Andrew Little has gone head to head with John Key for the first time as Labour leader, calling on the Prime Minister to "lift his Government out of the sleaze and the sludge and stop the abuse of state power for political ends."
Mr Little went on the attack after an independent report confirmed allegations in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics that some of Mr Key's staff disclosed Security Intelligence Service information to blogger Cameron Slater for political purposes.
Labour says Mr Key must have known they were doing it and if he can't provide an explanation he should resign. However, Mr Key says he's not implicated in the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security's report and is not going anywhere.
Mr Little asked Mr Key in the House when will he apologise to New Zealanders "for the political smear machine run out of his office and for the partisan use of security agencies."
Mr Key replied that he would happily apologise if that's what the report from the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence demanded.
"It does not," he said. "What is true is that advisers and politicians talk to the media. And if it was solely on this side of the house, fair enough. But yesterday, on the basis of a report arguing about leaking information, Phil Goff leaked information to the media."
Mr Key said former Labour leader Mr Goff leaked the report to the media yesterday and "knocked the leader of the opposition of the news" on the day he was releasing his caucus line-up.
SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge this morning apologised to Mr Goff for the SIS' release of "incomplete, inaccurate and misleading" information to Mr Key's office about a 2011 meeting Mr Goff had with then SIS director Warren Tucker about alleged Israeli spying in Christchurch. Mr Goff accepted the apology but said Mr Key "needs to come clean" and give a "watertight guarantee dirty politics stops here".
Mr Little demanded to know when the Prime Minister will "commit to all New Zealanders to lift his Government out of the sleaze and the sludge and stop the abuse of state power for political ends."
Mr Key responded that he's very proud of the way the Government operates. "And I am very confident that the discussions and briefings that political staffers and politicians have on this side of the House are absolutely consistent with the other side of the House."
The Prime Minister said the report stated that the decision to release information solely to Mr Slater was made by the SIS without his office's involvement.
Asked by Mr Little what measures did he take to stop security agency information being used for political purposes, Mr Key said: "They weren't used for political purposes. That's quite clear and that's actually what the report finds. ..That's why your mate Phil had to leak it a day earlier."
Parliament later went into an urgent debate over the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security's inquiry.