Woodhouse was followed in the debate by Health Minister, Tony Ryall, who also spent most of his five-minute speech attacking the Opposition leader;

“So here is Mr Cunliffe, who only a few hours ago denied he had ever met Mr Liu and said the Labour Party never got any donations from Mr Liu. And here we have today a letter from Mr Cunliffe making representations on behalf of Mr Liu. It is just not consistent with what he has been saying previously. It is hugely embarrassing for Mr Cunliffe and for the Labour Party.”

Joining his frontbench colleagues, National’s Paul Goldsmith, said Labour Party members were “hanging their heads in shame.” He added;

“It is very interesting to see John Armstrong and many of the commentators saying right now, right here today, that Mr Cunliffe is in deep trouble and Labour is in deep trouble. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Thank you.”

Goldsmith was referring to the Herald’s political correspondent, John Armstrong’s column, that Cunliffe might have to resign, a piece (see below) consequently judged by many to be totally over the top. Unsurprisingly, many have called for Armstrong’s retirement.

The plan by National ministers to embarrass Cunliffe and to deflect from a potentially damaging debate on Wednesday however became derailed when the timing of the OIA releases went unpredictably awry.

The office of the Leader of the Labour Party was first advised of the planned OIA release of the two letters (Chris Carter’s 3 October 2002 and David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003) at 12.10PM on Wednesday 18 June;

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (9)

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Ostensibly, the OIA public release was to take place one hour later.

Instead, the OIA release to Jared Savage took place only  thirty-nine minutes later, at 12.49PM;

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release of OIA to Jared Savage covering email 18 june 2014

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Sabin’s story appeared on TV3’s website at 12.53pm – four minutes after the OIA release was emailed to Jared Savage, and by Cameron Slater on his Whale Oil blog, eight minutes later,  at 12.57PM;

 

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Brooke Sabin - TV3 - cunliffe's links to liu - donghua liu affair

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whaleoil - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Another three minutes passed before John Armstrong declared Cunliffe to be “in deep political trouble; so deep that his resignation as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. It is possible that Armstrong was relying on the copy attached to the response to TV3’s OIA request, sent to the Minister at 12.30PM and presumably released directly from his office to Brook Sabin.

However, there is no documentation to that effect. So when and how did Brook Sabin obtain copies of David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003 letter? It appears to have been released without the necessary “paper trail” as Emily Fabling, Executive Director of Immigration NZ stated at 1.31PM on 18 June, when referring to Savage’s OIA request;

“I have advised that the process [of releasing the information under the OIA request]  is consistent with our usual procedures and the Act, we have had legal advice and understand the political sensitivity and complexity, and a discoverable paper trail, if required.”

Armstrong’s column was published at 1PM – just eleven minutes after Visa Services emailed a copy of the letter at 12.49PM to Jared Savage;

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John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair - nz herald story header

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Kiwiblog published it’s story at 1.06PM;

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Kiwiblog - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Some very tight time frames involved in writing media and blog reports after the 12.49PM OIA release.

In several cases the time-frames were simply unfeasibly tight to receive; digest; write up meaningful stories; proof-read; check legalities; and upload them onto websites.

Now here is where the timing of the OIA releases and blog/media stories appearing takes a very strange twist.

As detailed above Cameron Slater (or someone purporting to be writing under his name) wrote this piece on his blog Whaleoil at 12.57PM;

Jared Savage reports:

David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe – who said this week he had never met Donghua Liu or advocated on his behalf – wrote a letter to immigration officials on behalf of the controversial businessman who was applying for residency in New Zealand.

And mentioned above, at   1:06PM on Wednesday 18 June David Farrar wrote on Kiwiblog;

The Herald reports Cunliffe’s earlier denials on Tuesday:

Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Both refer to Jared Savage’s story in the NZ Herald, centering on the release of the David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

Except that Savage’s on-line story was not due to appear until 2.29PM;

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David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu's residency bid

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So how did Slater and Farrar manage to refer to a story in their blogposts that had yet to be written and uploaded onto the NZ Herald website?

Ruling out time travel, there may be a very simple answer;

  • As was outlined above by Wayne Eagleson, the government was aware of Cunliffe’s letter as early as 10/11 May 2014.
  • An OIA request by Jared Savage was first declined – then expedited in almost a panic, in two days by Immigration NZ.
  • Brook Sabin lodged a similar OIA request to Jared Savage. He appears to have received the information he requested – without a corresponding paper trail.
  • Two right wing bloggers closely associated with National ministers, and who have been fed sensitive information in recent past, published blogposts referring to Jared Savage’s article – before that article was uploaded onto the Herald website.
  • In a released email, Cameron Slater admitted to a close working relationship with Herald reporter, Jared Savage;

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slater email

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And where did this jpeg of Tova O’Brien’s questioning to David Cunliffe – and ending up on Whaleoil – come from;

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werwe2

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Quite simply, the relationship and flow of information is a two-way process; journalists are constantly feeding information to Slater/Whaleoil (and to a lesser degree, Farrar/Kiwiblog).

It seems evident that Whaleoil and Kiwiblog jumped the gun in publishing their blog-stories, not waiting for Savage to first upload his on the Herald’s website. The result ended up with Farrar and Slater referencing Savage’s story that was still in the “future”.

As revealed with startling clarity in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  the government is not above using right wing bloggers to release damaging information or mount smear campaigns against Opposition MPs in Parliament.

The media, always reluctant to admit mistakes for fear of denting their own credibility, were more than happy to carry on with the line that Cunliffe’s letter was “proof” of Labour’s links to Donghua Liu. And keen to help in any way he could, the Prime Minister, John Key, continued to hint that he knew more about Liu’s claims to have made donations to the Labour Party.

Next morning, the Herald’s political editor, Audrey Young, reported from New York that,

“Prime Minister John Key believes the (sic) Labour has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu. He also acknowledged he had known for some weeks that Labour leader David (sic) has written a letter supporting Mr Liu’s application for residency. The release of the letter yesterday in the face of denials from Mr Cunliffe that he wrote any such letter has thrown his leadership into crisis.”

Key’s admission that he had already known about the letter prompted three different and conflicting accounts from Woodhouse in response to questions about how and when he’d informed his prime minister about its existence.

As well as providing a fine working model of the media’s bias against Labour and the woeful state of the parliamentary press gallery, the handling of the Savage and Sabin OIA requests by the Immigration Service and its Minister raises some interesting questions:

1. Who told Visa Services to respond to Jared Savage’s May 8 request at 8.59am on Monday 16 June?

2. Who told Savage to make a fresh, more specific request, the same morning and copy it to the minister’s press secretary?

3. Who told Sabin to put in a request on June 16?

4. Who told Tova O’Brien to ask those questions on Tuesday 17 June?

5. Who made the transcript of the questions and answers and how was it circulated?

6. After deciding to withhold the Cunliffe letter for privacy reasons, why was it released so quickly and without any further discussion of the privacy aspect?

7. It took the minister less than 20 minutes to approve the release of the Cunliffe and Carter letters. Is this a record?

8. How was it possible for the letter to be published in so many places so quickly?

If you still don’t think there was something fishy going on, turn to page 131 of ‘Dirty Politics‘ where Nicky Hager records a comment on the ‘Dim-Post’ from “Barnsley Bill” (aka Cameron Slater acolyte, Russell Beaumont) responding to a Danyl McLauchlan blog about opinion polls:

“Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems. Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.”

That was posted at 10.21AM on Tuesday 17 June — the morning that Tova O’Brien asked her questions and Immigration officials were racing round getting responses to the Savage and Sabin OIA requests ready to send to the Minister for approval prior to release.

What is certain is that the real reason for the urgent 48-hour response to the OIA requests was to ensure that the Cunliffe letter was in the public domain by midday on Wednesday 18 June.

The same day that the government was facing a torrid questioning by the Opposition after the conviction and resignation of ACT MP, John Banks. A government that desperately needed a credible diversion. Relying on another beneficiary-bashing story from Paula Bennett was simply not tenable.

This was the a Dirty Trick of the highest order, involving an eleven year old letter; complicit media looking for another  easy sensational news story; Ministers with connections to right wing bloggers; and journalists who run with the pack instead of asking questions that might yield real answers.

As they say in law enforcement circles; Motive. Means. Opportunity.

The government had all three.

This was the real story behind the Donghua Liu Affair.

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Note

Questions on this issue have been put to Herald journalist, Jared Savage. Thus far he has declined to answer those questions.

Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing extra information and filling in the gaps. This was truly a team effort.

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References

David Cunliffe-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

The Dim Post:  June polls (“Barnsley Bill” Commen

TV3: Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe?

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

Kiwiblog: Cunliffe wrote on behalf of Liu after denying he knew him or advocated for him

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

NZ Herald: The email that brought down Judith Collins

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour link – More to come

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

Other Blogs

The Standard: The Donghua Liu letter – is that it?

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 September 2014

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95 Comments

  1. Bastables says:

    Great bit of work tying it all up especially with the timings Frank.

  2. Thanks Frank. Makes for very disturbing reading.

  3. Weepus beard says:

    Very thorough Frank. That the journalists involved are not doing this research speaks volumes.

    It says to me Dirty Politics is alive and well right now and they don’t want their sources on the 9th floor cut off.

  4. countryboy says:

    Great work @ Frank . The Devil is indeed in the details . And while I sit here waiting for my fire to take as I cringe inside from a heavy frost , I’m mindful of how much OF OUR FUCKING MONEY THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO THIS SHIT TO US !

  5. Ne Oublie says:

    Yet another well substantiated exposé Frank. Maybe Savage et al will learn from you what the word “Investigative” means. All power to your pen/keyboard!

  6. Tiger Mountain says:

    Game set and match to Frank and Hercules!
    What an effort.

    After–well still during actually– “Slatergate”, it appears safe to assume nothing relating to the Nats and their media associates and toadies happens by chance or is just fortuitous timing.

  7. Booker says:

    Good work. Having just read Dirty Politics over the last few days I’d say this whole story smacks of the exact tricks being used throughout. It shows just how dangerous this mix of party insiders-bloggers-inept media is.

    • D'Esterre says:

      @ Booker: “Having just read Dirty Politics over the last few days I’d say this whole story smacks of the exact tricks being used throughout.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

  8. Brian says:

    Excellent work.These bastards think that we cannot connect the dots.

  9. richarquis says:

    Why, you old Left Wing Conspiracy Theorist, you…

    • Richarquis…

      Oi! Watch it with the “old” bit!! Heh heh heh… 😀

      • richarquis says:

        Frank, glad you took it in good humour, but, jokes aside now – Obviously NZH aren’t gonna breathe a word of this, and it explains why they didn’t want to release the source of their info, nor copies of the documents. Also, TDB doesn’t have the same reach as msm, so… It begs the question – How do you intend for this story to get out to the wider audience? I don’t even see it on Scoop yet, let alone Stuff. Do you intend to push the story via TV? The above facts, bullet pointed for tv style, with emphasis on the times, could be a timely slap in the face for Key, which he is in need of after his behaviour during the debates. I hope to see it go further.

        • Richarquis – a sense of humour helps keep one sane in insane times… (Or maybe my humour gene is in high gear?)

          But, seriously, as you say… I’ve emailed a media release to TV1, TV3, Dominion Post, Radio NZ, and Campbell Live.

          The rest, I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

          If there are any “bites”, the first call should be at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning…

        • ghostwhowalksnz says:

          You are confusing the later so called ‘letter’ from Liu about the $150,000 donations to labour.
          That was of course a complete beatup, likely to have Nationals fingerprints all over it

  10. mango says:

    Thanks for this Frank. I’m not surprised at all that the Liu lies were part on the dirty tricks campaign. The real question is now will we see headlines about it?

  11. […] very detailed analysis by Frank Macskasy indicates the Liu hit was another example of the now-famous Dirty […]

  12. XRAY says:

    It’s a no brainer based on those dates and times. And of course thanks to Nicky Hager exposing Nationals MO makes it an absolute give away who was pushing buttons.

    It makes me wonder who out of National’s sleaze and lies department was really behind the Liu non affidavit statement, the same one used by the Herald on Sunday for its fantasy story about the 100K bottle of wine.

  13. CnrJoe says:

    We’re lucky to have you young master Frank.

  14. Te Kupu says:

    All good work! So what? Ultimately what is it you/we/I want from such revelations (this will be one of many)? The ‘Dirty Politics’ template is clear – other Ministers are probably involved using the above methodology. But will this bring down a government? Or maybe how do you bring a govt down when so many media personalities/outlets are themselves implicated!? Independent inquiries appear to be the option. Or do you initiate a citizens inquiry that bypasses the usual weasel worded govt reviews/enquiries? Just some thoughts.

  15. […] EXCLUSIVE: Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics? – The Daily Blog […]

  16. Kingi says:

    Can you sense the contempt in which they hold the general public? Doesn’t it make you a teensy bit annoyed?

  17. Macro says:

    Fantastic analysis Frank – as always.
    Just how do we bring this lot to justice for the pervasion of our democracy?
    Chucking them out of office is one thing, but they really need to be held to account for their abuse of power.

  18. reason says:

    The whole Donghua Liu smear against DC reeked of dirty politics and like much of the similar stuff detailed in Nicky Hagers book it is being confirmed by proof …… Thanks Frank & your fellow truth diggers.

    The poisonous effect of John Key and his dirt units attack politics on DC and the Labor party are still being felt. The mainstream media in particular have created an impression based on falsehoods that DC is still battling to overcome.

    Hagers book should ensure that Keys vanity project of being prime minister ends up with him being recognized as the most dishonest two faced creep we’ve ever had as PM.

    Team Sleaze 🙂

  19. Aaron says:

    Great work Frank – is that some of that stuff they call Investigative Journalism? I see it so rarely these days.

    I emailed Jared Savage about this when it came out and he accused me of believing in a vast right wing conspiracy. I told him I wasn’t in the position to be sure either way but that he should try harder to avoid looking like he was part of one.

    And therein lies the problem. The only people who are going to be hired by the Herald are those who show deference to authority. They absorb the value system of those above them in the hierarchy, who in turn know that their subordinates can be relied upon to react instinctively to protect their interests.

    So while there was definitely a lot of coordination going on behind the scenes here I might be willing to give Jared Savage the benefit of the doubt and say that he just lacks the ability to think for himself.

    Honestly, it’s a lot nicer than what I have to say about Tova O’Brien’s performance during this whole thing.

  20. mary_a says:

    Excellent work Frank. Thank you.

    Such a tragedy. A once great nation NZ, which led the world in the best of social reform, being dragged down into and through the stinking sewer, by this mob of corrupt, deviants, posing as a government of the people, using scum bloggers to achieve their filthy aims! And then there is the equally rabid msm …..

    Dear God (and I’m not religious), hopefully for not too much longer. Please!

  21. ann johns says:

    It is a wonderful piece of investigative journalism and you should be heard by a wider audience. I have read comments on this article on the f/b page that I belong to and, even though we are on the same side, I am irritated by ppl who will admit that they haven’t read something and then make an uninformed decision about it. It is happening far too often and it is sad that ppl won’t take the time to fully inform themselves, we need ppl like you for balance but only if ppl will actually read what you have to say. I hear it all the time from natz supporters, criticising Dirty Politics – and they haven’t even read it. This is why I would like to see a lot of these players prosecuted for their compliance with the forces that would destroy our democracy.

  22. This is really good. Nice work – all done in a factual and seemingly accurate tone.

    This is what blogs should be doing!

  23. Stephen J says:

    Do we know whether the timestamps on the Herald are the creation date, or the last-modified date? If the latter, then the Herald might say that they published earlier and that timestamp is from a post-publication edit.

  24. Mikaere Kilpatrick says:

    One of the things I’m surprised that appears not to have been considered is that the Herald’s time-stamp will be the time the last update to the story was made, not when the story was first posted.

    I’ve worked at online news and sports sites in NZ and it’s very common for that last time to be the one shown. Without that a large proportion of this falls down, I’m afraid.

    I’m as keen as anyone to get rid of Key and National and see a real investigation into Dirty Politics, but there’s a big leap in here, unfortunately.

    • anker says:

      Yes but how do you account for the questions being asked the day before by Tova O’Brien?

      This was very obviously a set up.

    • Aaron says:

      This would be a potential problem but I remember it being discussed on the Daily Blog immediately after these stories broke, it was noticed almost right away.

    • Mikaere & Stephen,

      I emailed Jared Savage on 8 September, 11.20AM, and asked the following questions from him;

      Kia ora Jared,

      Further to my questions previously, I’d like to clarify a few matters relating to your story on the Donghua Liu-David Cunliffe 2003 letter.

      Your on-line story was published at 2.29PM:
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510

      1. Was there an earlier version of your story online, and what time was it published?

      2. Did an earlier story from you contains [sic] references to questions asked by TV3 journalists on 17 June, whether or not Cunliffe had had any contact/communications/meetings with Mr Liu?

      3. If an earlier story did in fact contain references to the questions posed by TV3 journalists, where did the transcripts (or in any other form) come from?

      I hope you can shed some light on these points, so we can fill in the gaps to this story, and to complete the picture.

      I received no reply to my queries.

      As a matter of interest, on 21 August, I emailed Jared Savage and put several questions to him. Amongst them was this one;

      Question J: Have you had any contact with Simon Lusk (who also happens to live in the Hawkes Bay area), or any of his associates with regards to this matter?

      I received no reply to that, or other questions posed in that email.

      However, nine days later, on 30 August, my answer was provided by the release of this email – ironically published in a NZ Herald story – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11316677

      Without an answer from Mr Savage, I can only go by what facts I have gleaned – and the facts appear to point to some form of collusion between Minister Woodhouse, TV3 journalists, and Mr Savage (the latter, having regular contact with Cameron Slater).

  25. Michael says:

    Woodhouse is a sneaky little shit who is reputed to have done a lot of dirty work while employed at ACC. He looks likely to be rewarded by the Minister of Health’s job after 20 September unless New Zealanders decide they’ve had enough of Dirty Politics.

  26. Margaret says:

    Excellent, thank you very much for that Frank, it’s just a shame it is not out there in the Herald where everyone can read it. Is Campbell Live going to do a news programme on the affair. Be great to see.

  27. Ianmac says:

    Great work Frank – again! The probability of some nasty Ministerial collusion is sickening and more so because there seems to be no means to combat it.

    • Mistery Mistery says:

      There is a way to combat it all – its called a Governor General, and a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

      I think maybe FJK has shut the GG up too!

      Opinion.

  28. Barnsley Bill says:

    I have been insulted by the best. From Yorkshire to Invercargill I have suffered all manner of obscene insults, but today we reached a new low.
    Being labelled a Cameron Slater acolyte is a new low.

    If my memory serves from the time that Cunliffe was being exposed over the chinese migrant visa factory that labour were running, the leaks came from within Labour.
    Whether others gathered info from within the govrnment you will have to ask them. I live quietly up north and have no contact with anybody drawing a govt salary. But I am pretty certain it was a disgruntled ex labour functionary and donation hunter trying to trip his lordship up.

    • anker says:

      Sorry you feel insulted, but it seems like you did make the post on Daryls website. How did you know this “scandal” was about to break???? Tell us or we will assume it is Slater.

      • Barnsley Bill says:

        Assume whatever you want.
        But I recommend that some of you need to look a bit closer to home for the source of this mini scandal.
        Kerikeri would be a good place to start.

    • Wild Katipo says:

      Living quietly up North , eh ? …. so plenty of time for blogging one would suspect ….

      Retired and / or wealthy ….so filthy rich you’d like to ensure another term of these neo liberal arseholes , perhaps …

      Well…here’s another insult to add to your bow , mate…

      Piss off.

    • Barnsley Bill – To refresh your memory;

      Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems.

      Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.

      Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am

      Source: http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/15286/#comment-111785

      That statement was made on Tuesday – the day before the Cunliffe-Donghua Liu 2003 letter was apparently released to Jared Savage (and Brook Sabin?) and the story was published at 2.29PM by Jared Savage on the NZ Herald.

      As Anker (at September 11, 2014 at 7:56 pm), asked you,

      “How did you know this “scandal” was about to break???? ”

      I note that a similar question was put to you on 18 June, on “The Dim Post”, in the comments section following a story headed, “Entities”. (http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/entities/)

      Hey Barnsley – All good, all good. Just one question. How come you already knew about this before the letter was released? As did Whale and Farrar and heaven knows who else?

      Comment by Nick R — June 18, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

      I note that you have not answered that question, either here on TDB, or on “The Dim Post”. (Though you made a very skillful attempt at evading answering it.)

      And you can’t get away with simply suggesting “it looks like half the commentators in the country knew what was coming and he blundered straight into it” (http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/entities/#comment-112129).

      Because you pin-pointed not just the coming scandal, but also,

      1. A very precise time frame – “Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems”

      2. The precise media outlet that was going to run the story – “Keep an eye on the herald website”

      If that was ‘pure guesswork’ on your part, you should be winning Lotto practically every week.

      So I repeat the question that Anker, Nick R, and others have put to you:

      How did you know?

    • Want to clear your good name?
      There’s an easy way to do that. Post a photo of yourself, to verify who you are – front page of your passport with the photo and your name (other details blanked out) should do it. Then go meet a reputable independent journalist to have the photo page verified for us. I’m thinking Nicky Hager would suffice. Have him contact TDB to confirm that it’s legitimate. Then you could be sure your name isn’t unfairly dragged through the mud.

  29. Jeeves Ponzi says:

    We all need to calm down and pray to Baby Jeezus for a Conservative Party Landslide- then we can do a Citizen’s Initiated Referendum :

    ” The People propose a full and independant international panel of experts to investigate the political corruption, misinformation, obfuscation and ….and… ah fuck it- the people demand half a ton of wet tar and a truck of feathers… we’ll do it ourselves”

    • Wild Katipo says:

      Oh don’t be so cheap !!!!! – make that 4-5 tonnes of wet tar, 11-12 tonnes of feathers and 7-8 articulated Kenworth trucks to freight away all the shit that they’ve caused.

      Following that , 2-3 tonnes of disinfectant to sanitize and mask the odorous stench that hangs like a pall over the beehive.

    • Jeeves – ha ha ha ha… Post of the Week!

  30. Mistery Mistery says:

    Good investigation Frank!

    Of course it is dirty politics – if it was done by National, it’s got to be dirty!

    And Armstrong is a pillock.

    I thought there was a police incident about this Chinaman – domestic violence? Was there? Where did this disappear to?

    Opinion.

  31. WoW that i amazing for me it has been a huge effort just to read ,,so i appreciate the time it has taken to amass and create all of this for the otherwise ignorant,,
    this govt is not ok ,,they are pure evil!!!

  32. Paul says:

    Sons of National MPs club…
    Brooke Sabin….Carrick Graham….Cameron Slater.

    • Wild Katipo says:

      Yeah mate – who’s your Daddy?

      Fine little collection of spoilt brats craving Daddy’s approval, eh what?

      Still wanted to ensure the privilege was theirs but all wanted to be seen as ‘different’ from their Papa’s when they were teenagers ,so …all got into an industry that could further Daddy’s approval but show they were independent.

      Sick.

  33. Marcus says:

    One of the most interesting things about the whole dirty politics saga is that it betrays the National Party’s lack of confidence in its own policies. If the country was really in such great shape as National claims then why do they need to do such things, surely their record speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Wrong, it shows that behind the bluff, arrogance, puffery and baby kissing National is deeply scared, scared because it knows that if it allows the true state of the country to be publicly known then it is dog tucker on Saturday week. But we won’t actually see this on our MSM because the MSM is part of the dirty deal to keep it secret.

    • Inky says:

      Why do they do it? At one time I doubt they would have. Did this happen pre-Key? Not that I’m aware of. So I’d say Key is the reason why. He’s a money trader and in that game winning is everything. Morals and principles? No value in those. Don’t believe in them, don’t need them, you keep them. Just show me the money!

      • Jrobin says:

        Inky, read Hollow Men. Yes it did happen when Brash was leader. Seems to be escalating under Key, due maybe to his popularity giving them a good cover keeping the sheeple quietly stupefied.

  34. Mistery Mistery says:

    Has anyone sung our National Anthem recently?

    I recommend doing this – with your hand on your heart – the proper way, and all the verses.

    Was with a medium-large group of people over the weekend, and we all sang God Defend New Zealand at the top of our hearts. It felt awesomely amazing – almost tear inspiring.

    This is the help we need – for God to defend NZ!

  35. word says:

    Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?

    YES.

  36. Inky says:

    I know what the right are like and should no longer be shocked at how they operate but the evidence of all this collusion among so many people — National MPs, mainstream media journalists and, yes of course, low-life right-wing bloggers — has me feeling sick. And bloody angry.

    The truth about these machinations needs to be out in the mainstream media. Send it to Fairfax, to TV3, to anyone who wasn’t involved in this sham attack based on a nothing letter. How appalling to think these lying pricks sniggeringly, shamelessly manipulate minds to keep their hold on power.

    No wonder Cunliffe has struggled to poll in the PM stakes after this orchestrated litany of lies. You can guarantee plenty of people out there still believe the garbage that was written and spoken about him.

    This lot are even more shameless than I imagined. They’re a disgrace and a blue, festering, filthy boil on the right-wing’s sagging arse.

  37. Dale Kay says:

    Hi guys
    We have been advised that msm
    Wish to sell the herald (seriously in decline)
    So it would seem a good time for an embargo on granny
    Which will hit them seriously on the bottom line
    And remind them that “at the end of the day”
    We do have a choice and don’t like a diet of bullshit

    • Wild Katipo says:

      But Akshully, ..well Im comfortable with that, – and at the end of the day we thought it’d be a good thing to asset sale off all the people of NZ as we think they all need privatization…oh wait..were we talking about the Herald?

  38. Jrobin says:

    Thanks for this precise and thorough investigation. Is there ground for legal action here? This is scandalous.

  39. IGM says:

    The posts of leeches on this site border on treason. Not one of the scum here are in business, work, or production . . . the dregs of a bludging left-wing community.

    • Meds, IGM, don’t forget your meds…

    • mary_a says:

      @IGM

      How is it possible to make such a call, when I doubt you know any one of us who post on this great community site?

      You make a complete ass of yourself by assuming too much!

      Oh and by the way, if you want to know about treason, just look at FJK for that one! It’s what he does well!

      • Mistery Mistery says:

        @IGM The Treasonish gNat.
        I expect you will make your vote against humanity this election, and FOR corruption. You may as well stay home IGM, and take your meds instead.

        Have a look at this, and see if it motivates you to start thinking about Humanity ahead of your pocket!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xM1gXr2Hn4Q&index=2&list=TLVOlr7iun_5BpKtYP0GURgUUNgiaa8j6z

        Its the latest from Anonymous called A Message to Humanity. A short wee clip that says it all – about your ilk IGM and GNats!

        As each day passes I feel more confident that there will be a change in govt – and not just in NZ – but this movement towards all things humane is beginning to revolutionise the whole wide world.

        How awesome!
        This will be a new experience for you IGM – to not be control of other peoples lives. WooHoo!
        Good to see Nat supporters (aka corruption supporters) getting rattled.

        Remember this IGM, at the last election FJK and his gNats only got 32% of the vote – and this means that 68% of NZ did not want him to lead our country. So you think on!

        FIGM, and FJK!

        Opinion.

    • Wild Katipo says:

      Lol- such serious business needs some comic relief sometimes, -IGM always happy to oblige 🙂

      (rumor has it he gets his awesome jokes from old 1950’s McCarthyism magazines )

    • D'Esterre says:

      @IGM: I doubt you’d know a left-winger if you fell over one. Not many left anywhere, including on this site. Go read some political history.

    • Inky says:

      IGM, that reeked of panic. Thank you, that’s most reassuring.

  40. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    THis is also interesting
    “Letters of support from two Government MPs for Donghua Liu’s citizenship bid have been kept secret – despite letters from Labour politicians for his residency bid being released this week.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278299

  41. Michael says:

    If you look on Twitter, Jared Savage tweeted out at 12.56PM with a link to the article that appears on the website with a timestamp of 2.29PM

    The tweet is here: https://twitter.com/jaredsavagenzh/status/479065193767399424

    This shows that there was likely a version of the article published before 2.29PM so maybe not quite the conspiracy that you are suggesting. It would however be interesting to see how Brook Sabin got the information if there is no paper trail as you suggest.

    • Michael – thanks for that.

      Regardless of Savage’s tweet, it remains a very curious affair. The Cunliffe-Donghua Liu letter was released at 12.49PM (see email from Michael Sorenson above).

      Brook Sabin’s TV3 on-line story was published at 12.53 – four minutes later.

      Savage’s tweet was made at 12.56PM – seven minutes later.

      Whaleoil’s blog is at 12.57PM – eight minutes later.

      Armstrong’s call for Cunliffe’s resignation is at 1.00PM – eleven minutes later.

      And Farrar’s blogpost is at 1.06PM – 17 minutes later.

      Even if Savage was fast enough to notice the email from Immigration NZ in his In Box – let’s say within a minute – that left him six minutes to read the material from Immigration NZ; make sense of it; write up the story; proof-read it; up-load it; and then tweet it.

      Even less time for Sabin.

      Plus, it still doesn’t explain how Tova O’Brien asked those pointed questions about Cunliffe’s “dealings” with Donghua Liu the day before the Cunliffe-Liu 2003 letter was released.

      The only way this makes sense is that the main players (or most of them) knew about the Cunliffe-Liu 2003 letter. Wayne Eagleson admitted that the Nats were aware of since May 10/11 – and with the close relationship between Ministers, right wing bloggers, and some msm journalists, it is apparent that certain people knew what to ask for.

      Otherwise this is the greatest series of coincidences since the Year Dot…

  42. Lindsay says:

    Great research, thank you. Our mission now must be to demand a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Dirty Politics. Nothing less will be good enough. The charge needs to be led by the likes of Geoffrey Palmer. If the National-led government won’t take any notice, the fight needs to be taken to the GG. But he’s a Nat puppet, so what then? I think we’re in for some very interesting times. Message to Winston: side with the Nats at your own peril.

  43. Jack says:

    Dirty slimy rats all working together media did the hatchet job on Cunliffe just like they did on Winston in 2008, one needs to have the ability to read between the lines.

  44. *** UP DATE ***

    Giovanni Tisa, through the blogger Jackal, asks some very pertinent questions: http://thejackalman.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/10-questions-for-journalists.html

  45. Jerko says:

    Reassuring to see that there are still some decent people Left in NZ and making their presence felt. Great investigative work. Karma will prevail with this lot. Eventually. I’d be interested to know what was behind the demise of David Shearer.

  46. […] Subsequent questions put to  “Barnsley Bill” have yielded no sensible answers, and his/her responses have been evasive. (Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.) […]

  47. […] to drop in the polls after the Internet Mana deal. But they also dropped after the WhaleOil + Herald smear on Cunliffe that turned out to be 95% bollocks, but not before doing its damage in […]



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