Is it Wackydoodle time already?
This has to be the most bizarre radio “interview” in the annals of broadcasting history…
This was either a very weak attempt at deflection – or John Banks is losing the plot as the pressure of public and media scrutiny bear down on him.
Whichever – I wonder how many of the 15,835 Epsom voters to cast their ballot for Banks are now regretting it? They’ve elected a clown who plays footloose with campaign-donation laws and is trying desperately to cover his arse.
Moral of this story? Voting for someone just because the Prime Minister had a cup of tea with him, is not a sound basis on which to choose your elected representative. (Personally, I recommend reading tea leaves; chicken entrails; or studying the remains of what my cat chucked-up last night. Far more reliable.)
Previous Blog Posts
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One of the Golden Rules of politics is: learn to count. This refers to everything from passing legislation to votes of confidence. In short, it means if you don’t have the numbers in government, you might as well call it a day and hand power to the Opposition (or call a snap election).
Counting especially focuses the attention of parliamentary leaders such as Key and Gillard, who have (respectively) one and two seat majorities in their respective Parliaments.
It means, also, that if a government has a generous majority, it can afford the luxury of holding their own Ministers to account and make grand exhibitions of standing down those who have done something naughty.
Conversely, if a government has only the slimmest majority, that same government will hang on to, and defend to the bitter end, any errant Minister or MP.
Some recent history should illustrate how this works…
That Was Then…
2008 – 2011 National-led government majority: 16
Richard Worth was Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Land Information, Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand, Minister Responsible for the National Library, and Associate Minister of Justice, in the Fifth National Government.
In March 2009, reports emerged that Worth’s trips to India were a conflict of interest. It was alleged he spoke on behalf of the Government while engaging in private business deals.
On 3 June 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced Worth’s resignation from his Ministerial portfolios, after several allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward woman.
John Key said,
“Dr Worth tendered his resignation to me last night, and I have accepted it. He advised me of some private matters in respect of which he felt it appropriate that he should resign as a Minister. I accepted his resignation and have advised the Governor-General accordingly.”
On 12 June 2009, Worth announced his resignation from Parliament.
In October 2010, Richard Worth was appointed to a diplomatic role, “to the surprise of the prime minister”, as Monaco’s honorary consul to New Zealand.
Former National Party politician. Ms Wong was New Zealand’s first Asian MP, serving as a member of parliament for the National Party from 1996 to 2011. She was also the first Asian Cabinet Minister, with portfolios; Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for ACC, and Associate Minister of Energy and Resources in the 2008-11 National Government.
In November 2010, it was alleged that Ms Wong mis-used Parliamentary travel funds so that her husband could conduct private business in China.
On 12 November 2010, as allegations surrounding her and her husband’s mis-use of Parliamentary funding were investigated, Pansy Wong stepped down from her Ministerial portfolios.
John Key said,
“At the end of the day she has to take responsibility for the fact her spouse was using her travel discount by virtue of her tenure in parliament, and on that basis she failed to exercise her responsibilities properly. She offered her resignation to me and I though it was appropriate that I accepted that resignation.”
On 3 December 2010, an investigation by Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith, found “no evidence of systemic abuse” of the Parliamentary allowance,
“It found that one trip, a flight from Beijing to Lianyungang, China in December 2008, could have been in breach of the Speaker’s Directions,” Speaker Lockwood Smith said in a statement.
“While this trip was unplanned and inadvertent, it could be construed as having been for a private business purpose.”
The report recommended Mrs Wong and her husband repay the travel rebate for that trip of $237.06 each.”
Dissatisfied with the Speaker’s investigation, Labour MP, Pete Hodgson, called for the Auditor-General to carry out an inquiry into Mrs Wong and her husband’s use of the travel allowance.
Eleven days later, on 14 December, Ms Wong made her decision and resigned from Parliament.
On 25 February 2010, Phil Heatley resigned from his portfolios of Minister of Housing and Minister of Fisheries after announcing that he had wrongly charged two bottle of wine to his Ministerial credit card,
“I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.”
John Key said,
“I spent about an hour saying to him `look, I don’t think you should resign, I think you should stand aside. I don’t think he’s a dishonest individual, I think he made some mistakes and they were silly, stupid and misguided.”
However, Heatley did not resign from Parliament, and regained his Ministerial portfolios about a month later.
This Is Now…
2011 – ? National-led government majority: 1
Allegations of not disclosing the sources of campaign donations have been made against John Banks. These donations were made by Sky City and web entrepreneur, Kim Dotcom.
In the case of Sky City, Mayor Len Brown received a similar amount of $15,000 from the Casino, and Brown later formerly declared it.
John Banks listed his $15,000 donation as “anonymous”.
In the case of Kim Dotcom, Banks has repeatedly stated, that he,
- “could not remember” discussing donations with the businessman;
- “could not recall” flying in Dotcom’s helicopter;
- “could not recall” suggesting that Dotcom split the $50,000 donation into two separate amounts of $25,000 each
- “could not recall” phoning Dotcom to thank him for the donation
- “barely knew Dotcom” and had met him for only 20 minutes – despite video later emerging of Banks and his wife partying with Dotcom and his wife, at the Dotcom mansion
John Key said,
“At the end of the day, he either complied with the law or he didn’t – he said he did, I have absolutely no reason to doubt him. That’s not my responsibility. If somebody thinks that John Banks isn’t telling the truth, there’s a very simple remedy: they go to the police. That’s not my job to do a forensic investigation, my job is to assure myself I can retain confidence in a minister. If he tells me he followed the local government laws, then I accept him at his word.”
It appears that John Key’s previous standard of accepting Ministerial resignations, whilst investigations are carried out, no longer applies.
A difference in majority of 15, I would guess.
PS 1; In yesterday’s NZ Herald, John Banks repeated his now well-known mantra,
“I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear...”
The Herald noted that Mr Banks has not been returning their calls.
So much for not hiding or being fearful.
PS 2; Police have confirmed they have received two complaints over “anonymous” donations made to John Banks during the 2010 mayoralty campaign.
Your call, Prime Minister.
Radio NZ Interview: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams
Previous Blog Posts
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A blogpost in four images…
And a short story…
Once upon a time, Farmer Joe Bloggs contracted a company to work on his farm. He needed his fields ploughed; a barn painted; several dozen stray sheep to be rounded up; and fences repaired.
The company, ‘Labour R Us Inc‘ turned up on Monday morning and Farmer Bloggs explained what needed to be done.
The foreman agreed to start work immediatly and discussed the tasks with his team. Very soon, the team began to disagree on which task should be done first.
One worker wanted the hardest task to be done first, to get the big job out of the way.
Another worker wanted the team split up to start on all the jobs simultaneously.
A third worker suggested starting on the hardest and easiest job, splitting the team accordingly.
Two other workers wanted a new foreman.
And others agreed, disagreed, or had their own ideas on how to carry out the allocated tasks. Very soon, they were arguing so loudly that Farmer Bloggs looked out the window and saw that no work was being done, and much time was being wasted.
Very unhappy, Farmer Bloggs, picked up his phone and rang the next company in the phone book,
“Hello, is that ‘Green Fingers Inc’? I’d like you to do some work for me.”
As ‘Labour R Us Inc‘ continued arguing between themselves, the second company arrived; pulled out their tools; and set to working.
Moral of the Story? Focus on what needs to be done and argue later, in your own time. Under MMP, you’re not the only show in town.
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The above poll is on Peter Dunne’s ‘United Future’ website and according to the earliest comment left on the page, has been active since at least 8 October, last year.
It is interesting that the vast majority – 84% at the time of this blogpost – is opposed to John Key’s proposal for partial asset sales,
The existence of that poll, plus the extraordinary 84% response, raises two interesting questions.
If Peter Dunne and his team went to the effort of setting up the poll; and with the overwhelming response rate opposing partial asset sales – what is it that lets Dunne believe that he has a mandate to support John Key’s programme?
More importantly, why is that poll – live since at least early October 2011 – still online?
Could it be that the poll’s continuation serves a purpose for Dunne, who may be re-considering his position on this issue?
Could it be that Dunne may soon be issuing a public policy statement, reviewing his support for partial-privatisation, and will use feedback from his elecorate – including this poll - to oppose National’s programme?
Since the election last year, Dunne has come under considerable public pressure – both from his constituents and from outside Ohariu – to cease supporting National’s asset sales.
With the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale hikoi on it’s way to Wellington, Dunne may have good cause to be nervous on this issue. His constituents are well-educated, middle-class baby-boomers with a liberal bent – and are the typical voters who do not support asset sales for any number of very valid reasons. Going against your own Electorate on such a bell-weather political issue is not a particularly smart move – especially when one’s electoral success last year was dependent on another Party’s largesse.
If Dunne wants to keep his political ‘branding‘ separate from National’s, he may have no option but to remove himself from the government’s coat-tails of asset sales programme. Otherwise, when National’s fortune’s really start to fall in the polls, Dunne may find himself dragged down, like a flea on a drowning elephant’s arse.
Perhaps Peter Dunne – being no man’s fool, and being in Parliament for 28 years – realises all this.
And if he is about to change direction and withhold support for National’s partial privatisation, then he may have single-handedly saved five state corporations from ending up in eventual overseas ownership. The entire country may honour him by nominating Peter Dunne as Man of the Year.
Because sometimes, it all comes down to one courageous man or woman doing the right thing.
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As if the “Tea Party” fiasco wasn’t sufficient, John Banks – leader of the “1 Percent Party” (aka ACT) – is now embroiled in another scandal: undeclared or wrongly-declared campaign donations,
If these allegations are proven, Banks’ career as a politician has screeched to a grinding stop. He will be lucky if any subsequent police investigation does not result in a prosecution, as happened with ex-Labour MP, Phillip Taito Fields.
Should Banks be forced to vacate his seat, that would force an automatic by-election. The chances are that the Right would probably win any such contest. Epsom is still a blue-ribbon electorate.
In terms of Parliamentary numbers for the government, it doesn’t matter if a National or ACT candidate wins it. They maintain their one-seat majority.
What will matter is that if National wins and the ACT loses Epsom, then the Nats will no longer have an excuse to implement right wing policies such as Charter Schools. That was an ACT policy, not National.
National would be within it’s rights to dump it, should they regain Epsom.
If they don’t, it would be a fairly dramatic indication to the public that the Nats are moving to the Right, regardless of their coalition deal with ACT.
That should give pause for thought for many voters.
On a related thought, the Banks/donations scandal is yet more convincing proof (not that we really needed it) that this government is shonkey and has no hesitation in engaging in secret, back-room dealing. New Zealanders should be very cautious in continuing to support National.
Very rarely do we have an opportunity to glimpse the secret deals taking place behind closed doors. As this blogger wrote in the previous blogpieces, Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How and Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua),
“Once upon a time, at the bottom of the world, there was a small country that prided itself on being a fair, open, and uncorrupted society.
I’m no longer sure about the last bit.
Last year, Transparency International ranked New Zealand as the #1 least corrupt nation on Earth. We ranked above Denmark (#2), Finland (#3), Sweden (#4), Singapore (#5), and Norway (#6).
I’m no longer certain we deserve that top ranking, either.
The further that the Sky City/Convention Centre and Crafar farm deals are scrutinised – the stronger the odour of something unpleasant fills our nostrils.”
As for who might be a suitable candidate to contest Epsom; considering it’s conservative, Tory nature, this could be a job for the former Member for Tauranga,
The most suitable candidate would be the highest polling person from any given Opposition Party. In fact, this might be a suitable occassion to employ the US style of “Primaries“, where a candidate is selected from a group, to go up against the incumbent.
Should National or ACT lose Epsom (unlikely) this government will fall.
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… that politicians continue to lie and misrepresent issues, just to push their own perverse agendas,
Banks is telling outright lies when he says,
“Too often politicians spend up large in the good times, leaving nothing in reserve for when things get tough. We saw this type of spend up occur under the previous Labour Government.” – Ibid
Every time this blogger reads comments like that, reinforces the view that the Right Wing are desperate to re-write history, to paint Labour as as fiscally incompetant.
The truth, though, is completely the opposite: Labour posted surpluses year after year, during it’s administration from 2000 to 2008. This IMF graph is fairly clear how debt dropped from 2000 to 2008 – and rose once National took power in November, 2008,
See more here: Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008
Under Labour (red), debt dropped.
Under National (blue), debt went up (not helped by two tax cuts in April 2009 and October 2010 we could ill afford).
This is reinforced by another chart, with data sourced from NZ Treasury, that shows government budgets under National (in blue) and Labour (in red),
In fact, if any government is guilty of massive deficits and borrowing, look no further than this one,
And just to prove how incompetant National truly is,
So much for the ’09 and ’10 tax-cuts being “fiscally neutral”. Rubbish. Those tax cuts were made at a time we could not afford them; were funded by massive borrowings from overseas; and are a dead weight on this country’s finances.
What makes all this even worse is that our Dear Leader, John Key, was warned about the unsustainability of National’s tax cuts programme,
When right wingers try to re-write history, it gives the rest of us the opportunity to set the record straight. It serves as a valuable opportunity to remind New Zealanders that centre-left governments tend to be fiscally prudent, whilst right wing governments give away money (through tax cuts) that we do not have.
Eventually, the message percolates through to the Great Unwashed. And people like John Banks are caught standing in a rather cold wind, with their trousers down around their ankles.
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- Matty T, Blogger, Extra-Channels.com
Digital switchovers (and analogue turnoffs) are presently progressing in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand most people tuning into free to air television are either going for Freeview Satellite, being broadcast on the Optus D1 satellite, or Freeview HD on UHF (or since they have slightly different channel line ups, setting themselves up to receive both). In Australia they have Freeview Australia serving the capital cities and major towns on UHF. For regional areas beyond the reach of UHF towers they are going with a new system called V.A.S.T, which is being broadcast on the Optus C1 satellite. V.A.S.T. is replacing an earlier system called Aurora. Both V.A.S.T and Aurora broadcast mostly encrypted channels enforced by smartcards mostly to limit the geographical areas of broadcast for the licensees. New Zealand’s satellite system in contrast is free to air (but limited by the footprint of the satellite beams to just over New Zealand).
Those in the know in New Zealand have been tuning into 2 channels from SBS, an Australian public broadcaster which has been filling a hole in the Aurora coverage for viewers in remote parts of Tasmania with transmissions on the Australia New Zealand beam of the Optus D1 satellite. (You can get it with a 90cm or larger dish and a LNB picking up the vertical polarity, or with a dual polarity LNB since Sky and Freeview Satellite use horizontal polarity on the same dish.) SBS is a unique station in that it is a public broadcaster of an ilk that New Zealand just doesn’t have. Originally setup to broadcast to ethnic viewers initially in Sydney it went nationwide and has evolved into a station that still serves its ethnic viewers, but with all foreign language programmes subtitled in English, and many programmes in English (e.g. documentaries, cooking shows, soccer, cycling) it is a channel that has wide appeal.
TVNZ7 is the only channel in NZ that comes close to being a public broadcaster like SBS and it is being defunded by the NZ government in July 2012. This will be a great shame.
With the commissioning of V.A.S.T. for Tasmania in the first half of 2013 New Zealand viewers are probably going to lose the ability to pick up SBS. This will also be a great shame.
SBS was originally ad-free, but then as Australia’s second public broadcaster it was being squeezed for funds by the Australian Government and it introduced some ads between programmes. The purists were horrified. Since then ads have been snuck in during programmes, and a lot of people in Australia have decried the intrusion. Ads are on SBS for about 5 minutes every hour. This is apparently to raise revenue of a bit over $20 million dollars a year. The commercial channels in Australia and NZ by contrast have 15 or 16 minutes of ads per hour.
It is said New Zealand is too small to have a proper public broadcaster. TVNZ has virtually been fully commercialised. It may be a State-owned enterprise, but it doesn’t have a remnant of public charter to fulfill. The charter was officially dumped by the National Government on July 12th 2011. Government money is spent by NZ on Air to get New Zealand productions and NZ shows onto the existing commercial channels. The last Labour government’s attempt to introduce a modicum of ad-free public broadcasting, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have come and gone, and as previously said, or are about to go. TVNZ6 has turned into the god-awful channel U and TVNZ7 will be defunded, meaning that it will disappear altogether. Only public outcry has saved TVNZ7 from being turned into a shopping channel. (A blank screen, and a hope for something better is better than a shopping channel). New Zealand free to air TV will thus be aligned to the National government’s ideological position that quality public television should not exist. One of their problems with it (apart from wanting to keep the population stupid so they are more likely to vote National) is the cost of running a quality public broadcaster. New Zealand is a small market and to run a BBC or ABC like service it would cost the country a lot, or so the argument goes.
So the end result is no quality ad-free public broadcasting for New Zealanders. It really doesn’t have to be that way.
Suggestion one: flog off TVNZ to the highest bidder. We will lose nothing more than we have already lost by allowing it to be privatised.
Suggestion two: Make an offer to the Australian Government. Tell Australia that New Zealand will pay just over $20 million dollars a year to share the costs of running SBS. SBS takes that $20 million dollars and completely removes advertising from its two TV channels. Most of the programming doesn’t change. SBS News Australia, becomes SBS News Australasia. Mandarin News Australia becomes Mandarin News Australasia. Dateline is now seen on SBS instead of TVNZ 7. SBS will now look to Australia and New Zealand production houses when it commissions work. SBS 1 (HD and SD) and SBS 2 (SD) gets added to either Freeview Satellite or Freeview HD. The beauty of this suggestion is that for $20 million a year you get channels that would cost many more millions of dollars to produce than that.
NZ On Air still can fund New Zealand specific content on the commercial broadcasters much in the same manner as it does now. Not accounting for the fact that funding crap reality TV with public funds is sometimes pissing money up the wall. FFS who thought funding reality TV was a good idea?
In Australia there is an Aboriginal channel on the Optus-C1 satellite, called National Indigenous TV. It is run as a non-profit enterprise.
There is a reasonably large Maori population in Australia ( >100,000 people), and many of the programmes on Maori TV are interesting to a non-Maori audience.. There are not that many Australian Aboriginals in New Zealand, but likewise some of the programming has a wider appeal than just to one indigenous group. So a straight out swap and putting Maori TV on VAST and Freeview Australia and NITV onto one or both of the Freeview services in New Zealand will give people all over Australia and New Zealand access to all the indigenous cultures of both countries.
There would be a minimal cost to governments in NZ and Australia,
What Australia gets: 1 new FTA channel. The two SBS channels go back to being ad-free. Price competition for commissioned works. Australians get to see Maori programming. Cost – the broadcast fees for another channel on Freeview Australia and VAST.
What New Zealand gets: 3 new FTA channels, including quality public ad-free TV. Programming for some ethnic groups present in NZ. Another market for content makers. New Zealanders get to see Aboriginal programming. Cost – $20million a year to help fund SBS. The broadcast fees for another 3 channels on Freeview-HD and/or Sat.
It’s win/win/win/win/win for the Australian public/ the New Zealand public/SBS/Maori TV/NITV. The only objectors would be commercial interests who run commercial TV faced with more quality competition, and small-minded ideologues opposed to public broadcasting.
This is version 2 of this post. I’ve made a couple edits since I had a couple of factual errors, and a suggestion was made to me that because of the two hour time difference when SBS is showing foreign news in the late afternoon (4-6pm) East Coast Australia time it’s early evening (6-8pm) in New Zealand, and those hours could be used for New Zealand specific programmes such as we are losing from TVNZ7. Australian audiences might prefer Hearts and Crafts over the PBS News Hour.
It’s also been pointed out to me that $20 million dollars a year is more than the cost of keeping TVNZ7 open with its current budget of $16.25 million dollars. Whatever solution to our public broadcasting deficit though it’s better to fund public TV than to subsidise commercial TV in NZ. If commercial TV needs handouts from the government to survive then perhaps there are too many commercial channels.
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Searching for details on a previous blogpost, this blogger came across this interesting poll result on stuff.co.nz,
Making my vote, the Poll showed me the following results,
Interestingly, the poll results for Labour, Greens, National, Mana, Maori Party, and United Future more or less mirror the 2011 election results.
2011 Election Results
Maori Party: 1.43%
United Future: 0.60%
No surprises with those figures.
NZ First polled higher than their Election Result of 6.59%.
The figures for NZ First may be easily understand as a nationalistic response to the current government’s policies on partial asset sales and the sale of farmland to offshore investors. (Though whether the Stuff poll translates into success at the Ballot box is another matter entirely.)
The real surprise is ACT’s result on the Stuff poll; 6.4%.
No, I don’t think, so, my fellow Kiwis.
ACT’s election result was a meagre 1.07%. Recent polls by Roy Morgan and News Reid has ACT barely registering,
Roy Morgan: 0.3%
News Reid: 0.2%
Which indicates to this blogger that some naughty ACT apparatchiks have been “stuffing Stuff’s electronic ballot box”, by voting multiple times. Naughty boys. Off to the naughty mat with you – and don’t come out until Election Day!
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Horizon’s current poll is focused on the Sky City/Convention Centre/National Party issue. The question were incredibly straight forward and pulled no punches on this controversial issue.
For readers’ edification, I present the Horizon Poll, and my responses,
(Note, there was no page 7)
This blogger has requested the results of the Poll, which will be presented as an update on this Blogpost. My guess is that Horizon’s results will mirror those presented in Stuff.co.nz and Herald on-line polling.
Whilst those are unscientific polls, they nevertheless gave an indication of general public disquiet on National’s handling of this issue.
Anyone wishing to join the Horizon Polling mail-list can do so, by clicking on the link below.
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National released this media statement on Scoop.co.nz yesterday, when they announced their intention to proceed with the sale of the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin,
Ministers approve Crafar farms bid
Friday, 20 April 2012, 11:22 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government
Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Land Information
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Associate Minister of Finance
20 April 2012
Ministers approve Crafar farms bid
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have approved the new recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited to acquire the 16 Crafar farms
“New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations around overseas investment,” Mr Williamson says.
“Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring, while providing a range of safeguards to protect New Zealanders’ interests. They are applied evenly to all applications, regardless of where they are from.
“We have sought to apply the law in accordance with the provisions of the Overseas Investment Act and the guidance of the High Court.
“We have carefully considered the OIO’s new recommendation. The OIO sought advice from Crown Law and independent legal advice from David Goddard QC. The Ministers also sought advice and clarification from Mr Goddard.
“We are satisfied that on even the most conservative approach this application meets the criteria set out in the Act and is consistent with the High Court’s judgment.”
Dr Coleman said the consent came with stringent conditions.
“These 27 conditions have been imposed to ensure Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Dr Coleman says.
The conditions require Milk New Zealand to invest $16 million into the farms and to protect and enhance heritage sites
“The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial.”
A copy of the OIO’s new recommendation is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/oio-recommendation-crafar-farms-20120420.pdf
A copy of the OIO’s decision summary is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/decision-summary-201110035.pdf
Jonathan Coleman says that, ” The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. “
Maurice Williamson sez, ” Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring… “
And Our Dear Leader, John Key, smiles, waves, and said,
“Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source
The questions I have for John Key, Maurice Williamson, Jonathan Coleman, et al in National are;
- What possible benefit is there to New Zealand when the Crafar farms owe a massive $216 million to predominantly Dutch and Australian banks; the sale to Shanghai Pengxin is for $210 million; and the purchasers intend to invest only an addition $14 million in the 16 farms – $875,000 per farm? The proceeds for the sale of the Crafar farms will not stay in New Zealand – they will flow back to Australia.
- How can the sale of a revenue-earning asset (eg, farms) to overseas investors be ‘beneficial’ to New Zealand when the profits from those assets will flow overseas, to offshore bank accounts. Profits will not be spent nor further re-invested in this country.
- Considering that New Zealand is a world leader in dairy production, what does Shanghai Pengxin – a company specialising in property development (the sixth largest in China; Appendix 5, para 42) and not dairying – have to offer us that the alternative New Zealand consortium, led by Michael Fay, and other local dairy farmers could not? Is this, effectively a vote of No Confidence in local farmers?
Several politicians have made several comments that the new Chinese owners will bring ‘new skills and innovation’ to our dairying industry.
This blogger finds that rather hard to believe. All of a sudden, New Zealanders are incapable of developing their own farms?
But perhaps the issues we should be most concerned out is a loss of revenue from those farms, as profits are repatriated overseas.
Michael Fay estimates we could lose $15 million per annum once the farms are producing milk for export,
” Sir Michael says at the forecast payout of $6.35 a share, the new owners would earn $30 million a year, half of which will go to state-owned enterprise Landcorp for farming the land.
“This transaction with Shanghai Pengxin is a very, very bad investment for New Zealand. It doesn’t stack up on any economic basis,” said Sir Michael.
“It’s hard to see that half of it going overseas constitutes an economic benefit to this country. It’s a cost, it’s hard to define it as an investment”. ” – Source
And Bernard Hickey wrote about our loss of income as we sold more and more assets into overseas ownership, steadily worsening our current account deficit,
” For decades we have spent more than we earned as a nation and funded the difference by borrowing foreign money through our banks, or directly in the form of companies borrowing offshore or the government borrowing from foreign funds and banks. If we couldn’t borrow the money, we would sell assets, be it companies, land or state assets.
We’ve been kidding ourselves for decades that, like the L’Oreal ad, we were worth it. We have run chronically high current account deficits for most of the last 30 years. We believed, and have been encouraged by our leaders, bankers, and asset buyers, that New Zealand could afford it and we deserved it.
But in our bones we knew we couldn’t, and it’s great to see Justice Miller at the High Court now tell us in this decision it has to stop, even if the government can’t or won’t do it. His ruling that any foreign buyer has to prove a bigger benefit to the nation than a local buyer sets a very high threshold.
It effectively says that any buyer has to invest an awful lot more, create a lot more jobs and pledge to reinvest dividends here, otherwise there is an inevitable drain on the nation.
In the last decade we have reached the limit of how much we could borrow and sell. For any chronic overspender, there is a point where they can’t borrow any more because they can’t afford the interest payments and they don’t have anything left to sell. Just before that moment comes, they accelerate their asset sales and borrowing to pay the interest on the previously borrowed money and to pay the dividends on the previously sold assets…
… The government itself has been the heaviest borrower through the bond markets. It doesn’t matter who we have borrowed it off, but again China is the biggest creditor through its sovereign wealth fund. Our state owned enterprises have also been borrowing heavily overseas and the government is about to start selling the jewels in the crown, at least some of which will go offshore.
The irony is that this frenzy of last minute borrowing and asset selling accelerates the process of making our economy unsustainable, because it pushes up our economy currency and hampers our ability to export our way out of this mess.
Just in case you question the logic, here’s the chart showing how New Zealand’s Gross National Income per capita, which is what we get to keep after we have paid the interest and the dividends, has been falling since 2003.”
Quite simply, the more we borrow from overseas; the more income-generating assets we sell to overseas investors – the more money we end up losing on every deal. The profits that used to stay in NZ to be re-invested, are now flowing out to other countries; other peoples’ bank accounts. Leaving us poorer and poorer year after year.
Selling farms after selling most of our profitable State Owned Enterprises will make things worse.
It’s also hard to see how any potential New Zealand purchaser can compete with the incredible wealth and access to funds, that nations such as China possess. Indeed, the Overseas Investment commission made this very point in Appendix 5, para 19/a when it stated,
“… 19. The purchase price for the farms is NZD $[redacted] m, plus payment for the stock, estimated to be NZD $[redacted] m. The Applicant is willing to pay this price because:
a) it has access to relatively low cost capital;”
We are in dire straights when an offshore investor can outbid a New Zealander because they have access to cheap funds to which we do not.
This is not a level playing field. The deck is now stacked firmly against us.
The deal with Shanghai Pengxin calls for further investments,
- “The Applicant must invest the higher of NZD $14m or the value agreed between the Applicant and Landcorp in
clause 4.4 of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”) on investment for development
purposes on the Investment.” (ref Appendix 1, para 6)
- “The Applicant must establish an on-farm training facility for dairy farm workers in accordance with clause 5(c) of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”). The Applicant must contribute a minimum of NZD $[redacted] m towards the capital cost of establishing this facility. (ref Appendix 1, para 7) We don’t know the value of this “training facility – the OIO has blanked out that information.)
- “The Applicant must give two scholarships of not less than NZD $5,000 each year to students of the on-farm training facility. The first two scholarships are to be awarded by 31 December 2013.” (ref Appendix 1, para 8)
Aside from some walking tracks and other contractual obligations (which we recently discovered are not followed up by anyone from the Overseas Investment Commission – so we cannot be certain that the OIO’s Conditions of Consent are followed through by Shanghai Pengxin, nor any other foreign investor) – what does New Zealand gain, financially, from this deal?
- Sale price of $210 million – goes to foreign-owned banks in Australia and Netherlands. Benefit to NZ: nil
- Profits from export of milk from the 16 Crafar Farms – mostly remitted to China. Benefit to NZ: nil/negative ($15 million p.a. loss in overseas income)
- Additional investment required in farms – $14 million*. Benefit to NZ: nil. $14 million gain – wiped out after one year of profits ($15 million) remitted back to Shanghai Pengxin, in China
- Scholarships for two students, @ $5,000 per-person. Benefit to NZ: $10,000 p.a.
And that, folks, seems to be it: $10,000 per year.
In return, the new foreign owner gets,
- $15 million p.a. in profits
- 15 million Fonterra shares
- dairy products exported to China (along with profits made)
Now, unless this blogger’s arithmetic is seriously out-of-kilter, it’s hard to see how Jonathan Coleman’s comment holds true that,
” The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. “
What, precisely, are those ‘benefits’?!? Because none are apparent to this blogger.
Some further matters that warrant comment:
Mr Key says that,
“Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source
Let’s deal with that straight away.
In 2002, when American millionaire, John Griffin purchased historically-significant Young Nick’s Head on the East Coast, there was considerable anger and opposition from many locals, and throughout New Zealand. Such was opposition that a hikoi to Parliament ended up with 200 people protesting on the grounds,
” Around noon on Monday 5 August a group of about 200 protestors arrived at parliament grounds, Wellington. Many of them had been on the hikoi (march) from Young Nick’s Head, Gisborne, which left 11 days earlier. Most of the hikoi participants were from the Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi, who were dispossessed of the land around Young Nick’s Head in the 19th century.
The protest group asked to see finance minister Michael Cullen, who is to decide on Friday 9 August whether to allow the sale of Young Nick’s Head to the US millionaire John Griffen. Mr Cullen was not available, nor the prime minister Helen Clark. The Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, told the protestors they could not stay on the grounds overnight, and were not to erect any tent or other structure. (The precedent was the tent embassy in parliament grounds after the Hikoi of Hope in 1999, which maintained a presence for four months before being broken up with arrests). ” – Source
When Shania Twain purchased 25,000 hectares off South Island high-country near Wanaka, in 2004, there was considerable anger and resentment,
“ The contentious issue of foreign ownership of New Zealand land is flaring again following a government decision to allow Canadian singer Shania Twain to buy nearly 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of picturesque mountain farmland.
Foreign ownership of New Zealand land stirs high passions among the nation’s usually phlegmatic citizens.
Farmers in this primarily agricultural country argue wealthy offshore investors are pushing land prices far beyond their potential worth as productive property, while other New Zealanders argue their birthright is being sold to the highest bidder…
… Anti-foreign ownership groups estimate that between 6 and 7 percent of commercially viable New Zealand land is now owned by offshore interests.” – Source
New Zealanders have always opposed land sales. Ever since Pakeha colonisers came to this country and said to Maori, “Have we got a deal for you!!”, there has always been a scepticism toward the sale of land to foreigners. That feeling exists regardless of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, etc.
In fact, John Campbell took Key to task on this very issue when the Prime Minister tried to play the “racism card” on his show, on 20 April,
KEY: “… let’s say you just want to say ‘no’ because they’re Chinese-”
CAMPBELL: ” I don’t think anyone- Wait a second. I think that’s underhanded and disingenuous. I don’t think anyone is saying ‘no’ [because they're Chinese]. I think people are talking about 8,000 hectares of prime dairy country and it’s foreign ownership not Chinese ownership.”
Despite Campbell making that point succinctly, Key carried on with the same theme – as no doubt he had been instructed by his media advisors, to stick to a couple of core-points.
It suits John Key – as it did with Maurice Williamson – to attempt to paint opposition to the Crafar Farm sales to Shanghai Pengxin as “racism” or “xenophobia”.
No one likes to be called racist (except for for right wing extremists – but they’re deranged anyway), and to have that accusation thrown at the public is National’s shameful attempt to portray opposition to the Crafar sale as ‘irrational’.
Somewhere up on the Ninth Floor of the Beehive; in the Prime Minister’s department; John Key’s media advisors are busily spinning this line to deflect criticism from their Boss.
These paid merchants of mendacity are clever buggers; university educated – and taxpayer funded. We pay to have them teach politicians how to spin bullshit to us.
Not a nice thought, is it?
Whether Key’s spin doctors and media advisors will be successful re-defining the debate is another matter entirely. They have their work cut out for them, going by polling by Fairfax and NZ Herald,
Good luck in trying to dismiss two-thirds or three quarters of the public on this issue, Mr Key. As they say in business; the customer is always right.
“Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – John Key, 27 January 2012
This is the second line that Key’s spin-doctors have advised him and other Ministers to push: that the law allows these sales to proceed and MPs hands are tied.
Except… when it suits John Key, he is more than willing to trade off the law for other considerations,
In return for a new $350 million convention centre, John Key simply has to change the gambling laws.
Just as John Key changed employment laws in October 2010, to suit Warner Bros, in the making of “The Hobbit” movies,
Funny ole world, in’it?
John Key sticks to the “letter of the law” like a fly to dog poo. But when it suits him and his cronies, he can be… flexible.
What you are witnessing, my fellow New Zealanders, is what is colloquially known as “Crony Capitalism“.
Is this really how we want our country to be governed?
* Note: the original OIO condition of a once-only $14 million investment has been increased with the latest OIO review, to $16 million. This blogger replies with a “whoopty-bloody-doo“; it makes little difference in the long term.
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Is it me… or… am I hearing an echo?!
We seem to be getting more repeats from John Key – than summertime viewing on television.
Perhaps his comments would not be so bad, except for the industrial disputes around the country from workers from industries as diverse as resthome workers; meatworkers, and port workers.
In the case of rest-home workers, their pitiful wages are as low as $13.61 an hour – whilst being charged with the responsibility of caring for our aged and infirm. Poor recompense for such responsibility, one would think?
In the case of meatworkers and Auckland portworkers, hundreds have been locked out by two ruthless employers that are focused solely on de-unionising their respective workplaces and casualising the workforce. Talleys AFFCO and Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) have one agenda; to drive down wages and increase their own profitability.
It was not long ago that Finance Minister Bill English let slip on TVNZ’s Q+A that our 30% lower wages gave New Zealand a competitive advantage over Australia,
““Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it? I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well…
“… we need to get on with competing with Australia. So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia. We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.” – Bill English, 10 April 2011
And in October last year, the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) told a ministerial inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels that their industry needed more cheap foreign labour,
“SeaFIC says FCVs hiring Asian crews was no different to companies going to low wage countries.
“Many New Zealand businesses have exported jobs previously done in New Zealand to other countries with wage rates considerably less than minimum wage rates in New Zealand.” ” – Source
Australian businesses duly obliged, and several corporations moved some of their operations here to New Zealand,
Some folk reading this may be scratching their heads in bewilderment, wondering what’s wrong if our Aussie cuzzies decide to relocate some aspects of their operations here to New Zealand. After all, that’s good isn’t it? It’s more jobs, isn’t it?
After all, isn’t that what Hollywood did – sent their biggest film productions down under for Peter Jackson to produce?
No, not quite.
Peter Jackson offered a production services of a highly-skilled, talented workforce.
The Australians are exploiting our cheaper wages – just as Bill English anticipated back in April last year.
If foreign companies come to New Zealand in pursuit of a low-waged , “flexible’, workforce – then expect pressure to be brought to bear on National to maintain these low wages, and to suppress any union activity that would try to raise wages. National has already demonstrated it’s unreserved willingness to bow to pressure from local and foreign businesses.
Just as it’s happening now.
- National changed the law to satisfy Warner Bros, so that Peter Jackson’s workforce would become “contractors”, rather than employees. This had the immediate effect of de-unionising every film crew member, with the result that wages would be negotiated as IEAs (Individual Employment Agreements) rather than collective contracts.
- National is willing to change the law to allow Sky City to install 350 to 500 more pokies and gaming tables, in return for a $350 million convention centre.
- National has resisted raising the minimum wage from $13 to $15 an hour, citing employer “unnaffordability”. This ignores the reality that even Bill English agreed that living on $13 an hour was not possible “in the long term”,
“GUYON: Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages? Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on?
BILL: People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity. It’s like being on a benefit.
GUYON: What do you mean for a short time?
BILL: Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.” Source
There is nothing desirable about attracting businesses from overseas that are keen and eager to employ people at low wages. Aside from the fact that none of us (except for some rightwing extremists) would like out children to face such a prospect – it will not grow the economy, nor help raise wages.
It will, though, maximise profitability for those companies.
This, folks, is what happens in Third World countries where,
- Wages are low
- Legislation is weak, or is easily changed
- Unions are powerless or non-existent
Welcome to New Zealand, 2012AD.
Is this what we have to look forward to? Becoming the “Mexico” of the South Pacific?
No wonder that 53,000 New Zealanders leaving for Australia in the last year. These are our fellow kiwis, voting with their feet for better wages, working conditions, Union protection, longer paid parental leave, and probably more valued as citizens than in their own country of birth,
People like Shane and Kelly cannot wait for John Key’s pie-in-the-sky promise of higher wages. For all we know, Dear Leader will make the same empty promises next year, and the year after, and…
Because John Key and his fellow National ministers have no plans for job creation and higher wages. They are reliant solely on an economic ideology called neo-liberalism that says quite plainly that only the private sector can create jobs and only the free market can raise wages.
One problem though. That ideology doesn’t work.
Or rather, it works only for a small sector of society – those who control wealth and the means of production. Neo-liberalism is not geared to do anything except facilitate “market responses”. Neo-liberalism is certainly not an ideology that concerns itself with society, communities, nor the needs of families.
One would think that after 27 years of neo-liberalism here in New Zealand and it’s many failures, that our elected leaders would conclude that it is a failed ideology. (But then again, it took our Russian cuzzies 70 years to learn that their opposite ideology, marxist-leninism, was also a failure. Do we really need another 43 years of neo-liberal dogma controlling our lives?!)
While my fellow New Zealanders make up their minds, I’m going to start on writing John Key’s speech for next year. It goes something like this,
“We, my government and I, will be striving to dedicate ourselves to raising wages and standards of living for all New Zealanders. We will endeavour to stem the flow of our children to Australia by creating a wealthy society that will draw them back to our shores, to share in our prosperity and bright new future… “
It amazing how easy it is that write that kind of crap. And more amazing how many people believe it.
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On 15 April, Minister of Energy and Resources, Phil Heatley, appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A for an interview on the controversial subject of fracking.
Heatley appears to have made up his mind on the issue, saying,
“No. I’ve got no concerns.”
The Minister seemed more focused on potential job creation, citing Taranaki’s petroleum industry,
“Well, we know that in the Taranaki, you’ve got about 30- 3500 jobs directly- “
“… in Taranaki, they’ve been doing it for 20 years, and they’ve had no problems.”
When the interviewer, Shane Taurima, asked about the potential of fracking to cause earthquakes – as has been documented overseas – Heatley replied,
“Well, it appears from Taranaki’s experience of two decades, water-quality testing, seismic survey-
… they’ve advised me that where we do it in New Zealand, in the Taranaki, it hasn’t caused it there, and that gives me confidence. “
Shane Taurima then referred specifically to fracking around Christchurch.
In November last year, Christchurch’s Spreydon/Heathcote Community Board unanimously passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the process,
“The following Notice of Motion was submitted by Paul McMahon:
The Board received the notice of motion:
1.1 and 1.2 are noted in item 11 of this agenda.
1.3 That the Board request the Council to call for a moratorium on any hydraulic fracking in
Canterbury until an independent inquiry into the risks have been conducted by a suitable body
such as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
The Board received the notice of motion and, with the consent of Paul McMahon, the addition of
attachment A maps of the permit areas, clause 1.2 and clause 1.3. The Notice of Motion was
seconded by Karolin Potter and being put to the meeting was declared carried unanimously.”
Heatley was questioned specifically on Christchurch’s move (@ 9.30 into the interview) to impose a moratorium,
Because- Because the Christchurch City Council are the latest to declare their city-
free of fracking. They cite these concerns over water contamination and over the links to earthquakes. Are they simply overreacting?
Well, the Christchurch City Council have decided unanimously to ban fracking. There has never been any fracking in Canterbury. There currently isn’t any fracking in Canterbury. And wait a minute. There’s no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury, so this council has suddenly come together, made a unanimous decision to- “
Minister Heatly is either deliberately lying, or is woefully ignorant.
At least two permits have been issued which will most likely involve fracking to be conducted around Greater Christchurch and south of the city, in Canterbury. A third permit (# 38264) refers to an area east of Bank’s Peninsula, and extending out to sea, potentially involving another contentious issue; deep sea drilling (by Anadarko).
Permit no 52614 has approval pending.
Permit no 52605 was aproved on 20 September 2011, to L&M Energy Limited. The Permit is of an exploration type, with a duration for five years from issuance. An area of 3,600 square kilometres is involved.
L&M Energy states on their website regarding their Canterbury project,
L&M Energy Coal Seam Gas Permits
PEP52605 (South Canterbury) – 100%
PEP52605 (South Canterbury) is a 3,600km2 onshore permit located in the Canterbury Basin which was granted to L&M Energy on 20th September, 2011.
Prior exploration in this permit area has been minimal, with drilling generally undertaken in order to extend existing coal mines. Four coal and two petroleum wells were drilled in the 1970′s.
Because of the relatively unexplored nature of this permit, limited data is available. In order to address this insufficiency, L&M Energy’s work programme includes extensive geological modelling and analysis. Additionally, the Company will look to assess the permit potential and evaluate structures, adding considerably to the knowledge base of the area. For more information, see our full work programme at the link below.
See: PEP52605 (South Canterbury) Permit Map from the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals Website
See: PEP52605 (South Canterbury) Work Programme from the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals Website
Whilst none of the above documentation refers directly to L&M Energy Ltd, and the company does not readily refer to it’s use, L&M obliquely acknowledges employing the process. The following is known for certain,
- Permit #52605 is intended to prospect for coal seam gas
- Coal Seam Gas is extracted by the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)
- L&M Energy refers to hydraulic fracturing on their website, “…In the USA recent advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have lowered the cost of production and increased reserves very rapidly, such that shale gas is now a major contributor to USA gas reserves.“
- L&M Energy’s 2010 report, “Commercialising Coal Seam Gas in Southland“ visually depicts the “fracking” process, though does not refer to it by name,
So is L&M managing director, Kent Anson, telling us the complete truth, when he was quoted on 7 November last year as stating,
“L&M has not undertaken fracking in the permit, is not currently undertaking fracking in the permit, and has not formed a plan to undertake fracking in the permit.”
Yet, a month prior to that story in the ‘Canterbury Star‘, when Kent Anson was interviewed on Radio NZ’s ‘Checkpoint‘, he stated categorically,
“We wouldn’t handicap ourselves by any means. We will review all areas, involve all stakeholders during that process, but it’s not something which we wouldn’t discount.”
Perhaps L&M Energy may well be honest when they state that they won’t be employing fracking during their exploratory phase of Permit 52605. But if coal seam gas is discovered in commercial quantities, then the company will most likely resort to that process because it is a cheaper option. As L&M states on it’s own website,
“In the USA recent advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have lowered the cost of production and increased reserves very rapidly, such that shale gas is now a major contributor to USA gas reserves.” – Source
So when Minister Heatley stated on Q+A last Sunday,
“There has never been any fracking in Canterbury. There currently isn’t any fracking in Canterbury. And wait a minute. There’s no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury…”
How can he state there is “no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury” when even L&M’s managing director, Kent Anson admits that, “it’s not something which we wouldn’t discount“?!
The evidence is clear that L&M Energy has been using fracking in Taranaki, and most likely will use the process in Canterbury.
Minister Heatley is either woefully ignorant of his own portfolio and worryingly doesn’t know what the drilling industry is up to – or he’s telling us fibs.
Either way, Heatley and National need to be up to speed on this issue. “Fracking” has been associated with earthquakes in the United States, and using such a process in a seismically-active region like Canterbury has to be one of the craziest notions yet considered by any corporation or government.
Cantabrians have a right to be concerned at L&M’s intentions. Indeed, this is not just a matter of fracking-chemicals polluting water tables and other environmental concerns – but is likely to be a matter of life and death for people in and around Christchurch.
Nature has been pretty tough on Cantabrians in the last twelve months. The last thing these folk need is more earthquakes – this time caused by stupid human activity.
DIGGING INTO SHAKY GROUND
Does fracking cause earthquakes? In Canterbury, where L&M is exploring for coal seam gas, this question is at the forefront of the fracking debate. The answer, according to a US geophysicist who specialises in induced seismicity, is yes. American geophysicist Michael Hasting told a Christchurch public meeting late last year that the injection of fluids deep underground under huge pressure – in the order of 7000 to 10,000 PSI – causes the rock to fracture, producing “induced” earthquakes.
“You basically need these earthquakes to produce the fracture system and permeability in reservoirs.” Most are too small to feel at the surface, with 95% smaller than magnitude 1. But Hasting says fracking can cause large earthquakes in seismically active areas. “If you’re injecting high-pressure fluids into a fault or near a fault that is active and near failure – that’s stressed to the point where it’s near to going – the fluids can lubricate the fault and cause it to slip.”
It has happened. “In Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, they were injecting fluids along a fault over a period of a few years and they noticed increased seismicity in the area. On August 9, 1967, they had a magnitude 5.5 event.” The project, which was to dispose of wastewater, was shut down as a result.
In the Swiss city of Basel, fracking at a geothermal project is claimed to have triggered several earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range between December 2006 and January 2007. It, too, was subsequently shut down. And in 1979 through to the late 1980s at a geothermal field in Baja California, there were several magnitude 5 events allegedly triggered by fracking, with the largest measuring 5.4. So, should fracking go ahead in Canterbury without first checking the earthquake safety of the region?
“No,” says Hasting, who stressed he was a supporter of fracking if it is done well. “You shouldn’t do it. It would be absolutely irresponsible to go out in an area like Canterbury, which is a known area of tectonic fractures, and start injecting fluids without understanding the reservoir, the system, and where you are injecting these fluids. You want to determine where these faults are and how close they are to failure before anything is done. You can’t 100% guarantee that you won’t induce a large event in a tectonically active area like New Zealand.”
Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”)
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This media report today kicks of the next election campaign,
With a shaky one-seat majority and falling support in opinion polls, National is panicking.
See: Bugger the polls?
Party strategists and hierarchy understand full well that their grasp on the treasury benches is tenuous, and they could wake up tomorrow having lost their majority.
National’s internal polling has probably confirmed that the writing is on the wall. Short of a miracle, National will be crushed at the 2014 elections.
This blogger predicts that National will not make it to 2014. In fact, this blogger predicts an early election this year, after a successful vote of no confidence brings down this government.
In the meantime, we can expect more electioneering-style media statements, in the battle for the hearts and minds of New Zealand voters.
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