Hager hints at im­pact new book will have

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - TRACY WATKINS

Tongues are wag­ging over the elec­tion year tim­ing of a new book by Dirty Pol­i­tics au­thor Nicky Hager, which is poised for re­lease a day be­fore John Key bows out of Par­lia­ment.

In­vi­ta­tions to Hager’s book launch tomorrow were widely dis­trib­uted yes­ter­day.

The in­vi­ta­tion said it was not a se­quel to Dirty Pol­i­tics ‘‘nor re­lated to the elec­tion’’.

‘‘It is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent book but none­the­less grip­ping and im­por­tant.’’

The in­vi­ta­tion ended with a note that there would be no me­dia com­ment un­til the launch.

Peo­ple seem to be tak­ing with a grain of salt Hager’s sug­ges­tion that the book is not re­lated to the elec­tion.

Left-wing com­men­ta­tor Bryce Ed­wards said Hager could le­git­i­mately make that claim if his tar­get was Key, as the for­mer prime min­is­ter would be long gone by the time of the elec­tion.

Hager fa­mously re­leased Dirty Pol­i­tics in the run-up to the 2014 elec­tion, al­leg­ing dirty tricks by Na­tional Party MPs, spin doc­tors and blog­gers.

Hacked emails formed the ba­sis of the book.

Ger­man internet entrepreneur and for­mer Internet Party founder Kim Dot­com has been claim­ing on Twit­ter and else­where that he knows why Key re­signed, link­ing it to ‘‘2 ter­abytes’’ of hacked emails and at­tach­ments taken from Gov­ern­ment servers.

In one tweet, Dot­com claimed Key knew he could not win the next elec­tion with ‘‘tons of hacked Govt emails wait­ing to be leaked’’.

Dot­com claimed at the last elec­tion to have ev­i­dence that proved Key lied about his ex­tra­di­tion but failed to pro­duce it.

Hager’s pre­vi­ous books have in­cluded The Hol­low Men, which also drew heav­ily on emails, the source of which Hager has never re­vealed.

For­mer Na­tional Party leader Don Brash has al­ways claimed that the emails and doc­u­ments were hacked, be­cause he said they could only have come from him­self.

Brash and Key were the prin­ci­pal tar­gets of The Hol­low Men.

In 2002, Hager’s book Seeds of Dis­trust claimed a cover-up over ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied corn and nearly de­railed Labour leader He­len Clark’s elec­tion cam­paign.

The con­tro­versy be­came known as Corn­gate.

Hager’s new book will be re­leased on Tues­day evening, at Welling­ton’s Unity Books.

Key de­liv­ers his vale­dic­tory to Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day.

In an in­ter­view with The Spinoff last year, Hager al­luded to his new book as ‘‘one of the most im­por­tant projects that I could imag­ine in my life’’.

He would not say more about the book or ti­tle but when asked about fall­out from Dirty Pol­i­tics, Hager hinted there might be more to come.

‘‘When peo­ple say ev­ery­thing has gone back to nor­mal, they’re pos­si­bly not re­al­is­ing how much did change, and what they’re per­haps re­ally mean­ing is the prime min­is­ter [then John Key], who was in many ways at the cen­tre of the dis­taste­ful pol­i­tics, has so far sur­vived it.

‘‘None of us knows re­ally how pol­i­tics works.

‘‘He’s sur­vived at the mo­ment by not an­swer­ing the ques­tion and then not an­swer­ing the ques­tion again and then re­fus­ing to an­swer the ques­tion again – re­ly­ing on the lack of at­ten­tion span of the me­dia,’’ Hager said.

‘‘He may get away with that but I ac­tu­ally think that one is still play­ing it­self out.

‘‘I think that when peo­ple say John Key got away with the book and never had to an­swer the ques­tion – and of course he has got away with not hav­ing to an­swer the ques­tion so far – I think they’re not be­ing op­ti­mistic enough.

‘‘I think we may still see in the long run it will be seen to have bit­ten him badly and he hasn’t got away with it.’’

Ed­wards said he would guess state sur­veil­lance was the main fo­cus of Hager’s book, given Hager’s com­ments about it be­ing ‘‘one of the most im­por­tant projects’’ imag­in­able.

Hager had been tire­less in his pur­suit of that sub­ject over many years.

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