NZ Police Minister Chris Hipkins has ducked and weaved responsibility in an interview with independent broadcaster Sean Plunket but says he's open to ensure nothing 'untoward' occurred as public pressure mounts for a review into an explosive Interpol leak.
Reporters Avi Yemini and Rukshan Fernando were politically profiled by NZ Police with Interpol Wellington seeking to stop the pair from entering the country to report on an anti-government protest.
Despite both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Hipkins being previously asked about the matter, Hipkins again shrugged off the questions regardless of having time to be across the issue which has raised national concern and drawn international attention.
"As I said to you the other day, Sean, it's not something ... You know the Police's intelligence gathering exercises, particularly when they're doing that liaising with a different arm of government, Immigration, that's not something I would expect to be briefed on," he said.
Plunket noted that someone in NZ Police had made the decision to 'dig up dirt' on the two journalists based on unknown direction or advice and asked the minister if NZ Police had the statutory right or ability to decide who they want or don't want in the country based on their political or any other views.
"I have no issue with those questions being asked, I don't have any information to be able to answer those questions at this point," he said.
"But Police are looking into this matter and I do expect in the fullness of time once they've had a chance to identify what happened and how it happened and all that we will get answers to some of those questions."
"In the fullness of time, I am expecting to get a bit more information from Police to at least provide assurance that nothing untoward has happened."
When asked if he was concerned that the protocols may have been breached, Hipkins said he was "not going to pass judgement" on something that he didn't have information about, adding "so in the fullness of time, if there's a need to make a comment on that..."
"It's not my job as Minister of Police to confirm or deny what Police may or may not be investigating," he added.
Plunket reminded Hipkins that it 'wasn't about a criminal investigation' but an 'administrative matter' that does fall in the Police Minister's purview.
"When Police are doing a case or how they've handled the situation, again that is an operational matter for the Police," he said.
Earlier in the program, former NZ Deputy PM Winston Peters slammed the country's 'corrupted' media for treading a dangerous path in its refusal to fairly report on the matter.
Yemini was sensationally stopped from boarding a flight to Wellington with NZ Immigration later citing a historic summary offence which didn't meet the threshold for refusal.
An explosive Interpol memo was leaked and later confirmed to be legitimate, showing NZ Police's desire to stop the two from entering the country.
The memo was sent just 24 hours after The New Zealand Herald published an unattributed article laced with several false, out-of-context and misleading claims, designed to paint the reporters as 'infamous Australian far-right misinformation superspreaders' and said that the pair were 'known to spread misinformation and falsehoods on social media in Australia'.
Avi is crowdfunding to fight against this unjust decision. If you can, please consider donating to his legal fund using the form on this page, any amount helps.