Key blurring his lines

The line between John Key's role as Prime Minister and his role as National Party leader, family man or whatever remains perplexingly vague.

This is obfuscating his ministerial responsibility for work done by Jason Ede, whose 11 years of service for the National Party included a stint in the prime minister's office.

Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics claims Ede was Key's "black ops" man who fed Cameron Slater and other Right-wing bloggers with information that was used to attack National's political opponents.

Hager also detailed Ede's accessing a Labour Party database which contained sensitive personal information.

Key confirmed Ede's resignation in mid-September while being interviewed (apparently as prime minister) on TV3's Firstline and in Parliament this week he declared he was committed to open and transparent government.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was stymied, however, on asking when Key would assure the public that his staff had never provided "inappropriate services" to the National Party while employed at the public expense.

This would be a matter for the party, Key replied, although he had no evidence to suggest staff had ever acted unprofessionally. Asked when the public would be given all the facts pertaining to Ede's services to the party while employed at the public's expense, Key tersely replied that questions would be appropriately answered when they were appropriately asked.

To Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Key said neither he nor his chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, had approved Ede's accessing the Labour Party's database in May 2011, while Ede was a staff member.

But Ede had only accessed parts of the Labour website "that were publicly available" and/or that Labour "failed to properly secure".

Did this mean it would not be stealing if Key left open the door to his home and someone walked in and took stuff without permission? He did not directly address either that question or a question about whether this had been acceptable behaviour by his staff.

Rather, he lambasted Hager for being "part of an action to steal emails" and criticised the secret taping of people at a National Party cocktail party.

Some years ago Key had promised a higher standard of government. We now have a measure of his demands. Alas, he hasn't set the bar as high as most people would hope.

Waikato Times