The definition of irony …

… surely, must be Peter Dunne complaining (a) that the government hasn’t fulfilled its promises to him and (b) about the security of metadata:

“The question that the Law Commission identified about four years ago, the definition of metadata and the use or the way in which metadata can or cannot be utilised.

“And I think a lot of the issue about the interception and use of private communication is also about the interception and use of metadata.”

Mr Dunne said the Government had promised to clarify this.

“I would like to see the work on metadata get underway as soon as possible. I’ve been promised it for nearly two years and I am concerned the chain has been dragged. I think the intention now seems to be to wrap it all up in the review (later this year), which is fine, if in fact it leads to a conclusive outcome.”

Peter Dunne, of course, is the government minister who had to resign after refusing to hand over the content of 86 emails between him and Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance, who broke the story of the report.

Vance was understandably hopping mad about the subsequent releasing of her phone records and tracking of her movements around Parliament – but Dunne himself can’t have been too fussed, given in July 2013 he was still supporting a law change which would allow the GCSB to collect the metadata and private data of New Zealanders.

There are still a number of unanswered questions about the GCSB report leak – namely, who did it, but also, why Peter Dunne “considered” leaking the report despite claiming he had no intention to “hurt” the government and why anyone should just take it on faith that he didn’t follow through.

But you have to have a chuckle at a man who:

  • by his own admission couldn’t continue as a minister in 2013
  • refused to hand over his personal emails to an investigation impacting our national security
  • had his own suspicious-looking activity revealed due to an inappropriate handing over of metada
  • nevertheless supported legislation to allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders in the interests of national security
  • became a minister again only seven months post-resignation, after winning a key electorate seat and presumably promising not to make too much fuss

… now complaining that he’s not being taken seriously by his National handlers and that metadata is serious business.

No one really takes you seriously, minister. Your party barely scraped past 5,000 votes in 2014 and you retained your seat only because National ran a candidate who was afraid to say his own name in case people accidentally voted for him.

Perhaps, post-Northland-by-election, Dunne sees an opportunity to flex his muscles and show Key he isn’t to be taken for granted. And sure, Winston’s victory makes Dunne’s single vote (and Seymour’s single vote) more important.

But stamping his feet on an issue which only reminds people that he isn’t trustworthy and that he’ll do anything to get a portfolio probably isn’t going to help.

It could be worth keeping an eye on the Conservatives

It might be nice to daydream about a world in which we never have to listen to Colin Craig opine about the promiscuity of Kiwi women or threatening The Civilian with legal action ever again. Unfortunately, as a nation which has suffered/triumphed in Winston Peters being on the political scene for nearly four decades, overcoming deathblow after deathblow, we may have to accept that he’ll be around for as long as he can keep funding a political machine.

Or not?

While everyone’s has been distracted by Winston’s big blue bus, the Lundy re-trial and our not-too-hot, not-too-cold deployment to Iraq, Andrea Vance has been keeping an eye on Colin. And it looks like things may not be going brilliantly for him:

Colin Craig insists his Conservative Party is not in turmoil, despite questions over his leadership and the expulsion of former MP Larry Baldock.

The party’s board met on Saturday and since then rumours have swirled about an attempt to roll Craig as leader and replace him with Napier candidate Garth McVicar, who quit the party after the general election last September.

Craig said he was not challenged and was unanimously reinstated as leader.

He was unaware a board member had asked McVicar to the meeting – an invitation that  was declined.

Craig said the speculation about his leadership was “intriguing”.

“I wonder who is trying to spread rumours,” he said.

Probably the person who’s thinking about rolling you, Colin. But who can say with an outfit as out there as the Conservatives? Maybe it’s all a grand plan to pique our interest by manufacturing some drama. Or maybe Garth McVicar, riding high on his successful campaign to split the rightwing vote in Napier and deliver the seat back to Labour, is using the Sensible Sentencing Trust as a decoy to hide his plans for parliamentary domination.

Three years is a long time in politics, and if the National Party keeps hitting roadblocks (Iraq, Sabin, Liu, etc) we may start to see more right-of-the-right voters looking for an alternative, and the Conservatives – who got 3.97% of the party vote compared to ACT’s 0.69% – may look like a viable alternative to them. The question is whether that’s with or without the man who got them that far.

Andrea Vance: five important unanswered questions

Andrea Vance has posted five unanswered questions from the Beehive – click through for her answers:

1. When is an asset sale not an asset sale? 

2. They won’t be selling them off cheaply to developers, right?

3. Does a politician ever really step down for family reasons?

4. Why was the usually loquacious Key acting so weird on Sabin?

5. Anyway, who’s going to be the new Greens co-leader?

The state housing firesale and the sudden (but apparently not at all unexpected) resignation of Mike Sabin must be major weak spots for the government as the 2015 political year cranks up. Key hasn’t handled the latter at all well, but until any more details of Sabin’s situation come to light it’s difficult to say just how damaging it’s going to be.

I’m very interested to see how the Greens handle their leadership challenge, having been quite involved in Labour’s last year. Full respect to Norman for putting his family first and stepping down at the very beginning of the political term – there’s never an ideal time for a leader, even a co-leader, to go, and the right are always going to try to spin a senior pollie’s resignation as part of some deeper organisational malaise. I’m sure the Greens will ignore the haters and get on with the democratic process, and who ends up winning could have a big impact on the wider left.