We have an extraordinary situation: a prime minister can’t act against a minister because if he does, a blogger will spill the beans on him.
It is only my view, but I would stake my life on it.
Cameron Slater and Judith Collins are soul mates, they scheme, blaspheme, swear revenge on opponents, and joke – oh so cruelly. They also despise soft Nationals. John Key isn’t by nature a soft National but he is by electoral necessity. For the soft Nationals it is a case of their children devouring them.
For those who have read Nicky Hager’s book – apparently no National MP has yet – the toxic atmosphere throughout is dark and terrible. And at the heart of that darkness are Collins and Slater.
The issue at hand is Collins giving to Slater the name of a public servant she suspects of leaking information, and Slater then pouring a torrent of invective on the public servant.
Key after refusing to accept that Collins had done anything wrong has now changed tack to say Collins ‘was unwise to pass details of a public servant to Slater and she is now on her last chance.’
But this final warning to Collins comes on top or is it below (read on) another final warning in March when she misled Key about her Beijing dinner with Oravida boss Deyi Shi.
Now pay close attention as things get complicated.
Key said ‘he could only take Ms Collins’ word that she only leaked the public servant’s job title and also phone numbers and not his name …’
What a saint. That was Key’s and Collins’ out, only the job title and phone numbers were leaked. You’d have to be a latter-day Sherlock Holmes to take that one further.
In respect to the Oravida warning ‘that was still in place’, said Key searching for gravitas.
Which leaves open the question whether the final warnings are lined up in priority or one on top of the other. As things develop, that is to become important. In my mind I have a crazy swirl of the two final warnings fighting for precedence, or might it be a case of after you?
Key proceeds to make things as clear as a Waikato fog: ‘She’s on is her last chance after what happened last time. But at the end of the day she’s also subjected to a left-wing smear campaign. [Oh diddums] And people will actually see that as well for what it is.’ (Key is constantly using the expression ‘end of the day’ – make your own count.)
So here is Collins escaping with a final warning on the basis that ‘she only leaked the public servant’s job title and also phone numbers and not his name …’
Whew! That was a close one.
But Key has something else to explain (if you understand please e-mail me at (email@example.com): ‘The public servant situation predated the Oravida dinner, and that is why a further final warning was given, not a resignation request.’
It seems that the warnings did indeed need to establish a hierarchy, with Oravida on top. Clearly Collins would never have forgotten about Oravida if she had been on warning about the public servant
Quite how this all works, though, seems destined to remain one of life’s mysteries.
But the story has yet another twist. Refresh your memory by reading a few lines above in which Key is quoted as saying that Collins escaped with a final warning on the basis ‘she only leaked the public servant’s job title and also phone numbers and not his name …’
Well, it now seems she gave his name and a lot else besides.
So there you are: our governance reduced to a farce.
Key can’t sack Collins because Slater has a fierce loyalty to her and would unburden himself if she was touched. The media will finally twig – but you read it here first. Our country’s prime minster hostage to a blogger.