Prime Minister John Key has dismissed Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics as “a bunch of baseless allegations”.
Mr Key says the National Party does everything above board and the alleged smear campaigns against political opponents have nothing to do with his office.
The prime minister took a hard line against Hager when he faced the media for the first time since the book was launched on Wednesday.
“The National Party is doing everything above board and it’s totally fine,” he said.
“Mr Hager is making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct.”
Mr Key says it’s Mr Hager who is playing dirty politics.
“I think New Zealanders will see this for what it is – dirty politics from the left.”
Hager’s book alleges Mr Key’s office was involved in covert smear campaigns run by right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.
The allegations are based on hundreds of emails which show contact between Slater and Beehive staffer Jason Ede.
Mr Key says Slater is a shock jock who spends half his time attacking the National Party.
“You should see what he says about the National Party president… that’s the way it is and a certain percentage of the public are interested in that sort of thing.”
Mr Key says he has had little direct contact with Slater.
“I think it’s really important to understand it’s got nothing to do with us or to do with my office.”
Opposition parties say the allegations are serious, and the Greens are going to lay complaints with the police.
Labour leader David Cunliffe says the book reveals “a very nasty turn in New Zealand politics” and NZ First leader Winston Peters has compared it with the Watergate scandal.
THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE BOOK INCLUDE:
* The PM’s office used its knowledge of secret SIS documents to tip off Slater to attack the Labour leader in the 2011 election campaign
* Mr Ede drafted Official Information Act requests that were passed on to Slater
* Political strategist Simon Lusk was also involved on many of the plans that were laid
* Justice Minister Judith Collins emailed Slater an account of Labour’s Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself
* Slater boasted Mr Key had called him after the blogger was attacked over his comments about a West Coast man killed in a road crash.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY:
* “Nicky Hager has been drawing pictures, drawing dots, thinks that he’s got a picture of a conspiracy, but he’s actually got a bunch of squiggly lines, it’s something a four-year-old at kindergarten would draw” – Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater
* “Funnily enough it’s exactly what it says on the cover: it is a dirty politics book” – National’s Steven Joyce
* We’ve had a gutsful of this kind of politics and think New Zealanders have too” – Labour leader David Cunliffe
* “I think this is an over-hyped, under-delivered book from a left-wing conspiracy theorist five weeks before an election” – Justice Minister Judith Collins
* “Sadly for the prime minister it goes to his office in the same way it went to Nixon’s office during the Watergate scandal” – NZ First leader Winston Peters
* “Nicky Hager has discovered that politicians talk to the media. I feel I should confess that I too am guilty” – ACT leader Jamie Whyte
* “This (information) shines a light on something which otherwise might have been secret for the rest of time and the public has a total right to know this” – author Nicky Hager.