Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who leaked?

The spectacular bungling of the announcement unbundling of the local loop has been a big blow to the solidarity of Clark's cabinet. Originally intended to be announced in the budget, the policy was leaked to Telecom within a few hours of it being signed off by the Cabinet Policy Committee. Telecom then informed the government who had to make an impromptu announcement. Because of this, Telecom lost about 10% of its value (or a billion dollars) on the sharemarket today. Some blow to Telecom's value was inevitable but coming in the way that it did only worsened the impact.

So who leaked the documents to Telecom? TVNZ reported tonight that the source of the leak was the office of a Cabinet Minister. There is always the possibility that a staffer cocked up but the sheer magnitude of the leak suggests deliberation with the Minister's deniable acquiescence. The short period of time that it took between the making of the decision and the leaking, the leak can probably be narrowed down to the office of one of the Ministers at the meeting. From the website of the Cabinet Office website, the members of the Policy Committee are:
Helen Clark
Michael Cullen
Jim Anderton
Steve Maharey
Phil Goff
Annette King
Trevor Mallard
Pete Hodgson
Parekura Horomia
Mark Burton
Jim Sutton
However David Cunliffe would probably attended as the meeting concerned his portfolio while Trevor Mallard was India and Jim Sutton was visiting Korea and China.

I'm inclined to rule out Clark, Cullen and Cunliffe - the first two because any leaks would make their government look bad while the last would be have to be daft to screw up his own portfolio for politics. Parekura Horomia simply hasn't got the nous while Annette King was being mentioned as leading the witchhunt which might mean that Clark knows it wasn't her. I would be surprised if it was Jim Anderton as his conduct as a cabinet minister has been spotless (as opposed, say, to his autocratic conduct as Party Leader). So that leaves Steve Maharey, Phil Goff, Pete Hodgson and possibly Mark Burton on the short list of suspects.