Whaleoil transcript: Absolutely nothing to see here – move along

Susie Ferguson:

Let’s just talk about another New Zealand immigration case which is the one regarding Karel Sroubek, the information regarding Richie Hardcore being in touch with you; did he lobby at all in the Sroubek case?

Jacinda Ardern:

Ah, my understanding from the answers that the Minister of Immigration has given in the House, my understanding is that he ruled that out.

Ferguson:?

OK, when did you realise that you had been texted specifically about that case by him?

Ardern:?

Ah, as I have pointed out many times in the House, I received no correspondence ah until this case was in the public domain, I didn’t know about this case [chuckle] until it was in the public domain, I have been very clear on that, so I received a [sic] unsolicited text ah ah after this was in the public ah in the public um and it was obviously commentary on that.

Ferguson:?

OK, so the content of that text message, you say it’s unsolicited, what exactly does it say?

Ardern:?

Yes and I’m going to seek a little bit of advice because as I’ve pointed out I receive hundreds of pieces of correspondence from the general public in my position, I just want to make sure, of course, not everyone, when they do that. has an expectation that their um name, detail, and messages be them email or what have you will be released, so I am going to get a bit of advice on that, but I have given a summary, of course, it came after this was in the public domain because I was not aware of the case until it was, um and so it essentially gave his view on the issue. He publicly acknowledged, um in social media in fact, um that he knew of Mr Scrobek and his text indicated that he knew him and gave his view on the case.

Ferguson:?

Who are you going to seek the advice from?

Ardern:?

The Ombudsman

Ferguson:?

It’s been several days …

Ardern:?

Oh, the Ombudsman

Ferguson:?

OK, and you haven’t been able to get that yet?

Ardern:?

I, I haven’t got a clear final view from him yet, no.

Ferguson:?

OK, how would you characterise the content of the (talked over) text though?

Ardern:?Oh again, I do want to be really clear here, because I have had a lot of accusations come from the Opposition on this

Ferguson:?

Well this is why I wonder if it would be a way of clearing it up?

Ardern:?

Oh again, I do want to be wary about precedence, but I think the most important point here is um I knew nothing of this case until after the decision was made and it was in the public domain, the message I received was unsolicited, it was someone sending me their opinion, I did not reply, I did not tell anyone about the message, I didn’t engage in it and so if I stand accused of possessing a phone and being contactable, then fair enough, um but beyond that …

Ferguson:?

But was it innocuous?

Ardern:?

Oh oh, I absolutely consider it that, it has to because, of course, I until that point did not even know that Mr Hardore knew Mr Scrobek um and again I wasn’t engaged in the decision so he simply sent me a text to share his view, acknowledge he knew him, share his view on the decision that has originally been made.

Ferguson:?

OK, if you do get a clear view from the Ombudsman in the next few days will you releasing the text message?

Ardern:?

I will take, I will listen to the Ombudsman, but ah as I say, I um I don’t know, I don’t want to set a timeline on him and when he will give me that guidance.

Ferguson:?

OK, but I understand that Iain Lees-Galloway has indicated that there is going to be more information coming out on this case later in the week, perhaps Friday?

Ardern:?

Oh he has an Official Information Act request and he needs to um obviously um fulfil the expectations under the OIA keeping in mind, of course, that there is potential further legal proceedings on this case so he’ll be?fulfilling the expectations as set out in the legislation.

Ferguson:?

So, does that mean that there will be a further dump of information about this case, be it large or small on Friday

Ardern:?

He’s had requests um and he of course needs to fulfil those obligations but I haven’t spoken to him in any detail about um when that will be going out.

Ferguson:?

Sure, but I guess sometimes OIA requests end up with the Ombudsman ends up taking longer, do you anticipate this taking longer and not being released until the new year? Or do you anticipate it being released this year?

Ardern:?

I haven’t got any advice on that. My understanding is that he will be fulfilling his obligations which is essentially um ah within the working days period which takes us to this side of Christmas.

Ferguson:?

OK, the issue there, I suppose is that if this is information which is going to come out perhaps during the day on Friday, the Friday before Christmas, you could argue that that is somewhat cynical because there is less scrutiny.

Ardern:?

Yes, no but you could equally argue that that if he didn’t do that he wouldn’t be fulfilling his requirements. He has to get it out.

Ferguson:?

He could get it out earlier.

Ardern:?

[Laughs] But of course there are also, he does need to make sure he deals with this carefully, this is a case where potentially there may be a legal challenge. I think everyone would expect that his first and foremost in his mind would be preventing that from happening.

Ferguson:

Hmmm. Just going back to the situation with Richie Hardcore. There are lots of photographs of you with him, but then there are lots of photographs of you with lots of people.

Ardern:?

Oh and just to be, just to be clear on this he is a drug and alcohol campaigner, he is also an anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment campaigner, I think you will find a large number of members of parliament have met Mr Hardcore in the ah in the role that he plays.

Ferguson:?

So, how would you characterise him? Is he a friend or family friend?

Ardern:?

Again, you know, ah in the regard to this case, ah, I pointed out the extent of my discussion with him, I probably haven’t seen him in about eight months. I received an unsolicited text message, that’s pretty much the end of the story.

Ferguson:?

How does this all stack up though? You talk about wanting transparency and wanting open government. Does this pass the sniff test, the way that this case has been dealt with?

Ardern:?

Yeah and I’ve given, and I’ve given a description, again um it’s very hard for me to prevent people from contacting me and I’ve given a description of essentially what the message um says ah again a commentary passed it being in the public domain. But I do want to be careful of precedence here. As I say, hundreds of people when they contact me don’t necessarily think I’ll then put their name, contact details and the content of their messages out into the public and I literally did receive a significant amount of correspondence on this issue, so I just want to get a bit of guidance, I think people will understand that.

Interview?on RadioNZ 18 December 2018.? (Click link for audio)

Tagged:
59%
×