The University of Otago is going to debate Dirty Politics. We'd love for you to join in it.

Love it or loathe it, Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics and its aftermath has lit a fire under our perception of "politics as usual" in New Zealand. Exactly how all that plays out come September 20th is an as yet unknown cipher.

Beyond its effect on the upcoming election, however, the book raises a number of important questions across a range of different areas.

  • Are we in an era where politics is dirtier than the past, or are we simply more fixated on claims of scandal? 
  • Does it really matter how politicians seek to get elected and re-elected? 
  • How have changes in media, and the rise of social media in particular, impacted on the way politics is pursued? 
  • What relationships should exist between old media, bloggers and our politicians? 
  • What can, and should, the law do to constrain how people talk about and engage with the political process?
  • When is it allowable to intrude upon individuals' rights to privacy for the greater good of public debate?

These are all issues that the publication of Dirty Politics raises, without necessarily giving full or satisfactory answers to. Furthermore, they are issues that go far beyond the "who said what to whom in which email" stories that understandably have dominated in the wake of the book's appearance. 

In an effort to move past such discussions and instead debate the bigger picture, the University of Otago is holding a "webinar" event livestreamed from the University's media production studio on the afternoon of Friday, September 5. The details are:

  • Debating Dirty Politics: Media, Politics and Law

You'll be able to watch it all livestreamed here ( ... as well as participate in debating the issues (and ask the panelists questions) via twitter at @HagerDebate and #HagerDebate. 

So please join us on Friday for some or all of this debate. 

Comments (9)

by Graeme Edgeler on September 01, 2014
Graeme Edgeler

The clock on your livestream appears to be counting down to the end of your event :-)

by Andrew Geddis on September 01, 2014
Andrew Geddis

Well - given how much work it's been to put it together, that's kinda how I feel!


by Shaun on September 01, 2014

Does it really matter how politicians seek to get elected and re-elected? 

Prior to the release of Dirty Politics, a related issue was/is the selection of two former tobacco lobbyists for the National Party.  While they have a right to stand, and voters can choose whoever they like, there remains something unusual at a time when:

-  there's cross-party support for standardised cigarette packaging,

- negotiations are occurring for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,

- the former employer of these two candidates have commenced legal proceedings against sovereign governments over their public health laws,

- their former roles aimed at using PR to derail the packaging law in NZ, by disputing evidence that it works.

Perhaps there will be an opportunity for your guests to discuss how voters in Clutha-Southland and Hutt South can interpret these selections in the context of these facts, and what Mr Key said on election night 2011: "We've been given a tremendous gift tonight, the trust and goodwill of New Zealanders, and I do not take that for granted" (cited in Jon Johansson's 'Kicking the tyres').

Both candidates have stated (almost word for word) that very few people raise the issue with them on the campaign trail, yet if smoking is premised upon people being 'informed', surely this would not be the case.  Again, this is not telling people how to vote, but these selections do raise questions about the involvement of influential forces in political decision-making, and whether the candidates will suddenly change their tune on this issue if elected.   

Apologies for the essay.  I'm not on Twitter, but detect a relationship between these selections that your panellists might discuss.  The role that Carrick Graham has played in influencing policy needs further discussion too, I believe. 

by Chris Webster on September 02, 2014
Chris Webster

Kia ora Andrew. What role do you take? Adjudicator? Chair?  Devil's advocate?  Look forward to the debate. And thanks to UOO for its initiative.

by Andrew Geddis on September 02, 2014
Andrew Geddis


I'm acting as front/link man for the various bits. Others are doing the serious talking!

by Katharine Moody on September 04, 2014
Katharine Moody

Hey Andrew, of interest to your debate - today's Whaledump2 there is a specific discussion by the two main charatcers about using the data in the Labour membership database for a specific purpose (cross-referencing with the SST database). I believe this is the first instance I have seen of that data being used/searched for some possible use (as opposed to just having been downloaded). Just a thought about their rights. I certainly know that were my personal details and CC details in the hands of these folks, I'd kind of be concerned they might order a pizza .. or something :-). 

by Katharine Moody on September 04, 2014
Katharine Moody

By "their rights", I mean the rights of those persons whose information was downloaded and (obviously) retained.

by Katharine Moody on September 05, 2014
Katharine Moody

Congrats Andrew - great format, good technology and very interesting discussion. We should see more of this from universities. Wonderful initiative.

by Katharine Moody on September 11, 2014
Katharine Moody

Andrew, in case you haven't read it - Stephan Franks responds to Franks Ogilvies involvement in Dirty Politics;

I find this statement worthy of further comment:

The proper boundaries to public discourse are set by defamation law. The fact that modern courts have allowed many of our civil remedies to become hideously expensive and slow, and beyond the reach of most people, does not invalidate the traditional standards set by the courts in more efficient days. Procedural reform of defamation law was a cause I advanced while in Parliament, and since.

In this regard, I mentioned during your seminar that remedy for defamation should be made more accessable (cheaper and faster) in the internet era. Specifically, if defamation cases could be taken to a specialist tribunal, such as the Disputes Tribunal, that would make bloggers a lot more careful in this regard. That person (whom we don't mention by name) would have spent more time in tribunal hearings than in managing and administering his blog site were such an easy-access regime available. Like the Disputes Tribunal, I would suggest such a tribunal be lawyer-free (allow for no legal representation in cases taken to it). Of course, larger remedies sought could still be taken via the (higher) courts.

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.