Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Downright shifty

Today in Question Time, Pete Hodgson continued in his attempt to excavate the reasons for John Key's sacking of Richard Worth. The result was revealing:

Hon Pete Hodgson: When the Prime Minister came to the view that he had lost confidence in Dr Richard Worth, was he in possession or not in possession of substantive information that is not yet available to the public?

Hon JOHN KEY: When I did that, that was the point at which I lost confidence in Dr Worth. I did not believe that his conduct befitted that of a Minister. I will not go into the specifics of the information, but I think members can rest assured that in losing confidence in Dr Worth I was satisfied that I could make that case.


Hon JOHN KEY: I will not go into the specifics of the information I had when I lost confidence in Dr Worth, because I do not believe it is in the public interest to do so.

It's a simple question, and Key's avoidance of it looks downright shifty. If he had additional information, he could simply say so (he would not actually have to reveal it). The fact that he is trying to hide behind the public interest on this suggests that he does not - and that he is conflating the public interest with his private interest in avoiding political embarrassment.

But while Key can hide in the House, he cannot hide from the OIA, particularly where the question is for information concerning the existence of information. The public are legally entitled to answers on this, and on that question at least, we will get them. Which means that Key's dodging in the House today will come back to bite him when the truth inevitably comes out.