Wellington, NZ, 31 August – At a meet-the-candidates public meeting in the Rongotai Electorate, National’s Ohariu candidate, Brett Hudson, confirmed that he had been approached by “a mate”, who passed on a message from National Party operative, Simon Lusk.
Simon Lusk is a far right-wing apparatchik who runs a private, self-styled “candidates school” for potential National Party candidates. Amongst those National MPs linked to Lusk are Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former list MP Aaron Gilmore. Disgraced Minister, Judith Collins, is also an associate of Simon Lusk.
The media reported that some National Party insiders were so concerned by Lusk’s activities that they leaked documents to the media in 2012, and the following year. At least one senior Minister, Michael Woodhouse, discussed his growing unease with National’s president, Peter Goodfellow .
On Sunday, this blogger put a direct question to National’s Ohariu candidate, Brett Hudson, enquiring if he has had any recent contact with Simon Lusk; Lusk’s so-called “college for candidates”; Cameron Slater, or any of their associates.
Hudson confirmed that he had been approached, explaining that he had been offered Simon Lusk’s services through a third party,
“I have [had an] indirect approach. Someone else had said that, that gentleman had said if your mate wants to get involved, let me know. And I turned it down.”
When I enquired who that “someone else” had been, Hudson refused to disclose the name.
“I’m not going to name who it was, it’s not relevant to this situation.”
“They just said, I’ve had a message from this guy Lusk, who sez if your mate is interested let me know. Tell him to get in touch.”
Hudson stated categorically that the un-named person who approached him was not National Party parliamentary staffer, Jason Ede.
When questioned further, Hudson stated,
“I’ve no contact with Slater or Lusk. I have no intention to never, nor would ever consider entering their scheme.
So I made my own message, which I think it was Facebook, I can’t recall exactly, just went to Lusk, and don’t want to participate.”
Upon further questioning, Hudson confirmed that he contacted Lusk directly to decline the offer,
“It was just a message to say I’m not interested… so I’m not involved, I’ve had no conversations.”
When I asked when this exchange took place, Hudson was vague, and said,
“I can’t recall, last year probably. Or even… probably… could’ve been late 2012. I don’t know. Honestly, ‘cos I’ve no intention of being involved.”
I asked when he was selected as a candidate and Hudson replied,
“End of April this year.”
“End of April this year? So why would he have contacted you… in 2012?”
“Because if he wanted people to join his college, which as I understand it, and I don’t know, but it would be a paid for thing, then maybe he was touting for business, I don’t know.”
Hudson was emphatic when he denied all involvement with Lusk;
“And also I think the message was, if your mate was interested then he could contact me. And I said I’m not interested.”
Despite repeated enquiries, he refused to name who the “mate” was who acted as a go-between him and Lusk.
Interestingly, Hudson joined Facebook on 5 May 2011, so why would Lusk have offered his services through a so-called third party, rather than FB messaging Hudson directly?
Especially when Brett Hudson is one of Simon Lusk’s FB friends;
Lusk does not appear on Brett Hudson’s FB friends list.
If Hudson was approached by a “third party”, there are two well-known associates of Simon Lusk who appear on Brett Hudson’s Facebook Friends list; right-wing lawyer Jordan Williams, and blogger, David Farrar;
At another public meeting in Rongotai, on the same day, National’s Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attornery General, Chris Finlayson was also asked what dealings, if any, he had had with Simon Lusk or Cameron Slater.
At this point, as I put the question to Finlayson, National Party supporters attempted to shout me down. Nearly all middle-aged men and women, their behaviour was mob-like, reminding me of the “F**k John Key” Youtube video we have seen recently, and attempted to stop me from questioning the Minister. They took particular exception to a hand-held voice-recorder in my hand. One particularly observant older National supporter yelled, with a hint of panic,
“He’s got a recorder! He’s got a recorder!”
I turned to the greying-haired lady and responded,
“Why yes, so it is.”
The chair of the meeting felt the need to address the matter and called for a voice “vote” on whether or not I should record Finlayson’s response to my question. The loud vocal braying from the National Party supporters would have done a village mob proud, with one National supporter sitting directly behind me adding,
“Sit down! Not relevant!”
At the Chair’s request, I turned my recorder off and said,
“But I will put the question, as it’s an important election issue.”
Minister Finlayson responded (with far more grace than his supporters, I might add). The following notes were jotted contemporaneously,
“No, [I] haven’t been contacted by them. I haven’t read the book. But all I know is I think they called me a tosser who tried to speak latin.”
I thanked the minister, sat down, and turned to the National Party supporter seated behind me,
“Are you a National or Conservative Party (he had cheered and clapped for several comments made by the Conservative candidate) supporter?”
“Doesn’t matter, irrelevent,” he replied.
“Well, it is relevent. You’ve expressed strong views and I’d like to know where you’re coming from.”
“No, irrelevent, just like your question to Chris,” he said.
I replied, “it can’t be ‘irrelevent’, because it’s a major election issue.”
“Well,” he said with some smugness, “we’ll have to agree to disagree then, won’t we?”
“Really? That didn’t stop you from trying to shut me down, did it?”
At the conclusion of the public question and answer session, I approached Chris Finlayson and introduced myself. I asked if he would go on record, to answer my question. The Minister seemed quite happy to do so, and added an interesting ‘aside’.
“So you’ve never had no contact or anything with Simon Lusk or Cameron Slater, say in the last year or so?”
Finlayson replied, without any hesitation,
“I’ve never had contact with them.”
“I suggest you ask the same question of Stuart Nash, the Labour candidate in Napier.”
When I asked why I should ask Nash that question, Finlayson refused to say why, and instead repeated that I should put the question to him.
Accordingly, I have put the question to Stuart Nash via Facebook messaging,
Kia ora Stuart,
I’m putting together a story for the Daily Blog, regarding Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater, and your name has come up in discussions with certain people. Can you confirm what dealings you have had with Simon Lusk (or his intermediary) , and what services he has offered you for your election campaign? Have you paid any money for any services he might offer, or has any amount been agreed on? Furthermore, what was the nature of the agreement and did it refer to the Mana-Internet Party? Also, are you aware of other Labour candidates who are currently in contact with Simon Lusk (or his intermediary, or Cameron Slater). I look forward to your responses on these questions, to shed some light on matters that have arisen.
The message was seen at 1.46am on 1 September, but no reply has been forthcoming.
Mr Nash, if you wish to reply and address the question, the opportunity is still open.
It is the contention of this blogger that Cameron Slater and his dealings are a matter of intense public interest. People who are putting themselves up for election to Parliament should have nothing to hide when it comes to disclosing what contacts they have had with controversial public figures and matters of considerable public interest.
I will continue to ask these questions, and noisy supporters of National (or Labour) would be well advised that attempting to shout down the truth does not serve their interests.
NZ Herald: National turns on hard right advisor
Fairfax media: Seriously happy to upset the status quo
TVNZ News: National Party selects Ohariu candidate
Facebook: Simon Lusk FB Page – Friends
NZ Parliament: Chris Finlayson
Previous related blogposts
The Paepae: Simon Lusk in the headlines again!
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
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