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Archive for April, 2012

John Banks – Demented or Slippery as an eel?!

30 April 2012 8 comments

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Is it Wackydoodle time already?

This has to be the most bizarre radio “interview” in the annals of broadcasting history…

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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.)

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Previous Blog Posts

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

Money in the Banks

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Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

30 April 2012 23 comments

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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…

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That Was Then

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2008 – 2011 National-led government majority: 16

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Richard Worth

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.”

See: PM’s Statement on Richard Worth’s resignation

On 12 June 2009, Worth announced his resignation from Parliament.

See:  Embattled MP quits 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.

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Pansy Wong

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.

See:  Pansy Wong’s political future in jeopardy

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.”

See: Key: Wong ‘paying a very heavy price’

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.”

See: ‘No evidence of systematic abuse’ of travel perk by Pansy Wong

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.

See: Pansy Wong resigns as MP

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Phil Heatley

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.”

See: Phil Heatley’s resignation statement

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.”

See:  Key says Heatley “a decent bloke”

However, Heatley did not resign from Parliament, and regained his Ministerial portfolios about a month later.

See:  Phil Heatley to be reinstated as a Minister

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This Is Now

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2011 – ? National-led government majority: 1

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John Banks

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.

What’s changed?

A difference in majority of 15, I would guess.

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Postscript:

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.

See: ‘I’ve nothing to fear’ – John Banks

PS 2; Police have confirmed they have received two complaints over “anonymous” donations made to John Banks during the 2010 mayoralty campaign.

See: Police confirm Banks complaints received

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Your call, Prime Minister.

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Additional

Banks accused of failing to declare donation

Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

Banks questioned over Dotcom donation

Calls for John Banks to be stood down as minister

‘I’ve nothing to fear’ – John Banks

PM standing by under fire Banks

PM ‘turning blind eye’ to Banks – Shearer

Radio NZ Interview: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

Previous Blog Posts

Money in the Banks

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Interview: A Young NZer Acts to make a Difference

29 April 2012 10 comments

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This is another in a series of on-line interviews with Young New Zealanders who are the up-and-coming next generation of political activists and leaders.  We may or may not always agree with them – but these young people will be the ones who influence and form our society in years to come…

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Hayden Fitzgerald

Hayden Fitzgerald

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This online interview is with Hayden Fitzgerald, current President of ACT on Campus;  ACT Party Board Member for Central Region; and  ACT Candidate for Rangitikei in the 2011 Election.

Kia ora, Hayden, and thank you for giving us your time and answers to the following questions…

Q: You’re the current President of ACT on Campus and stood as a candidate in the last election;  how long have you been a member of ACT, and what attracted you to that Party – as opposed to, say, another Party?

I was originally a Green Party fan, switching to National as I studied more economics. I became dissatisfied with National’s failure to act upon the areas it identified as problems while in opposition so switched across to ACT early last year.

Q: What has been your personal best experience with ACT thus far?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of representing ACT as the Candidate for Rangitikei.

Q: How do you feel about ACT’s numbers dropping from five to just one MP at the last election?

I think it’s really sad to see ACT’s numbers shrink so much but ACT’s campaign was far from perfect so I think it was predictable.

Q: If ACT goes the way of The Alliance, which other Party do you think would be the natural home for ACT supporters – National?

Personally I don’t think there is a natural other home for ACT supporters. A large majority would likely go to National but others wouldn’t. I think if ACT was to disappear another party similar would rise up to fill the gap before long.

Q: Do you think ACT can re-build its electoral support? Or do you feel that ACT is a “tarnished brand”, and a new liberal party is required with a fresh look to it?

There’s no doubt that the ACT brand is damaged but I think the support base can be rebuilt if the Party sticks to its core values. A complete rebranding of the Party could be something worth considering but the cost of doing so may not outweigh the cost of repairing the current brand. Which direction you think ACT should take here will differ depending on who you talk to!

Q: What are your thoughts on ACT’s recent leadership changes and what impact, if any, do you think they had on ACT’s support?

Referring to John Banks I think it was something that had to happen. Having your only MP as the leader of the Party is really the only practical option. I don’t think it has influenced the support base of the party much. The next three years will determine.

Q: If you had been casting a vote for ACT’s leadership, who would you have supported, Rodney Hide or Don Brash?

Don Brash

Q: Why is that? What are the qualities that you believe Don Brash had, but not Rodney Hide?

Fresh face; one would have thought he would have brought a lot of existing popularity with him.

Q: There have been suggestions that Heather Roy could have made a good leader of ACT. Do you agree with that? If she had been leader, do you think she could  have attracted a greater share of the womens’ vote?

I think Heather is a lovely lady who made a very good politician. I think that she could have contributed a lot as a leader of ACT and no doubt the women’s vote would have increased if she were leader. However, the same would be true of many others.

Q: Do you have a top three list of priorities that ACT should focus on, this Parliamentary term?

Choice, Personal Responsibility and Limited Government.

Q: Have you read or heard of Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”, and his proposal for a Universal Basic Income/negative tax for the first $11,000?

Yes. Personally I favour a tax free threshold of $30,000 and a flat 20% after that with GST kept at 15% and no company tax.

Q: But no negative tax (or Universal Basic Income as some call it)?

There would definitely have to be some form of “Universal Basic Income” in the way of a safety net. We just have to be careful not to create incentives not to work.

Q: Recently, US billionaire Warren Buffett highlighted how he paid tax at a much lower rate than his own staff, who, in many instances were paying roughly double the rate he was. What do say to people like Buffett who state that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes? Or do you agree with him?

With a simpler tax system, as I identified above this sort of thing would not happen. This is also an American example. This doesn’t happen to the same extent here in New Zealand.

Q: New Zealand has a fairly free market economic regime compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries. Yet places like Finland and Denmark, notable social-democracies with strong welfare systems and state services, have a high PPP per capita income to New Zealand. Why aren’t we light years ahead of the Scandinavians – especially after 27 years of reforms?

I think it’s very hard to compare New Zealand’s economy to these as we’re so different.

Q: Oh, in what way? What do you think are major differences?

Different climate, population and distance from other countries. Truth is I don’t know much about these economies but I do have a friend who lives in Finland that isn’t too fond of the way things are run.

Q: What, if anything should we be doing different?

Simpler tax system, smaller Government.

Q:  State funding of private schools? Or should they be left to succeed or fail on their own merit?

I favour the voucher system, so parents can send their child to whichever school benefits their child the most, be it public or private.

Q: But would you allow a private school to fail and go into liquidation, if it got to that stage?

Yes; I don’t support Government bailouts.

Q: The minimum wage? Especially when Bill English said on Q+A that it was extremely difficult to live on the minumum wage for any long period of time?

The problem with minimum wages is that they harm the very people they’re supposed to help. I also question whether or not it is up to the Government to decide what an individual can and cannot work for; should it not be up to the individual to decide what a fair wage for them is? I also note that the current minimum wage equates to a lot more than being on social support. Under a simpler tax system with a high tax free threshold low income people would be a lot better off as they would pay no tax.

Q: In what way do you think a minimum-wage harms people?

Locks them out of employment; particularly young people. In theory there is no need for a minimum wage. The minimum wage is equivalent to the safety net that is provided; currently just under $5 an hour.

Q: The Auckland waterfront dispute? What are your thoughts on how Labour and National have responded to this issue? Or should they not intervene?

I don’t think the Politicians should intervene in these issues.

Q: The partial sale of some SOEs? Should New Zealanders be given first option to buy shares, or should the IPO be made available to any/all without any restrictions/criteria at all?

  I’m fine with all New Zealanders’ getting first option.

Q: The sale of productive farmland to overseas investors?

Foreign investment is extremely important to our economy. We also invest a large amount of money overseas. If we want to maintain our free trade agreements we cannot discriminate against foreign buyers. It also raises an issue around property rights; should you not be allowed to sell something you own to whomever you choose?

Q: Mining? Especially of conservation lands?

Cost vs. benefit analysis. I’m generally against mining of conservation lands but we must weigh up how much damage would be done to how easy it would be to repair it etc.

Q: Climate change?

I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded.

Q: Deep sea oil drilling? Especially after the ‘Rena’ stranding? Are we adequately prepared?

The Rena was a boat whose Captain wasn’t following the rules; as such the company who own the ship and their insurers should be taken for the full cost of repair. I think our regulations around this could do with a review; whether or not much needs changed I don’t know enough to comment.

Q: Should Kiwisaver be compulsory? Should there be an opt-out option?

No. Kiwisaver performance is nowhere near good enough to warrant it being compulsory. Also raises issues around freedom. It would be unfair for the Government to force me to put my own money into Kiwisaver.

Q:  Roads or rail? Which should have priority?

That should be up to the market! Personally, I think both have a place though. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The proper market would allocate them accordingly.

Q: Free school meals – should they be introduced in all schools? Just low-decile shools? Or not at all?

Not at all. Could perhaps look at doing something based upon individual applications for those in genuine need but I think the real solution is better parental education.

Q: Republic or not?

Republic

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the worst aspect or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Continuation of wasteful spending that has resulted in high debt levels that my generation will have to pay back, particularly around ignoring the elephant in the room relating to our superannuation scheme.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the best aspect, or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Mixed ownership model.

Q: How do you feel about our current media? Do you feel that the state has a role to play in public broadcasting – perhaps to set standards or broadcast material that, while informative, might not rate highly on a commercial level? Or should it be left totally to the Market to deliver quality broadcasting?

Lean toward it being left completely the market. If people want to watch it, regardless of what it is, the market will provide it. Likewise with broadcasting standards, if a tv channel is broadcasting obscene content then not many will watch it; no need for regulation.

Q:  And is TV3′s planned “The GC” ‘quality tv’?

Probably not something I’ll watch but none the less does seem like the kind of show that would have a broad appeal.

Q: If ACT was in government as the major coalition Party, and you were an MP offered a ministerial role, what portfolio would you want? And why?

Tough decision. Probably Finance, Small Business, Primary Industry or Social Development as these are areas that interest me.

Q: In your opinion, what is the single most critical problem affecting us as a society? How would you address that problem? And what time-frame would you give yourself?

Inflated Government. I would address this by cutting unnecessary regulations and laws like the RMA, cut Government Spending and taxes and shrink all areas of the Government except core services. This could all be done very quickly but I would like to see it happen over 5-10 years as to ease transitional unemployment as people shift from public sector to private sector employment.

Q: What, in your view, would constitute core services?

Defence, basic safety nets (including adequate access to health care for all), basic standards in education, stopping market dominance (via Commerce Commission), Law and order, negotiating with overseas countries (free trade etc.)

Q: Are your friends and family political? How do you relate to those friends and family who aren’t political?

Very few of my friends are political and none of my family are. I suppose I relate to them the same as anyone else does! (Politicians are people too ;))

Q: Can you share with us some of your most favourite things,

* food?

Subway (I dream about it!)

* place to live?

Anywhere in the bottom half of the South Island.

* movie and/or tv program?

American Pie (all of them)

* book?

“The Greatest Show on Earth” – Richard Dawkins

* prominent historical person you admire the most? And why?

Roger Douglas for having the balls to do what’s right.

Q: And your Last Word is on;

National and Labour are the biggest obstacles to the modernisation and eventual success of our economy. New Zealanders need to wake up and stop trying to vote themselves rich. The only way to prosperity is through choice, personal responsibility, individual freedom and limited Government.

Thank you, Hayden, for sharing with us!

Folks wishing to contact Hayden and ACT may do so at; president@actoncampus.org.nz, www.actoncampus.org.nz, www.act.org.nz

Facebook: ACT on Campus, ACT, Hayden Fitzgerald

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Disclaimer

This blog is not affiliated to ACT in any way, shape, or form.

Other Blogposts in a similar theme

Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!

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Oh dear, is it that time again?

29 April 2012 5 comments

A blogpost in four images…

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#1

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#2

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#3

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#4

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And a short story…

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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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Is Peter Dunne about to become the Man of the Year?

29 April 2012 7 comments

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Source

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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,

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Source

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The existence of that poll, plus the extraordinary 84% response,  raises two interesting questions.

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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?

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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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Continued at

Man of the Year? I guess not

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Categories: The Body Politic

“If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.”

28 April 2012 3 comments

From a multi-millionaire Prime Minister who had the benefit of a free, taxpayer-funded tertiary education, and lived in a subsidised State House, courtesy of New Zealand’s once-proud social welfare system…

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Full Story

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… to a government that cut taxes for the rich; raised GST for the poor; and has done precious-little to implement any meaningful job-creation policies,

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Full Story

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It appears that one can’t budget, Mr Key?

Of course, it’s easier to point the finger at the unemployed who’ve lost their jobs since the recession impacted on our society in 2007. Never apportion responsibility  at a government who appear unable to count.

It’s far, far easier to blame the solo-mums (but never solo-dads), invalids, widows, and sickness beneficiaries. After all, the Boardrooms of Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Bros, AIG, General Motors, Bank of Scotland, Lane-Walker-Rudkin, and over 40 finance companies here in New Zealand, were all run by welfare beneficiaries.

Let’s check some incomes and wealth levels,


Current benefit rates (after tax):

* Unemployment & sickness benefits: $204.96
* Domestic Purposes Benefit (one child): $293.58
* Invalids’ Benefit: $256.19
* Pension (single): $367.45

May also qualify for allowances: accommodation supplement (max of $225), childcare, allowance, disability allowances ($58.13).

Current wealth/income estimate for John Key & Ministers:

* John Key’s wealth: $55 million (Source)
* John Key’s  salary:  $411,510 p.a.  (Source)
* Paula Bennett, Social Welfare Minister salary: $257,800 p.a. (Source)

May also qualify for allowances: free accommodation; free transport; generous superannuation; and 90% subsidised airfares after retirement (after three terms in Parliament)

As our Dear Leader sez,

If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.”

Perhaps he  and Ms Bennett should go onto the equalivalent of welfare benefits. Beneficiaries tend to know how to make ends meet living on a meagre amount of money.

In fact, maybe Key and Bennett should  do a straight swap – I know a few beneficiaries who could do a better job running this country.

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Guest Author: Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!

- Meegan Manuka (aka, Madd Hatter)

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. Kia Ora,

My name is Meegan Manuka and I am a Whanganui local here to talk to you about the purposed changes to the mixed ownership model act and the sale of our state owned assets.

On the 9th of February I attended a so called, “iwi consultation” at Whanganui racecourse.  And after seeing the drama that unfolded and learning what is being planned, I am concerned, very concerned.

Soon after I arrived at this meeting, the drama began. We had iwi met and manhandled by police and forced away from the door, locked out and prevented from entering. The curtains were then drawn to stop all inside the venue seeing what was happening.

I got up and opened the curtains to allow full view of the injustice outside. I walked to the door and asked the Maori warden guarding the door why the iwi were not allowed inside. He told me he was instructed to keep them outside because they were carrying tinorangatiratanga flags…

What happened to freedom of expression? Is this country becoming a police state? This consultation was not a true and fair representative debate. The full spectrum of iwi opinion and philosophy and the voices of those iwi wanting to enter were not heard. How can national even claim to have considered the view of iwi during this “consultation” if the iwi are not even allowed in to participate in the debate in the first place?

To further clarify my question, how can you claim to have consulted with and considered iwi views when some of the iwi were purposefully denied the right to participate and lend their voice to the consultation process? Their voices were NOT heard, their views were not considered, and they were not allowed to be a part of the consultation. This is twisted and unethical.

Anyway, I was one of the lucky ones allowed inside; maybe I look like I’m less of a threat…
Upon arrival I was given a booklet. This booklet actually. “EXTENSIONS OF THE MIXED OWNERSHIP MODEL ETC”.

After leaving the meeting I set about analysing this booklet and to say it made me angry is an understatement.

A lot of emphasis was put on section 9 of the SOE act both on the news and at the meeting.  On page 5 of this booklet it states, “Section 9 of the SOE Act provides that NOTHING IN THIS ACT shall permit the crown to act in a manner inconsistent with the principals of the treaty of waitangi…” well this sounds fine and dandy doesn’t it… until nek minute I read this… “To proceed with the mixed ownership model, the government purposes to remove the four state owned enterprises from the ambit of the state owned enterprises Act…” which means… in reality, all this section 9 stuff is just a smoke screen and yes, you have kept section 9 in the SOE act, but that is totally irrelevant because those four companies are being removed from the SOE act anyway. This is totally misleading.

Trickkky monkeyyss….

It then goes on to say on page 6 that, “no other investor will be able to hold more than ten per cent of the shares in each company which will help ensure widespread ownership.”

Sounds good, until I read page 8… “…although trustee corporations and nominee companies that hold shares on behalf of other persons may be exempt from the ten per cent limit.” Once again you tricky monkeys… why didn’t you tell us that in the first place unless you are planning something dodgy?

Now, THIS is the bit made me furious… page 8…Section 27AD… to provide a regime… wow regime is the right word isn’t it?… a regime for memorials to be placed on the titles of land that is transferred by the crown to SOE’s… THIS LAND MUST BE RESUMED BY THE CROWN IF THE WAITANGI TRIBUNAL MAKES A RECOMMENDATION FOR ITS RETURN TO MAORI OWNERSHIP…

Now, if the waitangi tribunal says give the land to Maori the crown keeps it?

I guess this might have something to do with the fact that over 7000 hectares of Tuhoe land is now listed as “no owner”…. Yeah, you heard right, 7000 HECTARES of Maori land has recently been listed as “NO OWNER…” and the owners can’t do anything about it…

We’ve seen a lot of this slight of hand politics lately and it sets a dangerous president.  Politicians need to remember who pays you… WE PAY YOU… to do what we tell you to do.

There hasn’t been enough REAL consultaion with the people. And I’m not only talking about the iwi consultation now, I’m talking in consultation in general.  As a concerned citizen I believe that this is a rouge government and is not acting in the best interests of New Zealanders.

But I guess fundamentally it’s very easy to see why.

On the first day of parliament, MP’s are sworn in. They are presented with a piece of paper by the clerk of the house which they have to parrot. It reads…

I … insert name here… solemnly sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bare true allegiance to her majesty queen Elizabeth the second, her Aires and successors according to law…” what good little parrots…

Do you not realise that by swearing allegiance to the Crown you are inadvertently NOT swearing allegiance to the people of New Zealand…and are therefore not acting in our best interests… us, the people who go to work every day to pay for the millions of dollars of debt you are incurring in our names every week???

So where does that leave us, the very people who voted you in and whose taxes pay your obscene pay rises, world trips and salaries?

I’ll tell you where it leaves us, in debt… Too broke to pay for milk, can’t afford to go to a dentist…power prices going up, poisoned by polluted water and air from cancer causing fracking emissions, emissions like benzene, that are not even included in the emissions trading scheme , stuck in a never ending February 22nd, living in an unsafe green zoned house or kicked out of a safe red zoned house or fined $200,000, having our EQC claim lost for the fifth time… locked out of our work and starving for protesting about unsafe work conditions, beaten into submission by police… police who should be protecting us… while peacefully protesting the removal of our state owned home of 60 years… paying diligently towards our retirement only to find out that we are investing in a super fund that is spending our money on BOMBS and tobacco companies!!!

This is not the New Zealand I want for our kids…

We need to be world leaders and innovators for them, not sheep who bend over backwards and submit to the self-destructive patterns of other counties…. Instead we need to learn from their mistakes. We need to shift away from living on our land to living with it.

We have to think about what sort of world we are leaving behind for our children, they are 30% of our population and 100% of our future… we need to leave some for them.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to leave them in an oily, gassy, debt-ridden, over-regulated drought of a mess that can’t be cleaned up. We need to turn this around now.

I demand a transparent honest government, one that won’t trick us and will give us the opportunity to be heard and the right to fair process.

One that doesn’t put the value of a dollar in their own wallets over the value of kiwi lives.

One that adopts new and existing, more financially viable and environmentally sustainable technology that can reduce our emmissons by up to 80% instead of relying on over century old polluting technology.

I want a government that thinks about our kids, and their future.

I motion a vote of no confidence in this rouge government.

And if National is so confident that they are doing what is right and they have the support of Kiwis, I also ask for a referendum about the sale of state owned assets.  New Zealand, Aotearoa, everyone in this room… it is time to stand up and remind them who the real bosses are.

No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra koutou katoa.

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Related Blogposts

February 7 (Part Tahi)

February 7 (Part Rua)

February 7 (Part Toru)

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= fs =

Money in the Banks…

28 April 2012 4 comments

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ACT Party Utter Nutters

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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,

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Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

Full Story

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Dotcom's secret donation to Banks

Full Story

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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.

See: previous election results for Epsom.

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,

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Winston Peters

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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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Related

TV3 John Campbell: Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports

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= fs =

Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

27 April 2012 7 comments

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Talleys AFFCO workers thoughout the ccountry are being locked out, as their employer – amulti-million dollar company – tries to break their Union; destroy their conditions; and end up with a compliant and easily exploitable workforce.

Like the Ports of Auckland dispute, this is not just about fair pay – this is about smashing a union and removing the rights of free men and women to join an association (ie,  trade union) of their own free will.

This is about an abuse of corporate power.

This is about forcing vulnerable low-paid workers to abandion their Union and collective contracts.

This is happening right here, in our own country.

All fair-minded New Zealanders should ask themselves;

“Is this fair?”

“Are our jobs at risk from other  companies?”

“Is my job next???”

Help support the Talleys AFFCO workers. You can do your bit to help our fellow Kiwis! You can,

  1. You can give a quick $5 by calling: 0900 562 5688.
  2. Donations can be made directly to their Kiwi Bank dispute fund.  The account name is ‘NZCTU Disputes Fund’ and the number is 38 9007 0894028 08 (Kiwi Bank).
  1. Talley’s Boycott- Support Locked out AFFCO Workers
  2. Help Talley’s Affco Workers
  • Spread the word through your friends, family, and social media (Facebook, etc)
  • Donate food – drop-off points here
  • Tell your supermarket you won’t be buying any Talleys products until the lockouts are ended!
  • Email a link to this page to your friends & family, and share on your Facebook page. Spread the word!

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——————————– print & cut out & add to your grocery list ——————————–

BOYCOTT THESE FOOD PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED BY TALLEYS

“Talley’s Frozen Veges”

“Talley’s seafoods”

“Talley’s Crème de la Crème”

“Talley’s Guilt Free Ice Cream”

& anything else with a Talley’s Brand

——————————————————————————————————————-

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These are things we can all do, to help. We’re not so powerless when we all do our little bit!

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Talley’s AFFCO  is locking out their employees -  men and women who work to put food on the tables of their families, and to raise their children.

We cannot let a well-resourced, highly profitable corporation (with the passive acceptable of our useless governmant and Smile & Wave Prime Minister) do this to our own people!

We can fight back! We will fight back!

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Note: A link to this Blogpost has been emailed to Talleys’ H.O. The spreading campaign to boycott their food products might give Talleys cause for thought;

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Subject: Lockout of workers & response from New Zealanders
Date:    Friday, 6 April, 2012 11:50 PM
From:    “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:      “Rober Darragh” <robert.darragh@talleys.co.nz>, “Mark Longhurst” <mark.longhurst@talleys.co.nz>
Cc:      “Morning Report” <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>, “Nine To Noon RNZ” <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>, “Kim Hill” <saturday@radionz.co.nz>, “Dominion Post” <editor@dompost.co.nz>, “NZ Herald” <editor@herald.co.nz>

Kiaora!

The people of New Zealand are viewing with considerable concern your actions against your own workers. The lockouts affecting over 1,000 men and women, and their families, is unnacceptable to all fair-minded New Zealanders.

Accordingly, please take note: a campaign to boycott your products is being mounted via social media (Facebook, etc) ; blogs; and other media and internet sites.

http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/help-talleys-affco-workers/

As with  public support for locked-out port workers in Auckland, this campaign will grow in strength and intensity.

But unlike the ports of Auckland dispute, where ordinary people were not direct stakeholders in the Port company, and had little direct influence – the campaign to boycott Talley’s products is a public issue. Consumers will be able to participate directly in this boycott campaign.

I hope you understand the power of a consumer boycott?

Aside from the primary affect of losing customer support, your brand will also suffer accordingly, as Talley’s becomes synonymous with corporate bullying of workers.

I encourage you to reconsider your lockout and to return to the bargaining table, to negotiate in good faith.

Regards,
- Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Continued at: Help Talley’s Affco Workers! (Part #Rua)

Media reports

Horotiu meat workers protest against lockout (video)

Easter lock-out as talks stall on meat-works row

Affco lockout move ducks Easter pay, says union

Meat workers to strike through Easter

Meatworkers in lockout battle

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= fs =

Isn’t it a crying shame…? (Part #Rua)

… that politicians continue to lie and misrepresent issues, just to push their own perverse agendas,

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Source

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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,

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The Government Debt in New Zealand was last reported at 31.6 percent of the country´s GDP. From 1985 until 2010, New Zealand's average Government Debt to GDP was 41.50 percent reaching an historical high of 71.60 percent in December of 1986 and a record low of 17.40 percent in December of 2007

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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),

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New Zealand reported a government budget deficit equivalent to 3.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010. Government Budget is an itemized accounting of the payments received by government (taxes and other fees) and the payments made by government (purchases and transfer payments). A budget deficit occurs when an government spends more money than it takes in. The opposite of a budget deficit is a budget surplus.

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In fact, if any government is guilty of massive deficits and borrowing, look no further than this one,

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Full Story

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Full Story

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And just to prove how incompetant National truly is,

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Source

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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,

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Full Story

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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= fs =

Isn’t it a crying shame…?

… that National and ACT have such a poor sense of priorities,

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spend limit a victory for ACT

Source

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To show the reader what I mean, let me re-write the above story,

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Poverty limit a victory for ACT

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ACT New Zealand, Fuseworks April 26, 2012, 2:32 pm

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Today’s announcement that the Government will introduce a poverty limit into the Public Finance Act is another welcome victory for the ACT Party, ACT Leader John Banks today.

“ACT has long believed in the need for a legislated poverty  limit to keep politicians’ attention focused. It is for this reason that we pushed so hard to have it included in our Confidence and Supply Agreement with National,” Mr Banks said.

The provision in the Public Finance Act will reduce poverty to population growth and inflation, but will include decent, affordable housing, free medical care for all children,  and unemployment benefits linked to inflation and living-costs.

“If the poverty limit is exceeded, the Minister of Finance will be required to explain to Parliament the reasons for doing so.  The introduction of a poverty limit will create greater accountability and transparency in government job-creation policies and could prevent future poverty blow-outs.

“Too often politicians waste resources in pointless tax cuts, leaving nothing in reserve for when things get tough. We saw this type of spend up occur under the previous National Government.

“The poverty limit will force politicians to be more accountable and upfront about their taxation and job creation policy promises, and therefore more likely to stick to good social outcomes.

“The Minister of Finance thus far does not deserve praise for the improvements he is making to poverty levels, to strengthen State responsibility as part of New Zealand’s evolving fairness in social frameworks,” Mr Banks said.

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Now that would be a media story worth reading!

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= fs =

A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

- Matty T, Blogger, Extra-Channels.com

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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?

Indigenous Television

Maori TV which is primarily for Maori audiences either in English on Maori TV, or in Maori on Te Reo can continue to be funded by the NZ Government at about $28 million a year.

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.

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Author’s Note

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.

Acknowledgement

Extra-Channels.com

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= fs =

ACT on polling – naughty, naughty, chaps!

26 April 2012 4 comments

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Naughty Mat for ACT!

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Searching for details on a previous blogpost, this blogger came across this interesting poll result on stuff.co.nz,

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Making my vote, the Poll showed me the following results,

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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

National: 47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

Mana: 1.08%

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%.

Really? 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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= fs =

Devonport: their cheeky contradiction of Private Ownership vs Public

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Immigration & Customs for new arrivals

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Residents angry at Devonport Treaty settlement

Updated at 4:52 pm on 31 March 2012

Residents of the Auckland suburb of Devonport challenged a Treaty of Waitangi settlement at a public meeting on Saturday.

An agreement reached by the Government in November allows Ngati Whatua o Orakei to buy a 3.2 hectare block at Narrow Neck which is currently used by the Defence Force.

The terms of the sale would allow the hapu to develop the land after the navy finishes using it.

But many residents are against private ownership of the land and say they want the entire headland protected from commercial development.

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About 300 residents attended the meeting held on the Defence Force land, to hear an explanation of the sale from the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finalyson.

Mr Finlayson clarified that the neighbouring Fort Takapuna reserve and parts of the headland closest to the sea would not be sold and would be kept open to the public.

He said residents could make submissions to the Maori Affairs Select Committee which is handling the settlement.

Almost all of the people who spoke at the meeting opposed the sale and many left the meeting saying they remain angry at the situation. ” – Source

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It seems that the good people of Devonport are somewhat ‘miffed’ that 3.2 hectares of land at Devonport will be part of a Treaty settlement with Ngati Whatua o Orakei. The land is currently legally protected under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act – but this protection will cease once it becomes private land  as part of the  the settlement.

It is worth noting that the 3.2 hectares in question is only a small fraction of the 31,565 hectares taken by the colonial government since colonisation. 3.2 our of 31,565 hectares – about .o1% of what that tribe possessed before the “rule of Britain” took hold of the countrry. (The  same “rule of Britain” that supposedly recognised and protected property rights, but never mind about that.)

Locals are upset at the prospect of the Treaty settlement. As many of stated, they want the land to be protected and do not want it passed over to private ownership. Once in private ownership, they say, the land might be developed.

(Just as land taken from Ngati Whatua o Orakei was on-sold to colonists, who then developed it. Ie; they built houses.)

So I guess the lesson I’m learning here is; land development is ok if it’s by pakeha.

But not ok, if it’s by Maori?

Ok, got it.

But what really amuses me is that the people of Devonport seem to have a somewhat ambiguous approach to the notion of an asset  held by the community for community purposes – and a community asset that can be sold into private ownership…

Folks, welcome to Devonport…

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Devonport is the southern part of the North Shore electorate,

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North Shore Electorate

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At last year’s election, the voters of North Shore voted over-whelmingly for the National Party candidate, former radio and TV presenter, Maggie Barry,

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Party Candidate Votes % ±% Party Votes % ±%
National Green tick Maggie Barry 22,709 62.44 +0.59 23,113 62.16 +4.10
Labour Ben Clark 7,481 20.57 -3.44 6,036 16.23 -5.17
Green Pieter Watson 2,802 7.70 +1.50 4,035 10.85 +4.24
ACT Don Brash 1,293 3.56 -0.41 714 1.92 -5.55
Conservative Craig Jensen 904 2.49 +2.49 829 2.23 +2.23

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Source

As the above chart clearly reveals, over 62% of voters gave their Party and Electorate votes to National.

That’s the same National Party that campaigned on a policy of partial privatisation of Genesis Energy, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

By contrast, those parties (Labour, Greens, NZ First) that campaigned against state asset sales received only 30.74% of the Party vote.

So I think we get a fairly clear idea where there hearts and minds of North Shore (including Devonporters) voters lies; firmly in the Tory bosom. North Shore/Devonport is about as ‘blue‘ as you can get. And they certainly didn’t seem to mind too much about National’s stated policy of partial-asset sales, did they?

The sale of community owned assets didn’t seem to occupy the minds of North Shore voters last year? So it seems a bit rich that that Devonport folk are now up-in-arms about Crown land being returned to their original owners – when several SOEs will soon end up in partial foreign-ownership.

So they have a bit of a cheek to protest now, when they couldn’t care less about privatisation last year. In fact, I would say they pretty much got what they voted for.

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NGATI WHATUA O ORAKEI NAVY DEAL

Hapu to buy:

* Five New Zealand Defence Force housing blocks for $95.63 million. These will be leased back to the Crown for five years.

* Defence land at Wakakura Cres for $10 million.

* Defence land at Narrow Neck for $13.8 million.

* Deal vests a 33.64ha conservation area in tribe’s name. To be used as a recreation reserve administered jointly by tribe and Auckland Council.

* Purewa Creek’s name to be changed to Pourewa Creek.

* $18 million – $2 million already received through hapu’s 1993 Railways settlement.

* Rights of first refusal for 170 years over surplus Crown-owned properties. ” – Source

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= fs =

Latest Horizon Poll on Casinos, Convention Centres, and Closed-door dealings

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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,

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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(Note, there was no page 7)

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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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.

Stuff Poll

Herald Poll

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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Reference

Horizon Poll

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Help Talley’s Affco Workers! (Part #Rua)

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Continued from Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

Supporters of locked out Talleys AFFCO meatworkers were busy in Wellington and the Hutt Valley today (21 April)  fundraising for workers’ families,

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Fundraising to support locked out AFFCO Talley meatworkers

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These collectors were busy outside Lower Hutt Pak N Save, handing out leaflets; engaging with passers-by; and accepting donations.

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Fundraising to support locked out AFFCO Talley meatworkers

Every few minutes, people were stopping. Some to ask questions, but most gave something. The community support for locked out workers was wonderful to see.

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Even those that could not afford to give something offered encouragement. Several volunteered to say that they were not buying anything ‘Talleys’ branded.

Some, in their cars, pulled up to us and handed us money through opened windows.

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Fundraising to support locked out AFFCO Talley meatworkers

Some could only afford a few coins to donate. Others, like this gentleman, put $20 into the bucket. (He requested his face to be obscured.)

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One little girl,  perhaps five or six, pulled out a ten cent piece and – with her proud mum looking on – placed it into the bucket.

The Hutt Valey team raised $296.20 with one person almost chasing after us, to donate an extra $5, as we were leaving.

A message to Talleys; you may have your millions squirrelled away in your various bank accounts, but d’you know what we have? (No, not the Incredible Hulk.)

We have community support. And that trumps your cold, heartless wealth every time. That is why you will lose.

And the workers will win.

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al…

22 April 2012 2 comments

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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,

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Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

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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
Media Statement

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

ENDS

Source

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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;

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”

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Source

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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?

Let’s re-cap:

  1. Sale price of $210 million – goes to foreign-owned banks in Australia and Netherlands. Benefit to NZ: nil
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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:

Point 1.

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.

It’s bullshit.

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,

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John Campbell Prime Minister interview Crafar Farms Sky City Casino

Source

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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,

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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.

Point 2.

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,

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Source

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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,

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Source

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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?

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* 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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References

The OIO Decision:  Decision required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005: Milk New Zealand
Holding Limited

Additional

No checks on foreign buyers of Kiwi land

NZ to lose ‘millions a year’ from Crafar sale

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= fs =

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

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2010

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"If we ended up in a position where New Zealanders are tenants in their own country, I can't see how that would be in New Zealand's best interests." - John Key, 27 July 2010

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2012

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"No where is that better illustrated than in the Crafar farm deal where the tenant will be a Government state-owned enterprise, Landcorp." - John Key, 2 February 2012

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As this blogger predicted and wrote five days ago, National has caved to the  Wide Boys from Beijing who rode in to town on 15 April,

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China's no4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff
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The loss of the Crafar farms – and other farms sold to foreign investors – is not just about loss of direct ownership. It is about losing the profits that all those farms will generate, to overseas investors.

The flight of profits to offshore investors began in the late 1980s when Doulas, Prebble, Bassett, et al hocked of our former state owned enterprises. As with farms, we didn’t just lose ownership – we lost the income streams they generated. (Which worsened our balance of payments deficit and in turn made borrowing from overseas much more expensive.)

National did precisely the same thing on 27 October 2010, when Warner Bros sent their ‘boys’ in to ‘persuade’ John Key to ‘see things their way’.  Two months later,  it was revealed that Warner Brothers had threatened our government that  ‘The Hobbit’ movies  would be taken offshore if  changes to New Zealand’s employment laws were not made according to their demands.

This time, it was our Chinese cuzzies visiting  New Zealand – this time threatening our trade with their country, “if we don’t see things their way”.

National capitulated on both occassions, yielding to threats made first by a corporation, and then by a foreign power.

In the case of Sky City and the proposed Auckland Convention Centre, the tactics are more akin to bribery; building a convention centre in return for changing the gambling laws so the casino can install up to 500 more gaming machines (pokies). Problem gambling is expected to rise commensurately.

If the reader is starting to pick up a common theme here, you’re not alone.

New Zealand has a government willing to prostitute the country; our assets; our laws – in return for financial gain. This is perhaps the shabbiest, most degrading government we have ever elected. If New Zealanders are not angry and repulsed  by what we’ve all be witnessing – then we’ve all lost our collective senses.

The question I ask every New Zealander is; who will be next to come to Wellington; knock on John Key’s door; and announce, “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse!”

What will be sold next?

What laws will we have to change to satisfy some corporatation or foreign power?

Is this what it feels like to be a Latin American “banana republic”?

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2014

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An incoming centre-left government  must address these issues of sovereignty. We cannot allow every foreign Tom, Dick, and Harriet to take ownership of our most precious resources and to dictate what laws we must amend to satisfy their profit-line.

This must stop.

An incoming government must, immediatly,

  • ban the sale of all land to non-New Zealanders
  • non-farming land may be leased to overseas businesses,  but not sold
  • farmland must not be sold nor leased to non-New Zealanders
  • conduct a stocktake of land ownership at the next Census
  • land already in foreign ownership may not be on-sold to anyone except New Zealanders
  • introduce a capital gains tax
  • introduce a Financial Transactions tax  in conjunction with Australia and our APEC partners
  • introduce a sinking-lid policy on gaming machines with a view to banning them altogether by 2017
  • implement job-creation programmes (eg; free vocational training for able-bodied unemployed; building 10,000 new state-houses, etc)
  • introducing a land/wealth-tax to capture those 1% who pay little tax, because they can hide their wealth by structuring their affairs to escape paying their fair share
  • reinstate Kiwisaver’s previous provisions (scrapped by National) and make it compulsory

Part of the problem we face as a nation and economy is that New Zealanders have always been poor savers. Instead we prefer to borrow billions from offshore lenders and invest it in non-productive assets such as rental housing and investment farms. This speculative investment does not create wealth – we simply  shuffle money around like some mad reality-game of “Monopoly”,

” There has been a big reduction in household debt,  from 154 per cent of gross domestic product, and one of the highest levels in the world three years ago, to 144 per cent now. ” – Source

In the process of this reckless self-indulgence (promoted by certain irresponsible right wingers who delude themselves that is “wealth creation”), we are heavily in debt,

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- Treasury

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Further to that, it makes us reliant on overseas capital.

In fact, it makes us totally  vulnerable to those  who hold the capital. We are at the mercies of those who hold the money-bags.

And they know it.

What makes matters even worse (yes, it gets worse) is that a National, once elected, exacerbates the problem with it’s blind adherence to free-market policies. National believes that only the free market can create jobs – with a little ‘nudge’, occassionally, by amending laws; reducing taxes; and implementing de facto subsidies. And anything else business wants.

In expecting only business to create jobs, National ties its own hands and becomes reliant on the markets for employment solutions. Unfortunately, those solutions are not always forthcoming.

Which means that National has to look at other, dubious, unconventional means to promote job creation. Such as the Sky City-Convention centre deal which might deliver more jobs – but will almost certainly create more problem gambling.

Who pays for more problem gambling? Answer; look in the mirror, Mr/Ms Taxpayer.

The sale of the Crafar farms; the dirty deals with Sky City and Warner Bros; our vulnerability to pressure from overseas investors are all symptoms of an economic malaise which the likes of Bernard Hickey, Gareth Morgan, Rod Oram,  and others have constantly warned us about.

Like the person who ignores the several “Warning” letters from debt-collctors – that is only postponing the Day of Reckoning.  New Zealanders are ignoring our own Day of Reckoning – and yet the warning signs of our gradual loss of economic sovereignty is fairly plain to see.

Whether we do something about it; abandon the lunacy of neo-liberalism;  implement planned policies that encourage saving; promote job creation; etc – then everything we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks, months, and years will be only a prelude to more unpleasant things to come.

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2050

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A young student at Levin University is scrolling through the results of his on-line search for ‘farms-history-new zealand-colonisation’ and finds the information he is looking for. He turns to his study-mate, and says,

Hey, it’s true what my grand dad told me. Farms used to be owned by New Zealand families back in his day!”

His study mate looks up from his ‘ii-Pad’ and peers at his friend’s pad,

Yeah? I wonder how they could afford it? No one can afford to buy land  unless you’re really rich or a big Corpora-State.”

Dunno“, replies the first student, “It looks like land prices weren’t that expensive , and then they started to rise when Earth’s population reached 6 billion.”

Wow! They really owned farmland? They’re so lucky. I wish we could buy our own farm!”

Well, at least we get to work on them. Once I finish my Degree in McDonalds Beefculture, I’m applying for a job at the ’14th Manawatu Herd-Complex’. Are you still going for the Shanghai Agricorp in King Country?”

Nah. I’m thinking I might change and apply for the Nestle Agriplex in Otago or Southland. They don’t pay as well, but they teach you German as part of the contract. The Shanghai Agricorp want me to learn Cantonese at my own cost.”

His study mate dims the screen on his ii-Pad and asks his friend,

Are you studying this weekend or doing some workpractice at McD’s?”

Nah. I’m going to see my family. It’s my ninth birthday, and we’ve hired a blanketspace at my favourite park...”

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That was a bit of fiction. So far.

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References

Rich list shows rich getting richer

NZ dollar soars on speculation of Chinese investment

Numbers reveal National disgrace

Bryan Gould: Free-market ideology wrong

Debt being paid off, but savings not growing

Bernard Hickey:  the High Court ruling against the Crafar Farms sale may be just the intervention NZ Inc needs to confont its addiction to foreign debt and asset sales

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= fs =

Dear Leader: No plans, no credibility, no shame!

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2008…

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Prime Minister John Key - Twat

“We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 29 January 2008

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2011…

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Prime Minister John Key - Prat

“The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 21 December 2011

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2012…

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Prime Minister John Key - Dick

“We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 19 April 2012

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2013…?

2014…?

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,

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Full Story

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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,

  1. Wages are low
  2. Legislation is weak, or is easily changed
  3. 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,

Aucklander Shane Ball is moving to Western Australia for a better life and will be joined by his wife, Kelly, and their children by Christmas. “I’m leaving because the economy here sucks … I can’t afford to buy a house here, or even have any savings, and I need to have a different lifestyle,” he said.
“I’ve been working like a dog here and getting hold of that first home is still an impossible dream.”
Auckland-born Mr Ball said he was following in the footsteps of his sister, who had gone to Australia before him and was now “far better off”.
“I have seen how much my sister’s kids have progressed in school too, and decided my kids deserved a better future too,” he said.
Mr Ball does not have a job lined up but is confident of getting one, having worked as a mental health support worker in Sydney in 2005.
“Then I was working half the hours and earning twice as much.”
Mr Ball, who was living in Manukau, said he chose Kalgoorlie because it had a “more relaxed pace” and “affordable housing”.

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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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= fs =

NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!

18 April 2012 7 comments

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From the  NZ Herald comes this mind-blowing piece of news,

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Full Story

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The article goes on to state,

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Though the Mozzies – aka Maori Aussies – play hard in Australia’s “ultimate party town” they are focused on business ventures and building their own personal empires.

They have not forgotten their roots and wear their tattoos proudly, acknowledge their iwi affiliations, and use te reo as well as GC slang.

Cast members include single rugby player Tame Noema, musician DJ Tuini, former X Factor contestants Jade Louise and Nuz, personal trainer Alby Waititi and singer Nate.

Their favourite phrases include “mumsies” (meaning girlfriends), “neff” (friend), “creep on” (scoring girls), “publics” (pubic hair) and “what doing?” (what’s up?).

The official website for The GC says Tame is the only single member of the cast, “which causes much angst for Jade and Zane’s girlfriends as he’s always trying to drag them out on his chick-chasing escapades”.

The show’s producers promise “hot hook-ups, a shock revelation from one of the group about their sexuality, all-over tans, and advice on how to score in a club, of course.”

Which should give the rumoured reality show about Sally and Jaime Ridge a run for its money.

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No way!?!?

*checks date*

Nope, it’s not an April Fools joke. NZ on Air is using taxpayers’ money to fund this garbage? We’re paying taxes to fund a programme showing us  “nine 20-somethings as they work and party hard with the goal of retiring sometime in their 30s hot hook-ups, a shock revelation from one of the group about their sexuality, all-over tans, and advice on how to score in a club” ???

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The GC follows the lives of a group of talented and attractive young Maori as they work hard and play even harder in Australia’s favourite playground, the glittering Gold Coast.

Talented and ambitious, the GC cast are chasing the good life on the Gold Coast. Some live together, some work together but they all play together.

This series offers a fascinating insight into the lives of nine young and successful Maori.

And they’re not alone.

Nearly 130,000 Maori now call Australia home and it is estimated as many as one in six Maori now live in Australia.

Every year thousands of Maori are drawn to the glamour and good life that the Gold Coast offers them.

And it’s not hard to see why. The warm climate, big paying jobs and cheaper living lures them there, and keeps them there.

The GC is where Australia comes to play and party. The famed Surfer’s Paradise strip is lined with high rise apartments and hotels, and crowded with clubs and bars.

It’s hugely competitive and young Maori are striving to reach the top.

They’re known as Mozzies – Maori Aussies – and they are grabbing the opportunities and living life to the full.

It asks what does it mean to be Maori on the Gold Coast as they chase the dream of a better life.

For the boys of the Whare it means playing hard in a town full of resort rich night life, but also investing in that town.” – Source

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If this is not someone’s idea of a bad-taste prank – then the board members on NZ on Air have lost their minds.

Even more derisable is that (if this is true), is that the producers are attempting to validate this infantile pap by using Maori to give some manner of cultural credibility? Oh puh-leese, give me a break. This reminds me of the “blaxploitation” genre films of the 1970s. It mixed sex with violence, using Black Americans, to exploit an ethnic group.

“The GC” appears to be a local version of that Hollywood cringe-worthy embarressment.

Is this now NZ on Air’s  funding agenda; a reality show with 20-somethings doing inane things?

In what way is this supposed to benefit us culturally? How is this educating us? How is dumbed-down, vacuous,  soft-corn porn supposed to broaden our minds?

I pray to whatever gods are up there, that this supposed “reality show” is a lame joke and NZ on Air has nothing to do with it.

Because if this is for real – heads must roll!  The entire NZ on Air Board should resign forthwith.(And repay any cash that they may have paid out up till now.)

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This is not what our taxes are meant to be directed at.

A quick check of NZ on Air’s funding allocation for 2012 shows no mention of anything called “The GC”,

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NZ On Air Television Funding Decisions

March 2012

Genre Programme Total Amount Approved No. Of Episodes Length of Episodes (minutes) Production Company Channel
Children GIRL VS BOY (additional) 34,600 8.0 30.0 KHF Media TV 2
Children SMOKEFREE ROCKQUEST 2012 301,312 6.0 30.0 Satin & Lace Productions FOUR
Comedy AGENT ANNA 1,359,850 6.0 30.0 Great Southern Television TV One
Comedy THE JONO PROJECT 3 897,364 20.0 30.0 TVWorks TV3
Documentary THE LAST OCEAN 80,000 1.0 90.0 The Ross Sea Documentary Prime
Documentary THE PROPHETS 211,524 7.0 30.0 Scottie Productions Maori Television
Documentary * THE FORGOTTEN GENERAL 179,971 1.0 60.0 Kingfisher Films Prime
Drama MEDICINE WOMAN 199,999 1.0 120.0 South Pacific Pictures TV One
Documentary ♦ THE YEAR OF THE ELEPHANT 109,948 1.0 60.0 Lippy Pictures TV One
Documentary ♦ SIEGE: THE INTERVIEWS 32,437 1.0 60.0 Screentime TV One

* This programme was supported by the NZ On Air Platinum fund

♦ These programmes were funded from TV One Docs

The Inside NZ working Group has made the following funding decision for TV3 documentaries:

Genre Programme Total Amount Approved No. Of Episodes Length of Episodes (minutes) Production Company Channel
Documentary YEAR OF THE DRAGON tbc 1.0 60.0 Firehorse TV3

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But just in case, this blogger has fired of an email to NZ on Air,

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Subject:  “The GC” – Please Confirm?
Date:        Sunday, 8 April, 2012 11:57 PM
From:     “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:            info@nzonair.govt.nz
Cc:           “Minister of Broadcasting Craig Foss” <craig.foss@parliament.govt.nz>

Kia ora,

A recent NZ Herald story reports that a new, proposed reality show on TV3 called “The GC” will be attracting NZ on Air funding.

Can you please confirm that the Board of NZ on Air has not allocated tax-payers money to a reality show of 20-somethings, promising the viewer “nine 20-somethings as they work and party hard with the goal of retiring sometime in their 30s… hot hook-ups, a shock revelation from one of the group about their sexuality, all-over tans, and advice on how to score in a club” ?!?!

Hopefully, the Herald has mis-reported the claim that NZ on Air is now funding sexualised reality shows that instruct viewers how to “score in night clubs”.

If the Herald report is correct, please identify the part of your charter, mission statement, or legislation  confirming that reality shows fall within the ambit of NZ on Air.

NZ on Air’s funding of a reality show, using taxpayers money,  will be of considerable public interest and attention. Your organisation will have to explain how this type of commercialised, low-brow entertainment is of possible benefit to this country.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Subject: “The GC” – Please Confirm?
Date:    Tuesday, 10 April, 2012 3:48 PM
From:    “Kartini Havell (MIN)” <kartini.havell@parliament.govt.nz>
To:      “fmacskasy@yahoo.com” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>

Dear Mr Macskasy

Thank you for your email of 8 April 2012 to the Minister of Broadcasting.  The Minister will consider the issues you have raised and respond as soon as he is able.

Best regards

Kartini Havell
Private Secretary – Broadcasting
Office of the Hon Craig Foss
Minister of Broadcasting
Private Bag 18041
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON 6160

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NZ on Air has not replied to my 8 April email. I did, however, leave this message on NZ on Air’s Facebook page,

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This has to be the worst waste of taxpayers’ money since… since… Hell, I dunno, it just IS!

What on earth possessed you people to use our money for this “reality” soft-core porn?! Are there no other aspects of NZ culture, current events, issues worth looking into?

After you funded Bryan Bruce’s excellent document, “Inside Child Poverty”, you folks set a high benchmark for television production.

You have let yourselves down badly with this latest effort. Having to endure reality garbage, endless cooking shows, and US crime-porn on almost every channel is bad enough. Having our taxes funding this is a gross insult.

I repeat; what were you people thinking?!?!

Shame on you all.

PS: I am guessing that your failure to reply to my email on this issue on 8 April indicates you have no answer to the criticisms I raised?

That was posted at 12.57pm, 18 April 2012.

Which seems to have suddenly prompted this imediate response from NZ on Air’s Jane Wrightson,

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Subject: RE: “The GC” – Please Confirm?
Date:    Wednesday, 18 April, 2012 2:25 PM
From:   “Jane Wrightson” <Jane@nzonair.govt.nz>
To:     “fmacskasy@yahoo.com” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>

Dear Mr Macskasy

Thank you for your email.

I confirm we have helped fund the documentary series The GC. The proposal talks about young Maori succeeding in Australia. We were pleased to support a prime time series that intends to provide stories of successful Maori who are proud of their culture and are making a good life for themselves.

We have not seen the series yet. I have no doubt some of the fun parts of being young are included in the programme. I do not know in what detail and I imagine they will be balanced with other aspects of life. It’s true that the network’s publicity release seems somewhat lurid in its description: we’ll reserve our judgment until we see the series and the audience response. As you may know our legislation does not permit us to be involved in editorial matters.

Thanks you for your interest

Yours sincerely
Jane Wrightson

Jane Wrightson  |  Chief Executive
NZ On Air  |  Irirangi Te Motu
04 382 9524 (tel)  | 04 382 9546 (fax)   
jane@nzonair.govt.nz  |  http://www.nzonair.govt.nz http://www.kiwihits.co.nz
PO Box 9744  |  Wellington  |  New Zealand  |  6141

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Now, I’m not suggesting that NZ on Air be “involved in editorial matters” – I would be the first to jump on that bandwagon, opposing any such suggestion. It is not up to NZ on Air to be involved in any of the programmes it funds.

However, NZ on Air does have a responsibility as to which programming recieves taxpayer funding.

On their webpage, “Our Funding Strategy“, NZ on Air states,

Our funding strategy reflects our values. We look for: innovation and creativity in programme proposals; for diversity of faces, stories and storytellers to reflect all New Zealanders; and value for money.
What we fund

The Broadcasting Act 1989 determines our genre priorities. Within each genre we fund projects that the market alone would not support. Before applying you must secure a commitment from a free-to-air New Zealand broadcaster to screen your programme. “

One cannot help but wonder how an overtly commercial reality show, which promises that the central characters,

  “… play hard in Australia’s “ultimate party town” they are focused on business ventures and building their own personal empires...

…Tame is the only single member of the cast, “which causes much angst for Jade and Zane’s girlfriends as he’s always trying to drag them out on his chick-chasing escapades”.

The show’s producers promise “hot hook-ups, a shock revelation from one of the group about their sexuality, all-over tans, and advice on how to score in a club, of course.

How is any of that “creative” or “innovative”?

And why is “the market” not funding a format – a reality show – that is clearly of a commercial nature? Why is taxpayers money being used on such a venture?

As this blogger wrote on NZ on Air’s Facebook page,

After you funded Bryan Bruce’s excellent document, “Inside Child Poverty”, you folks set a high benchmark for television production.

It is a shame thathigh benchmark has not been maintained.

But maybe, hopefully, this series will not be as ‘ somewhat lurid ‘ as it’s publicity  would have us believe.

Probably NZ on Air is also hoping.

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* * *

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Acknowledgement

NZ Sentinel Blog

References

Broadcasting Act 1989

Additional 

NZ Herald: Viewers want ‘The GC’ cancelled

Facebook:  Cancel ‘The GC’ TV Show

Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?

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= fs =

Welcome to George Orwell’s New Zealand, circa 1984

18 April 2012 1 comment

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Winston dialled ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of The Times, which slid out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes’ delay. The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. Or again, The Times of the nineteenth of December had published the official forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. Today’s issue contained a statement of the actual output, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

P1, Ch4, “1984″, by George Orwell

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Published around 1948, George Orwell’s vision of a nightmare  future included a vast “Ministry of Truth” where history, newspapers, and other information was re-written to suit  the needs of the ruling  Party. Anything remotely  embarressing to The Party was excised; re-written; and re-issued.

It made the State appear all-powerful; the Party infallible.

Here in New Zealand, the ruling National Party is not above borrowing from that Orwellian future – or is it now the present?

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Source

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No doubt when the next Police stats on crime are issued, we will see a remarkable drop in violence and/or domestic crimes in this country?

Which National will then trumpet as proof that their so-called “tough on  crime” policies are working and – Lo and Behold! – stats show a drop in violence!

Hasn’t Dear Leader done well! Doubleplusgood, as they said in Orwell’s “1984″.

Orwell even described the process of re-writing history,

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As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames…

Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.

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Acting police minister Chester Borrows says that the new “accounting system” is geared  to bring New Zealand into line with how family violence was being reported in other countries, such as Australia,

What commentators are failing to account for is that there is no single crime called ‘domestic violence’, and that the police now include in the category of domestic violence a much wider range of crimes than the previous narrow focus on physical assaults. These changes follow international best practice – they are not hiding the figures, they are about improving Police response to domestic violence.”

Source

Of course, Minister.  No one is “forging” figures here, right?

What is happening is simply that  “… it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy. “

Big Brother would be happy.

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= fs =

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

17 April 2012 2 comments

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Continued from Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

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Shortly after concluding our meeting with Ms Martin, our party met with Metiria Turei’s PA, and we were escorted to the Green’s 14th floor office in Bowen House.

At the Reception, we were introduced to waiting ‘Dominion Post‘ journalist, Kate Chapman, and photographer Kent Blechynden. A TV crew was present as well and after making introductions with the ‘Dompost‘ people, this blogger asked the TV crew,

Are you here for Jazmine Heka’s meeting with Metiria Turei?”

The cameraman replied,

No, we were here for something else.”

This blogger replied,

Oh? Never mind. Come along for the interview anyway. You’re more than welcome and more the merrier.”

Our party, with journalists in-tow, filed into another Conference Room – this one having a magnificent view of the Beehive; Bowen State Building, and the Thorndon hills in the background.

Ms Turei joined us almost immediatly, and more introductions were made,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jamine Heka meeting Greens co-leader, Metiria Turei.

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Ms Turei started by saying that,

We have been campaigning  strongly for a number of years around  issues to do with child poverty and income inequity. The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and as a result life is harder for everybody, not just those at the real  bottom.

At the election we campaigned very strongely on addressing child poverty and we had four main proposals that we were putting to the public about that.

To fix rental housing.

To increase the income of beneficiaries,  to what’s now called the  in-work tax credits, but would actually be an extension of benefits.

Extending the Training Incentive Allowance to more beneficiaries.”

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Getting down to it, and dsiscussing the important issues of the day.

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Ms Heka said that those were good policies and asked if the Greens had a time-frame to achieve their policies if they were part of a government.

Ms Turei replied that they would be working toward a goal of getting 100,00o lifted out of poverty in one term. She said that part of New Zealand’s problem was the “working poor”, where people working full time were still in poverty because their wages were to low.

Ms Turei said she recently talked with young children in a poor area. She said that one child, with the gaming nick-name “Master Nighthawk”said to her, “we don’t want to be rich, we just want everyone to be ok“.

Ms Turei noticed that none of the children she spoke with belittled anyone else, and seemed supportive of one another. She noiced  a strong spirit of mutual support between them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

The Greens party-policy position was close Ms Heka's concerns and practically 'mirrored' aspects to her petitions.

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Ms Turei said it would take a long time to eliminate poverty . She said many of the causes for poverty were deeply ingrained this country such as having 70,000 too few homes for low-income earners and beneficiaries. Building more homes would create more jobs, creating  economic growth downstream,  with other businesses benefitting from increased housing construction.

Ms Turei commended Ms Heka, saying that “this is the sort of pressure the government needs to act“. She added that this was “the sort of thing the public needs to see happening“.

Ms Turei then asked what sort of support or assistance the Greens could offer Ms Heka and her campaign. Ms Heka asked if her petition could be circulated amongst Gree Party members.  Ms Turei said she’d be happy to assist, and that copies would indeed be included in any future mail-out.

Ms Heka then asked if Ms Turei would sign her petition, to which the Green co-leader readily consented,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Ms Turei was only too happy to sign Ms Heka's petition and said that the Green Party would be willing to circulate copies to everyone on their mailing list.

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Ms Turia commended Ms Heka for her stand on this important issue, and asked her how she felt about standing out in the public eye.

Ms Heka replied that she felt that having it come from someone as young as her – “a child’s perspective” – sent a “powerful” message to the government. She said it was not something she wanted to do but felt she had no choice, especially after watching Bryan Bruce’s documentary last November.

Ms Heka said that it should be the government leading the way instead of kids like her.

The half hour alloocated to our party grew to nearly a full hour, and both women filled the time discussing various matters relating to the issue of poverty in New Zealand. This blogger noticed that they were both very much on the “same wavelength”.

Ms Turei eventually excused herself, as she had another appointment to keep.

The ‘Dominion Post‘ photographer, Kent Blechynden, asked Ms Heka to pose for several photographs, which she (shyly) consented.  Again, this blogger sensed that Ms Heka – like most teenagers – reluctantly agreed to being photographed. But her sense of committment to her cause, though, over-rode her natural shyness,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

'Dominion Post' photographer, Kent Blechynden, lining up Ms Heka for the photo-shoot.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Photographer, Kent Blechynden, snapping away for the upcoming 'Dominion Post' story.

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Below, the story and photograph as it appeared in the ‘Dominion Post’ on the following morning,

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*

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

Contact Details for Children Against Poverty

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140

Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington.

17 April 2012 2 comments

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When Bryan Bruce’s excellent documentary, “Inside Child Poverty“,  screened last year, New Zealand’s poor  and powerless burst into the living rooms of middle-New Zealand like never before. It caused a furore, screening only days before the election and becoming an overnight ‘hot’ political issue.

As Bryan Bruce said,

“… It’s not because their parents don’t care. They do.

They’re just poor. Typically they can’t afford Bryan Bruce Inside Child Povertyheating so they huddle together in one room and in large families that’s how diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis and rheumatic fever are spread,” he explains.

Bruce then travels to Sweden to find out why the Swedes are second for child health and New Zealand is third from the bottom.

“What I discovered is that they work smarter,” says Bruce. “They know that for every dollar they spend on prevention they save about $4 on cure. They have a completely free health care system for children up to the age of 18”. ” – Source

Had it not been for a certain infamous Epsom tea-party, which distracted the public’s attention, it might possibly  have swung the election in Labour’s favour.

Bryan Bruce’s stark, no-holds-barred truth  certainly encouraged one person to take up the cause; Jazmine Heka, 16, student,

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Full Story

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Upon learning of her campaign this blogger wrote, commending Jazmine Heka for  having the courage to make such  a public stand.

See: Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

There is something energising and uplifting about youthful idealism, that is positively ‘infectious’ to others. Youthful idealism seems to  compel older, supposedly ‘wiser’, folk to reassess pressing issues and shamefully we ask ourselves; why are things not any better? Why is it left to children and young folk to prick our consciences?

Why indeed.

Soon after, this blogger wrote  another related blogpiece on Karen, who was promoting not one – but three petitions sponsored by Ms Heka.

See:  Petition opposing child poverty gains strength

The petitions called for;

  1. To provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  2. To provide free healthcare for all children including prescription costs
  3. To introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental homes

(The petitions can be downloaded here.)

That blogstory was shared throughout this blogger’s Facebook contacts, including Ms Heka. In March, Ms Heka contacted this blogger explaining that she was visiting Wellington and could we assist her in meeting members of Parliament, to promote her campaign and petitions against child poverty .

It was a privilege to be asked. Phone calls were made. Messages left. Appointments confirmed.

Due to a mix-up in airline arrangements, Ms Heka bussed from Whangarei to Auckland, and after five hours, bussed from Auckland to Wellington over Thursday night. By Friday morning, when we arrived to pick her up at 9am, she and her friend had had only two hours sleep.

Despite her fatigue, she was cheerful and keen. It would be a long day ahead of us.

Our first appointment was with Tracey Martin, New Zealand First’s spokesperson on Youth and Women’s Affairs (amongst other portfolios).

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

First priority: coffee! We all needed to be wide awake and alert.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside the main doors to Bowen House parliamentary annex. Petitions in hand!

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside Bowen House, Jazmine was recognised by a woman collecting for Rape Crisis. Jazmine took the opportunity to explain the purpose of her petitions to them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Both women were only to happy to sign all three of Jazmine's petition.

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Once through security, NZ First MP, Tracey Martin came to meet us at Reception and we adjourned to a nearby conference room,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jazmine Heka, anti-Poverty campaigner, meets with Tracey Martin, Member of Parliament.

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The conversation between Ms Heka and Ms Martin took up the full hour we had been allotted, and was deep and wide-ranging.

Ms Heka asked if NZ First had any policies relating to children’s issues.

Ms Martin replied,

“We haven’t got a specific child poverty plan… but there are probably several policies like dental care , for example. *

Ms Martin referred to NZ First’s under 5′s free healthcare programme that had been introduced in 1997. She added that NZF had been a dominant supporter for the “HIPPY” programme, which is a reading and home educational programme directed at  several  low decile areas.

Ms Martin asked if the petition calling for “free healthcare for all children including prescription costs” also involved increased access to dental care for children. She said that lack of dental care was a real problem, especially in the north, where incomes were low and unemployment was high.

Ms Martin said that the mobile dental clinic these days only assessed the child’s teeth, and then advised parents what remedial work needed to be done. The mobile dentist did not carry out the actual remedial dental work themselves,

We shifted from dental clinics at schools to mobile dental clinics. They come under the DHB services.  What we’re now hearing is, and I’ve got to have  this confirmed , but what we’re now hearing is that the mobile clinic  will certainly go to the school and they’ll look at the children’s teeth but they won’t fix anybody So the parent then has to drive the child from where ever that is to the local largest township to go to the dentist to have the tooth fixed.

That’s wonderful when you’re in an urban area perhaps, but… you got to take time off from work to do that. So what that means for our rural areas where many of our lower deciles are, is that the parents now have the costs of transporting their children… 

The parents aren’t going to take those children. Because they can’t afford the gas, to get the children to the free dentist in Te Awamutu.  That is why we put in free mobile dental clinics.

So, you know, there are issues that come up, issue by issue by issue like that. That one hasn’t even broken yet. That one  I’m still waiting to make sure  that I know 100%  that’s it’s taking place.

Ms Martin recalled when, in her youth, every school had a dental nurse and clinic-room on school-grounds, and children’s teeth were properly looked after,

Our policy is that all children must have access to free dental healthcare for the period of their schooling.”

Increased funding for mobile dental vans was one aspect she felt was important in this area.

Ms Heka questioned further,

So what about, like, all their healthcare? Not just dental?

Ms Martin’s response,

Well, it’s in our manifesto. The policy is that we  had  childcare extended and free doctor’s visits for under 5s through to all primary school aged children, so up to the age of 10. And we wanted that to cover 7 day, 24 hour care. When you live close to a major  hospital that’s not a problem. But when you don’t, like in Warkworth for example…the closest emergency place on a Sunday was Red Beach  that’s 30 minutes ‘that’ way [indicates]  and that cost me  $110 to have him x-rayed there so that then  they would put him into hospital. Or the parent in Warkworth   would have to drive the hour and a half to Starship.”

Ms Heka suggested the option of having a doctor in school to check out kids.

Ms Martin nodded in agreement and said they had raised this issue in 2006 with children being assessed for ailments such as glue-ear, and for hearing tests carried out. She said “it was all very well for them being done there, but they weren’t being followed up, and some of that was around  the cost of having to follow up with doctor’s visits, etc, etc.”

Ms Martin said that this issue had been raised in the media, asking for more intervention in schools.  She said it might be feasible if, for example, the largest school in a “hub” of schools had a dentist and clinic, and serviced all schools within the area of the “hub”. Ms Martin referred to schools being in “clusters” so not every school would need such facilities. She suggested a doctor that went out daily to the other schools, but was based in the [largest] school.

Ms Martin was concerned at how such a programme might be funded and said it comes down to the most efficient and effective way of funding.

At this point, this blogger raised the point of how our taxation base inevitably comes into issues like this. The point was made that we have had seven  tax cuts enacted since 1986, and people wonder why we don’t have the social services we once had, or would like to have. It’s not rocket science – we still have to pay for things.

Ms Martin agreed and referred to a “brilliant speech” by Russell Norman (Green Co-Leader), where he revealed that government had lost $2  billion of of last year’s tax-take. She said, “three years of that and we wouldn’t have to sell any state assets“.

Had those tax cuts [2009 and 2010]  not happened, we could afford free healthcare for all children.

Ms Martin referred to the Mana Party’s financial transactions tax, which she said  Annette Sykes called “the Hone Heke” tax, and which “was worth looking at, and worth taking really seriously“. It was understood that such a FTT would have to be internationally implemented, as it might otherwise risk causing a capital-flight.

[Blogger's note; it's refreshing to see a politician referring openly and honestly to good ideas from other political parties, instead of remainly stubbornly 'tribal'  on party-policy issues.  May this local form of 'detente' flourish and thrive.]

Discussion turned to school meals, as per one of Ms Heka’s petitions. Ms Martin stated asked if the petition was calling for full, hot cafetaria-type meals, or “brown-bagged” lunches? She said she had costed “brown bagged” lunches  consisting of a sandwich, muffin, piece of fruit, and a drink, at $3.52 per bag.

There was a question as to whether all children should be given school meals (whether cafeteria-style or bagged lunch) or whether it should be targetted only.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

In depth discussion surrounding the nature of school meals drew constructive discussion from Jazmine and Tracey.

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The pros and cons of targetting were weighed. The concensus seemed to be that targetting children from  low-income families would likely end up as a form of stigmatising.  One idea that seemed to have merit was a universal free school lunch, with an opt-out choice for parents who did not feel the need to participate.

In such an event, parents opting out could select from a range of charities where the money could be re-allocated, perhaps to other charities working with children or increased dental care . It was agreed that there were several options open to how such a programme could be managed and that a fair, workable solution was not beyond our abilities.

Ms Heka asked how NZ First would implement the programmes that her petitions were promoting.

Ms Martin replied by stating that NZ First believed that the primary cause of poverty in New Zealand was a lack of jobs,

People aren’t working. We have to create more jobs,” she said. “One way to do that is to cap the New Zealand dollar like some other countries do, which creates more employment through more exports.”

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin about introducing a warrant of fitness for all rental housing in New Zealand. She asked if NZ First had a policy on this issue.

Ms Martin replied,

We don’t. But I think it’s a great idea!”

Ms Martin  added that the suggestion of a warrant of fitness for all rental properties tied in with NZ First’s minimum standards of care for the elderly. She said “why  would we not actually  come up with a national standard  in the same way what you’re talking about, which is we’re talking about rental properties,” and added “we’d certainly be interested“.

The discussion moved to a related issue, and Ms Heka asked about NZ First’s policy regarding having a high-ranking minister – or even the Prime Minister – as the Minister for Children. The premise being that if the Prime Minister was also the Minister for Children, then it would give extra impetus to policies as they might impact on his portfolio; the nations young people.

Ms Martin agreed saying,

Well, to keep that in the view, I would have thought. To make sure that it’s part of every conversation; how will this, downstream, affect children.

If the Prime Minister was Minister for children, it was suggested, then as with US President, Harry Truman,  “The Buck Stops Here” on child poverty issues.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Discussion moved to having a high-ranking minister for children, as children were the future of this country and nothing could be more important than the wellbeing of our next generation.

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It was suggested that NZ First could make this a priority, for the future of New Zealand. Ms Martin agreed it was a matter she would raise with the NZF caucus.

The issue of Kiwi migration was touched upon, with the suggestion that people – especially young folk – were leaving New Zealand, not just because of lower wages here, but because they felt no connection with society and thus were able to up-and-leave for “greener/richer pastures” in Australia. Because we weren’t looking after them, they had no roots to keep them in New Zealand.

At that point Ms Heka, speaking from deep within her heart, gave us an insight into how young people were viewing things around them,

It feels unfair. It feels like… like if you’re not rich, you’re not counted in society. That’s the feeling I get… the feeling youth get.  I talk with people my age, in my group and stuff and that’s the feeling that they get, they don’t want to be in New Zealand ’cause the feelings not good, not right. And they feel like you’re not being looked after, and stuff.

What I think is that child poverty, like,  I feel like  it’s  swept under the carpet.  And the government, they’re not really tackling it straight ahead. It’s just being talked about; something being hidden and nothing’s done about it. They’re going around in circles. And then you got  all these children suffering and nothing’s… no one cares really…

… In the community you’ve got the Salvation Army, people like that helping but that’s not enough. We need the government to step up and actually be the leaders of it.

Ms Martin replied, and said,

So with regard to how you said about... “

At this point, she paused. Ms Heka had spoken about youth and their feelings about disconnection. It gave her pause for thought. Ms Martin continued,

“… it is an interesting feeling that is happening, and you said about  it’s unfair, that actually the country itself doesn’t necessarily care about it’s citizens. And if you look at the turnout , the voter turnout, that now we’ve  also got  citizens that think actually, ‘I can’t make a difference either, so why should I vote?”.  Now there you’ve got a real problem. Because that will get to a certain level inside your society and people will revolt.”

She added ,

I’ll take all these things back… I’ll take it back to caucus; caucus will meet again in a fortnight when Parliament comes back [from recess] and ask the guys to to start working towards policy  areas for this, for 2014.”

At the concklusion of our allotted time, Ms Heka asked if she could be kept informed on NZ First’s progress on developing the ideas that had been discussed. Ms Martin readily agreed and provided  Ms Heka with her direct contact details.

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin if she would sign her petitions, to which the MP happily agreed.

Continued at Ms Heka Goes To Wellington  (Part #Rua)

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

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Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Related

HIPPY – home interaction programme for parents and youngsters

Copyright (c)  Notice

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  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Did the Minister lie to New Zealand?

17 April 2012 5 comments

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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.

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Fracking has been banned in several countries because of fears it causes earthquakes. The process forces water and chemicals at high pressure into layers of rock to release natural gas or petroleum, and has raised health and safety concerns because of the poisons involved.

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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- “

And,

“… 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,

SHANE
Because- Because the Christchurch City Council are the latest to declare their city-

PHIL
That’s right.

SHANE
free of fracking. They cite these concerns over water contamination and over the links to earthquakes. Are they simply overreacting?

PHIL
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.

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L&M Energy states on their website regarding their Canterbury project,

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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,

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Source

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.

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Postscript

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.”

Source

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References

Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”)

Q+A: Transcript of Phil Heatley interview

Q+A: Video of  Phil Heatley interview

Report of a meeting of the Spreydon/Heathcote Community Board held on Tuesday 1 November 2011

Ministry of Economic Development Permit Summary #52605

Petroleum Exploration Permit #52605

Ministry of Economic DevelopmentPermit 52605 Report – 16/04/2012

L&M Energy Ltd

Canterbury Star: Fears fracking could cause quakes

Radio NZ:  Fracking could soon be used near quake city

The Listener:  Fracking in New Zealand

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The election campaign begins early

16 April 2012 2 comments

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This media report today kicks of the next election campaign,

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Source

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With a shaky one-seat majority and falling support in opinion polls, National is panicking.

See:  Bugger the polls?

See:  National – The End is Nigh

See:  Bugger the polls? (Part #Rua)

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.

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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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