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Duncan Garner: Dirtiest election campaign ever - and mud sticks

Cameron Slater, Judith Collins, John Key, Nicky Hager, Kim Dotcom

We are witnessing something never seen before: this is the dirtiest campaign in New Zealand political history.

Yes, politics has always been gutter, but this is a new low. This is hacking, stealing and fear. This is about a group of bloggers and political operatives dealing to opponents with brutal tactics and blackmail. The Mafia would be impressed.

Where will it stop? What do the hackers now want? What is the ideal outcome?

Utu doesn’t look pretty. No one really knows who is behind what. Is the group Anonymous now involved? Who knows?

This is what we do know:

John Key employed a ‘black-ops’ man Jason Ede in his office. His job was to communicate with right-wing bloggers. That’s code for dish dirt on opponents and take them out. It’s ugly.

The PM now can’t answer any questions regarding Ede and that’s simply not good enough. The Prime Minister suddenly looks in trouble.

Ede needs to be sacked, but Key can’t do that can he because he knew what was going on and endorsed it. Key is also defending a National Party staffer’s role in accessing the Labour Party computer. Key should be condemning this behaviour; it doesn’t matter if the door was open, you don’t walk into that house.

Key needs a better defence than to just be in denial about all this, so much of it has clearly happened. His defence is now part of the weakness.

And if he doesn’t sign off SIS Official Information Act requests as the Minister, then who does? Isn’t that his job? Surely he’s not so hands off he suddenly doesn’t know anything about anything. It doesn’t work like that in the PM’s office. They are told everything.

And then there’s Justice Minister Judith Collins. She should be sacked. She should not be a Minister.

Collins released, to Whaleoil, the name of a public servant she thought was behind leaking details on Bill English’s housing allowance controversy. She was passing laws against cyber-bullying and then engaging in it as a central player. She was sending Whaleoil late night texts. She has been outed as an evil, mean and central player in the black-ops game.

When former Labour Party Minister David Benson-Pope got a public servant sacked, the partner of one of John Key's trusted right-hand men, he lied about it. He was caught out and Helen Clark sacked him. He was a nasty piece of work and he was found out.

Why does Key continue to back Collins? Because he knew what she was up to? Her behaviour does not meet the standards to be a Minister. She should be gone and I make no apologies for my hard stance. Key needs to ask some hard questions of her and punish her.

That he can’t and won’t suggests he’s in on the game, too. Of course all sides play dirty games, I’ve said that for a long time. Right now, however, National’s house of horrors is on show. The Prime Minister needs to take some action, admit some errors and accept what some of his people were up to – because this is a new form of ugly – and his defence is brittle, if not already broken.

Duncan Garner hosts RadioLIVE Drive, weekdays from 3pm, with the most entertaining political analysis and news as it happens

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