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Topic # 240003 14-Aug-2018 22:14
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I wouldn't normally start one of these, but I have 20 mins to kill on a train, and it's been bugging me all day so here goes.   I'm pretty sure someone in the National party leaked Bridges expenses today - it's the only scenario that makes sense. Let me explain.

 

Firstly, political expense scandals of this sort are a joke. I see absolutely no issue with the level of expenditure for the role of an opposition leader (particularly a new one). It's barely a rounding error, and if you compared the travel costs for a senior person in the private sector who needed to so similar amounts of travel for their job, it would be a multiple. I've seen nothing to suggest any rorting (which would be cause for a scandal). Government travel is generally pretty frugal.

 

But there are two key questions that need to be answered. 1) What motive is there to leak the info and 2) who had access to it.

 

I see motives on both sides. With National polling at 45%, while not enough to govern if those numbers held to the next election, the number poses a serious threat to the re-election of a Labour led government. Harming that number buys some wiggle room. On the other side, Bridges is not a well liked leader, it seems both within some of his own party and the public generally. Yet in spite of this, National still polls at 45%. If you are an aspiring leader (Collins, for example), now is a great time to make a solid hit on the person who's job you want. Plenty of time until the next election (and government coalition still seemingly strong), party polling high in spite of an unpopular leader . If the intention is to roll the leader, the sooner the better. I doubt Bridges would go willingly with party polling high, and a knife in the back will likely hurt the party a little bit (as opposed to him stepping down), so a new leader will want a chance to prove themselves before the next election and let the memory of the back stabbing fade rather than risk even a small negative impact by a knifing close to the election.

 

When it comes to access, it's clear National party members have open access to this information, whereas no-one in the government bar the speaker should. I can't see Mallard leaking, particularly given he's the only official on the other side who everyone knows has the info, but it's possible that someone in the government has access to something they shouldn't. The fact they shouldn't have it gives them good cover, but is a massive risk if they got caught with information they weren't entitled to have - which would result in a far bigger scandal. With so many in National with access, anyone leaking from that side has plenty of other suspects to hide among.

 

So what makes me so sure it was a National leak? To me, I just can't satisfy that Labour have anywhere near enough to gain, and leaking has bigger risks to them. They're early in their government and their coalition would be re-elected today based on current polls, their leader is immensely popular and its a long way until the next election and a lot can change between now and then. But for National, this seems to me like a golden opportunity to weaken (and ultimately replace) an unpopular leader while doing very minimal and entirely repairable damage.





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  Reply # 2073585 14-Aug-2018 22:33
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Or he leaked it, because now we are talking about who leaked it and not what would have been the main story next week - his spending


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  Reply # 2073588 14-Aug-2018 22:35
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Yeah probably.  Yeah probably "fake news" Collins.  IMO Bridges making a fuss/demanding an enquiry etc is exactly the wrong thing to do.  The correct response was a confident "yeah - so what?" 


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  Reply # 2073683 15-Aug-2018 08:46
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Not much need for Labour to leak it, if they somehow had that info, its out soon anyway. High risk for a backfire. Has to be a coup. You would want that now, not later.




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  Reply # 2073842 15-Aug-2018 12:00
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itxtme:

 

Or he leaked it, because now we are talking about who leaked it and not what would have been the main story next week - his spending

 

 

Yup, could be - but if so I don't think that was a smart move. It might have gotten some attention when released, but probably less than it's getting now.

 

It could also have possibly been leaked by a staff member of the department who manages/reports the info. Not out of the question, but a risky move for that person if you get caught.





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  Reply # 2073865 15-Aug-2018 13:03
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Reading between the lines based on comments in the media this morning ... I'm going to speculate (because it's fun) that the Nat's suspect Hipkins - (Minister of Ministerial Services).  He would have had access to the info.

 

I wouldn't put this leak past Mallard.  He is the guy who punched out a fellow MP in parliament. Leaking a document is small potatoes by comparison.

 

If (if) Mallard and/or Hipkins knew that all Nats MPs had the info (for example if the Nats' whip habitually distributes it to all of them) then he could safely leak it.  Hipkins has been Labour's chief whip so may know how National whips operate.

 

Again this is all gossip and speculation.  I'm joining a lot of dots here.

 

 





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  Reply # 2074042 15-Aug-2018 16:23
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tdgeek:

 

Not much need for Labour to leak it, if they somehow had that info, its out soon anyway. High risk for a backfire. Has to be a coup. You would want that now, not later.

 

 

Absolutely correct. 




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  Reply # 2074043 15-Aug-2018 16:23
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MikeAqua:

 

If (if) Mallard and/or Hipkins knew that all Nats MPs had the info (for example if the Nats' whip habitually distributes it to all of them) then he could safely leak it.  Hipkins has been Labour's chief whip so may know how National whips operate.

 

Again this is all gossip and speculation.  I'm joining a lot of dots here.

 

It's plausible, but I still am not convinced that the risk/reward profile of a Labour leak would lead them to bother. I see a much stronger motive and opportunity on the National side. We'll probably never know for sure.





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  Reply # 2074359 16-Aug-2018 10:29
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ajobbins:

 

It's plausible, but I still am not convinced that the risk/reward profile of a Labour leak would lead them to bother. I see a much stronger motive and opportunity on the National side. We'll probably never know for sure.

 

 

Whoever leaked has minimal risk of exposure if all of National MPs were know to have the info.  I believe that policy was introduced after Phil Heatley naively charging a bottle of wine as an expense.

 

Personally I think politicians should be subject to the same expenditure restrictions as public servants - e.g. $20 lunch, no alcohol.





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  Reply # 2074468 16-Aug-2018 13:15
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MikeAqua:

 

Whoever leaked has minimal risk of exposure if all of National MPs were know to have the info.  I believe that policy was introduced after Phil Heatley naively charging a bottle of wine as an expense.

 

Personally I think politicians should be subject to the same expenditure restrictions as public servants - e.g. $20 lunch, no alcohol.

 

 

I (personally) think that's a terrible policy. While I get there needs to be solid management of expenditure when it comes to public funds, but I don't think employees should have a different work experience than someone in the private sector. Policies like that really just pander to noisy groups like the "Taxpayers Union" don't do anything to make the talent pool in public service any better. In the grand scheme of things, the costs of these kind of things are so tiny. If someone has to be away from home/family for work reasons (in any job), I think it's entirely reasonable for the company to cover costs of things like a bottle of wine and some pay per view movies.





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  Reply # 2074475 16-Aug-2018 13:29
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So, the headline is 2.1 million. Now, this is no more than media hype/clickbait, as laypeople will have no idea if that is HIGH, or average, or low. Same as Bridges touring the country, no issue with that at all. To govern, it costs, to oppose it costs, he gathers information so he can oppose.




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  Reply # 2074527 16-Aug-2018 15:20
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tdgeek:

 

So, the headline is 2.1 million. 

 

Which is something in the order of 0.002% of the annual tax take. (about $2 for every $100,000 of tax collected)





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  Reply # 2078250 24-Aug-2018 08:22
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Goodness.  So the leak was probably from someone in the National Party, wanting to see Bridges rolled. The person claims to have mental health issues - revealed in a manner suggesting that if they're exposed, then whoever exposed them has some responsibility if they self-harm.

 

What a shambles.


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  Reply # 2078255 24-Aug-2018 08:36
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It is a shambles. Imagine if this was a Labour party issue, out comes the knives!

 

The person needs to be exposed. How can Bridges operate when an anonymous bad apple is waiting to pounce. If the person has mental health issues then perhaps an MP is not a suitable role. Part of me wonders if the recent sad event is being used here. Hopefully the Police trace the text, Mallard exposes the person who is then stood down. The Bridges can get on with his job 


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  Reply # 2078258 24-Aug-2018 08:50
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The suggestion I read was that the leaker wasn't an MP - despite claiming they were.

 

Bridges is having a press conference at 9:30.

 

I'll stick with my opinion that he should have shrugged and said "so what?" when the leak happened.  He's turned a small story into a big one, accusations that Labour leaked it have backfired.  To paraphrase that - if he's being accused of being an ineffective leader, then he probably is.


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  Reply # 2078320 24-Aug-2018 09:57
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Police have apparently identified who sent the text message, but are not naming them or taking further action, instead referring it to health services. I wonder if the inquiry will be called off now or take the same approach.


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