Tag Archives: New Zealand

You, Me and The GCSB

There is nothing better than information gleaned straight from the horse’s mouth. Especially when the horse in question happens to be the head of a spy agency, dishing on mass surveillance, WikiLeaks, Snowden and even “the Russians“.

By happenstance I have obtained some fascinating material regarding New Zealand’s most infamous spy agency.

Recently one Andrew Hampton, the new-ish head of New Zealand’s NSA (the GCSB – Government Communications Security Bureau), put in an appearance at the board meeting  of Transparency International’s New Zealand branch – TINZ.

Substantial notes were taken about his on-the-record remarks at that meeting.

The takeaways are a veritable goldmine from an analysis perspective – particularly for a journalist with my areas of interest. A rich tapestry of regurgitated propaganda straight from the mouths of the executives of US intelligence agencies were coupled with New Zealand-specific obfuscations and denials, laid out neatly amidst a smattering of easily disprovable “facts”.

The art of spin is to at all times sound entirely reasonable. To downplay any misgiving and gently assuage any concern. Hampton is apparently adept at this, as one onlooker observed that they were “left with the opinion that GCSB were following the rules.” Yet they knew from my own personal situation that that was unlikely to be the case.

My source wondered “if GCSB are being strict, but other agencies were mis-using the information GCSB provide… [Hampton] struck me as well informed, new at the job, perhaps slightly naive. If they are up to no good, and he was being disingenuous, he did an incredibly good job of covering it up. He didn’t strike me as being capable of such sophisticated obfuscation. [Another onlooker] felt GCSB was still capable of plenty of naughtiness, perhaps it’s buried further down in the organisation.”

While those further down in the organisation are likely products of the culture of the whole and perhaps prone to individual opportunism with regards to the use of the tools that they are granted access to, my deduction after intensive study is that the “naughtiness” in fact happens right at the very top.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Even above Mr Hampton himself and certainly during the time period of 2010-2016, culpability traces right to the very doorstep of now ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, who was Minister in Charge of New Zealand’s security services. Intelligence legislation dictates that the Minister in Charge may “co-operate with, and provide advice and assistance to, any public authority (where in New Zealand or overseas) and any other entity authorised by the Minister..” [emphasis added]

This suggests that New Zealand’s passing of the data of its own citizens to the National Security Agency would have had to be signed off at the very top.

Yet Prime Minister John Key also held the voting majority on the Oversight Committee that was supposed to hold the security agencies in check.

Having the Minister in Charge of the agencies be allowed to himself vote and to appoint two of the other four members, made a complete mockery of the entire concept of oversight.

The last bullet point in the above screenshot of the regulations for oversight stipulates: “The Director of the NZSIS (New Zealand Security Intelligence Services) must ensure that the NZSIS does not take action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party.

Yet we know that the NZSIS did exactly that to the former Leader of the Opposition.

According to the NZ Herald:

“Inspector General of Security Intelligence Cheryl Gwyn’s report yesterday found primarily that former SIS director Warren Tucker was at fault for supplying “misleading” information about Mr Goff to the Prime Minister during a 2011 war of words between the pair.”

Not only did Cheryl Gwyn find Director Tucker at fault, she said that she “had found significant failures by the SIS to meet its obligations, both in the release of information and in upholding political neutrality…  the information as released was incomplete, inaccurate and misleading… overall there was a basic failure to provide a full and accurate picture.” 

There are further indications of how deeply shoddy and inappropriate New Zealand’s practises are surrounding their intelligence services. In the wake of the Kitteridge Report (by then Secretary of Cabinet Rebecca Kitteridge) which the Prime Minister described in April 2013 as pretty damning after it had revealed the 88+ instances of illegal spying on New Zealand citizens,  then Inspector General of the Intelligence Services Paul Neazor promptly went public about his own report ostensibly clearing the GCSB of wrongdoing.

Radio New Zealand reported:

“…Paul Neazor says he has not found there were no breaches – only that its spying on New Zealanders may have been legal.”

Wrap your head around that one. From the double negative to the “may have been“.

Predictably, the report was not released to the public.

Yet the RNZ article continues:

Yet the above claim that “all of the cases were based on serious issues such as the development of potential weapons of mass destruction, people smuggling and drug smuggling” is not possible. Because it was revealed in 2016 thanks to The Intercept and TVNZ that one of the targets was a pro-democracy activist in Fiji. Which appears to retrospectively catch out then-Director Ian Fletcher in an outright lie.

And who was Ian Fletcher? According to 3News: a “former schoolmate of John Key” with “no military or GCSB experience” who was “directly approached by the PM” and offered the opportunity to apply for the position of Director of the spy agency.

Then of course there is the issue of the GCSB already having admitted to illegally spying on tech entrepreneur and New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom. Prime Minister Key even mustered a rare apology for the illegal actions.

There are additional questions surrounding how much Key’s then Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson, who has been described as thepower behind the throne” and is also Chief of Staff to the now-Prime Minister Bill English, also knew and/or was involved in the political mayhem that surrounded the GCSB’s targeting of New Zealand citizens and residents. While Key has departed, Eagleson has not.

After a year in the job, how much Hampton knows is anyone’s guess. As the analysis of his speech that will follow demonstrates, his discourse mostly comes across as ‘Monkey-Hear, Monkey-Say’ rather than ‘Monkey-See, Monkey-Do’.

His apparent conviction in his words is no doubt as practised as his media training and it is likely that he in fact believes every word. For by their nature, careerists are so invested in the continuity of their position and the trajectory of their careers that they often genuinely and wholeheartedly commit to their own propaganda.

To believe that everything is OK and that there really is no dark underbelly to their service, their organisation or their government is a far sweeter and more emotionally palatable, not to mention lucrative, option than the cold dread of the scarier alternative.

Thus there are many incentives for others within the GCSB to take what Mr Hampton says at face value and to themselves adopt his assertions – professional, social, financial and emotional pay-offs for doing so.

There is only one reason to look deeper and between the lines:

Because you value the truth.

The Great Paradox 

In New Zealand, when citizens who act to challenge the intelligence agencies are vindicated in court, the law is changed to make those acts illegal.

When actions undertaken by the intelligence agencies against its own citizens are found to be illegal, the law is changed to make those acts legal.

This was in evidence when the ‘Waihopai Three’ – a preacher, a teacher, and a farmer, outraged by New Zealand’s Waihopai Spy Base being used to collect targeting information for America’s war in Iraq, pierced one of the ‘bubbles’ (satellite domes) with a sickle and found themselves up for 10 years in jail and a million-dollar fine.

Allowed to state their reasons for their act in front of a jury of their peers, they were ultimately acquitted.

The Government’s response to the acquittal? Not to appeal it, but to simply change the law to remove the possibility of anyone else being able to defend similar acts of protest on the same premises.

When the GCSB was found to have been illegally targeting New Zealand citizens in violation of law and of their own founding charter, the government’s response was the opposite. They implemented a series of amendments to the law to make the illegal acts legal and to date there has been no restitution or redress achieved by the many victims. Police declined to prosecute the offending agency, citing lack of criminal intent.

The country was in an uproar. Dozens of New Zealand towns and cities broke out into protest in a movement against the spy agency the likes of which may never have been seen before.

The outcry was so sustained that even the mainstream media couldn’t keep a lid on it.

For once, the issue was being thoroughly investigated by the biggest political news shows in the country.

Famous broadcaster John Campbell clearly tied the whole saga back to the United States, on his hit show “Campbell Live” in this utterly damning investigation:

However the end result of the scandal was a blind-eye being turned to the mass dissent and the new legislation being considered under urgency and then passed by a razor-thin margin.

Even the Conservative Party was unhappy about the bill being tabled under urgency.

Indeed the strength of the movement against the GCSB was that it was bi-partisan. Almost every political party except the ruling coalition jumped on board the wagon. Unfortunately New Zealanders learned a hard lesson: that no matter how much they protested or how much they dissented, the authoritarian National government was far more interested in pleasing their American overlords than in appeasing their own public.

The line had been drawn in the sand. The message was clear: Protest will get you nowhere. The government doesn’t care. They will do what they want regardless. And just as with the TPPA and every other instance of ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders, so they did and so they do.

Again and again.

The Meat In The Pie

Which brings me back to what the Director of the GCSB, Andrew Hampton, had to say to Transparency International New Zealand, where we’ve heard it all before and most importantly, what he didn’t say.

  1. The Director said GCSB is/has been “held to account

Well, if you call saying sorry for doing illegal things yet suffering no criminal penalty and paying no compensation while having your illegal acts retrospectively legalised and then having your powers dramatically and arguably unnecessarily expanded not once, but twice, as well as having your budget substantially increased repeatedly (up 19% in 2010 in the midst of their illegal spying and up another $178 million starting from 2016) being “held to account“, you’re probably qualified to become the next Director of the GCSB.

2. The GCSB is “a public service

If the definition of a public service is where you get funded by the public, but can violate their rights without suffering legal, legislative or budgetary recourse, can ignore the will of the same public when they decry both your activity and the increases of your powers all while spying on that very public (and worse, shipping citizen’s private information offshore to foreign powers) then you probably get an honorary PhD in Orwellianism to go with your new job as Director of the GCSB.

3. The GCSB “is accountable to Ministers

Except, as discussed above, the Ministers appear to be accountable to no one. With the Prime Minister casting the deciding vote on the Oversight Committee, that is the end of accountability.

4. It is “not optional, must comply with law.”

Except that when they don’t comply with the law, the law simply gets changed.

5. There are “high levels of scrutiny” and the GCSB is “more accountable than many other departments.

Great, the other-people-are-worse-than-us argument. The only reason there is high levels of scrutiny is because the conduct of the agency has been so egregious in the eyes of the public, their choice of targets so inappropriate and their lies and cover-ups so voracious, that they have made a complete mockery of themselves year in and year out. The GCSB has made itself so infamous that it has entered pop culture. It was the star of iconic Kiwi rock band Shihad’s album “FVEY. It is a cartoon caricature. It is literally a meme in New Zealand. Thousands, in fact. There are social media accounts who exist solely to mock them, Facebook pages and groups, campaigns devoted to shutting them down entirely, and 88 New Zealanders who are probably going to sue the crap out of them when they inevitably find out who they are and what has been done to them. Every cover-up just prolongs the scandals further and the complete lack of redress is a festering sore that no amount of denials or spin can effectively conceal.

6. The Director says that there are three key objectives to the GCSB legislation; “International security, national security and economic well-being.”

The major question this raises is – security according to who? The United States? What if the United States finally illegally invades one too many countries and things go pear-shaped? Foreign policy determined by the objectives of a foreign power rather than our own is a slippery slope; national security policy determined by the same is even worse. And I’m not just being paranoid here. To suggest that our interests just happen to align with the United States is folly. The truth is, whether those interests align has nothing to do with the will of the people and everything to do with the will of those who are in power.

As for economic well-being, apparently that extends to spying on the rest of the world to try to install our own trade representative as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Yet another embarrassing scandal on the pile for the GCSB.

7. According to Director Hampton, there was only “seven intercepts last year” (2016) yet Hampton said he spends “4-5 hours a week getting authorisations over at the Beehive”.

This is a huge red flag. The enhanced spying powers included the ability to get a warrant not on a person but on an entity, provider or geographical location. Yes, in theory, literally an entire geographic area could be surveilled under a single warrant. This amounts to a general warrant.

Quoting from USLegal.com:

“Historically, general warrant was issued by the English Secretary of State for the arrest of the author, printer, or publisher of a seditious libel, without naming the persons to be arrested. Such warrants were banned by Parliament in 1766.

A general warrant refers to a warrant providing a law-enforcement officer with broad discretion or authority to search and seize unspecified places or persons. A general warrant lacks a sufficiently particularized description of the person or thing to be seized or the place to be searched.”

The use of general warrants are widely regarded to have led to the American Revolutionary War.

From TechLiberty.co.nz:

So the GCSB bill allows the GCSB to spy on “a class of person” (whatever on earth that means), or “classes of place”.

Leaving little doubt that it in fact meets the definition of a general warrant.

8. The Director says “Sometimes other agencies legal frameworks don’t suit new types of threats...” He quantifies this with a classic fear-mongering example: “…counter-narcotics.” He claims there was a “…big bust 2 weeks ago…” but that the agency couldn’t do something about it. 

To hear him tell it, you’d be forgiven for thinking the GCSB sits around busting drug traffickers all day. Yet the reality seeps through in the situation of the aforementioned non-violent pro-democracy activist in Fiji. His house was raided, his passport revoked and he was utterly terrified. There was not a single allegation of drug trafficking or anything of the like. It was just yet another example of a political persecution enabled by pervasive government spying powers. Powers that have been broadened and enhanced since.

9. The Director says that the ‘Five Eyes’ (FVEY) agreement has existed since the 1940s; has “Lots of benefits”; results in “information from our partners.” Claims that for every 1 intelligence “product” New Zealand generates, 99 are received from FVEY. 

This is an alarming and potentially deceptive statistic. Since the Snowden disclosures, a number of practices of the intelligence agencies have become known – not just those relating to their usual functions but also some of the methods by which they bypass regulations and restrictions in order to obtain information that they want, regardless of the impropriety of doing so.

In particular, the practice of getting information about someone they are not warranted to target by collecting information of foreign nationals which whom they have been in communication, and for which the agency thus doesn’t require a warrant to collect on. This is what is called “incidental collection” although there is in fact nothing incidental about it.

Additionally, agencies have been obtaining data on their own citizens by having a partner agency perform the collection instead of the agency doing it themselves.

This practice provided cover for the agencies who could then say “we did not collect information on our own citizens” while knowing full well that they were receiving it via their partners.

While this is no longer an issue for New Zealand, who has now blatantly legalised spying on their own citizens, there is likely more to the 99 vs 1 claim than it appears on the surface.

10. On the subject of Snowden, the Director spouts Obama’s lines word for word – Snowden’s disclosures “led to a debate that needed to happen.”

However, this admission soon led to the usual Snowden-bashing that we have come to expect from proponents of government surveillance.

The Director said that Snowden’s leaks “led to heightened anxiety” and claimed that “all of that activity had been authorised.”

He then disclaimed the importance of Snowden’s revelations in New Zealand, stating that New Zealanders “don’t need Snowden to discuss our agencies transparency – we had [Kim] Dotcom.”

This is another misnomer. I was present at the Moment of Truth event in Auckland in 2014 where Snowden, Julian Assange, Kim Dotcom, Glenn Greenwald and others spoke about the significance of the Snowden documents in relation to New Zealand. A number of extremely pertinent pieces of information were disclosed that went largely unreported by media. These included revelations that there are in fact multiple NSA facilities operating on New Zealand soil, with NSA staff and NSA funding. Some of those installations were previously  unknown and unheard of in New Zealand. The implications are massive and remain unaddressed.

11. On the subject of WikiLeaks, things got markedly more hostile. “As a result of WikiLeaks the world is a less safe place” declared the Director.

It didn’t end there. WikiLeaks had “made extremists adopt end-to-end encryption.” This had had a “cooling effect on telecom companies-to-agencies cooperation.”

These are precisely the same claims that were made about Snowden, before the US government did its U-turn to claim that his revelations had led to a necessary debate. Now the scapegoat is WikiLeaks.

The fact is, extremists have known for decades that they were being spied on and their use of a variety of evasive measures, including encryption, predates both WikiLeaks and Snowden.

12. When asked about the Podesta email dump, the Director said “it was the Russians behind it but it was a simple hack.”

The Director spouting US pro-surveillance propaganda word-for-word is ominous enough, but for one of the five top spymasters in the world to make definitive claims about something that is so far from proven is profoundly disturbing. Not only are the claims that the Russians did it baseless, but there certainly is evidence to the contrary.

[It is also noteworthy that the #Vault7 WikiLeaks releases showed that CIA hacking ops practice deniability by using signatures of foreign agencies – specifically the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others.]

What Do The Good Guys Have To Say About This?

An anti-privacy pro-police state plague has infected the world. Think that sounds extreme? When the Human Rights Commission took the very serious step of submitting an urgent report to Prime Minister John Key about the GCSB Bill, he publicly threatened to pull their funding.

Fast forward to the second round of expanded powers for the spy agencies – the 2016 Security and Intelligence Bill – and the Human Rights Commission dutifully had another go at making a critically important submission.


Spy Laws Spreading Like A Virus

The Aussie’s Data Retention Act – the USA Freedom Act – the new Canadian CSEC powers and the UK IP Bill – all had their genesis in little old New Zealand’s GCSB Bill. Just as the TICS legislation empowering – in fact, obligating – Internet Service Providers to spy on their consumers is being adopted worldwide.

Countries that the West has long accused of being democratically deficient and oppressive are modelling their legislation on that of the Western World, who have so outdone themselves in their quest for power over their citizenry that they are now legislative models for dictatorships and autocracies globally.

Edward Snowden recently pointed out:



So who has been spied on?

Possibly you. Probably me.

The only ones who know for sure are the GCSB.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

[This post is being live-blogged. Please periodically refresh your browser to check for updates]

Bombshell Kim Dotcom Exclusive: 2TB of Leaked Govt Data Will Stun New Zealand In 2017

Love him or hate him Kim Dotcom has smarts, guts and top-notch contacts.

The relentless innovator, due to launch his latest digital initiative Mega 2.0 on January 2017, the 5th anniversary of the raid of his mansion – which also happens to be the day President-elect Donald Trump is due to take office – is out for justice and not backing down.

Recently he hinted on Twitter that 2017 is the year that will finally bring down New Zealand’s scandal-plagued ruling government.

DNC-style leaks about the National Party in New Zealand may indeed revolutionise the political situation in the country and also the mainstream media, who have mostly been subjugated, shackled and brought to heel by the chains of a no-holds-barred government willing to wield its intelligence services against its own citizens in the pursuit of absolute power.

In our exclusive interview Dotcom dishes more details on the endemic corruption in New Zealand mainstream media and the ruling government and reveals further information about the leaks he says are scheduled to rock the country next year.

The opening day of the High Court hearing regarding your extradition and your victory in winning the right to livestream it received significant coverage in the world press. After that, there was mostly a resounding silence. Why do you think this is?

Kim Dotcom: Just like in the US and the UK, the NZ media has become a government mouth piece. Since the founding of the Internet Party I’m considered anti-establishment and a threat to the status quo. I had everyone so scared that we might do well that the rat pack of National friendly media quickly came to Key’s rescue with a coordinated character assassination campaign and just like Donald Trump I called them out for their dishonesty. They had shown their true face to me. I now knew all the top media players that the government had in their pocket. Imagine how these players would look if they had to admit that I was right all along. That my case is unlawful and political and that Key and his Attorney General engaged in criminal activity to gain favour with the US government regarding my case and that Key knew all along.

There were problems with sound and visuals on the livestream, reminiscent of some of the issues that others such as Julian Assange experience when transmitting important information. Were these purely technical issues or potentially something more nefarious?

Kim Dotcom: I simply don’t know. It could have been technical issues. It could have been sabotage.

In a recent interview, Patrick Gower told Toby Manhire that the lead-up to the general election in 2014 was “peak cray”. How would you describe that period in New Zealand political history?

Kim Dotcom: I revealed the scope of mass surveillance in New Zealand with undeniable evidence and with the help of the most knowledgeable people. The Moment of Truth could have been an awakening for the New Zealand public. This was so much bigger than my case. Patrick Gower and his pro-government buddies steered the news towards a failure to produce a smoking gun against Key’s deep knowledge and involvement in my case. If they would have reported what the Moment of Truth had revealed, the National Party would have lost the election. John Key was outed as a serial liar but that wasn’t the headline.

You famously called out Patrick Gower at the press conference immediately following the Moment of Truth event. What led you to do so?

Kim Dotcom: Patrick Gower is the most dishonest henchman in the New Zealand media landscape. He is not reporting on politics. He is creating the news that his National party contacts need. He’s part of the National P.R. machine. Unethical to the core.

You have tweeted that an expected release of government information will take down the National Party in the next general election in 2017. What types of material can we expect to see?

Kim Dotcom: Why do you think John Key resigned? This wasn’t about his family. It’s more likely about the next election and 2 terabytes of emails and attachments that were taken from New Zealand government servers. I heard from a reliable source that the Podesta emails seem like cotton candy compared to the amount of disgusting dishonesty the National government will see leaked at the next election. Key must know. He’s taken the parachute. He can’t stomach the kind of embarrassment that Clinton had to endure with daily releases of dirty emails. And this time even his media cronies couldn’t have saved him. The Internet and alternative media of reputable truth-telling websites are taking over. Leaks are the new political reality. Over time this will be the cure against dishonest politicians. They just can’t survive in this new environment of information.

Many people believe that Donald Trump may be of the same ilk as Hillary Clinton. Would a Labour-led coalition government in New Zealand really be a material difference to your case or any significant improvement for the wider public in general?

Kim Dotcom: Donald Trump and Brexit are the punishment the elites deserve. Will the Donald drain the swamp? We will have to wait and see. The swamp is exactly what led to the unlawful destruction of my business and the military-style raid and illegal spying against my family. A Labour government in New Zealand would have no incentive to drag out the monstrosities committed by John Key and his Attorney General Chris Finlayson against my family. The Attorney General is using every tool of power at his disposal to prevent the unavoidable legal victory that is coming my way. He will fail and he might end up in jail himself. I won’t stop until the truth about the real Mega conspiracy is fully unearthed. And I expect a Labour government will want an independent inquiry into my case which will see the National Party in disarray and embarrassment for years to come. This will be a brutal and costly experience for New Zealand but it will also be necessary so that something like this can’t happen again.

Kim Dotcom’s answers are great and perhaps that’s to be expected given his vast experience as an interview subject. What was surprising however, is the discovery that he also has a by-line himself, giving a candid retelling of his political trials and tribulations to a well-known New Zealander, Gareth Morgan, who is considering setting up a political party.

In his article, Dotcom writes of his exasperation with:

“…the lies, the lies and more lies, so many lies. See how none of your policies or achievements matter. Nobody cares. Talk about what you stand for and then watch your message get diluted to a joke. Show the voters how corrupt, dirty and dishonest the current leadership is and then shake your head at the stupidity of the masses, how gullible they are to manipulative media spin, how little they understand, how they simply don’t give a shit.”

Given the constant boot that both politicians and the mainstream media put into him in 2014, juxtaposed with the alternating ridicule and silence during what was supposed to be live-blogged coverage of his recent High Court hearing, it’s not difficult to understand how Dotcom’s experiences could be disillusioning.

The following screenshot from The Spinoff TV is what passes for ‘journalism’ in New Zealand:

The back-scratching creme de la creme of establishment Kiwi journalism think that ignorant displays such as the above are funny, but they’re actually ludicrous and insulting to the intelligence of readers.

Readers who are supposed to fail to notice that the same journalist who did the abysmal job of live-blogging Dotcom’s High Court hearing recently dedicated over 6,500 words to detailing a “bar-hopping, wine-soaked interview” with none other than Patrick Gower. The aforementioned “peak cray” interview referenced in our question to Kim Dotcom.

But mainstream media negligence is only a part of the picture. To this day, the government’s persecution of Kim Dotcom and the violations of his privacy and of people associated with him continues:

At this point, illegally spying on Kim Dotcom is about the stupidest undertaking possible. The government getting caught doing exactly that over three years ago, led to one of the biggest political scandals and largest protest movements in modern New Zealand history.

Dotcom knows his rights and has the clout to pursue them in court. 

The various suits Dotcom has been, is and will be filing against the spy agencies and government aren’t just about money or damages.

He is after full disclosure.

He wants the truth.

The truth is the bare minimum requirement for true understanding, for closure and for healing. Let alone restitution and compensation.

The unorthodox tactics Dotcom wields are the tools of the new information age and his cunning and net savvy is what keeps him a step ahead of his adversaries.

A full accounting of how they have harmed him, why and who else they targeted in the process of attempting to ruin him is yet to be revealed, but Dotcom is very clear about who has wronged him.

He has a list.

At the rate he is going, he may well get a tick in every box.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

The Bizarre Plans Of The Prime Minister of New Zealand To Win Over President-Elect Trump

One would imagine that if the soon-to-be leader of the free world gave you a call, that you’d answer even if you had to scramble out of the bath, or bed, to do so.

Apparently not, given that New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key astonishingly claimed in an interview this week that President-Elect Donald Trump had called him and he had simply missed it.

Stuff.co.nz reports:

“Prime Minister John Key has described US President Elect Donald Trump as warm and engaging, after the two leaders finally got their first phone call.

Trump offered his condolences to New Zealand after the North Canterbury earthquakes, and had been well-briefed on emergency evacuations and relief efforts in the wake of Monday’s 7.5 quake near Hanmer.

It was the second attempt at getting the pair hooked up, after Key confirmed he had missed a call from Trump’s team in the early aftermath of the quake. Key had been meaning to call Trump to congratulate him on winning the US election last week, but the quake response had taken priority.”

Except the U.S. election was November 8th and according to Wikipedia, the earthquake struck on November 14th, six days later.

Another Stuff article about the matter says that John Key was “not quite sure how the call slipped by, but was hopeful the pair would connect soon.

John Key then told Stuff “Yeah, apparently, that’s what Trump’s people said, that apparently I missed a call. But I had my phone, I certainly didn’t see it…

However, in a video interview with the NZ Herald, John Key references Trump’s people having left him a voicemail so it is clear the call was made. In the interview Key blames the transition period for the confusion:

It’s partly because, if we were dealing with the President’s office then it’s a little bit more structured. But they’re in that transition phase…

So, it was the six-days-after-the-election earthquake, then it was a phantom call that happened to leave a voicemail, then it was the transition to blame. Welcome to Planet Key.

But there is a far more likely reason for the delay and it is not the geological earthquake, but the geopolitical one:


jk6John Key donated millions of public dollars to the Clinton Foundation, arguably the worst investment of all time.


His pet media were uniformly backing the wrong horse and so Key has kept his distance from Trump but now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to deal with him regardless.



jk9John Key is no stranger to scandal, and prone to telling porkies (over 400 of them to date) so this is all probably no big deal to him.

The TPP, on the other hand, seems to be a very big deal to him. He is so miffed about it not passing, that he is already preparing contingency plans.

Plan A: Lecture the Americans on what is best for their country

Ahead of the APEC summit in Peru, John Key told the NZ Herald about how he plans to broach the issue.

“About TPP. I’ll put in a pitch and say the TPP has been an important agreement and the US has been a cornerstone in that agreement and I think it’s well and truly in the US’s best interests to be part of it and that while I appreciate that he has concerns about the deal and wants to satisfy himself that the deal meets the standards he wants or make some other suggestions, I don’t think they should leave that void for a long period of time because I think in the end that void could or would get filled and I don’t think that’s in the United States best interests.”

Plan B: Coercion

Newshub.co.nz writes “while Mr Trump has been very vocal about his opposition to the deal, Mr Key thinks he might still be swayed.”

Their article quotes John Key as saying that what Trump promises pre-election and what he does post-election may not be the same things, and that with a little “coercion” the picture might change:

“As we know in the United States, what happens on a campaign trail and ultimately what happens in reality when someone assumes the Oval Office can be a bit different. What Donald Trump has said is that TPP from his perspective is a horrible deal – he hasn’t said that he’s philosophically opposed to trade.

“He hasn’t had great things to say about TPP, but maybe with some coercion, maybe, maybe with some changes that we could agree to that didn’t have an overall significant enough in pact to slow the thing down dramatically, maybe it’s possible to get them there.” [emphasis added]

Plan C: Bad Jokes

The New Zealand Herald coverage of John Key’s performance at the Apec Summit has gotten downright groanworthy.

“Key joked about renaming it the Trump Pacific Partnership while speaking on a trade panel at a summit of CEOs.

He later said he believed Trump could be talked around…”

Plan D: Threaten To Do It Without The U.S.

John Key seems convinced that if Donald Trump won’t move ahead with the TPP that the other countries will simply go it alone.

There are multiple recent media references to him stating exactly that.

However, it is unlikely to take too many phone calls to other nations from Donald Trump to stymie Key’s plans should he attempt to go this route. Ultimately, the signatories are more likely to treasure their relationships with the U.S. over their relationships with John Key, who may well exit his Prime Ministership at New Zealand’s general election in 2017.

Key’s determination to ratify the TPP no matter what is extremely short-sighted. He is banking on what he perceives as the strength of the US-New Zealand relationship and New Zealand’s support over the issue of the South China Sea in order to hold sway over Trump. Key has repeatedly stated that the US-NZ relationship is the “strongest it has ever been“.

But that strength came from his efforts to pander to an Obama administration who had made a major investment in what they called “a pivot to Asia“. It was as a result of their prioritisation of the South Pacific region that led to Key’s Defence Minister announcing in kind a $20 billion investment in New Zealand’s comparatively miniscule military might.

Money that may well go down the tubes if Trump chooses diplomacy over continued military expansionism.

Plan E: Moan about lost ‘political capital’

John Key is yet another leader who faces retiring from office with his flagship achievements in tatters. His ‘financial hub’ scheme turned New Zealand into a tax haven uniquely singled out by the Panama Papers whistleblower in his manifesto. Key’s $26 million campaign to change the New Zealand flag became, to put it nicely, the laughing stock of New Zealand.

Now his precious ‘trade’ deal, which he has pushed through at every turn against the express wishes of the vast majority of the New Zealand public (and arguably, against their direct interests) is on the rocks as well.


John Key told the NZ Herald that “Every country has gone through a lot to get to this point. Every political leader somewhere along the line has burnt a bit of political capital and called in some favours to get TPP there.

What he’s really saying is that this debacle which has spanned more than half a decade is his final swan song, hence his desperation to push it through by any means possible.

jk8 jk7

How much, or little, weight a Prime Minister of a country of 4 million people holds in the international arena, remains to be seen. His attempts to champion the Trans-Pacific Partnership against Trump’s express wishes are unlikely to win him any favours.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!



#PanamaPapersNZ – Long John Key Silver And His Treasure Islands

I warned that New Zealand would be used as a tax haven on October 26th, 2011, if the National government was reelected.

I wasn’t the first.

Never did I expect we would be proven right in such a spectacular fashion as via the Panama Papers leak.

A leak that has shone light on an agenda to use New Zealand as a port of safe harbour for vast swathes of foreign cash. An agenda that does not stem solely from the ruling Party. It comes from on high.

From the description of the above video, posted in April 2014:

Last month, the kiwi government tabled a bill that would remove the current 28% tax rate on income incurred by non-residents investing in funds held in New Zealand.

The move by the government is the latest to entice investors to domicile assets on its shores. A year ago, prime minister John Key, a former Merrill Lynch banker, created a focus group to examine how the nation could become more welcoming to foreign assets and enlisted consultant Oliver Wyman to examine the country’s options.

The consultancy’s recommendation was to market New Zealand as a funds domicile in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Puppet-Masters

As depicted in ‘House of Cards‘, even at Presidential level, the real government is who the leaders of countries talk to when they get home at night.

And who they are talking to is people with great wealth, who know damn well what a foreign trust is, and how to utilise tax havens to their benefit.

Tax havens like New Zealand, run for the last eight years by arguably the most pro-Wall Street, pro-America Prime Minister in generations: ex-Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Key.

New Zealand and the Panama Papers

New Zealand is once again in an uproar and debate is evolving at a swift pace. It has just discovered that it is a laundering haven for drug money and other illicit international funds, and that the personal lawyer of the leader of the country was involved in lobbying to ensure that the legislative status quo with regards to offshore trusts remained intact.

Our already-scandal-plagued Prime Minister is doing his best to cling to power, attempting to sidestep these latest revelations as deftly as he has countless prior instances of mass public indignation – rare moments in which the mostly-cowed and constantly-culled national press corp begin to do their job.

After all, the Panama Papers’ whistle-blower’s recent statement singled out John Key and New Zealand.


The Standard wants to know, why?


Because we are a country run by a man who has helped unleash this same agenda upon other countries before, with disastrous effect.

Countries like Ireland.

Back in 2011, Ireland was Greece. Being strong-armed by the IMF, bound to Greek-style austerity measures to stave off impending bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy that loomed because of “a mirage driven by clever use of tax-haven rules and a huge credit boom that permitted real estate prices and construction to grow quickly before declining ever more rapidly.”


Guess who was making full use of Ireland to reduce the tax liability of offshore funds on behalf of his wealthy clientele?

John Key.

How do we know this?

Because he said so.

New Zealand Prime Minister Telling Porkies

In an enthusiastic 2005 interview with Fran O’Sullivan of the NZ Herald, then future Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key bragged about how his moving businesses and funds offshore to Ireland had saved his Merrill Lynch clientele megabucks.

From the July 19, 2005 article:


Key words… ‘Head of global foreign exchange’; Ireland; “..huge chunk of private clients’ business”.

Fran O’Sullivan writes of Key, “But as a former money-man, he is also interested in how Jersey built its economy on the back of offshore trusts.”

However, this doesn’t seem to faze the NZ Herald, which on April 6th, 2016, effectively whitewashed the O’Sullivan article.

While the above ‘offshore trusts’ quote is addressed in a forgiving tone (bizarrely, by being reiterated), there is no mention whatsoever of the “huge chunk of private clients’ business” that Key moved to Ireland for tax purposes as Head of global foreign exchange for Merrill Lynch.

Yet by contrast, in this video of his May 9th press conference, Key has the following exchange:

Reporter: “The Papers show that a lot of the overseas people are using it for business interests, not connected to inheritance or things that you’ve talked about in terms of opposition parties in countries that are unstable and that sort of thing. What reason would someone, in Mexico for example, using a business deal, have to set up a trust in New Zealand?”

John Key: “So the first thing you appreciate is that I haven’t seen the papers. So it’s very difficult to comment when I can’t see the individual cases. Nor am I a tax expert so I can’t comment on individual cases. But, for example, apparently there was one case that I just heard someone talking about where the person was Mexican, and had set up a Trust because they were uncertain about Mexican inheritance law, tax law, and that’s legitimate.

In short: He doesn’t know what’s in the Papers, even though he was Minister in charge of the New Zealand equivalent of the CIA. He “isn’t a tax expert” and says he can’t comment on individual cases… but then does.

The exchange continues:

Reporter: “There are plenty of examples that just refer to straight business deals. So why would someone with no connection to New Zealand be setting up Trusts here?”

John Key: “I can’t answer why that is. Well, New Zealand is a jurisdiction which is a good jurisdiction to do that and for all the reasons that we know. That we do have exchange of information, that we do have transparency, that we do meet the highest possible codes, so there’s all sorts of reasons that people might, but you have to go and ask those who establish those why they do that, I’m just not an expert in that area.”

So John Key, who moved an “aircraft leasing business, the complex interest rates derivatives business, the entire back office for global foreign exchange and a huge chunk of private clients’ business” to Ireland on behalf of one of the biggest investment banking firms in the world, in order “to take advantage of a 10 per cent tax rate for foreign investors” – an “investment” described as a “runaway success” – is “not a tax expert”.

He claims that the reason all these overseas businesses are setting up accounts in New Zealand is purely because of good compliance and transparency.

Over 10,000 in total – flocking to New Zealand because they want increased compliance and visibility?


In the infamous words of Dr. Jane Kelsey – “I think I just saw a flock of flying pigs go by!”

Some professional tax and trust lawyers have been so good as to publish a copy of their submission in support of John Key’s “financial hub” scheme, on their commercial website.

One such example is Christchurch’s Parry Field.


The opening position in their submission is nothing short of astounding. They posit:

‘One may ask, “Why introduce tax rules that would benefit wealthy foreigners?” We think this is the wrong starting point, and the question should rather be: “Why not?”’

Under the sub-heading “Why would any fund manager choose New Zealand?” Parry Field suggest eight answers, and allude to “many more“.

None of which are transparency or high compliance standards, as John Key asserted at his press conference. In fact, they cite a lack of regulations as being part of the attraction:

“Regulations imposed by the European Union and other supra-national bodies are making life increasingly difficult for the traditional financial centres.”

The cherry on the cake:


The Inland Revenue Department themselves have a different take on why tax fund managers choose New Zealand:


Back to the press conference, once it is a veteran government apologist asking a question, John Key starts sounding very much like a tax expert.

Barry Soper: “Prime Minister it is said that overseas businesses use trusts in New Zealand to avoid tax. Well we’re not undermining our tax base. But is it acceptable that they’re using…”

John Key: “…It is possible, for people to potentially, through the mismatches of the different tax systems, if they want to be creative and work hard, to significantly reduce their tax liability but in a lawful way. That is at least possible for what some multinationals are doing, and we don’t like that, and we’d like to close that down… but we can’t just magically say, New Zealand is going to stop that, we need other countries to work with us.”

So the rest of the world is to blame?

That Key fronted at all for the press conference is reassuring. The previous day he had reportedly missed his regular radio spot for the first time ever.


In New Zealand they call him ‘Teflon John’ and say nothing will stick to him – and this is why: 443 demonstrable lies and counting, and he is still in office.

Analysing The Spin

The predominant narratives coming out in John Key’s defense have all been heard before.

They are being regurgitated because they have worked in the past. He has thusfar retained his throne.

The ‘left-wing conspiracy theorist’ slur Key slung about in response to Dirty Politics and Moment of Truth, is back.


So is ‘I haven’t read it‘, and ‘I’m not an expert in that.’

Pet commentators – and paid commentators – are hard at work, plugging away at defending the indefensible.

The most notable and obvious of whom are Chris Trotter (yes – this Chris Trotter) and long-time military-slash-financial-industrial-complex propagandist Matthew Hooton.


Famously implicated in Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’, and representing clients of a particular ilk that tend to be inconvenienced by Hager’s internationally-acclaimed investigative journalism, Hooton has many axes to grind.

He decries the documents as ‘secret’, and complains about only the journalists being able to see them.


Having apparently forgotten that he complained about only journalists being able to see them, he then complains about them being publically released too. Hooton conflates the investigation to include all trustees and plays the privacy card despite being ideologically and professionally opposed to everything that actual privacy activists stand for.


And yes – this is from the very man who was revealed to have – and admitted to – supplied Nicky Hager’s home address to political operatives with a vendetta against him.



The smearing of journalists and interference in their careers is a common theme revealed in the book Dirty Politics, and even after its release, the practice overtly continued.


So the Prime Minister has told porkies by the hundreds and the chief defenders of his socio-economic group leave much to be desired.

Doctorates vs. Spin Doctors

Whether John Key sticks it out or is finally toppled remains to be seen. At his press conference, the strain was palpable. For, despite his protestations to the contrary, Key is the public face of what is now beyond doubt an international tax haven.



According to a Working Paper by Professor Michael Littlewood published by the Auckland University Law School:

The New Zealand tax system is so structured as to allow the country to be used as a tax haven. Specifically, it allows non-residents to use trusts established in New Zealand to avoid the tax they would otherwise have to pay in their home country. This article explains how this works, and asks whether New Zealand law should be changed so as to prevent tax avoidance of this kind or, at least, to make it easier for other governments to prevent it.

As reported by Scoop.co.nz, a Massey University Accounting Professor concurs, stating:


Despite the academic consensus that New Zealand is a tax haven, John Key denies it.


At 4:28 in his press conference:

Journalist: “Is New Zealand a tax haven?”

Prime Minister: “Absolutely not.”

Astonishingly, he also claims that the world doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, #PanamaPapersNZ hit the international press.

From Nepal:


To Thailand:


From CNBC:





To Al Jazeera:


And……… BoingBoing!


According to Stuff.co.nz:

“One New Zealand trust has already been associated with Unaoil, a Monaco company under investigation for helping multinationals bribe oil ministers and officials in the Middle East.”

If not John Key, then the Prime Minister of Malta may be the second forced resignation of a head of Government as a result of the Panama Papers.

In the wake of the scandal, thousands have attended a protest rally demanding his job. One of the trusts involved is, sure enough, registered in New Zealand.

So while the government tries to play it down, it appears that the entire world gets it. New Zealand is a tax haven – a sanctuary for dodgy money dubiously accrued by undesirable people.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

As much as he’d like to disclaim any liability, not only was the entire scheme of transforming the country into a foreign financial services hub the brainchild of New Zealand’s Grand Poobah himself – there is also a direct connection to his personal network.


The implication of John Key’s personal lawyer, Ken Whitney, is a saga unto itself.

First he was John Key’s lawyer, name-dropping the PM and lobbying a goverment Minister on behalf of the trust industry. Then he revealed that he is no longer a lawyer at all.

Now we are told that he was involved in setting up a “sham” trust that is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. A Trust involving backdated documents, and for which Mr Whitney admitted to witnessing a signature that required his physical presence, from half a world away.

In this High Court ruling, his conduct was described as “far from satisfactory” by a High Court judge, who also referred to Whitney’s evidence as being “inconsistent“.

Yet the Prime Minister, in the below video by Stuff.co.nz, is standing by his man. Aside from the blanket denials, perhaps the most remarkable moment is when he tells the assembled reporters “you guys were very careful last night, I think, in your coverage of these matters: the reason you were is because you don’t want to get your asses sued off you”.

The Trusts Are Only Half The Problem

New Zealand isn’t just being used as a place to stash illicit funds, but as a fake operating base for an array of banking and financial services.

As written in this July 2012 interest.co.nz article:

“Although John Key’s official financial services hub may be on the back burners, the unofficial New Zealand financial services sector is still going strong.”

The Reserve Bank issued a warning about an entity ‘also known as Irish Nationwide Bank‘…


Which is “one of about 1,000 shell companies incorporated in New Zealand over three years [that] had been used to carry out banking activities free of regulatory oversight… 143 New Zealand registered companies were implicated, over a four year period, in criminal activities overseas…”


Given all the above, it is beyond debate that:

  • New Zealand is a tax haven for the benefit of the ultra-rich
  • This has scandalised New Zealand’s international reputation
  • New Zealand’s Prime Minister is the living embodiment of it
  • His denials to the contrary are hollow and impotent

But this is all part of a much wider issue. One with implications so huge that it is rarely tackled by the news media, who instead focus on small, digestible pieces and never quite get around to confronting the elephant in the room:

New Zealand has been economically, politically, socially and militarily invaded. By our so-called allies.

Few have the guts to admit this, or to confront the reality of it.

Yet deep inside, we can feel it.

New Zealand as we knew it, no longer exists.

The Shire is being burned to the ground.

[How that happened, and the global implications will be explored in depth on our sister site ContraSpin, in Part 2 of this article, titled:The Desecration Of New Zealand“]

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!