It is well past time for John Key to take some responsibility for the misuse of power and information by his Minister Judith Collins, and follow through on his last warning to her, Labour MP Grant Robertson says.
“The evidence released this week shows John Key’s staff and Ministers are directly involved in the kind of negative politics and smears that put ordinary New Zealanders off engaging in the political process. It is time for the Prime Minister to show some leadership and take responsibility for these actions.
“Nicky Hager’s book includes new examples of the way in which Judith Collins has misused information that she only had access to because she is a Minister. New Zealanders have a right to expect better of the Ministers who act on their behalf.
“Two examples stand out, which John Key needs to hold Judith Collins to account for. First, she was involved in a campaign to smear a staff member in the Ministerial Services team as part of a distraction from issues being raised about Bill English claiming housing allowances in 2009.
“Despite there being no evidence to suggest this staff member had done anything wrong, he was attacked in several blogs by Cameron Slater. The book released this week reveals that Judith Collins sent information about this person’s name and job to Cameron Slater as he prepared these attacks.
“This is an appalling example of a Minister misusing her power to attack an innocent public servant. By his inaction John Key is telling New Zealanders that this is acceptable behaviour.
“The book also contains emails from Cameron Slater that report conversations with Judith Collins about the unauthorised release of ACC information that went to Bronwyn Pullar. The emails record that Slater had talked to the Minister about the case and that he received information about what Bronwyn Pullar was doing that could only have come from Judith Collins.
“As Minister for ACC that would be a gross breach of the confidentiality expected when dealing with ACC. John Key needs to investigate this to show once and for all where the leak of this sensitive information came from.
“The evidence presented this week shows that Judith Collins sent many messages and emails and made many phone calls to Cameron Slater that smear and denigrate political opponents and even innocent public servants.
“That is not what New Zealanders are paying her a Ministerial salary for. John Key needs to stop being so relaxed about serious issues. He needs to take some responsibility for her actions and follow through on the many warnings he has given Judith Collins,” Grant Robertson said.