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Archive for July, 2012

The Treaty of Waitingi – saving us from our own folly

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Whilst 60% to 70% of New Zealanders opposed state asset  sales, bizarrely 47.31% still voted for National.

See: 2011 general election official results

This blogger knows two tradesmen who voted National last year despite being vehemently opposed to selling state assets.

It’s a quirk of our nature that some folk  vote for things they don’t like or support.  The assets sale issue is another example of  New Zealanders demonstrating a form of political ‘schizophrenia’ and voting for something they dislike.

Go figure.

Luckily – despite not having a US-style Constitution to protect our interests from nutty, neo-liberal National Party  ideology – our  very own Treaty of Waitangi may have  pulled our collective backsides out of the fire, and may be the one, single mechanism that puts a halt to National’s unpopular policy to hock off our property.

The irony of this should be abundantly obvious to all;  the Treaty was orginally designed to protect tangata whenua from the excesses of colonial rule (which was not exactly a stirling success).

Now, 172 years after Te Tiriti was signed, our Founding Document may be the means by which Pakeha are saved from their own collective folly.

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We should hang our heads in shame, and be thankful to Maori. Because of their efforts, our power companies, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand will not end up being  owned by investors from Beijing, Berlin, or Boston.

We may just have saved something of our treasures for our children to inherit.

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Additional

Radio NZ: Waitangi Tribunal recommends asset sale delay

Dominion Post: Hold off asset sales, Waitangi Tribunal says

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Identifying a hypocrite in three easy steps.

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Source

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So poverty is a result of  “poor choices”?

I guess that justifies Dear Leader John Key turning his back on society’s most vulnerable. After all,  “poor choices” justifies blaming the poor for being poor, instead of having $50 million in their bank account.

So Mr Key, how did that free tertiary education and subsidised state house work out for you?

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Categories: Social Issues Tags: , ,

On course for a change in government (Part Rua)

29 July 2012 6 comments

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Continued from:  On course for a change in government

The polls continue to look bad for Dear Leader and the Nats. The most recent, conducted by Fairfax Media/Ipsos, has National down on 44.9%,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

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Fairfax’s Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman suggest that, at nearly 45%,  “National has enough support for a third term“.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the number of Undecided Voters – at 11.6% -will be the ones who will determine the next election in 2014 (if not earlier).  Over one third of Undecideds leaned toward Labour, Greeens, and NZ First,

See:  Fairfax Media/Ipsos Graphic

But most critically, we should not forget that National went in to the 2011 Elections riding high in polls.

For example, one year ago, a Roy Morgan Poll dated 28 July 2011,  had National on 52%.

Two previous Roy Morgan Polls  had National on 54% (June 13-26, 2011) and 49%  (June 27 – July 10, 2011).

(Sampling 895 respondents)

See: Roy Morgan Poll: Govt 57.5% Opp 42.5%

Another example, using a Fairfax Media-Research International poll, conducted between July 21 and July 25 2011 – again, about a year ago – had National on 56%.

Again, Tracy Watkins wrote enthusingly,

National continues its extraordinary run of popularity in today’s poll, recording 56 per cent support – enough to comfortably govern alone if the results were repeated on election night in November.”

(Sampling 1,004 respondents)

See:  Labour ‘not fazed’ by dismal poll result

Averaging out the 28 July Roy Morgan poll of 52% and the July 21/July 25 Fairfax poll of 56%, gives us 54%.

National achieved nothing like that figure on election night on 26 November 2011, gaining only 47.31% of the Party Vote. Not enough to govern alone.

See: Electoral Commission 2011 Election Results

National’s support from Election Night has dropped from 47.31% to the current Fairfax Media/Ipsos polling of 44.9% – a drop of 2.41%.

But more critically,  from July 2011 polling to Election Night voting, National’s support dropped from an averaged 54% to 47.31% – a drop of 6.69%.

The reason that this is so critical is that heading into the next election, National’s base polling has to start high, to take natural voter-support  attrition into account.

Remember;  in July 2011, National started high with 54% and 56% in the polls – then dropped to 47.31% on election night.

Now imagine if National’s polling stays at around current 44.9% support and heads into an election. Factor in natural voter-support  attrition of  (for example) 6.69% – and their election night result would be 38.21% – almost precisely the same figure National gained in the 2005 General Election.

See: Results 2005 General Election

The above figures are assumptions. But natural voter-support attrition is not, as Labour found to it’s dismay in 2002, after the ‘Corngate’ Affair.

With two years left (or earlier, as this blogger continues to predict), and many of National’s unpopular policies continuing to alienate the public, a loss of even 2% or 3% in support will mean the demise of National in power, and a new Labour-led government.

If/when Mighty River Power is partially privatised, expect National’s support to drop like a stone in a hydro-storage lake.

This is the simple reality that Fairfax neglected to mention in it’s story above.

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Heroes…

29 July 2012 5 comments

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These are people who have made a difference or otherwise stood against injustice and tyranny. They may not always have been successful,  but they remind us of the human spirit to resist injustice and instinctively stand up for what they believe is right.

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The “Tank Man”

“Tank Man” temporarily stops the advance of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Despite his anonymity, he is commonly (though not necessarily correctly) referred to in Chinese as Wang Weilin (王維林), as dubbed by a Sunday Express article.

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Dame Whina Cooper

Dame Whina Cooper (1895 – 1994) – Dame Cooper’s land-hikoi in 1975 raised awareness of Treaty breaches and vast tracts of Maori land that has been unjustly seized and confiscated by colonial, and more recent, governments. Without doubt, her courage contributed to the formation of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 – a model for addressing grievances from First Peoples throughout the world.

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Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis, the retired Philadelphia police captain who became a hero to the Occupy Wall Street movement when he was arrested on 16 November 2011.

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Rami al-Saidd

Rami al-Said – Blogger, Citizen Journalist. Killed in Syrian uprising in February 2012, by forces loyal to the tyrant, Bashar Assad.

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See: Bloggers lament the ultimate sacrifice for freedom

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Sue Bradford

 

Sue Bradford. Ex Green Party MP. In 2005, a parliamentary ballot allowed the discussion of Bradford’s member’s bill, the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005. The Bill proposed amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 to remove the legal defence of “reasonable force” for parents prosecuted for assault on their children. The Bill became law after it passed 113 to 8 on 16 May 2007. The Bill sparked widespread debate largely due its depiction as an “anti-smacking” bill.
New Zealand has one of the worst rates of child abuse, neglect, and murders in the world.
Death threats were made against Ms Bradford in 2007 and 2009, and she was vilified (unfairly), as her Bill was taken up by Labour and supported by National, NZ First, as well as the Greens.

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An Unknown Protester

Protester standing against deforestation crews in the Amazon.

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See:  Youtube Video

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te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi

te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi – leaders of the pacifist community of Parihaka, who led a non-violent resistance in the late 1800s, against theft of their land by colonial forces. They based their non-violent resistance on Christian beliefs. The colonial government responded with 1,500 armed “constables” who attacked and looted Parihaka.

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See:  The History of Parihaka

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Rosa  Parks

Rosa Louise Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. At a time of legally-sanctioned racial segregation, her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, in December 1, 1955, created a wave of protest throughout the United States. Her quiet courage changed America, its view of black people, and changed the course of history.

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See: Rosa Louise Parks Biography

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Categories: People Being People

Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

29 July 2012 4 comments

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A previous moral hysteria surrounding welfare beneficiaries and especially solo mums (but never solo dads) took place back in August 2009, when Paula Bennett released the files of two solo-mothers who had dared to criticise the Minister for closing down the Training Incentive Allowance.

Despite having no  authorisation or right to do so, Bennett  released details of the  women’s  WINZ files to the media and three years later there is still an outstanding complaint against her. It was a nasty, vindictive abuse of Ministerial power not seen since the autocratic rule of  Robert Muldoon.

Attacks on solo mums reached a hysterical crescendo that could only be described as naked misogyny – especially from a sector of the male population that has never had much success in relating to women. There were vile comments on many internet fora that cannot be repeated in polite company.

Fast forward to April 2012, and National is facing so much bad news that the media and bloggers are finding it difficult to choose what to hone in on.  Just to remind us about some of the problems confronting National,

  • Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year
  • Total unemployment up to 160,000 – 6.7% of the workforce
  • The government tax-take is down by $1.57 billion  in the first nine months of the fiscal year
  • Government deficit increases to $6.13 billion, or $800 million more than forecast
  • Migration to Australia is increasing, with a net loss of 39,100 to the year ending February 2012
  • Wages continue to lag behind Australia
  • New Zealand’s sovereign debt is at a massive  $13.5 billion dollars
  • Student debt is at a record $13 billion – and rising
  • Widening wealth/income gap
  • Increasing child poverty and poverty-related disease on a massive scale
  • Increased repayments demanded from tertiary students – effectively a tax increase
  • Ongoing public resistance to state asset sales
  • Ongoing public resistance to selling productive farmland to overseas investors
  • Ongoing public resistance to mining in conservation lands
  • A growing public disquiet over a hydrocarbon-extraction process known as “fracking”
  • Selling legislation for a convention centre and 500 extra pokies
  • Ministers involved in scandal after scandal
  • Key’s ‘teflon coating’ now practically non-existent, and developing a reputation for not being upfront with the public
  • A coalition partner whose brand is now so toxic  that even right wingers are singing it’s funeral dirges
  • and numerous other negative indicators

Time for the government  Spin Doctors to swing into action, and deflect attention from National’s apalling track record thus far.

Time to dust of the Manual for Deflection, and flick through to the chapter on blaming solo mums (but never solo dads) for the ills of the country; the Black Plague in the Middle Ages; both World Wars; and most likely the sinking of the Titanic.

Time for John Key to point at some young woman pushing a pram,  and shout – “Hey! Look over there!”

It worked in 2009.

See: Benefits of 50 to be scrutinised

Why not try it again, wonder National’s faceless, taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and strategists,  to deflect  public attention from  scandals and poor management of the economy?

See: Bennett increases pursuit of welfare ‘rorts’

See: Drug tests for more beneficiaries mooted

See: New welfare law a ‘war on poor’

See: Big families mean big welfare dollars

New Zealanders (in general) are suckers for this kind of Deflect & Demonise Strategy.

It’s what National  does, when their economic policies fail; they blame it on the poor; the unemployed; widows; solo-mums (but never solo-dads), etc. It’s what the right wing do, blaming their failed policies on others. Because as we all know, right wingers are Big on Personal Responsibility… (Except for themselves.)

It happened in the 1990s. It’s repeating again.

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It’s pretty much a given that the ACT is now living on borrowed time, and will end up in the political  rubbish bin of history. It was never popular with mainstream New Zealand in the first place – New Zealanders having had a bitter  taste of it’s ideology in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

Events over the last couple of years; last twelve months; and last few weeks, a cascade of scandals and dirty dealings have left the public wondering if lunatics had, indeed, taken over the asylum called ACT. For a Party that advocated the purity of market-driven efficiency, it was prone to one bizarre gaffe after another. They couldn’t even update their own website several months after last year’s elections.

So ACT will be gone after the next election.

The result has been media, pundit, and public  speculation of  a new potential Coalition partner for National. There has been recent speculation in the last week or so that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party might make a suitable candidate to shore up National’s numbers in the House.

I doubt that.

For one thing, does National really want a new coalition partner that appears to be every bit as flaky as ACT?

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We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Riiiiight.

Obviously Mr Craig has, um, “researched” this issue in some depth?! Did he go “undercover“, I wonder? And did he go “one-on-one”  with his “subjects“?

On this rare occassion, I find myself in sympathy with the Smiling One,

“… Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.

Key resisted taking the Lord’s name in van and rolling his eyes.

But he did say “it’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

See:  John Key’s problem with partners

Indeed.  If   the government lasts full term. Which I doubt.

National has a problem in this area. It has no viable coalition partner, and is unlikely to find one in the foreseeable future.

Part of that reality is based on MMP and how it has affected Labour and National.

After MMP was introduced in 1996, Labour splintered into it’s constituent factions; the centrist ‘rump’ Labour Party; the environmentalist/social justice Green Party;  the overtly left-wing, worker’s,  Newlabour Party ; and the nationalist Maori party, Mana Motuhake. (The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP briefly coalesced into the Alliance Party, along with the Social Credit/Democrat Party and short-lived Liberal Party.)

The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP, had been part of the factional make-up of Labour. MMP simply separated out  it’s componants like a laboratory centrifuge. So when coalition talks took place, to form a Labour-led  Coalition Government, those same factions simply re-morphed.

Before anyone complains that MMP has created a “mess” – not true. These factions had always existed in Labour, and had constantly ‘jockeyed’ for influence within the greater ‘umbrella’ Labour banner.

Under MMP, these factions and negotiations were simply forced out into the open, for everyone to see. The same had been   happening under First Past the Post, but behind closed doors. This was internal party politics exposed to the glare of sunlight and public scrutiny.

National, on the other hand, did not fractionate  in such a similar, dramatic, manner. It lost two MPs to the New Zealand Liberal Party (in 1992), Conservative Party (formerly Right-Of-Centre Party), and one to the Christian Democrats. None of those fledgling parties  survived the grueling electoral process and quickly vanished into political history.

A third party, New Zealand First, had splintered from National earlier, and like Mana Motuhake became a nationalist party, but mainly from a pakeha perspective.

ACT was another party on the right, and appeared to draw support from both National and, to a lesser degree, Labour. It remained a small grouping, peaking in 1999 with nine MPs – largely at the expense of it’s larger right wing cousin, National.

It’s not that National doesn’t have potential coalition partners.  On the whole, National remains intact; a solid bloc of the centre-right. It’s potential coalition partners are already a part of National.

National’s only hope of picking up an extra seat or two is to rort the MMP one-seat threshold system, as it did by supporting John Banks in Epsom (with  success now mixed with regret, no doubt).  It could give a ‘nod and wink‘ to Colin Craig in the Rodney seat, and if he won that electorate, and if Craig’s Conservative Party polled the same as it did last year (2.65%), then it would gain four seats in total.

That might give National a chance at winning the next election.

But at what cost?

  • It would be seen to be once again manipulating the electoral system. The Epsom deal did not end well for National – do they really want to go down that road again?
  • The Conservatives are opposed to asset sales – so that policy would be off the agenda.
  • How would urban liberal voters view a coalition with a party such as the Conservatives? New Zealanders have always been averse to electing  overtly religious parties to Parliament (eg; Christian Heritage, Christian Coalition, Destiny New Zealand) and when some of United Future’s MPs were revealed as having a strong religious bent, they were pretty smartly voted out.
  • And would National want a flaky coalition partner with quasi-‘Christian’ overtones, and who seemed to view New Zealand women  in a casual Talibanesque-sort of way? How would National’s women MPs feel sitting alongside Colin Craig, knowing that he viewed them as the ” most promiscuous…  women in the world  “?

Craig’s Conservative Party may have a better chance to win seats in Parliament if the Electoral Commission’s review on MMP decides to recommend to Parliament that the Party Vote threshold be reduced from %5 to 4%.  Of course, the Commission can only recommend to Parliament, and any decision to reduce the Party Vote threshold will ultimately be up to the National-ACT-Dunne Coalition.

I suspect the Nats will adopt the 4% recommendation. Not because it’s fair (get a grip!), but because anything that assists ACT or the Conservative Party gain seats in Parliament will be welcomed with open arms by the Nats. Self interest rules.

The Greens’ submission to the Electoral Commission supported abolishing the Electoral Seat threshold as inherently unfair, and promote  reducing the Party Vote threshold from 5% to 4% to compensate for smaller Parties  such as NZ First, ACT, etc.

See: Green Party submission on the MMP Review

Likewise, this blogger suspects that National will probably reject any recommendation to abandon the Electoral-Seat threshold.  (The Electoral Seat threshold is where Party X does not cross the current 5% Party Vote threshold, but if one of their candidates wins an electoral seat, they get an exemption from the 5% threshold, and gain as many MPs as their Party Vote allows.)

This may be National’s one and only  “electoral lifeline”, as ACT heads for the political guillotine – especially after John Banks’ incredible performance over his fraudulent 2010 Electoral Donations fiasco.

See: John Banks – escaping justice

However, since Craig’s comment nearly three months ago, he has moved on from denigrating women, to gays and lesbians. His latest comment is indicative of a man who has little tolerance for matters outside his narrow worldview, when on 27 July he ‘tweeted’,

It’s just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal.”

See: Conservative leader says gay marriage ‘not right’

It take a spectacular degree of arrogance to decide that another consenting adult’s relationship is “not normal”.

This blogger feels it only appropriate that Mr Craig’s marriage to his wife should be put under the microscope.

It has been said often enough that those who vociferously oppose homosexuality (especially in males) often have a measure of sexual insecurity themselves. For many men, condemning and reviling  homosexuality has been an attempt to reaffirm their own heterosexuality by “proving their straightness” to themselves.

Perhaps, in this instance, Mr Craig may have something he wishes to get of his manly chest,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied.

See:  Colin Craig: ‘Gay parents not good role models’

Anything you want to share with us, Mr Craig? Don’t worry, we’re all consenting adults here…

Why are all small right wing parties loony-tunes?

Is this the sort of political party that National wants to cosy up to?

And more important – would a possible coalition with a bunch of religious homophobes and misogynists really endear  National’s voting-base to keep supporting the Nats?

Happy times for Dear Leader, John Key.

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National does have another potential coalition partner – the New Zealand First Party. Though their first attempt at coalition (in 1996) ended very badly for Winston Peters, that could be explained as “growing pains” after our very first MMP election. I doubt if any small Party would ever repeat such horrendous mistakes again.

But in coalescing with NZ First, National would have to abandon much of it’s right wing, neo-liberal agenda.  State asset sales would be gone by lunchtime. The sale of farmland to overseas investors would be restricted (if Peters is to be taken at his word). And the edge might be taken of other policies favoured by National.

On the other hand, NZ First had been punished previously for coalescing with National. As well, NZ First  has an active youth-wing that might not appreciate ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Working with Winston Peters would be one very big rat for John Key to swallow. Considering how adamant he was back in 2008,

Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation.

See: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

And just last year,

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”

See:  PM rules out any NZ First deal

If Winston Peters holds the balance of power, it will be a Phil Goff-led government.”

See:  Key names election date, rules out Winston Peters

Sealing a coalition deal with someone he has categorically ruled out in the past would damage Key’s credibility even further. Our Dear Leader is already developing something of a reputation for being “untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, smarmy and out of touch”.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Does he want to compound that perception by backtracking on his declaration that he cannot/will not work with the NZ First leader?

So Colin Craig it is.

And yes,

“It’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

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John Banks – escaping justice

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John Banks

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Once upon a time, the people of a tiny little nation at the bottom of the world believed that their country lived by laws that applied to everyone. The system was simple; irrespective of who you were and how wealthy or poor you were; regardless of whether you were powerful or powerless, the law applied to all equally.

How naive we were.

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1. Background

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(Blogger’s note: This section deal with bachground events leading up to the recent Police investigation and decision regarding John Bank’s donations scandal. For those who are aware of the facts, you may wish to “cut to the chase” and scroll down to Section 2,  Police Decision. )

The donations saga began in April of this year, when revelations surfaced that John Banks, MP for Epsom, and a Minister in  John Key’s National-led government, was accused of hiding the names of donors in his Electoral Donations return. Instead of listing each donor by name, they were referred to as “anonymous”.

The donations were made toward his unsuccessful bid  for the 2010 Mayoral election.

In all, Banks recieved donations of,

All were listed as “anonymous”, despite John Banks being fully aware of the donor’s identity.

The saga began on 5 April with this revelation,

ACT MP John Banks failed to declare a $15,000 donation from SkyCity in his return for Auckland’s mayoral election, it has been claimed in Parliament.

Labour’s deputy leader, Grant Robertson, said SkyCity had publicly stated it gave $15,000 donations to Len Brown, who is now the city’s mayor, and Mr Banks, who was the main challenger.

“John Banks failed to declare a $15,000 donation from SkyCity in his electoral return,” Mr Robertson said, speaking under parliamentary privilege.

“SkyCity publicly stated they had given $15,000 to both the main candidates and that they have a policy of asking those who get donations to declare it.

“That donation does not appear in his return”. “

Whilst Banks did not declare the $15,000 donation from Skycity, his political rival, Len Brown did,

SkyCity gave $15,000 each to Len Brown, now mayor, and Mr Banks, his rival, during that campaign.

Although Mr Brown’s donation return listed SkyCity as a donor, Mr Banks’ listed an anonymous donation of $15,000. It did not mention SkyCity.

See: Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

On 15 April, Kim Dotcom held a birthday party at his Coatsville mansion in Auckland. John Banks and his wife were invited to attend,

” … Mr Banks said he hardly knew the internet tycoon.

He said his contact with Dotcom was limited to a total of 20 minutes conversation and he had been to Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville only once for dinner.

But film of the event – Dotcom’s birthday party – showed Mr Banks making a toast to the tycoon.

Footage showed Mr Banks raising a glass and saying, “I’m going to propose a toast to Kim Dotcom. Please fill your glasses and stand. Happy birthday and best wishes to Kim Dotcom, Mona and his family.”

Staff at the mansion said it was one of three visits. The pair also met at Princes Wharf on New Year’s Eve 2010 when Dotcom put on a $600,000 fireworks display.

The pair first met in April 2010 when Dotcom sent his helicopter to collect Mr Banks from Mechanics Bay in downtown Auckland.

Dotcom said the pair met in the mansion, sitting at a large square table, and chatted.

Bodyguard Wayne Tempero was present, as was one of Dotcom’s butlers. His company chief financial officer also attended briefly.

“He mentioned the elections were coming up [and] he was raising money for his campaign,” Dotcom said. “He said it was hard to raise money in New Zealand, the mayoral campaign was coming up and he’s trying to raise funds for that.

“I kind of liked the guy. I said, ‘I’m happy to help.’ I told Wayne to write a cheque for $50,000.

“His [Mr Banks'] eyes got a little bit bigger at that moment.”

Mr Tempero asked the chief financial officer to come into the room to write the cheque.

“John said, ‘Wait a minute’,” Dotcom recalled last night. “‘It would be good if you could split it up into two payments of 25 [thousand dollars], then I don’t declare publicly who made it’.”

Dotcom said one cheque was made out in his own name, or the name of his company Megastuff Ltd, and the other in Mr Tempero’s name.

“He [Mr Banks] called me a few days after the cheques entered his bank account and he thanked me personally.”

Last night, Mr Banks said there would be nothing wrong with his telling people how to give anonymously.

“If someone says to me, ‘How can I put money into your campaign?’ what would be wrong with telling them that – if that was that case?

“I could say, ‘Firstly, you should talk to people who are raising money for me. But if you want to put money into my campaign, you can put it in two ways. You can put it in anonymously or you can put it in and have it declared.’ It’s quite legitimate.

See: Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Note that John Banks claimed “he hardly knew the internet tycoon“. As events progressed, it became abundantly clear that Banks had lied, and his relationship with Dorcom was more than  ” limited to a total of 20 minutes conversation”.

Then on 27 April, TV3’s John Campbell discovered another donor to Banks’ election campaign who had been listed as “anonymous” in their electoral donations return;  Kim Dotcom,

Kim Dotcom is the latest person to have been found to have allegedly donated money anonymously to John Banks.

It is already known that in the race to be super city mayor, Sky City donated $15,000 each to the two front runners.

Len Brown listed Sky City as a donor but Mr Banks did not.

Campbell Live was interested in that because we had heard Kim Dotcom had made a donation three times that size to the John Banks mayoralty campaign.

Campbell Live has even been told Mr Banks was so grateful that he called Dotcom to thank him for it.

An investigation found that like the Sky City donation, the Dotcom donation appears to be listed as anonymous.

The question is why? 

When Campbell pressed Banks as to whether he had received donations from Dotcom or how well he knew the German entrepreneur, or having flown to his mansion in a helicopter, John Banks mental condition appears to have suddenly deteriorated with a sudden onset of Alzheimers,

Kim Dotcom says the birthday party was not the only occasion Mr Banks visited, saying he once sent his helicopter into Auckland to collect Mr Banks from the central city landing strip at Mechanic’s Bay, and fly him out to the Dotcom Mansion.

But Mr Banks does not remember whether that happened or not.

“I don’t remember that,” Mr Banks says.

When pressed on whether or not he had ever taken a helicopter to the Dotcom mansion, Mr Banks remained vague.

“I can’t recall whether I did or not,” he says.

Dotcom says Mr Banks gratefully accepted his offer, but Dotcom also says Mr Banks asked for the donation to be split into two payments of $25,000 each.

Mr Banks says he does not remember who gave him money.

“Well, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t seen the forms now for a couple of years, so I don’t know who gave me money, I can’t remember now,” says Mr Banks.

He also says he could not remember discussing money with Dotcom and his team.

“Well I met with them, I know them, but I can’t recall discussing money with them”. “

Banks added his by-now famous line,

I welcome this enquiry by the electoral officer, no problems, nothing to hide, nothing to fear.”

See:   Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports

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According to John Campbell, there were no donations from Kim Dotcom listed on Banks’ Electoral returns – but there were five anonmymous donations of $25,000.

See: Banks questioned over Dotcom donation

Why was Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation not listed on Banks’ Return? Here’s why,

Act leader John Banks asked for a $50,000 political donation to be split into two parts so it could be made anonymously, says Kim Dotcom and one other witness.

Dotcom said the request was made on April 15, 2010, when Mr Banks was preparing to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

He said there were at times three other people in the room while the donation was discussed – and Mr Banks rang later to thank him for it.  “

See: Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Because two $25,000 donations could be listed as “anonymous” under the Electoral Act?

On the same day, the matter of Skycity’s donation was reported to the police for investigation, via the Electoral Commission. The complaint was raised by Labour MP, Trevor Mallard,

Electoral officer Bruce Thomas in responding to Mr Mallard today noted that under section 138 of the Local Electoral Act 2001, he was required to report to the police any written complaint alleging an offence had been committed.

“Accordingly, I advise that I am referring this matter onto the police for their attention”. “

See: Banks’ SkyCity donation complaint referred to police

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On the 29th of April, Banks was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme.

PAUL  HOLMES           
Mr Parker, I would ask you to sit there for a little while, because, Mr Banks, other matters have reared their head over the last couple of days, and David Shearer, the Labour leader, is demanding of the Prime Minister that he stand you down over the Kim Dotcom donation affair. Should he, or shouldn’t you stand yourself down?

JOHN  BANKS        
This is the problem – it’s a sideshow; it’s mostly a media beat-up, and much of it is humbug.

PAUL            
No, dammit, it’s about the law, Mr Banks.

JOHN            
Yes, well, have a look at the 2001 act and you’ll see what a professor of law said this morning in the Sunday Herald. Yesterday the media had me going to jail. Today they’re saying I’m likely to be in the clear. That is the problem. Last week I was the sideshow. Next week Mr Shearer will be the sideshow because Mr Shearer’s going to be rolled in the next couple of weeks. That’s the problem.

PAUL            
Can I just have a look at some of what’s emerged? You were up at Kim Dotcom’s, and did you know he was giving you the money? Did you know he was writing out a cheque or getting his man to write a cheque?

JOHN            
Look, we’re here to talk about investment, growth and jobs…

PAUL            
Well, I’m sorry, Mr Banks, this has taken precedence.

JOHN            
Let me answer your question. All this has been narrated mainly on the front page of the local newspaper here and across the media…

PAUL            
Well, I’m giving you the chance to debate it with us here, so answer the question. Were you there when the cheques came out? Did you know he was giving you the money?

JOHN            
I don’t…

PAUL            
Did he mention $50,000?

JOHN            
Why don’t you…

PAUL            
Were you there when they started writing a cheque?

JOHN            
(LAUGHS)

PAUL            
Did you ask for it to be two cheques because you could make it anonymous? And if you were there and you declared that donation anonymous, you’re dead meat, aren’t you, because that was illegal.

JOHN            
I think you think I came up the river on a cabbage boat. I can tell you that when I signed my declaration for the mayoralty I signed it in good faith in the knowledge as a Justice of the Peace as true and correct. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and I welcome the inquiry and everything will come out in the wash, Mr Holmes. I’m more invested in the real issues of investment growth and jobs and providing working opportunities for 80,000 of our kids that are out of school and out of luck.

PAUL            
But are you saying – because it is illegal, you know, don’t you, that if you know where a donation came from, to claim it was anonymous. So is what Mr Dotcom is saying about – your eyes perked up, your eyes went big at the mention of 50 grand. And so the fella gets the chequebook out and you’re sitting there and he writes a cheque. I mean, are you saying that he’s lying? Because that’s what he’s saying.

JOHN            
I don’t know why you’re going on about this. I have nothing to hide.

PAUL            
Is he lying?

JOHN            
It’s a media beat-up. Yesterday I was going to jail. Today I’m going to be cleared. I mean, that’s what the media get up to, and you’re beating it up again. Look, we’ve got an inquiry…

PAUL            
Mr Banks.

JOHN            
I’m very happy to have the inquiry. (CHUCKLES)

PAUL            
Did you know Kim Dotcom had written you two cheques for 50 grand, and did you therefore put them in your return as two lots of 25, anonymous? Yes or no?

JOHN            
I signed my return honestly. I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear and it will all come…

PAUL            
Did you know Mr Dotcom was throwing 50 grand at you?

JOHN            
…out in the wash. And I want to talk this morning about our competition with Australia for investment and jobs and getting the government off our backs and out of our pockets and providing an economic environment where we can create wealth for our country. “

Paul Holmes’ closing comment in that interview,

Thank you. We have to leave it there. And I can’t believe you can’t remember whether you went in a helicopter or not.”

See: Q+A: Transcript of David Parker and John Banks interview

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On the same day (29th), Prime Minister John Key issued a public statement supporting John Banks,

I’ve sought an assurance from Mr Banks that he complied with local government law. He’s given me that assurance. I accept him at his word. If people don’t believe that they are free to test that with the police. “

Whether or not Key’s statement is factually correct is open to interpretation, as the Prime Minister later acknowledged that he had not spoken directly with Banks.

Key rejected calls to stand Banks  down, even whilst Police were investigating the Minister.

See: PM standing by under fire Banks

On the following day, 30 April, the media reported more information backing up Kim Dotcom’s claims,

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom’s records will show ACT MP John Banks made a phone call to say thanks for two $25,000 donations, it’s been reported…

… Mr Banks says he’s done nothing wrong, didn’t know Dotcom made the donations and didn’t phone him to thank him for them.

3News reports Mr Banks met Dotcom in June 2010 and a few days later two $25,000 cheques were banked in Queenstown into Mr Banks’ mayoral fund.

They were made out to Team Banks.

“Our source says Banks rang Dotcom two days later. The source says `Kim’s records will show this’,” 3News reports…

…Mr Banks won’t answer questions other than to say he didn’t call Dotcom about the donations. “

See:  Dotcom says Banks thanked him for cheques

Labour MP Trevor Mallard stated he was prepared to lay a Police complaint John Banks’ failure to properly disclose  Kim Dotcom’s donation, adding to his previous complaint regarding Skycity’s $15,000 donation to Banks, and which also had not been properly disclosed on his Electoral Donation Returns.

Dotcom gave further details how the $50,000 donation to Banks had been made,

Dotcom has said one of the two cheques paid to Mr Banks was made out in his own name, or the name of his company, Megastuff. The other was in the name of his bodyguard, Wayne Tempero.

The Herald last night spoke to a former Dotcom employee, who said they had personally deposited the cheques into Mr Banks’ campaign account.

The former employee said, “They were deposited just through a normal bank process. It would have just come up as a $25,000 deposit.”

… Dotcom says Mr Banks rang him to thank him for the money after it was paid. “

See: Banks’ funds: Dotcom checks books

John Banks, in turn, denied that he had phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for any donations,

John Banks says he never called German billionaire Kim Dotcom to thank him for a $50,000 donation to his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign…

… Banks has previously said he did not recall whether he made the phone call, but now says he never did. However he did have contact with Dotcom about “other matters“. “

See: Banks denies calling Dotcom over donation

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By 1 May, the pressure and mounting evidence had forced John Banks into a corner. Every allegation made by Kim Dotcom had been documented with evidence,  witnesses, and even a video of his relationship with Banks.

Meanwhile, Banks had nothing but constant protests of  “I can’t remember”.

“… Mr Banks denied misleading the public about the donations and events around them, including a helicopter ride to Dotcom’s mansion which he has said he cannot remember.

“I didn’t lie. There’s no reason to believe that I lied. I simply couldn’t recall“. “

See: Banks: I didn’t lie, I simply forgot

Who forgets a helicopter ride? Especially a flight to one of the largest mansions in Auckland?!

Which, of course, begs the question as to why a person with such “deteriorating memory” holds a Ministerial Warrant and position of authority  in  government. Most people with such a poor  mental condition would be on extended sick leave. Or in a medical facility receiving appropriate care.

Banks finally admitted that he had not been upfront with the public,

”  He specifically referred to an interview which aired Monday on Campbell Live, in which he repeatedly said he “couldn’t remember” his communications with Kim Dotcom.

But Mr Banks says the answers he gave on the programme were wrong and admits he was not telling the truth.

“I could have quite easily answered all of those questions up front, contrary to the legal advice.

“I have never had any problem answering questions in a very straight manner…that is why the public will be surprised I took the legal advice literally, not to jeopardise any inquiry,” he says.

Mr Banks still backs his legal standing over the declaration of donations, repeating he has “nothing to fear and nothing to hide”.

“There could be a public perception that I have been obfuscating around some of these things. I shouldn’t have taken that legal advice and I should have answered questions much more straight”.

See: Banks ‘regrets’ legal advice to stay silent

See: What the documents say about Dotcom’s donation (video)

Which is interesting, as one wonders how John Banks could have had the time to contact his lawyer prior to his interview with John Campbell, to seek legal advice?

And why would “his lawyer tell him to keep his lips sealed on the matter”?

Generally, lawyers only give such advice only if a person is being interviewed by Police or have been charged  with an offence.

It seems bizarre to understand why a lawyer would offer such advice. After all, Banks was not a  suspect in any criminal case. And any suggestion that a lawyer would give such advice so as ” not to jeopardise any inquiry ” seems unlikely. Remember that the Skycity issue had not been in the public domain until John Campbells first interviewed Banks  for the TV3 story; Banks accused of failing to declare donation.

So Banks was forced to admit that he had been – in his own words – “obfuscating “. But then offered  a weak excuse that he had “advised by his lawyer” not to answer questions.

Does this seem even vaguely plausible?

Even Wellington’s daily newspaper, ‘The Dominion Post‘ found Banks’ explanation unconvincing. On 2 May, their front page demanded answers to five, specific  questions,

1. Have you actually read the Local Electoral Act?

2. Did you tell Kim Dotcom to split a $50,000 donation into two cheques?

3. What did Kim Dotcom want in return for his donation?

4. You admit advocating for him – when, to who, and on what subjects?

5. Did you give the prime minister the same untrue explanations you’ve given the media?

The same article went on to state,

Mr Key has insisted that he would sack Mr Banks if it turned out the MP had not told him the truth – but apparently that test applies only to questions the prime minister and his office put to Mr Banks directly, not the answers he gave to the media and the public.

And, as it turns out, Mr Key’s office has never actually asked Mr Banks the questions that might put the prime minister in the awkward position of knowing whether the former Auckland mayor broke the spirit, if not the letter, of the law over anonymous donations to his mayoral campaign fund in 2010 – questions such as do you know what “anonymous” means, did you tell Dotcom to divide a $50,000 donation into two cheques, what did Dotcom want from you in return, and why was it so important for you to have these donations treated anonymously, even when the donors clearly weren’t fussed?

Two further revelations were made public;

Firstly, it transpired that John Key hadn’t spoken directly to Banks. Instead the ACT leader had given ”an absolute and categorical assurance to my office”  (to Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson?) that he acted within the Local Electoral Act 2001.

It seems inexplicable that since the story first broke on 5 April, the Prime Minister had not pulled Banks into his office and spoken directly with him to gain a “categorical assurance”  that he had complied with the law.

Instead, the Prime Minister had left this extremely serious matter to a staffer.

Which, in itself, is incredible, as John Key’s Coalition rests on a precarious one-seat majority. If Banks were to mis-calculate and be forced to resign, Key’s government would fall and be forced to hold an early election.

The only conclusion one can draw from Key’s decision not to confront Banks directly is that he wanted to keep his Minister at “arms length” from himself.  In the world of Political Theatre, this is known as “plausible deniability“.

Or, more realistically, Key  lied and he had met, secretly, with Banks.

A second matter arose on this day, and Banks admitted that he had lobbied another Minister on behalf of Kim Dotcom,

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson this morning confirmed Banks had called him in mid 2011 on behalf of Dotcom, who was applying through the Overseas Investment Office to buy his Coatesville mansion.

Bank said this afternoon he spoke to Williamson about two times, largely about procedural matters because Dotcom’s application was taking a long time to process.

“I rang Maurice Williamson about it, I wasn’t the Mayor of Auckland, I wasn’t a Member of Parliament, I was a private citizen and I made the phone call and I’d do it again.”

“I said to Mr Dotcom I would give him advice on that and I did“.”

See: Five questions Banks must answer

Williamson’s involvement on this issue became murkier, as  claims and denials began to swirl around those involved,

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Dotcom wanted to buy the $30 million mansion he was renting in in Coatesville, its $5 million neighbouring “cottage” and a $10 million beach house at Doubtless Bay in Northland.

The application to buy the properties went to Mr Williamson, who gave formal approval on April 7 last year.

Dotcom’s bodyguard, Wayne Tempero, said he took a call from Mr Banks about the application. The call was to let Dotcom know the application was going ahead as expected and that Mr Williamson had signed it.

Dotcom said Mr Tempero briefed him on the conversation.

Last night, Mr Banks confirmed he had updated Dotcom’s staff about the application to buy the land.

A spokesman said: “Mr Banks communicated with Mr Tempero that the OIO application was continuing to progress through the approval process.”

But a spokeswoman for Mr Williamson said he had given no information to anyone outside his office over giving approval to allow Dotcom to buy the land.  “

See: John Banks: I briefed Dotcom

At this point, Prime Minister John Key must have been dreading that another of his Ministers (Maurice Williamson) was being slowly dragged into this mess.

But Key did himself no favours when he attempted to justify John Banks’ constantly-changing story, by suggesting,

Well, there’s quite a wide definition of ethics.”

When even the National Business Review –  the most business-friendly; National-friendly; and ACT-friendly newspaper states,

It was hardly the most ringing of endorsements.

- then you know you’re in trouble.

See: Prime minister defends embattled John Banks

In the same article, Banks was reported to have stated,

I was not aware that Mr Dotcom had made this donation to my campaign. I did not call him to thank him as the donation was made anonymously.

I can confirm that I had contact with Mr Dotcom on other matters, including thanking him for the generous $500,000 donation that he made to the ratepayers of Auckland for the 2010 New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

However, I never called and thanked him for any donation to my mayoral campaign.”

See: Prime minister defends embattled John Banks

Which is “an interesting proposition” (to borrow one of the Prime Minister’s phrases), considering the dates involved;

  1. Kim Dotcom states that Banks’  request for a donation was made on  15 April 2010, when Mr Banks was preparing to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.  (See: Banks sought split donation – Dotcom)
  2. The 2010 Local Body elections were held, via postal ballot from 17 September to  Saturday 9 October 2010. (See: Frequently asked questions – 2010 local elections)
  3. Kim Dotcom wrote out two cheques, for $25,000 each, on 9 June 2010, and both were deposited into “Team Banksie’s” account. (See: What the documents say about Dotcom’s donation )
  4. Kim Dotcom says that John Banks phoned him two days later ( 11 June)  to thank him for the donation(s). (See: Dotcom says Banks thanked him for cheques)
  5. John Banks states that he ” had contact with Mr Dotcom on other matters, including thanking him for the generous $500,000 donation that he made to the ratepayers of Auckland for the 2010 New Year’s Eve fireworks display “.
  6. So John Banks is saying that he phoned Kim Dotcom, on 11 June, to thank him for a fireworks display, that was six months away? What part of that sounds even remotely plausible?  One would  think that Banks had more on his mind – his mayoralty campaign for example – than a fireworks display that was half a year away.

John Banks’ assertion that he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank for for an event that was six months away is not credible and obviously Banks lied regarding his reason for phoning Dotcom.

On the following day, another ACT member dropped an even bigger ‘clanger‘.

On 2 May,  ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’as “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson. (Note: This blogger personally heard this interview.)

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Act Party president Chris Simmons

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Simmons stated that the suggestion, by John Banks,  to split the $50,000 donation was,

“…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.

He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers.”

With that extraordinary slip-of-the-tongue, Simmons had publicly admitted what Kim Dotcom had been alleging, and what John Banks had been consistently andf strenuously denying.

Simons retracted within the hour, according to the “NZ Herald“.

See: Act Party president flip flops on money

A  day later, on 3 May, a third allegation of a supposedly “anonymous” donation surfaced,

”  Questions were raised yesterday about a $15,000 gift of “radio advertising” to his 2010 mayoralty campaign. Police are investigating other donations to his failed campaign.

Mr Banks admitted yesterday he got a discounted deal at internet mogul Kim Dotcom’s favourite Hong Kong hotel, after initially denying he got cheap rates for the Christmas holiday.

Prime Minister John Key continued to back Mr Banks, but still has not talked to his embattled minister outside Cabinet.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said it would be “absolutely weird” that $15,690 worth of radio advertisements could be donated anonymously, especially as they must be approved by a candidate, or his or her nominee.

“If it pretends to be anonymous and it’s not, then that is a breach of a law”. 

See: Campaign advertising gift in spotlight

Not only was this allegation of yet another “anonymous donation” further indication that Banks was not complying with the Local Electoral Act – but Prime Minister John Key had still not spoken directly with his Minister.

One wonders what was preventing Key with meeting with Banks?

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Or if he had met, why was it being kept secret?

On 16 May, further revelations appeared in the media, suggesting that there had been a greater degree of familiarity between John Banks and Kim Dotcom than Banks had previously admitted,

ACT leader John Banks has admitted he received a $1000 gift basket from internet tycoon Kim Dotcom, which should have been declared under parliamentary rules.

Banks, the lone ACT MP in government, received the basket during a stay at the Grant Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong during 2011, according to a New Zealand Herald story today.

In reply, he sent Dotcom a note thanking him for his hospitality, saying he enjoyed his stay.

Cabinet rules require members of Parliament to disclose to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests any gift accepted worth more than $500. This declaration includes hospitality and donations in cash or kind.

See:  Banks admits receiving gift from Kim Dotcom

Remember that on 15 April, Banks said “he hardly knew the internet tycoon”.

By 5 July, Police had completed their investigation,

See: Police investigation into Banks’ mayoral campaign completed

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2. Police Decision

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On 26 July, nearly four months after the story broke on ‘Campbell Live’ on 5 April, the police arrived at a decision: they would not be prosecuting,

Police investigated complaints in respect to donations from Sky City and the internet millionaire Kim Dotcom and the donation of radio advertising from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

They say they have established that he solicited the donations that a campaign volunteer subsequently recorded in his electoral return as anonymous, but that he sought and received confirmation the returns were accurate before he signed them off.

In a letter to Mr Mallard, police say there is insufficient evidence on any of the three complaints to prosecute on the basis that the return was submitted knowing it was false.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess told Checkpoint the volunteer who compiled the return followed an appropriate procedure. He says the volunteer told Mr Banks the return was recorded correctly, and Mr Banks acted within the law in signing it off.

Listen to Mary Wilson’s interview with Police Asst Commissioner Malcolm Burgess

See: Labour says Banks should still be stood down

Prime Minister John Key was quick to leap to John Banks defence as Labour leader David Shearer and Greens co-Leader Metiria Turei called for Banks to be stood down.  In an extraordinary attempt to trivialise the scandal, Key  described  the complaints laid against Banks as “politically motivated”, and said,

The issue is whether the minister complied with the law. The police have effectively confirmed today that he has.”

See: Opposition calls for Key to dump Banks

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Once again, John Key has mis-represented the actual Police decision to the point where it is now the Prime Minister who could be accused of not telling the truth.

In fact, far from confirming that John Banks “complied with the law“, the Police report was damning,

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See: Police Complaint File No: 120427/9334

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3. Questions & Conclusions & Questions

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Note the following for each donor;

Skycity

Skycity handed a cheque ($15,000 in cash would be difficult to fit into an envelope) to John Banks. Any such cheque would have had “Skycity” or it’s holding company’s name stamped on it.

Why was it still recorded as “anonymous”?

Was the “Treasurer” for “Team Banksie” given instructions to list the Skycity donation as anonymous? Or did s/he make their own decision to do so?

When cheques are deposited in banks, relevant details are usually recorded on a  Banking Supplementary Deposit form, which lists,

  • name of cheque issuer
  • issuing bank
  • issuing Bank branch
  • amount to be paid

A carbon-copy of this Banking Supplementary Deposit form is usually retained within the Deposit book.

Why were the details in the Banking Supplementary Deposit book not used to record who deposited which cheque?

Did the Police ask these relevant questions and did they sight “Team Banksies” Banking Supplementary Deposit book?

John Banks’ mayoral opponant, Len Brown, was able to correctly list “Skycity” as the donor of a similar $15,000 cheque to Brown’s campaign Team. Why was John Banks unable to follow suit?

Anonymous Radio Ads

$15,690 worth of radio advertising was recorded as “Anonymous”  in the Electoral Return, by “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer.

How is it feasible that the Treasurer was unaware of who provided funding for radio advertisements?

Was the Treasurer not part of “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee?

Were  publicity and advertising strategies not discussed at “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee meetings?

How could publicity and advertising strategies be discussed at “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee meetings – without setting a budget for advertising, and to which the Campaign’s Treasurer would have had in-put into relevant discussions?

Did the Police ask these questions from John Banks; his Campaign Manager; and the Treasurer?

Kim Dotcom

Police confirmed Kim Dotcom’s allegations,

  1. Banks solicited a donation from Kim Dotcom
  2. A $50,000 donation was made, split in two lots of $25,000 each
  3. The donation(s) were recorded as anonymous

The questions that Police do not address in their letter to Trevor Mallard  are,

A. Why was the $50,000 donation split in two?

B. Did they not think this was odd?

C. Did “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer at any time enquire from John Banks where those three donations had originated from?

D. Did Police ask John Banks if he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for the donation(s)?

E. Did Police take sworn statements from Dotcom’s witnesses?

F. Did Police ask John Banks if he (Banks) enquired from “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer why Kim Dotcom’s donation was not listed on the Electoral Returns statement? (Considering that John Banks was expecting a donation from Kim Dotcom, surely he – Banks – would have noticed the absence of Dotcom’s name?)

G. Did Police ask John Banks if he advised Kim Dotcom to split the donation in two? If not, why not?

H. Why were some donations listed as “anonymous” whilst others provided identifying details of donors? What process was used to differentiate between “anonymous” and identified donors?

None of these questions appear to have been addressed in any manner whatsoever.

See also: Listen to Mary Wilson’s interview with Malcolm Burgess

If it is true that John Banks did advise Kim Dotcom to split the $50,000 donation in two parts so as to avoid naming the donor, then, it seems inescapable that  he (Banks) has committed a prima facie offence under both parts of Section 134, namely that,

Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment  for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and… “

Banks knew that Kim Dotcom had donated $50,000.

Banks knew that the amount was split in two lots of $25,000.

Banks knew it was done to enable the donation(s) to be listed as “anonymous”.

Banks signed the Electoral Return knowing that it was false in a material particular.

Lastly, all three donations were investigated by Police, and yet they concluded that,

Any charges for offences persuant to Section 134(2) must be laid within six months of the electoral return being supplied. Police first received this complaint for investigation on 1 May 2012, approximately 10 months after the expiry of six month operiod.  Police are therefore unable to consider charges persuant to this section.”

The relevant Act states,

134 False return
  • (1) Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

    (2) Every candidate commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 who transmits a return of electoral expenses that is false in any material particular unless the candidate proves—

    • (a) that he or she had no intention to mis-state or conceal the facts; and

    • (b) that he or she took all reasonable steps to ensure that the information was accurate.

See: Local Electoral Act 2001, 134, False Return

As an astute reader will notice, there is no reference to any “statute of limitations” in this section.

Therefore, this blogger can only surmise at the true reason why John Banks was not prosecuted for breaching section 134  of the Local  Electoral Act 2001.

As for John Banks stating that he was “unaware” of the contents of his Electoral Act, which he signed, the Crimes Act states quite clearly,

25 Ignorance of law
  • The fact that an offender is ignorant of the law is not an excuse for any offence committed by him.

    Compare: 1908 No 32 s 45

See: Crimes Act, Section 25

Other sections of the Crimes Act that might apply in this instance,

228 Dishonestly taking or using document

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,—

  • (a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
  • (b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

See: Crimes Act, Section 228

242 False statement by promoter, etc

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, in respect of any body, whether incorporated or unincorporated and whether formed or intended to be formed, makes or concurs in making or publishes any false statement, whether in any prospectus, account, or otherwise, with intent—

  • (a) to induce any person, whether ascertained or not, to subscribe to any security within the meaning of the Securities Act 1978; or
  • (b) to deceive or cause loss to any person, whether ascertained or not; or
  • (c) to induce any person, whether ascertained or not, to entrust or advance any property to any other person.

(2) In this section, false statement means any statement in respect of which the person making or publishing the statement—

  • (a) knows the statement is false in a material particular; or
  • (b) is reckless as to the whether the statement is false in a material particular.

See: Crimes Act,  Section 242

The John Banks electoral donations saga illustrates the old maxim that “justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done“.

In this case, not only has justice not been done, but it has been seen that a politician has escaped prosecution on the flimsiest of technicalities. (A  “technicality” which does not even appear to exist.)

Compare John Banks with that of  ex-Labour Minister Taito Phillip Field, who was charged with 35 counts of  bribery and corruption crimes.

See: Taito Phillip Field case: Timeline

Field was subsequently convicted on eleven bribery and corruption charges and fifteen  counts of wilfully perverting the course of justice. He was  sentenced to six years’ jail.

See: Ex-minister’s trial a spectacular fall from grace

John Banks has escaped justice and will not face his accusers in Court.  However, the matter is far from “closed”.

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4. What is Past is Prologue

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This issue demands three responses;

1. This blogger has written to Police Asst Commissioner, Malcolm Burgess, seeking answers to several questions,

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    From:  Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
    To:  Malcolm Burgess <malcolm.burgess@police.govt.nz>
    Date:  Saturday, 28 July 2012 10:59 AM
    Subject:  File no: 120427/9334 (Complaint by Trevor Mallard, re, John Banks)

    Malcolm Burgess
    Police Asst Commissioner
    NZ Police

    28 July 2012

    Sir,

    With regards to the outcome of police investigation into Trevor  Mallard’s complaint regarding John Bank’s Electoral Return for his 2010 mayoral candidacy, could you please provide some details on this issue.

    Namely, I would appreciate your response and answers to the following questions;

    A. Why was the $50,000 donation split in two?

    B. Did Police not think this was odd?

    C. Did “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer at any time enquire from John Banks where those three donations (Skycity, radio advertising, and Kim Dotcom) had originated from?

    D. Did Police ask John Banks if he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for the donation(s)?

    E. Did Police take sworn statements from Dotcom’s witnesses?

    F. Did Police ask John Banks if he (Banks) enquired from “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer why Kim Dotcom’s donation was not listed on the Electoral Returns statement? (Considering that John Banks was expecting a donation from Kim Dotcom, surely he – Banks – would have noticed the absence of Dotcom’s name?)

    G. Did Police ask John Banks if he advised Kim Dotcom to split the donation in two? If not, why not?

    H. Why were some donations listed as “anonymous” whilst others provided identifying details of donors? What process was used to differentiate between “anonymous” and identified donors?

    I.   In a letter to Trevor Mallard dated 26 July 2012, and signed by Detective Superindent Peter Read, Mr Read states “Any charges for offences persuant to Section 134(2) must be laid within six months of the electoral return being supplied. Police first received this complaint for investigation on 1 May 2012, approximately 10 months after the expiry of six month operiod.  Police are therefore unable to consider charges persuant to this section.”. Can you please refer me to the section of the Local Electoral Act 2001 that refers to a six month “statute of limitations?

    For full disclosure and fairness to you, this information will be used as part of a blogpost I am currently working on, and which will be made public.

    Thank you for your time, and any light you can shed on the matters I have raised.

    Regards,
    -Frank Macskasy
    Blogger
   “Frankly Speaking

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2. This blogger then contacted Transparency.Org, an international organisation that ranks countries according to the degree of corruption within a particular society.

Last year  New Zealand ranked #1, from a list of 183 nations. North Korea and Somalia tied-equal at #182.

The question is; do we deserve to maintain our top spot?  This blogger invited Transparency International to reconsider our #1 ranking, in the light of recent events surrounding John Banks,

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From:      Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:            Murray Petrie <executive@transparency.org.nz>
Date:        Saturday, 28 July 2012 5:50 PM
Subject:  John Banks

Murray Petrie
NZ Chapter
Transparency International

28 July 2012

Sir,

In your organisation’s  Corruption Transparency Index 2011, New Zealand rates #1 from a list of 183 countries.

I wish to refer you to a recent matter surrounding John Banks, a Minister in New Zealand’s current government, who earlier this year was accused of   filing a fraudulent Election Donations return to the NZ Electoral Commission.

The full details are covered here, in a report which I have published on my blog: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/john-banks-escaping-justice/. I invite you to consider the contents of my report; to pass it further through your organisation; and to reconsider whether or not New Zealand still deserves it’s #1 ranking on your Corruption Transparency Index.

It is my contention that New Zealand has fallen well short of full transparency on this issue, and that the Police complaint laid against John Banks produced a result that is highly questionable and the decision not to prosecute the person in question lacks probity.

I look forward to your response, and willingly offer any further assistance you may require in this matter.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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3. Lastly, this blogger contacted the Prime Minister, John Key, inviting his response to comments and questions raised in this blogpost,

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From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To: John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
    Chris Hipkins <chris.hipkins@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
    Daily News <editor@dailynews.co.nz>,
    Daily Post <editor@dailypost.co.nz>,
    David Shearer <david.shearer@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Listener <editor@listener.co.nz>,
    Metiria Turei <metiria.turei@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>,
    Russel Norman <Russel.Norman@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>,
    TVNZ News <news@tvnz.co.nz>,
    The Press <letters@press.co.nz>,
    The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>,
    Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>,
    Wairarapa Times-Age <editor@age.co.nz>,
    Winston Peters <winston.peters@parliament.govt.nz>
Subject: Corrupt practices under the Local Electoral Act (2001)
Date: Saturday, 28 July 2012 6:57 PM

Rt Hon. John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Wellington

28 July 2012
 

Sir,

With regards to matters raised by TV3’s John Campbell, Trevor Mallard, and others, surrounding John Banks; his 2010 Electoral Return; and subsequent Police investigation, I invite you to read and consider questions and comments made on my blogpost, “John Banks – escaping justice“.

You will note that I have raised several questions regarding this matter, and have written to  Police Asst Commissioner,  Malcolm Burgess, for clarification and answers to issues that I regard as important.

I have also contacted Transparency International, a global NGO that rates countries according to levels of corruption within their society. Last year, New Zealand ranked #1 on a  Corruption Transparency Index 2011. Following the John Banks Donations Affair, I have invited Transparency Internation to review our top ranking, in terms of least corrupt nation on Earth.

Far from being a “closed matter”, I believe this issue is of vital importance – especially since it appears that many of Kim Dotcom’s allegations against John Banks have been substantiated.

The question that I am asking; will you remove John Banks from his Ministerial roles?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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This issue is far from closed.

It is just the beginning.

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Additional

Local Electoral Act 2001

Schedule 2 Return of electoral expenses and electoral donations (As at 2010)

Beehive: John Banks

Police statement: Outcome of Police investigation into electoral returns of Hon John Banks

Banks’ donations: No charges laid

Banks won’t be charged, police say

Transparency International Corruption Perception Index

NZ Herald: Parliament’s loose cannon

National: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government (2008)

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Guest Author: Open letter to Eugene Bingham or would you have voted for John Key if you had known

- Evelyn Gilbert,  Aotearoa a wider perspective

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If you find this informative may I suggest you send the link to your John Key voting palls!!!

Eugene Bingham is a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and he has been the writer of most of the articles about John Key and has repeatedly interviewed him. He wrote amongst others the Unauthorised biography which appeared in the 19 July 2008 New Zealand Herald edition and is well worth reading.

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“You have sold your soul to the Devil and wrote the article as a PR stunt for the man who is now our Prime Minister but who is in fact one of the Arsonists of the perfect firestorm about to hit this poor small Nation.” Evelyn Gilbert

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Dear Eugene,

I have been thinking about writing this open letter to you for a while and today I felt was the right moment to tell you what I think about you and the way you have helped John Key get elected.

I will not beat around the bush. I’m not build that way, so here goes.

You are an insult to what was once a noble and very necessary profession in order to take our politicians to task if found wanting (thanks to the internet people like me can do our own research and we are no longer depending on frauds like you for our information).

You are either incredibly bad at your job because it appears that either you did not double check John Key’s story, something every self respecting journalist should do, or you have slipped over to the dark side and you willingly lied and allowed John Key to lie to your readers.

Either way you ought to be ashamed of yourself and resign today.

Why, you ask, is this blogger so crass in her accusations?

We have a government in which John Key is the Prime Minister. He has been elected based on information available and let’s not forget the much hyped need for “Change”.

In a functioning Democracy the press as the fourth estate is responsible for making sure that all the relevant information is available for the public to be able to vote in their best interest.

In the run up to an important election it is of the utmost importance that the public knows all about their politicians there is to know and if it means that a politician is not voted in because it turns out that said politician is a liar or a criminal than so be it.

In a time such as this when the entire global economy is crashing because of Wall street manipulations it is of the utmost importance to know everything there is to know of the most important opposition leader especially if that politician has made his money through parasitical speculation in the international finance world. That same world which is now collapsing due to it’s own irresponsible financial speculations.

Eugene, you failed to do that job so spectacularly and in doing so you helped put in power a man who has no business governing us in these times and the future will tell that you were instrumental in keeping information away from us that would have surely changed the out come of this election.

Let me give you but three examples of your failure to supply us with real information.

  1. The true relationship John Key had with Andrew Krieger and the attack on the NZ dollar in late 1987.
  2. The role John Key had in the Asian Crisis, the Russian collapse and the collapse of the LTCM hedgefund.
  3. The role John Key had in the Subprime trade and the real timeline of the Subprime crisis and the subsequent collapse of the global economy.

1. The true relationship John Key had with Andrew Krieger and the attack on the NZ dollar in late 1987.

You have in multiple articles told us that John Key only went to work with Andrew Krieger after Andrew Krieger in 1988. In fact you even give a specific date in this article. In it you state that John Key starts to work for the Bankers Trust on 29 August 1988. If this is true than John Key could not have worked with Andrew Krieger. Not for the bankers trust or any other bank. Because Andrew Krieger left Forex on 30 June 1988 and did not return to that trade until September 1990.

How do I know? Because Eugene, I did what you should have done.

I googled the name Andrew Krieger and Bankers Trust and found 3, that is three, (here, here and here) articles in the New York Times online archive (Especially put on line for journalists like you Eugene) written by three different journalists at three different times and each of those articles Chronicles Andrew Krieger’s career at that very crucial time. It turns out that Andrew Krieger (who because of his spectacular attack on the NZ dollar was a bit of a Wall street celeb) left the Bankers Trust in as early as December 1987 but no later than February 1988. He then went to work for George Soros as a senior manager from sometime March or April and left that position in June 1988. An interview with him in September 1990 reveals that he didn’t trade in the Foreign Exchange business beyond some very limited trading conducted solely for himself.

Other than that, the trade that made Andrew Krieger famous was conducted in mere hours only seven days after Black Monday (while New Zealand was still reeling from the worst crash in recent history) and if John Key was the sole manager of the hundreds of millions of dollars he traded in for Andrew Krieger as you state in your 19 July “Unauthorised” biography, it can only have been during that famous attack.

Eugene, if  John Key traded with Andrew Krieger during what was the first speculative attack on a currency ever and which was followed by several world crisis provoking super attacks in which John Key partook don’t you think it would have been essential for us to know?

If John Key willingly engaged in behaviour that risked his country’s economy and  he is prepared to lie or let you lie about it 20 years after the event I thought it would have been paramount that you let the public know especially in an “Unauthorised” biography. It sets after all a precedent. If he was prepared to collapse his own countries currency in a speculative raid than he would have no qualms about doing it to other countries either.

2. The role John Key had in the Asian Crisis, the Russian collapse and the collapse of the LTCM hedgefund.

Totally lacking in your “Unauthorised” biography is one of the most important periods in recent banking history other than the mere mention of how John Key came through the Asian crisis relatively unscathed and how John Key had to fire hundreds of colleagues earning him the nickname “the Smiling Assassin”.

Whether that is because John Key just fluttered over it while he spoke to you or you choose not to go into the subject it is never the less another gross dereliction of duty on you part.

The Asian crisis 1997 and the collapse of the Russian currency in 1998 were closely connected.
They were both the result of the actions of several hedgefunds. One of them being George Soros’s hedgefund and the other the Long Term Credit Management hedge fund also known as LTCM.

This hedgefund collapsed so spectacularly as a result of speculative Forex and derivatives trading it had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve of New York in order to protect the entire global system from collapsing. John Key may or may not have been involved in the trading that lead to the collapse of the fund but you picture him as firing hundreds of his colleagues at Merrill Lynch, earning him the endearing nickname of the “Smiling Assassin” but the only time Merrill Lynch was forced to fire that many people was in the aftermath of the LTCM scandal putting John Key right in the middle of yet another major Forex scandal. In fact in 1999 John Key is introduced as the managing director of Debt in 1999 in this article.

How do I know? Because unlike you I did the research and a couple of simple google searches wielded al this information. So once again Eugene you either are bad at your job or you and John Key willingly lied to us, the punters.

3. The role John Key had in the Subprime trade and the real timeline of the Subprime crisis and the subsequent collapse of the global economy.

In what is perhaps either the most blatant show of ignorance on your part or perhaps the most blatant lie you state unequivocally in your “Unauthorised” biography  that the subprime products were only hatched in 2004 and 2005.

That is outrageous.  In fact it’s so outrageous that for this remark alone you should resign.

Why is this outrageous? Because it is common knowledge that house prices started to rise in the late nineties.
Not just in the US but around the world, including New Zealand.

This rise had nothing to do with higher wages, more prosperity or more production. In fact jobs in the entire Western world had been disappearing for years  to China, wages were either stagnant or falling and more and more people had to take on debt to make ends meet.

That alone is a sign of bubble building.

But once again if you had taken the trouble Eugene to google subprime timeline you would have found this interesting Subprime timeline (just one of many) and this little graph telling you that as early as the beginning of 1998 the subprime markets exploded from less than 1% market share to a whopping 14%.

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The years 2004 and 2005 was merely the time the bubble started to show it’s first cracks.

And if you had done your job and you would have spend another 5 minutes googling you would have found this graph as well.

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And to top it off you would have found what enabled the subprime crisis and why it will inevitably collapse our economy together with the entire world’s economy, thanks to scumbags like John Key and his ilk aided and abetted by people like you.

What enabled the subprime crisis were three factors

  1. Easy CreditProvided by the Federal Reserve bank of New York and the City of London.
  2. The order given by the US Congress to Fanny mae and Freddy mac to give mortgages to every Tom, Dick and Harry and their dog. Yep, the US congress actually started the subprime mortgage selling. I suggest you read the timeline I linked to above.
  3. The repeal of the Glass Steagall act, unofficially in 1997 and officially in November 1999.This act put in place in 1933 to prevent Commercial banks from merging with investment banks to stop them from acting like the right side of the second graph had been promoted by Alan Greenspan since 1987 and had cost the Wall street investment bankers between $ 100 to $ 200 million dollars.It would have been inconceivable for John Key not to have known about the 1997 beginning of the subprime housing bubble build up because the repeal of this law was literally like giving the fox the key to the hen house and was greatly anticipated by every single Wall street/ City of London banker because it would strip every single bit of regulation away.In fact it was signed the same month John Key was invited to become one of only four advisors to the Federal Reserve bank of New York.  He represented Merrill Lynch. The others represented Citibank, Lehman Brothers and UBSWahrburg.  All those banks are either gone or in the process of going as a result of the subprime crisis.

These three items alone are enough to expose John Key as at least a liar and as the financial collapse progresses he will perhaps even be called a criminal as the mechanisms of the crisis will be exposed for what they are; The wilful manipulation of the money market by a small group of private banksters.

I said I would only take three issues on which you have been either ignorant or wilfully dishonest and I have shown comprehensively that you could have given us all the relevant information but you didn’t.

I could have added to that the derivative trade which has been building up another bubble about to collapse and in which John Key was a Key operator for Merrill Lynch or the collapse of the Bankers trust bank as a result of fraudulent Derivative trading or the fact that Andrew Krieger traded not in actual currency but in a Derivative called “options” connecting John Key to the Forex derivatives trade in as early as 1987. In fact in 2006 the Chinese government suspended the Forex Derivatives trade on the grounds that it was way to dangerous. The list is simply too long but rest assured Eugene, the information you refused us is out there and available to us.

In ending this open letter to you Eugene, I have to conclude that either you are staggeringly ignorant and therefore undeserving of your job as a journalist for a major newspaper in such a position to be tasked to investigate and write an “Unauthorised” (let’s face it there was nothing Unauthorised about the whole stinking article) biography of the man poised to become the next Prime Minister or you have sold your soul to the Devil and wrote the article as a PR stunt for the man who is now our Prime Minister but who is in fact one of the Arsonists of the perfect firestorm about to hit this poor small Nation.Either way the only honourable thing to do is to resign.

If you sold your soul to the Devil I hope he paid you handsomely because you are going to need every cent in the next 10 years as you find that less and less people can buy the rag you call home.

- Evelyn Gilbert

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Acknowledgement

Reprinted with kind permission from aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com

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Guest Author: I came home from a protest today…

- Linda Miller

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Source: NZ students protest outside PM’s conference

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I came home from a protest today. It was a small one, at SkyCity, about 200 students. The police poured it on, as if they were all-out to impress the elites who will soon be privatising them with how on-the-job they really are. The street was blocked off far enough away that the delegates were at no risk of being exposed to any political reality. However I could see some of them watching surreptitiously from the skywalk above. I’m beginning to believe that vicarious police violence is the only form of gratification available to some Angry White Men after a certain age. They were disappointed today. The students were peaceful as always – they had their say and left.

When I got home though, I was a little bit sad. Having the flu always makes me sad. But I was also sad that we even had to argue about the value of universal education at all.

I checked my messages, then I saw this video link and realised today was the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

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It seems like a dream now, but yes, it really happened, and these days, amazingly, you can actually see their leftover gear on the Moon.

I watched the video. It reminded me of the days and nights I spent watching it all live in 1969. When Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the surface, I sat in our tiny house in California with my mother and my brothers glued to the TV. I can still see their faces, lit by the flickering grey images as if it only happened last night. It was a glorious time.

But when I watched the video, I was suddenly overcome with grief. Seeing those bright, shiny Kodachrome faces, I recalled how no one had any idea that July 20, 1969 would be the high-water mark of American Civilisation. We took everything for granted. We should have fought to keep what we had. We should have kept the Promise of the American Century – the promise to extend the American Dream of freedom, peace, prosperity and civil rights to everyone.

Naive? Less so than you might imagine. We had just landed a man on the Moon after all. We could do anything. And what we wanted to do was help the world. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. We lost our way. Or rather, our way was subverted.

As I recall the faces of the students I saw today, they can’t know how keenly I feel that my generation has betrayed them. Today, we fight just to hold onto what we have. The promise of the American Century, real as it was, and close as we were to achieving it, is as dead as the tragic Kennedy brothers who first conceived it.

Today, I am an expat, and an activist, living in New Zealand. I campaign for New Zealanders because I love them, and because this fight is winnable, far more so than the struggle going on now in the United States. New Zealand is small enough, and her people are still brave enough that it can be won. We can have our democracy and our sense of community back. The government has not yet managed to frighten and terrorise New Zealand into submission. Victory is still possible.

Of course, nobody is going to just hand it to us. If we are to stop our slide into the Global Slum the Neo-Liberals are preparing for us all, we have to dig in hard. We have to lose our fear. Non-violent struggle is not pacifism. It is not for cowards. It takes courage to stand up for your rights, to keep coming out, in the rain, even when you are sick, and you don’t exactly feel like it. You have to take risks. You have to harden up. You have to resist.

Had we done that when Reagan and Thatcher first began undermining the Great Society, after I left university, I admit, we would not be in this mess today. Had the first generation of students hit with fees fought as hard as they fight in Quebec now, education would still be free. Had Kiwis resisted to the bitter end the first time a public utility was put on the block, we would not be fighting Asset Sales today.

I hope that a future generation will not say of us, “Had our parents really fought all out when they wanted to sell the last of our assets, we would still be able to afford electricity now.” That would break my heart.

We fight, because we must. Because what you are not prepared to fight for can and will be taken away from you by those who are prepared to steal. Nothing ever turns out fine by itself.

We should remember that when we commit irrevocably to seeing something through, in spite of the risks and uncertainties, as we did on Apollo, miracles are indeed possible. Nothing is ever really beyond us.

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Related Link

Facebook Page: Kiwi Expats Against Asset Sales

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Guest Author: This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Occupy NZ Media #BTB #ShowAndTell Coverage

- Occupy Savvy

21 July 2012

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(This post is now complete. Please share far and wide. Thank you so much for supporting citizen journalism. All credit to Occupy New Zealand Media team. Redstar’s livestream footage of this event is available here.)

Saturday 21st July 2012 was another awesome day for NZ students; who used the opportunity of the ruling National Party Conference hosted at SkyCity Casino (yes, THAT Sky City…) to push their message that education cuts, privatisation and forced austerity measures were NOT going to be taken lying down.

They did a brilliant job of organising this public event, which had many new features including NLG-style Legal Observers, free ‘Red Square’ pins for everyone and a welcoming crew that approached & chatted with members of the public throughout the day. The level of thought that had gone into the event really impressed us.

Below is a People’s Media mash-up of photos, tweets & our experiences on the ground. Non-commercial organisations (ie. other Occupy pages, citizen journalists, charities, organisations who openly endorse/support Occupy) are welcome to reprint/reblog/download/share any of the images below but we ask that you please credit Occupy New Zealand Media Team/Occupy Savvy. As usual the “big crowd” photos are about halfway down the post.

Kia ora koutou. It is a privilege to present this to you Aotearoa.

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These guys were the first thing I saw heading into Britomart. The mat was roll-up & they would jump into the intersection when the pedestrian crossing turned green – roll out the mat – drop a freestyle to some old school b-boy blaring from their beatbox and then roll it back up & jump back out when the lights turned green. So cool.

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These girls came straight up to me with big smiles and a free red square pin before I could even get to where the march was assembling.

Having such a friendly welcoming/outreach crew definitely made the difference, as I saw more and more members of the public enticed off the sidewalks and into the march proper.

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The sound truck from last Saturday’s Aotearoa Is Not For Sale march made a reappearance, except instead of King Kapisi on the back, it was bearing a coffin!

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Initially the police presence appeared minimal – probably a dozen cops. We found out later why so few were at Britomart… when we got to Sky City Convention Centre.

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Looking towards the port, where the beleaguered MUNZ workers spent much of the last year fighting for basic work conditions and respect from their well-heeled employers.

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They had this road truck follow them around dropping road cones opening & closing roads.

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The march begins to form – with the familiar BLOCKADE THE BUDGET banner from the last Blockade The Budget student protest, which suffered mass arrests and police assaults on peacefully protesting students and faculty at Auckland University.

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Our Occu-Mama & Occupy Media member Lyn repping Socialist Aotearoa. She is an inspirational wahine toa who is one of the 8 arbitrarily-selected members of Occupy Auckland to be personally persecuted and mercilessly prosecuted (at ridiculous ratepayer expense) by Auckland Council. (Who we prefer to refer to as Auckland Corporatouncil!)

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^^^ Take a good look at the above photo. It was one of the most telling & hilarious parts of the event. We slipped in behind the Socialist Aotearoa banner with Lyn (despite the fact I’m actually not a socialist, S.A. have done a lot to support Occupy in NZ) and was immediately descended upon by the above reporter & cameraman for TV1 News. “Can we interview you?” They asked. “Sure” we said. “But we’re just going to grab a quick pic of you first.” Camera already out, within a microsecond the shot was taken. The reporter surprised & amused – the cameraman not even slightly amused. They asked us a few questions and we answered eloquently and fluidly enough that the reporter was surprised and exclaimed, “thanks, that was great!” while the cameraman scowled bitterly at us. They disappeared off for a quick huddle and then reappeared. The dinosaur cameraman demanded that we re-shoot the piece due to having had sunglasses on (it was 1pm). We politely refused and got told that the footage “wouldn’t be used then”. Why is this significant? Wait and see what happens with these two further down this post.

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People begin to move onto the street as the march begins to fill up.

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It soon becomes apparent that there are vastly more people in the middle of the street than there are on the pavement.

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A lone motorbike cop in front of the march assembly.

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People turn to face a small stage where speakers address the crowd and the street theatre commences.

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School children hold up signs representing different types of employees and students effected by austerity measures and education cuts, then a man with a huge pair of fake scissors jumps out and literally cuts their signs in half. Pre-planned, they all laugh.

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Naomi – performed a passionate piece of spoken word poetry, beautifully.

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Jai Bentley-Payne spoke on behalf of the students, warning us “Austerity is a SCAM!!!”. We quoted him on livetweet on #BTB and #Showandtell hashtags as well as the Canadian student movement hashtags #ggi #casseroles #manifecours and within minutes, his quote was retweeted around the world by students in solidarity globally.

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And finally – we were off. The march up from the bottom of Queen Street begins.

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There was all different kinds of New Zealanders marching; of every colour, shape and background.

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“They Take Our Education – We Take The Streets!”

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The giant red solidarity square was out again – which the kids loved playing under.

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John Key….. is a duck? LOL.

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One of the greatest things about today was the brand spanking new student-provided legal observers. This is something sorely lacking at previous protests mainly due to the lack of NLG-type organisation in New Zealand to support democratic peaceful protesters. Looks like thanks to the students, this is changing. Kia ora students!

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This iconic Auckland intersection (Victoria & Queen) once again occupied by the public – for the second time in eight days.

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5000 post-grad students are estimated to be unable to continue study due to changes made by the ruling National Party and the austerity measures they are imposing upon education (and other public sectors).

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The “Fuck The Rich” guy was back and very pleased when we told him our photo of his sign at last Saturday’s Aotearoa Is Not For Sale march was picked up by a Spanish-language online newspaper with 94,000 likes on their page. Pretty impressive.

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I guess this is what they call civil disobedience! Though really, its exercise. The exercising of our democratic rights!

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The mood quickly turns from jubilant to appropriately solemn as students bear the coffin all the way up Victoria Street from Queen Street as a funeral march plays.

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Protesters observe a minute of silence but their signs speak on regardless.

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We finally make it to Sky City Conference Centre….. and arrive at a shocking sight. Police officers wall the inside of the entrance two deep. People stand around with literally mouths hanging open at the wanton display of force. Yet still it is only a fraction of what will later greet us outside the casino itself.

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Despite the police presence, protesters put signs and stickers up on the glass and the coffin is carried up to the entrance.

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Occupy Savvy 21 July 2012 Auckland  National Party Conference 2012 Skycity

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Occupy Savvy 21 July 2012 Auckland  National Party Conference 2012 Skycity

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The crowd begin to chant enthusiastically. Most of the chants are recorded on the livetweet which can be found on Twitter

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At first we thought they might be there to enforce the No Smoking policy…

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Until we saw these guys.

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As we clearly were not going to be able to enter the convention centre, off we went around the block, the long way to Sky City Casino. Completely unawares of what awaited us.

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As we hit Federal Street, we realised the bottom over-street Skywalk was filled with Casino executives and the top Skywalk was filled with cops. Being towards the back, it took a few minutes to realise what was blocking the march at the front line…

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It was awesome to see random members of the public out walking their dogs join the march… wonder what he thought of what was in front of him…

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Tried to get closer to the front to find out why no one was able to move any further…

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Passing ASB bank on Federal Street the cops were shoulder to shoulder but we still had no idea what lay ahead of the march…

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As we reached this point the jackets in front of the march gave us some indication of what was ahead..

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The police were walling off the road in Federal Street which explained why the march had ceased moving – however – we were not at all prepared for the sight of what was behind that first wall of police… take note of the far right cop in the above picture for a reference point…

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The woman pictured to the bottom right wasn’t a cop or a protester. She was actually a member of the public who found herself stuck and couldn’t get through. We politely asked the police if they could please let her through as she wasn’t with us and was genuinely being prevented from accessing public space. They initially refused outright but after we insisted they should have an officer escort her through they relented and did so. Then – to our shock – remember Mr. grumpy dinosaur mainstream media cameraman? Well he showed up to our immediate left and says to the cops “let me through for a shot.” To our utter astonishment the police immediately stand aside and allow him through the line.

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We were flabbergasted and immediately request to also be allowed through to take some shots to which we were told “that is for media only”. When we identified ourselves as media, the police supervisor told us “STAY WHERE YOU ARE” in an extremely rude and abrupt manner. We were puzzled – wondering why mainstream media could access the blocked area but not citizen journalists? Then we realise what the mainstream media camera was seeing from back there. Or more importantly – what it wasn’t.

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From where they filmed – they couldn’t see the cops above them. They couldn’t see the cops behind them. They couldn’t see the barricaded forcibly closed street nor that all of the aforementioned collectively stopped the march from proceeding, ending and dissipating as quickly as planned by organisers. It soon became clear that they were tailoring their vantagepoint.

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Apparently it wasn’t only MSM that got free access to behind police lines. There were also Sky City staff – assumedly supervisors – taking holiday snaps behind the front line. Not sure why they have more rights than the citizen journalists who were prevented from entering – would love to put in an official letter to the NZ Police to find out why corporate staff have greater access and rights when in the middle of a public street photographing a democratic protest, than our public independent media do? Ridiculous.

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Perhaps blinded by the sight of so many flourescent vests, after some spirited chanting of “Army of the rich, enemy of the poor!” at the hundreds of police present, the march turns around and heads back to the Convention Centre; where there had seemed so many cops; but now seemed few by comparison!!

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Even though by that point we were all using the sidewalk… the police preferred the road and trailed us all the way back to the convention centre…

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…helpfully again lining the streets all the way around…

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…and again blocking the entrance. Awesome.

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The protest was officially called and we were really happy to meet this cheery lady and get this great pic of her Aotearoa Is Not For Sale t-shirt. Shout out to everyone who attended and supported today. Good on you for braving the intimidation tactics and having your say.

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Leaving the site of the protest we had one last bizarre experience – we noticed a huge blacked out SUV parked across the pavement with two Sky City employees guarding it. As it is an unusual sight to see a vehicle parked on the pavement, with not a single police officer ticketing it, we stopped and took a photo. At which point the supervisor on the right hand side started to have a complete fit at us, demanding “NO PHOTOS, NO PHOTOS”. Before we could even begin to respond several members of the public interjected, with one screaming at him that he had no right to prevent the public taking photographs on public streets and essentially, who did he think he was for attempting to interfere with us. We asked him whose car it was and he snapped “it’s MY car”… because quite obviously Sky City supervisors park blacked out SUV’s across the pavement then guard them personally, with staff security guards also present? We don’t think so, buddy :)

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We spotted some pretty awesome signs throughout the day. Below is a collection of them. Thank you to everyone for being so friendly and happily having your signs photographed.

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Auckland Action Against Poverty are hosting tomorrow’s protest at the same location – click here for the Facebook event details.

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Unite Union have been a big supporter of Occupy, Aotearoa Is Not For Sale, and the student movement.

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Socialist Aotearoa, another huge supporter of Occupy and other protest movements in NZ.

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Taking the piss out of the National slogan: “Shit policies = Shit edacation. National 4 a Brighta Futur”

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Students have scrawled micro-messages to John Key all over their main “Blockade The Budget” banner.

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Some of the language is pretty colourful and spirited but the message is clear. Invest in the future of New Zealand. Not finance companies and privatisation of public assets.

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A pissed-off parent has their say.

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A serious question…

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Are you listening, “Mr” Key? No doubt your lackeys are…

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Students are often under-appreciated by our government, who like to depict them as lazy.

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This entry was posted in Occupy Auckland, Occupy Citizen Journalists, Occupy Events, Occupy Facebook, Occupy Journalism, Occupy Legal, Occupy Media, Occupy MSM Propoganda, Occupy New Zealand, Occupy Pics, Occupy Police, Occupy Social Media, Occupy Solidarity, Occupy Testimony, Occupy Twitter.

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Copyright

All images on this page are used by permission from Occupy Savvy. For permission, please contact   Occupy Savvy at content@mediasavvy.co.nz.

Acknowledgement

Reprinted with kind permission from  Occupy Savvy

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= fs =

Letters from Parliament…

Following on from this Blog’s promotion of the Million Mail campaign (see previous blogpost: Campaign: Flood the Beehive!), several responses from National politicians have been forwarded to me.

The first two seem fairly innocuous fob-offs,

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John Key state asset sales SOEs

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Tony Ryall state asset sales SOEs

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But this following letter, and enclosed literature, is more interesting.

First, the covering letter,

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The letter seems fairly innocuous, like the two above – even with the statement “National will continue to work tirelessly to deliver on our plan to build a brighter future for all New Zealanders” (bottom of letter), which appears to be a Party-political statement. That would be illegal if the letter was paid by taxpayer-funded Parliamentary Services funding allocations.

The following literature, that was enclosed with the above covering letter, is more cause for concern,

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The first, of four pages, contain some blatant mis-representations, half-truths, and a fair measure of hypocrisy.

1.

Delivering a better public service

It is debateable if National is delivering “better public services” with 2,500 jobs lost through sackings; pared-back services such as MAF Border controls; low Army morale; naval staff shortages resulting in uncrewed ships; unanswered phones at IRD and Housing New Zealand, etc, etc…

See previous blogpost: Another case of “We told you so!”?

In fact, it might be argued that National’s budget cuts and mass-redundancies have left our state sector in a run-down, demoralised, over-stretched state.

But in National’s alternative Universe, all these problems constitute “better public services”.

2.

New Zealand is in good shape…”

“Good shape” depends on whether John Key is comparing us to Greece, Somalia, and Tonga – or Australia.

Considering that,

None of these issues are covered  in National’s brochure. In fact, Bill English sez “we’re doing alright.

3.

Operating in surplus helps keep mortage rates lower for longer

That statement is so disingenuous that it is nothing more than an outright lie.

A. National has not been “in surplus” since Labour lost the election in 2008.

B. Mortgage interest rates are determined by the Reserve Bank and corporate banks – not by government.

C. Interest rate are dependent several factors such as the OCR set by the Reserve Bank (independepent of government); overseas interest rates; New Zealand’s credit rating (the lower our rating, the higher  interest rates we pay); our Balance of Payments; private debt; and lastly, sovereign debt.

D. Interest rates are currently low because the country’s economy is stagnating; there is poor economic growth; and hence banks are lowering their rates to attract new customers.

For John Key to claim some sort of  “ownership” over low interest rates is unsurprising.

He has nothing else to claim as “good news”.

Dear Leader has as much to do with keeping interest rates down as King Canute did in commanding the tide to retreat.  Didn’t that end well?

4.

See #3 above: more pure, unadulterated bullshit.

I haven’t read propaganda like this since the Soviet Union’s last 5 Year Plan to over-take the United States in economic growth. That didn’t end well either.

Let’s check out National’s bold claims for New Zealand’s growing neo-liberal nirvana,

“... employ more people,”

Not according to the latest job-market statistics, released in early May,

New Zealand’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.7pc in the first quarter after the labour force swelled to a three-year high as more people started looking for work in what’s been a tight jobs market. The kiwi dollar fell after the data was released.

The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 per cent in the three months ended March 31, from a revised 6.4 per cent in the prior quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That’s higher than the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. “

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

And businesses seemed to have their own ideas, a month previous,

New Zealand finance bosses are feeling good about the economic recovery, but research shows that optimism doesn’t extend to hiring new staff.

Global finance and accounting firm Robert Half’s survey of 200 chief financial officers and finance directors found 79 per cent were confident about the prospects of national growth in 2012.

Those who thought their own company would pick up speed in the year ahead made up an even higher proportion, at 87 per cent. “

See: Confidence up, but jobs still not a priority

We are encouraging businesses to grow through having confidence to invest…”

Oh well, at least business confidence was up.

Oh, wait, no…

Sorry, that’s changed now,

Business confidence has fallen for the first time in seven months, though National Bank’s latest survey shows confidence is still “very healthy”.

A net 27 per cent of firms expect business conditions to improve in the coming year down from 35.8 per cent in the previous month.

See: Business confidence down but resilient

Not looking terribly good for Dear Leader, is it?

“… pay them higher wages,”

Well, it’s true that Dear Leader has promised us higher wages,

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

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

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, 21 December 2011

But, like most of his promises, they’ve either been broken, ignored, or “postponed” into the never-never,

New Zealand families are under growing financial stress as stagnating wages and salaries prove inadequate to cover spiralling costs – and even top-tier earners are feeling the squeeze.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Income Survey, 29,200 more families now rate themselves as having incomes too low to meet their daily needs than in the same survey four months before John Key’s first term.

In June 2007, the number of households rating themselves income-poor was 254,100. That number has now risen to 283,300. “

See: NZ families feel the income squeeze

In  2008, wages (LCI)  increased by 3.4% for the March Quarter.

See: Salary and wage rates increase by record amount

By 2012, wages (LCI)  increased for the March Quarter by only  2%.

See: Wage Growth – March 2012 Quarter

Which is a marked improvement from only two years ago,

Statistics New Zealand’s latest Labour Cost Index showed salaries and wages increasing at their slowest rate in eight years, up 1.8 per cent in the year to the December quarter. It was the lowest quarterly increase since June 2001. “

See: Wage rises lowest since 2001

At the same time, the top 150 Rich Listers  have done extremely well,

The fortunes of the country’s 150 richest people have grown by almost 20 per cent in one year but they are still calling for the easing of constrictions around wealth creation.

The National Business Review yesterday published its annual Rich List, showing that the combined wealth of New Zealand’s richest has ballooned from $38.2 billion to $45.2 billion – the highest total ever. “

See: Rich Listers enjoy 20pc increase in wealth

Considering that rest home careworkers are still living on $13.61 an hour (perhaps marginally more), and that John Key denied these lowpaid workers a decent wage-increase, National’s committment to raising peoples’ pay is questionable. Especially when Dear Leader stated,

It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.

See: PM: No money for aged care workers

Which is rather ‘curious’, as National clearly has a spare $336 million to spend on consultants, and various “fees” for selling our own state assets to bogus “mums and dads”  (aka,  corporate investors)

See previous blogpost: Roads, grandma, and John Key

Furthermore, when workers go on strike to protect their current working conditions and pay-rates, as the recent Ports of Auckland dispute showed, National’s fellow-travellers are only too pleased to ‘put the boot‘ into them. In fact, National’s allies and at least one MP claimed that POAL workers were “over-paid”.

How can we raise wages in this country if the right wing are constantly resisting and even actively  attacking initiatives that would result in raising incomes and our standard of living?

Eventually, POAL workers defeated their employers attempt to casualise (and reduce their pay) the workforce – but only because of massive community support for the courageous men who work our wharves.

Far from raising wages to bridge the gap with Australia – Australia is bridging the gap with us…

“… creating a more productive and competitive economy.”

Not sure about productive, but Key has made us “a more… competitive economy” – but not in the way we thought was a good way,

Woolworths Australia this week moved a contact centre to Auckland, citing lower costs among the benefits, following similar expansion plans for cigarette manufacturing, food processing and media work to New Zealand.

“Labour does not want New Zealand to become Australia’s Mexico,” said the party’s finance spokesman, David Parker, criticising the influx of lower value jobs. ..

[abridged]

Macquarie University’s centre for workforce futures director, Ray Markey, said the pressure would continue as the mining boom pushed up wages and costs in Australia.

It was easy for Australian businesses to shift some operations to New Zealand because of the two countries’ many similarities, he said.

“I don’t think a low-wage economy is a way to go for the future, and it’s not going to help increase productivity… I wouldn’t want a call centre-based economy,” Dr Markey said. “But I’m much more optimistic if manufacturing is shifting“. “

See: Aussie firms sending business across ditch

And thus Bill English’s vision of a low-wage economy came to pass, when on 10 April 2011, he openly enthused over New Zealand’s low-wage economy compared to Australia,

GUYON Can I talk about the real economy for people?  They see the cost of living keep going up.  They see wages really not- if not quite keeping pace with that, certainly not outstripping it much.  I mean, you said at the weekend to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum that one of our advantages over Australia was that our wages were 30% cheaper.  I mean, is that an advantage now?

BILL 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.
 
GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia? 

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for 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.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact.  We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing.  This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia.  That’s lifting the standard.  They’re closing up the gap. 

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia.  So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand.  If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

See: TVNZ Q+A Bill English interview Transcript

Not looking too good for National, thus far…

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Two Dear Leaders. Propaganda. ‘Nuff said.

6.

In Budget 2012 we’ve allocated the first $558 million of the proceeds of mixed ownership. We’re modernising schools ($34m), upgrading hospitals ($69m), supporting infrastructure such as Kiwirail ($250m), and research through the new Advanced Technology Institute ($76m). Over the next few years, $1 billion of the [Future Investment]  fund will be invested in New Zealand schools.

One of National’s oft-quoted spin-rhetoric is that the partial-sale of five state assets is to invest in new state assets,

Those points around companies operating more efficiently and effectively have been well made by the Government, as has the view that we’d like to see New Zealanders investing more in their country and the fact that we want to buy new assets without having to incur more debt. I think those points have been made”. ” – John Key, 19 July 2012

See: Key defends asset sales policy promotion

This is a lie.

National is not investing in “new assets”. They are spending on maintenance,

...We’re modernising schools ($34m), upgrading hospitals ($69m), supporting infrastructure such as Kiwirail ($250m)

There is a difference.  This blogger has some degree of business experience, and understands the difference between capital expenditure (aka “capex”)  and maintenance expenditure.

A. Capital investment: purchasing a new fishing boat, to add to a fleet, to generate addition income.

B. Maintenance: regular painting; cleaning;  motor and equipment maintenance, to keep existing income-generation.

As the astute reader will understand,  Capital Investment involves purchasing a new item which contributes to increasing turnover for a business.

Maintaintenance (or modernising, upgrading, and supporting infrastructure)  is just that;  keeping existing items up to operating standards.

So when Dear Leader, Bill English, Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall, et al, claim that National is selling state assets to buy new state assets – they are willfully misrepresenting their actions.

Building a new school is a capital purchase (a new state asset).  Slapping a lick of paint on an existing school is not a new state asset – it’s whacking a coat of Dulux on an existing building.

Key, English, and Joyce know this.  All three have  been involved in finance or business in one way or another.  But it suits their purpose to perpetrate this “spin”, to make it look as if we are replacing “Asset A” with “Asset B”.

They are doing no such thing.

The reason that National is now having to partially-privatise five SOE’s is that they lost an estimated $2 billion in tax-revenue, per annum,  after cutting taxes in 2009 and 2010. After considerable research, the Green Party discovered,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6-$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ — paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

“Borrowing $2 billion in 18 months to fund upper-income tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible.

“National’s poor economic decisions have led to record levels of government debt and borrowing. “

See: Government’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

According to a Treasury report,

The Budget deficit is running $1.2 billion worse than forecast as tax revenue continues to lag.

Treasury today released the Government’s financial statements for the eight months to the end of February showing an operating deficit of $8.8 billion.

See: Budget deficit keeps getting worse

Considering that the tax cuts benefitted high-income earners the most, what we have here is that,

  • National cut taxes in 2009 and 2010
  • National is now having to flog off our state assets to pay for maintenance that otherwise would have been paid out of taxation
  • The people of New Zealand are paying for tax-cuts through the loss of their assets
  • The richest are benefitting the most from this wealth-transfer.

If you’re starting to feel angry about now, rest assured that is a normal response. After all, who likes being ripped of?

Pass the paint brush, please, Mr Key?

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Welfare will always be there for those in genuine need but too many New Zealanders are welfare dependent, trapping families in work. We believe those who can  work should work. We’re investing $287.5 million to break long term dependence blah blah blah...”

This is dog-whistle politics geared toward the Uninformed and Intolerant. It is not based in fact – it is based purely on prejudice.

Welfare dependent“?

Breaking long term dependence“?

Those who can work should work“?

When National’s economic performance is criticised – John Key reminds us that they inherited a Global Financial Crisis and the resultant Great Recession.

But that doesn’t stop National from blaming welfare recipients for being out of work. Some actual facts here may help,

In four years, unemployment has DOUBLED since National became government.  We should ask Dear Leader why this has happened.  There are three possible causes,

  1. A global recession has resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment
  2. National’s policies has caused unemployment
  3. 83,000 New Zealanders  chucked in their jobs and decided that getting a benefit of $204.96 was better than earning the average wage of $1,016.95. Go figure.

Perhaps we should let Welfare Minister Paula Bennett provide the answer,

No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. ” – Paula Bennett, 29 April  2012

See:   Q+A: Paula Bennett interview

It seems fairly clear. There’s nothing quite like engaging in a bit of bene-bashing to win support in Voter Land.  National has no hesitation in using the victims of the global financial crisis to make itself look “tough on welfare beneficiaries”.  Meanwhile, National uses the same global financial crisis as an excuse for it’s own unimpressive economic performance.

8.

Budget 2012 includes $101 million of extra funding over the next four years for 4000 more elective operations a year, faster access to important scans and test results, and better cancer support services.”

Anything to do with “better cancer support” is an instant vote-winner. It almosts succeeds in putting a “human face” on National’s neo-liberal, “small government”, policies.

Until we read this,

To help meet cost pressures and fund these new initiatives, the Government will increase the $3 prescription charge to $5 per item, up to a maximum of 20 items, after which items are free...”

So to pay for cancer patients; other sick people, including children over 6 will be paying more for their medicines?!

When we have 200,000 children living in poverty; going to school without shoes or food; and living in cold, damp, rundown housing – charging more for medicine is the height of inhuman cruelty. There are families in this country for whom $5 might as well be $5,000 – threy simply don’t have the money.

Scrub my earlier reference to putting a “human face” on National.

9.

“… We’ve hired over 2000 extra nurses and and 800 extra doctors while there are 1000 few back-office staff.”

Really?

So who’s doing the paperwork? Who is keeping patient records up-to-date? Who is handling every day matters such as procurements? Invoices and bill-paying? Salaries? Rosters?  Equipment requisitions and maintenance?  Building maintenance? Personnel issues? Appointment-making? Contacting patients? Etc, etc?

Let me guess – each of those 2,000 “extra nurses” and 800 “extra doctors” have their own desks and share of paperwork to complete?

10.

In the tertiary sector we’re re-balancing our investment between student support and future tuition and research.  This will see student loans repaid faster and student allowances restricted to the current 200 week maximum. We’ll re-invest the savings into improving quality in the tertiary sector, especially in our universities.”

That’s a whole lot of meaningless blah, blah, blah… with the exception of this slipped into the rhetoric,  “…and student allowances restricted to the current 200 week maximum.

With a stroke of a Minister’s pen, 5,000 students are denied student allowances to undertake their postgraduate study.

National talks about upskilling; having a modern, educated workforce – and then pulls the rug out from under students. And this is not the first time National has done this kind of thing.

Aside from cutting the Training Incentive Allowance, National has also,

It seems fairly obvious that far from ” re-investing the savings into improving quality in the tertiary sector “, National has been making sly cuts as part of their maniacal obsession with “balancing the books’ and returning to surplus by 2014/15.

Unfortunately,  our children are paying for it through their education.

11.

Our National Standards are keeping parents informed about their child’s progress and identifying  kids falling behind. Experts are working with schools and teachers to help raise the bar…”

Bollocks.

National Standards does nothing of the sort.

National Standards are an ideological construct leading ultimately to League Tables, and the social stratification of our schools. Ghettoisation follows soon after.

As for  “experts are working with schools and teachers to help raise the barthat has to be the most absurd claim on this entire leaflet.

What “experts”?

Who could possibly be more “expert” than our teachers and principals?!

New Zealand has consistantly ranked high on the  OECD PISA Rankings. We are in the top six of nations.

The United States – from whence National is ‘borrowing’ much of it’s ideological claptrap such as Charter Schools, ranks number 15 – with Poland.

National can take no credit for this, and has even tried undermining many of the  excellent achievemant New Zealand has built up in the last decade.

It’s attempt to slash teacher numbers and increase class sizes in State schools was a potential recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, John Key’s children were attending private schools.

12.

To meet these targets, we need to lift quality teaching and leadership across the education system.”

Call me cynical, but whenever I read rhetoric like this from National, it sends a chill down my back. “Lifting quality” is usually code for some nasty right-wing policy that usually involves cost-cutting, user-pays, and some manner of  private-commercial involvement.

So far all we’ve seen from National involves,

  • plans to cut teacher numbers (cancelled)
  • plans to increase classroom sizes (cancelled)
  • Charter schools involving private companies (School for Burger King?)
  • League Tables
  • National Standards

All of it based on right wing ideology. Parents should be very afraid – National is planning to use our schools to implement American-style ideological policies.

Which begs the question why we would want that? Remember that the US is far below NZ on the OECD PISA rankings.

Why are we not following Finland instead, which remunerates it’s teachers very well?

Should we ask Gerry Brownlee?

Maybe not.

13.

And in Budget 2012 we are investing a record $9.6 billion across ECE and schooling – the most ever.”

How can National be spending “the most ever”, when Bill English has declared the 2012 Budget to be a “zero” budget?! National insists they are not spending a cent more than last year?

In which case, what has National been cutting?

We do know one thing that National has cut,

One of the smaller Budget moves removes a tax credit on schoolchildren’s incomes, supposedly to reduce compliance costs for the employers of youngsters with part-time jobs.

It is forecast to save the Government $14 million a year, but Labour has described it as “picking the pockets of paper boys”.

See: Budget: Our big fat zero Budget

Taxing kids on a paper run…

Charming.

14.

We’re spending $14.12 billion this year on our public health service – the most ever.”

Ditto above. When National gives with one hand – you can bet your booties they’ve taken from somewhere else, with the other.

Keep your hand on your wallet.

15.

National is focused on raising achievement through quality teaching…”

In which case, National should consider proper resourcing of schools; increasing training for young unemployed (15-19); raising salaries for teachers – and abandon the lunatic right wing agenda it has borrowed from the United States.

If National is serious about raising achievement, we should be following Finland – not the US.

Charter Schools do not offer the success that National would have us believe. Even our American cuzzies are starting to realise this.

See: Denver Post –  Charter schools, They’re not better for our kids

See: New Stanford Report Finds Serious Quality Challenge in National Charter School Sector

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16.

None of the above claims are easily verifiable. Taking into consideration that most of the “statements of fact” on the above pages are spin, rhetoric, and of dubious accuracy, one would be wise to take all statements in #16 with a significant quantity of salt grains…

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17.

More children in early childhood education,  especially in areas of highest need.”

This would be a positive move by National. But to achieve it, there has to be adequate funding – and this is not happening. Under National, it has budgetted for a nil increase in funding, and not taken inflation nor wage increases into account,

Early childhood education subsidy cuts worth tens of millions of dollars are likely to be passed on to some parents through increased fees.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has kicked a total revamp of ECE funding into a future Budget, opting instead to stop cost increases to the Crown by cancelling the annual upward inflationary adjustment in rates.

The subsidy freeze takes effect on the next funding round, stripping about $40 million out of ECE payments to 5258 ECE centres. About 1427 of those centres are eligible for “equity funding,” however, and will get a boost through $49m extra directed to them over four years in a bid to enrol more children from the lowest socio-economic parts of the country.

But the scrapping of an annual inflationadjustment for other centres will be an effective funding cut as inflation pushes the cost of running ECE centres up. “

See: Parents face burden of preschool squeeze

National is adept at saying one thing – whilst doing something completely the polar-opposite.

And politicians wonder why we don’t trust them?!

18.

Rolling out ultra-fast broadband and investing in roads and rail.”

Two things:

A. If our economy is now a free market, where the State no longer owns Telecom, and subsidies went out in the late 1980s…

… why are we – the Taxpayer -funding private telco companies to lay down broadband in this country? Shouldn’t this be left up to private enterprise to fund?

Or is this indicative of yet again private enterprise unable to meet nationally-set goals to build infra-structure, and instead reliant on the State?

Seems like it.

B. If National is “investing in rail” – why are they continually knocking back Auckland’s attempt to build new rail infra-structure?!?!

After overseeing a record seven million public transport passenger trips in March, the organisation fears having to cut service costs by $31.2 million in the next financial year because of savings sought by its two main funders, the Auckland Council and the Government’s Transport Agency.

A capital projects wish-list of $674 million of public transport infrastructure and local roading proposals inherited from Auckland’s former regional, city and district councils will also have to be hacked back after a gloomy Government subsidy forecast…

[abridged]

… Transport Minister Steven Joyce, who in 2009 ditched a proposed regional fuel tax for Auckland public transport projects, has in this election year cited continuing tight economic conditions in postponing a planned 1.5 cent-a-litre rise on petrol excise. “

See: Public transport faces subsidy cuts

In May last year, then-Minister of Transport Steven Joyce said the case for building the rail link had not been proven. “

See: $8m boost given to city rail link

It came to a head just over a year ago when Transport Minister Steven Joyce rejected an Auckland Council report claiming a stunning $3.50 cost benefit for every $1 invested in its proposed city rail loop.

The Government, which opposes the loop, demanded that Government boffins do the sums again. They did, with predictably less flattering results. But before that, up popped a secret independent analysis of the Puhoi to Wellsford highway commissioned by the Government which showed a cost-benefit ratio of 0.4, which meant for every dollar invested the return was only 40c.

In other words, if the politicians were to put the political clamour of their supporters to one side, the holiday highway was a non-starter. “

See: The big winners from cost-benefit studies

It appears that National does not want Len Brown to succeed in any public transport initiatives?

19.

Tougher sentencing, parole, and bail laws.”

Oh god, not that hoary old “tough-on-crime” chestnut again?! Hasn’t that been thrashed to death?

And didn’t Bill English admit that,

”  Prisons are a fiscal and moral failure. And building more of them on a large scale is something I don’t think any New Zealander wants to see. They want a safer community and they want protection from the worst elements of criminal behaviour, but they don’t want to be a prison colony … It’s the fastest rising cost in government in the last decade and my view is we shouldn’t build any more of them. “

See: The problem with prisons

Firstly, it take guts for a Tory politician to be so candid and forthright on such a basic, dog-whistle, issue. Kudos to Bill English for his honesty on this matter.

Secondly, if  National politicians are indeed aware that prisons are such a failure, then promoting harsher sentences and other “tough-on-crime” rhetoric is  nothing more than sheer dishonesty. It is a cynical, deceptive manipulation of the public’s fear of victimisation by random criminal acts.

It is dishonest. It is manipulative. In fact, it could be called criminally irresponsible

20.

Reforming local government.”

“Reform”? In what way?

Does it need reforming?

Is there something wrong with local government that demands the question to be asked?!

It is a vague question that has no clear purpose, and utterly meaningless.

21.

Reducing long-term welfare dependency, with a focus on work.”

Oh, here we go again…

Aside from the fact that this is a repugnant, loaded question – shouldn’t we be asking,

A. Where are the jobs?

B. Didn’t John Key pledge the creation of 170,000 new jobs?

C. Why isn’t National “focused on work” – as in creating jobs?

Blaming beneficiaries – many of whom were in paid employment  not too long ago – is like blaming the office cleaner at Lehmann Bros for it’s bankruptcy and collapse.

In asking this “question”, National isn’t seeking an answer. It is pushing a subtle, subliminal message that beneficiaries are on “long-term welfare dependency“.

As Paula Bennett herself said,

No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.

The real tragedy is that far too many low-information voters actually believe National’s rubbish.

22.

Selling minority shares in four energy SOEs and Air  New Zealand.

Not only is this the only honest question that is not loaded or framed in a pre-determined manner – but I suspect that the rationale for this entire leaflet is this one, single question.

As the reader will note, the respondent is asked to “Please tick the three issues that are important to you“. In other words, National is worried that the issue of state asset sales may be impacting on their polling.  But they’re uncertain. So they are trying to determine how deeply people are opposed to asset sales.

This questionnaire contains two “dog whistle” issues (crime and welfare), plus other issues surrounding economic growth, education, and health.

How will asset sales rate amongst all these issues?

If  all/most respondents rate asset sales as one of the top three – then they’re in trouble.

If asset sales is a minor choice, or hardly rates at all, it will embolden National to stay on-course with selling Mighty River Power.

This is the real crux of the matter.

23.

Raising achievement and accountability in schools

Again, a loaded question, as it assumes that there is a problem with accountability in our schools.

What – have all the principles left for Australia? Have all the School Boards resigned en-masse?

As for “raising achievement” – see #12, #13, and #15 above.

24.

Rebuilding Christchurch

Another question  with double meaning.

Firstly, it suggests to the respondent that this is an issue of important to National. Otherwise, why include it on the leaflet?

Secondly, how does the respondent rate this? Should it be chosen above asset sales in priority? Or is asset sales more important? Now we begin to see the craftiness of this questionnaire…

25.

Practical environmental policies supporting growth

A coded question.

What National is really asking is; “Is  environmental protection ok, so long as we can do mining on conservation land or protected marine  areas, as money is more important than protecting trees and fish?”

It is a dishonest question.

But then, the entire leaflet and it’s contents is dishonest.

And worst of all, at a time when the public are expected to tighten their belts; 2,500 state sector workers have been sacked; and essential services like MAF Biosecurity are being run down – National is wasting our tax-dollars on rubbish like this.

They forgot to ask one last question,

Should we be spending your money on leaflets like this?”

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ACT. Auckland. Chooks. Roosting.

19 July 2012 8 comments

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This is Stephen Franks,

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Stephen Franks was an ACT MP from 1999 to 2005, and later stood (unsuccessfully) for the Wellington Central electorate in 2008.

See: Wikipedia Stephen Franks

Stephen Franks is also an occassional guest on Jim Mora’s Afternoon Panel on Radio NZ, where Franks occassionally espouses his neo-liberal, free market ideology.

This is John Banks,

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But he’s not important.

This is Rodney Hide. He is central to this story,

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Rodney Hide was an ACT MP from 1996 to 2011, and led the party from 2004 onward, until he was replaced in a bizarre coup d’état by Don Brash, in April last year.

See: Wikipedia Rodney Hide

See: Wikipedia Don Brash

During his role as Minister for Local Affairs, Rodney Hide oversaw the forced amalgamation of several city and district councils.  By 2010, several councils were merged into one, “supercity” – Auckland Council.

This amalgamation was enabled by Parliamentary legislation  (Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009), and which was passed under urgency.

See: Auckland super city bill passed by parliament

Though quite why it was considered “urgent” has never been satisfactorily explained by National or ACT. Were they expecting Auckland to be beamed aboard a flying saucer and carried away into outer space?!

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In fact, when Rodney Hide first presented the amalgamation Bill to Parliament on 15 December 2009, he was quite enthusiastic about it,

The importance of local government to the growth and prosperity of Auckland should not be underestimated. Good governance enables civic leaders to think regionally, plan strategically, and act decisively. Governance arrangements affect the ability to solve the larger and longer-term challenges effectively.

The Auckland region needs decisive leadership, robust infrastructure, and facilities and services to cater for its people.

The provisions of the two previous Acts and the proposals in this bill will deliver a united Auckland governance structure, strong regional governance, integrated decision-making, greater community engagement, and improved value for money.

See: Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill — First Reading

When the Bill was passed on it’s third and final Reading in the House,  on 2 June 2010, it passed 64 votes to 57. Those voting for it were,

  • 58  National MPs
  • 5 ACT MPs
  • 1 United Future MP (Peter Dunne)

Thus was born the Auckland  supercity, a creature of the ACT Party.

So it is a bit rich now, that the same Stephen Franks, ex-ACT MP, is gnashing his teeth and making great wailing noises about how the Auckland Council – now two years old, in law – is operating,

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Contrast Stephen Franks’ complaints, with that of his one-time Party Leader, Rodney Hide,

Stephen Franks: ” The law setting up the Super City deliberately created a presidential mayoralty and gave councillors no clear rights to information.

It certainly does not protect council officers who want to provide unbiased information to councillors against the wishes of their bosses, the chief executive and the mayor.

The law may have been drafted out of frustration with years of indecision fuelled by endless reporting and consultation as excuses for inaction. Perhaps the law’s designers chose to give elected dictatorship a go instead.

Amazingly till now there has been little publicised protest at the constitutional barbarity of this structure. Without clear rights to the same information available to the executive they must monitor, councillors become spare wheels.

“Carping critics” who are also unavoidably ignorant are in no position to maintain the safeguards of democratic control.

Some have called the Auckland governance structure the corporate model. If so it is a poor copy. The company model is robust about directors’ rights to oversee management. Directors have an almost unrestricted right to information from anywhere in the company. Even conflicts of interest create only a partial exception. “

Rodney Hide:  ” The importance of local government to the growth and prosperity of Auckland should not be underestimated. Good governance enables civic leaders to think regionally, plan strategically, and act decisively. Governance arrangements affect the ability to solve the larger and longer-term challenges effectively.

The Auckland region needs decisive leadership, robust infrastructure, and facilities and services to cater for its people.

The provisions of the two previous Acts and the proposals in this bill will deliver a united Auckland governance structure, strong regional governance, integrated decision-making, greater community engagement, and improved value for money.

Just what is  Stephen Franks complaining about?

His Party voted for “decisive leadership” and “strong regional governance” – and he got it.

Why on Earth is he complaining bitterly that “perhaps the law’s designers chose to give elected dictatorship a go instead” – when it was the ACT Party,  his party, that drafted and sponsored the Bill in Parliament in 2009 and 2010?

If ever there was a case of chickens coming home to roost, then this is it.

And irony of ironies – Franks complimented Cr Cathy Casey for her outstanding attempts to instill some measure of democracy and transparency into the Auckland Council culture,

Councillor Casey has done what oppressed councillors do across the land, and asked the Auditor-General for help…

… Let’s hope Councillor Casey does not just wait for the Auditor-General fairy to give her x-ray vision. She could get alongside Councillors Fletcher, Wood and Cameron Brewer, who have been warning of this constitutional problem for some time, to get the upgrade under way. “

Ms Casey is a left-wing Councillor, having had close affiliation with the now-defunct Alliance Party.

In which case,  suggesting that Cr Casey  “get alongside ”  Councillors Fletcher and Cameron Brewer, simply beggars belief. Either  Mr Franks is woefully amnesiac like the current leader of ACT – or he is willfully mischievous.

Why, you ask?

Because Councillors Fletcher and Cameron Brewer are both members the National Party.  (Cr Wood is a member of the Citizens & Ratepayers group, which is linked to the National Party through it’s membership.)

See:   Blogpost – Right Way the Wrong Way

And the National Party supported ACT’s legislation to draft; table; and pass the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 – the law which created the supercity and it’s current governance model.

It is unclear why Franks believes that right wing city councillors ( Christine Fletcher, George Wood and Cameron Brewer) might work with left wing Cr Casey, when Fletcher, Wood, and Brewer support the Party that enabled the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 in the first place?!?!

If  Stephen Franks has a gripe about the legislation, he should take it up with the ACT Party – which presently consists of one man, John Banks.

But he better be quick about it. ACT is living on borrowed time, and  is soon to follow the dinosaur, mammoth, and moa, into extinction.

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Roads, grandma, and John Key

18 July 2012 9 comments

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“However, the Government could not afford to give DHBs the $140 million required to enable rest homes to pay their staff more,”

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“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.” – John Key, 28 May 2012

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In March of this year, rest home care workers went on strike throughout New Zealand, demanding an increase in their pay rate of $13.61 an hour.

That paltry sum is only 11 cents an hour above the minimum wage, which as Finance Minister said on TVNZ’s “Q+A“, on 6 November last year, was not liveable for any long period of time,

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

If $13 an hour is ‘ pretty damn tough’ and ‘people can live on that for [only]  a short time’  – then how much better is $13.61 an hour? Not by much, one would think.

But, as Dear Leader told the nation on 28 May,

It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.

You could certainly change the proportion of where you spend money in health. We spend about $14.5 billion in the overall health sector.

What’s going to go to pay the increase in this area? If you said all of the increase is going to go into this area, that would be roughly $600m over the forecast period which is four years… So that would have left us $1bn for other things.

“We put the money into cancer care and nursing and various other things. On balance, we think we got that about right.”

See: PM: No money for aged care workers

“On balance”, I think National is about as incompetant as it was in the 1990s, and as it was under Rob Muldoon.

To make sure that the peasantry (ie, us) got the message,  he shifted blame on to Labour by insisting, that the former Labour government “had a lot more cash floating around and didn’t meet the bill“.

I wonder how many times he’s going to blame Labour?

I thought National was BIG on people  taking responsibility?

But just when the public get used to the idea that paying hundreds of  heroic careworkers in resthomes – who look after our grandmas, grandpas, the sick, and the infirm – a measely $13.61 is the best we can afford, we discover that National does have access to pots of  cash (our cash, by the way).

And boy, do they  know how to spend it like it’s going out of fashion by 2014,

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A total of  $336 million spent on consultants, and various “fees” for selling our own state assets to “mums and dads”  (aka,  corporate investors).  Of that, $216 million has already been spent on “consultants” – and that’s without  one metre of tarseal being laid.

And yet, our smiling and waving Dear Leader has the cheek to say that we can’t pay resthome careworkers any more money? He insists that,  “it’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.”

When I found and collated these three media stories, my jaw dropped.

I have long since given up trying to understand John Key’s “moral compass” (if he actually has one).

But I wonder what those 1,058,636 New Zealanders who voted for this wretched Party must be feeling when they read this sort of thing? Does it even register with those 1,058,636, I wonder?!

But there is a delicious irony that will eventually fall upon most of those 1,058,636.  For they too, are growing older…

And eventually, they will end up in resthomes, being cared for by low-paid, exploited, careworkers.

I wonder if those careworkers, by then, will still be the conscientious, dedicated, saints that  Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor said of them,

The complexity of the job was actually a surprise for me. It’s quite physical work, and it’s emotionally draining because you are obliged to give of yourself to other people.

Saint-like women do it every day so that older New Zealanders can have a quality of life.”

See: Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

Will Resthome careworkers still be Saint-like in their care for us?

Or will they have had a gutsful by then, and not give a damn? If we continue to pay them $13.61 an hour (or a future-equivalent) – is that the value of service we’ll end up receiving?

If so, I hope those exploited, burnt-out, angry workers will vent their frustrations on a specific group of 1,058,636 New Zealanders. After all, they will have paid for their care. All $13.61 of it.

Karma.

As for the rest of us – those who understand the utter futility of electing John Key into power – I hope that National’s apalling waste of our valuable tax-dollars will motivate you all for the next election.

I know that most readers who visit this blog are fair minded, decent, people. I know you will be voting to get rid of this rotten, morally-corrupt,  government in 2014 (if not earlier).

But that’s not enough. Simply voting is insufficient.

If, after reading this (and similar examples of National’s wretched policies)  you are angry and want to get rid of John Key – then at the next election, find one other adult who did not vote last year and encourage that person to walk to the nearest polling booth with you to cast his/her vote.

About a million people did not vote last year. We need to find them and explain to them why their vote is crucial.  The future of this country lies in their hands.

Our most powerful Weapon of Mass Democracy – our vote.

It is our vote that makes us powerful.

Let’s do it.

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Related Blogposts

No Rest for the Wicked

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

1 March – No Rest for Striking Workers!

Additional

Service & Food Workers Union

NZ Nurses Organisation

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Dear Leader and a basket of kittens…

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A  little girl named Suzy-Moana was standing on the pavement in front of her home.

Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.

Suddenly a line of big cars pulled up beside her.

Out of the lead car stepped a grinning man.

“Hi there little girl, I’m John Key, the leader of the National Party, what do you have in the basket?” he asked.

“Kittens,” little Suzy-Moana said.

“How old are they?” asked Key

Suzy-Moana replied, “They’re so young, their eyes aren’t even open yet.”

“And what kind of kittens are they?”

“National supporters,” answered Suzy-Moana with a smile.

Key was delighted!  As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.

Recognizing the perfect photo op, the two of them agreed that he should return the next day; and in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy-Moana was again standing on the pavement with her basket of “FREE KITTENS,” when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from BBC,  CNN, Sky News, TVNZ, TV3, Radio NZ, NZ Herald, and News-Talk ZB.

Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Key got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy-Moana.

“Hello, again,” he said, “I’d love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you’re giving away.”

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Frank Macskasy Frankly speaking  Blog

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“Yes Sir,” Suzy-Moana said. “They’re NZ First, Labour, Mana,  and Green supporters.”

Taken by surprise, Key stammered, “But…but…yesterday, you told me they were NATIONAL SUPPORTERS.”

Little Suzy-Moana shrugged, smiled, and said,

“I know.   But today, they have their eyes open.”

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

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Is pressure getting to Key?

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It would be fair to say that National’s asset sale programme is highly unpopular with the majority of New Zealanders – and with a sizeable portion of National Party voters. In fact, it would be fair to say that those individuals and organisations in favour of asset sales would be a distinct minority.

John Key doggedly maintains that National has a “mandate” for the partial-privatisation of Solid Energy, Meridian, Genesis, Meridian, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

Whilst it’s true that National’s 1,058,636 party votes trumped Labour’s 614,937 – National’s support is less than one quarter of the population of this country. And when votes for Labour, NZ First, the Greens, Mana, Maori Party, and the Conservative Party are added together – they outnumber the combined votes for National, ACT, and United Future.

The only reason that National-ACT-United Future have a current one-seat majority in Parliament is because the Conservative Party did not break the 5% threshold, nor win an Electorate seat.

See:  2011 general election official results

ACT, but contrast, gained less than half the number of votes that the Conservative Party did – but because of the quirky Electorate Seat Threshold rule (which lets Parties enter Parliament despite not breaking the 5% threshold), still gained one seat.

For the second time in two elections, a small Party has won more votes than ACT – but ACT has slipped back into Parliament because of National-ACT manipulation of the Electorate Seat Threshold. The other Party failed to win seats because it failed to break the 5% threshold or win an Electorate.

The Electoral Commission is currently reviewing MMP and it is likely that they will recommend to Parliament that the Electorate Seat Threshold be eliminated, as it serves no logical, discernible purpose and undermines the proportionality of  our electoral system.

National’s “mandate” is therefore as shonkey as some of John Key’s promises.

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The Maori Party finds itself in the same invidious position that NZ First was in 1998, and the Alliance in 2001. Both Parties were ‘tested’ by unforeseen circumstances, and the subsequent  political stresses and public pressures tore both Parties apart.

The Alliance was effectively destroyed, and NZ First split in two, and never recovered it’s electoral hey-day support of  13.35%.

The Maori Party finds itself in a similar Rock-vs-Hard Place situation, as it contemplates public pressure over it’s support for National – even as it’s leader, John Key, has trashed the Waitangi Tribunal by stating categorically that  it is not bound by Tribunal decisions and may gnore it’s recommendationa.

It has always been known (except by low-information voters) that Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on any government. But governments of both Left and Right have, up till now, had the common sense and common courtesy to reserve judgement until being handed Tribunal recommendations.

To pre-empt the Waitangi Tribunal by suggesting – as John Key did – that National may ignore any recommendation, is high-handed arrogance. And it is a slap in the face to Maori, who place a measure of  faith in the British judicial system of fairness in justice.

After all, our justice system was introduced to this land, as was the concept of private ownership, and Maori have had to adapt to both concepts. This, they have done – and with far more success than generally Pakeha have adapted to Maori tikanga.

So for John Key to dismiss, out-of-hand, any decision from the Tribunal insults not just Maori, but our faith in systems of justice that apply to everyone in this country.

If Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples want to remain aligned with a political party, that is so derisory to the Waitangi Tribunal and normal concepts of fair play,  then they risk being tarred by association.

This blogger concurs with those who call for the Maori Party to disassociate itself from National. For their own mana,  and ultimate political survival, the Maori Party must ‘walk’. There is no possible long-term benefit to be gained  by continuing to associate with, and support, John Key’s administration.

But there is a lot of damage to be gained by maintaining their association with National.

Small parties are highly vulnerable to voter backlash. The history of The Alliance Party, United Future, ACT,  and NZ First should serve as a stark warning to Ms Turia and Mr Sharples.

It is time to walk, Ms Turia, Mr Sharples. For your own dignity, if nothing else.

3.

For the first time since the 2011 election, John Key has admitted that the first partial-privatisation – that of  Mighty River Power – may be delayed.

A combination of several protest marches; thousands of letters and emails sent to MPs and Ministers; letters-to-the-editors of newspapers; and ongoing public concerns have given John Key and his National cronies one, giant, non-stop, collective headache.

On a practical level, Dear Leader seemed to be prepared to “weather the storm of public anger”, and hunkered down to wait out the first asset sale. Their thinking is that once the first power company – Mighty River Power – is part-privatised, that the public clamour would die away, and subsequent asset sales would attract less and less protest.

However, the people of this country had one last card to play; the Treaty of Waitangi. Long ignored by pakeha; the favourite rant of  demented callers on talkback radio; and the dog-whistle-of-choice by right wing politicians looking to garner a few thousand extra votes, there’s nothing quite like mentioning “Maori” and “Treaty” to whip up a bit of racist hysteria. It’s practically a basic Law of the Perverse-Universe; “Maori” + “Treaty” =  Kneejerk Racist Response.

When the Maori Council announced on 9 July that the part-sale of SOEs would result in Maori lodging an application to the Waitangi Tribunal, the response was as followed;

1. The Thinking Man & Woman

Absolute delight and a sigh of relief.  Critics of privatisation finally had a powerful means by which National’s agenda might be stalled – perhaps even halted dead in it’s tracks.

For the first time, the Treaty of Waitangi would be a document protecting the rights of pakeha, as well as tangata whenua. This was something never foreseen by anyone – but when you think about it, has a perfect logic and symmetry to it.

2. The Unthinking Man & Woman

“Maori” + “Treaty” = Kneejerk Racist Response.

See:  It’s official: racists aren’t very bright

This blogger has tried to get into the minds of reactionary racists, to try to understand how their mental processes work. Without much success, unfortunately.  The closest I can come to, to understand the mind of a redneck is that they are extremely fearful. But of what, precisely, who knows. Perhaps they whisper to  each other that Maori are coming to steal their houses through the next Treaty claim, and put us all on boats back to Mother England? (Or Eastern Europe, for this  blogger.)

Unfortunately, the Unthinking Man & Woman appears to be incapable of understanding that the Maori Council’s tactics are for all our benefits; to slow down or halt the part-sales process.  Their minds are caught in some weird “neuron-loop” where all they can think of is Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty… ad infinitum.

Even one person who took the effort to post comments on a previous blogpost  did not seem to understand. (See Mary’s comments here;   It’s official: racists aren’t very bright )

And see more comments here, on Fairfax’s website:   Harawira criticises Key over Maori water claim

No wonder Key is being stubborn on this issue; he is hoping to tap into a rich vein of racial prejudice, and to  boost his Party’s standing in the next political poll. Such a rise would be temporary, as happened when Don Brash gave his infamous “Orewa Speech” in January 2004.

3. John Key

John Key has been rattled by recent events. He may choose to dismiss public opinion polls; street marches; and other expressions of public discontent – but he cannot so easily dismiss a legal challenge.

Whilst Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on governments – High Court rulings most certainly are. Even governments must obey laws and Court decisions,  irrespective of how ‘irksome’ such legal decisions may be.

To re-cap;

9 July:  Waitangi Tribunal hearing begins in Lower Hutt, after the Maori Council lodges an urgent  claim testing the rights of Maori over water.

John Key states, “The Government’s very firm view is that no-one owns water: we certainly don’t believe Maori own water; we don’t believe they own the airways, air or sea.

10 July:   On TVNZ’s “Breakfast“, John Key says, “We could choose to ignore what findings they might have – I’m not saying we would, but we could.”

10 July:   On TV3’s “Firstline“, Key says, “In the same way we don’t think anyone owns the sea and we don’t think anyone owns air.”

Unfortunately for Dear Leader, he may be engaging in a spot of wishful thinking, according to this comment made three days later;

13 July:  TV3: Crown lawyer, Paul Radich admits, “It’s accepted that Maori do have rights and interests in water.”

16 July:  “It was very matter of fact, I basically just said the Tribunal’s not binding on any government. ‘I actually said exactly the same words in front of the Treaty meeting house on Waitangi Day.”

16 July:  John Key states,  “You can’t rule that out.  It’s a matter that could be subject to court action. We certainly hope it’s not delayed. I think we should work on the principle that there is a high probability that we will be going to court. “

Gotcha!!!

Despite all of Key’s bluster and highly provocative remarks – many offensive – he has publicly admitted for the first time,  that where public opinion and protest failed – Maori may succeed in halting National’s privatisation programme.

For the first time since 26 November 2011, there is now a distinct possibility that the privatisation agenda may be thwarted. It is a slim hope, but barring a sudden snap election, that is all we have to go on.

17 July:  Key stated, “Why wasn’t it tested in 1999 when Contact was sold. In my view it’s opportunistic.”

This was backed up by his Deputy PM, Bill English,  “The Maori Council doesn’t have any interest in any river, lake, spring or creek.  The Iwi Leadership Group and individual iwis are working constructively with the Crown.  They don’t represent any particular interest.”

Key and English seem to be going all-out to play hard-ball. Something has them ‘spooked’, and this blogger understands why, with  comments made by Dear Leader yesterday: this is heading to Court.

And still, the inflammatory rhetoric kept coming;

17 July:  John Key says,  “The Crown’s long held view is that it’s irrelevant whether there is a change of ownership structure in Mighty River Power, it has no bearing to any rights or interests in water that Mighty River Power currently has long term water rights for… There’s a chance a meteorite will hit the Earth this afternoon, but I don’t think it’s likely.”

Key seems to think that if he repeats this mantra over and over again, that Maori will “fall in line” and make it happen his way.  Dear Leader is dreaming in LaLaLand.  Maori are tough operators and have learned to use the Pakeha system to their advantage, to address Treaty breaches.

Only, this time, it will be to the entire nation’s advantage, if the Maori Council succeed. We may yet stop National from thieving our state assets.

Last point: As TV3 News reported today (17 July); up to 84,000 meteorites hit Earth each year. So Dear Leader John Key may yet be in for a surprise.

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John Key – keep your grubby hands of Local Body Councils!

17 July 2012 8 comments

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At a recent Local Government conference in Queenstown, John Key exhorted local body councils to “reign in” spending and “focus on core services”,

The Government proposes axing the community wellbeings from the Local Government Act to make councils focus on ”core responsibilities” and reduce the rates burden on constituents.  “

See:  Councils to pressure Govt over reforms

This theme of “core services” is one that National has been banging-on about since Nick Smith was Local Government Minister. In May of this year, Smith’s replacement as LG Minister, David Carter,  was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A.

To suggest that he was sending “mixed messages” was fairly evident. But interviewer Greg Boyd managed to elicit responses from Carter that revealed National’s obessesive mania for local governments to stick to “core services”,

GREG BOYD            Well, hold on.  It sounds like the Government’s wanting a bob each way in this.  They’re wanting to say they keep in touch with what’s happening with the rates, but they’re only to go and do core services at a local level or not.  Which way is it to go?
 
DAVID CARTER            We are not saying that councils can only do core services.  If you take my Christchurch City Council, for example, and it runs the Ellerslie Flower Show in Hagley Park.  You could argue that’s not a core service.  The council has determined that there is value in delivering that show for the people of Christchurch, and, frankly, I meet a lot of people on planes who are travelling from all over New Zealand to come to that.  The council’s decision is to run the Ellerslie Flower Show, and that is a decision for the council to make.  It’s certainly not a decision for central government to make or for myself as minister.

[abridged]

GREG BOYD            So you are limiting local government?  They are going to be in charge of very basic things and numbers and keeping an eye on rates.  You are limiting their scope quite a bit.
 
DAVID     CARTER       We’re certainly going to get local government to be far more focused on what activities it undertakes.   In the past, some councils have stepped too far and undertaken activities, Hamilton city, for example, with the Grand Prix racing.  I think that was an activity that went far beyond where local government should have gone.  It cost local government in that area a lot of money.  We’re not saying you cannot run race cars; we’re saying you need to think very very carefully before undertaking that activity.  And by putting these financial management tests in place, I think councils will think more carefully about some of those longer-term extraneous activities they’re undertaking than they did in the past.

See: Q+A Interview with David Carter 20 May 2012

So the upshot is;

  • Flower Shows – good
  • Grand Prix racing – bad

No doubt local government bodies will await further diktats from the Minister as to what is permissable and what is not.  (And it;’s laughable how National painted Labour as “nanny statist?!”)

Yet, National is not averse to spending tax-payers money on events that are not Central Government  “core services”,

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Full story

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National had no qualms in spending $39 million of our money on rugby. On top of that, they supported the spending of a further $200 million of public money on the Games.

And National certainly doesn’t seem to mind when SEO’s paid out $54 million in “performance bonuses” to their staff in 2011, with power companies spending the highest.

See:  SEOs pay $54m in staff bonuses

Perhaps John Key and National should look at themselves first as to what they are spending our taxes on.

Especially when recent disclosures to Radio NZ reveal that private consultants have been paid  hundreds of millions of dollars for “advice” of dubious quality and necessity.

This blogger detects not just the sickly-sweet stench of hypocrisy on this issue, but signs of National’s propensity for heavy-handed, ideologically-motivated,  State interference where they are not welcomed, nor justified.

National has it’s own “core services” to focus on – unemployment, stagnating economy, low wages, New Zealanders leaving for Australia, and  deeply unpopular programmes of state asset sales, charter schools, mining, school league tables, alcohol abuse, etc .

National should be focusing in their own backyard – because from where I sit, they have enough of a mess to clean up, without peering over the fence onto other people’s “turf”.

We’re still waiting for those 170,000 new jobs, Dear Leader.

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Another case of “We told you so!”?

17 July 2012 6 comments

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When National campaigned in 2008, John Key made several promises – most of which he has either broken or failed to address.

One of those promises was to “cap the state sector”,

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The above election pledge, signed by Dear Leader John Key, states quite clearly and concisely,

Ensure government spending is focused on frontline services such as health and education by capping the number of bureacrats…

Checking an on-line dictionary, the definition of capping (in this case) is,

26. to put a maximum limit on (prices, wages, spending, etc.). “

See:  Dictionary.Com

“To put a maximum limit on… “

Sez nothing about reducing, cutting, chopping, decreasing, or any other  word gleaned from my friendly Thesaurus.

But as with nearly every  other promise from Key, National was quick to break this one as well. Instead of capping, National began cutting,

Job losses to hit military next week

NZ can’t afford AgResearch redundancies

Second TEC restructuring to cut 70 jobs

Public service watchdog faces job cuts

Thirty-five jobs may go at Niwa

NZ Post shutting stores, axing jobs

More than 140 MAF staff to lose jobs

DOC Confirms 96 Jobs To Go

State-Sector Job Cuts ‘Will Make Life Tough

Housing New Zealand staff face further cuts

Ministry plan puts 50 jobs on the line

Air NZ may cut scores of jobs

Public sector will face bucketloads of job cuts

Public Sector Sackings May Lead To Australia Migration

Jobs to go at Justice Ministry

Defence Staff Eye Leaving As Morale Falls

Corrections Department to dump 130 staff

25 redundancies from government’s Plant and Food company

KiwiRail to cut up to 220 jobs

Much like National’s  long list of broken, or unaddressed promises, the ‘Roll Call of Redundancies‘ goes on. And on. And on…

By March of  this year, the Dominion Post reported that over 2,500 state sector workers had been sacked..

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2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

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Andrea Vance, Last updated 09:18 03/03/2012

A squeeze on state service backroom functions has saved just $20 million in two years, Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf has revealed.

The Government has shed more than 2500 jobs in the past three years and ordered chief executives to shave their IT and human resources bills as part of a drastic overhaul of the public service.

But despite ambitious plans to save $1billion over three years, a `benchmarking’ report to be published next week will show 31 agencies and departments have managed to reduce spending by just $20m.

Full Story

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All for a measely $20 million?!

John Key sells his integrity cheaply. (I’m sure he could get more for it on the open market. Just what are politicians selling themselves for, these days? Ours is barely used.)

John Key promised capping the “bureacracy”. Instead, National sacked 2,500.

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

This year,  National is planning even more redundancies, in its obsession with it’s failed neo-liberal ideology of  “small government” and privatisation of services.

See:  2400 more public sector jobs could go

In the meantime,  cuts to the state sector are rapidly becoming a cautionary tale – one that is a repeat of National’s cuts in the late 1990s.

See: Related blogpost – Learning from History

Two years into his new cosy relationship with National, and with all the perks and high salary  in his ministerial role, Peter Dunne begins the process of capping cutting the state sector,

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Dunne defends Greymouth IRD job cuts

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announcement

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NZ Herald, 9:08 AM Friday Dec 17, 2010

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has defended the timing of yesterday’s announcement that eight jobs are to be cut at the Inland Revenue Department in Greymouth.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the timing could not be worse, coming before Christmas and quick on the heels of the redundancies of 114 Pike River Mine employees following the explosions which killed 29 men…

…  Mr Dunne said the proposals had been discussed with staff in Greymouth in the wake of the Pike River tragedy, however staff told him they wanted to be given certainty on their jobs “as soon as possible”.

“We didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Full story

How very generous, kind-hearted, and humane of Mr Dunne, that “we didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads.”

Certainly not. Instead he “puts the steel-capped boot” into the West Coast community eight days before Christmas.

Charming.

Only the National Party and it’s sycophantic fellow-travellers and grubby little  ‘groupies’ could be so cold-hearted.

Then it follows with mass sackings like this,

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IRD confirms job cuts

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Newstalk ZB/NZ Herald, 12:38 PM Wednesday Sep 7, 2011

Inland Revenue has confirmed it’s cutting 156 jobs from its regional offices.  The affected branches are Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Nelson and Invercargill.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Tremain said the original proposal was for 191 job losses, but after consultation with staff the number has been reduced to 156.

She said IRD will keep its offices, but where and how it does some work would change.

The process is expected to take 18 months, and will start early next year.

Source

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In the above story, PSA National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff warns us,

Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”

Then a few more, like this,

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IRD cuts 51 provincial jobs

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TV3, Thu, 31 May 2012 7:39p.m.

The IRD has cut jobs (file)

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has made 51 staff in regional offices redundant.

The 16 job losses at Invercargill, seven at Nelson, 12 at Rotorua, nine from Napier and seven at New Plymouth are part of the government’s public sector budget cuts, the Public Service Association says…

… An IRD spokesman said on Thursday the cuts would help it deliver a more flexible and sustainable approach with work that could be done over the phone taken up by offices in the main centres.

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Then, MP for Ohariu; Revenue Minister;  and careerist-politician, Peter Dunne makes a public statement to reassure the public,

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IRD job cuts won’t impact taxpayers – Dunne

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TV3, Fri, 01 Jun 2012 7:48a.m.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

The Government says the Inland Revenue Department will maintain frontline services… despite shedding 60 jobs at regional offices.

The Public Service Association (PSA) says staff are already struggling to meet demand and the redundancies will make that task even tougher.

“Job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

But Revenue Minister Peter Dunne maintains the public shouldn’t notice any change.

“Most of the services that are being refocused are services that were better performed in larger areas. We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact.”

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Note Mr Dunne’s comment, ” We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact ” .

Oh, really?

Really?!?!

Remember Mr Wagstaff’s dire warnings above, made in September last year,

Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”

The inevitable consequence to state sector cuts are now coming home to roost,

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More than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered –

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Fairfax Media,  Stacey Kirk, Last updated 05:00 13/07/2012

Government cuts and poor planning have left more than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered over its busiest tax return time, the Public Service Association (PSA) says.

IRD figures showed about 70,000 calls weren’t answered between June 25 and July 5 – the two weeks leading up to the deadline for filing tax returns.

During that period 164,000 calls were planned for, but more than 202,000 were received. Of those only about 131,000 were actually answered as the department struggled to cope with increased demand.

The PSA said there had also been a significant increase in the number complaints about the phone service.

National secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was frustrating for both the public and staff but was a “clear consequence” of budget cuts and bad decision-making.

“IRD has been undergoing a large restructuring programme which has already seen its workforce slashed by nearly half in several regional sites.  It has been creating what it calls ‘virtual jobs’ in metropolitan centres while reducing jobs and services in the provinces.

Full story

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I wonder how many of those 70,000 unanswered calls were National Party voters and supporters of cuts to the State Sector? I live in hope that every single one of those 70,000 were foolish, naive,  people who thought that National was “cutting the fat” from the state sector.

I hope they  reflect on how wrong they were, as they wait for hours and hours waiting to talk to someone in a government department.

Failing that, I guess they can always call Peter Dunne?

An incoming Labour-led government will be charged with having to re-build the State sector – much as Helen Clark did in the early 2000s.

But more than that, jobs have to be protected. We simply cannot allow an ideologically-driven bunch of right wing lunatics to gut the state sector every time New Zealanders get a rush of blood to their heads and elect National into power. Not one  New Zealander would want to live under a system where his/his job was reliant on the whim of a politician – not one.

So why should state sector workers have to endure their lives turned upside down, simply because National is elected to power every six or nine years?

Such a situation is grossly unfair and untenable. We end up losing talented people and the best and brightest will not want to work under such a cloud of uncertainty and insecurity.

A Labour-led government must fix this and do so as a matter of priority.

This blogger suggests putting all state sector workers on a Union-Employer negotiated, sector-wide, contract-style system, with the PSA as an interested Third Party, and with legally-protected  job security for at least five years,  dated from each general election.

Breaking the contract would entail hefty penalty fees by any government contemplating mass-redundancies.

No doubt every right winger in this country would be frothing at the mouth at such a suggestion of an entrenched system of job-protection. Personally, I don’t care. Right wing fanatics don’t care about others losing their jobs – so why should we care about them?

What I do care about is a fair and just system that protects people’s jobs; their livelihoods; families; and their dignity.

That’s what really matters.

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Related blogposts

Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

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Guest Author: Fairfaxian denial, yet again

- Neil Watts,  Blogger, Fearfactsexposed

July 16, 2012

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How is an “eye-watering” $200m blown on roading consultants NOT news?

It was New Zealand’s leading political story this morning; the National-led Government have spent around $200m on roading consultants since coming into office.

Radio New Zealand broke it, the New Zealand Herald picked it up straight away and led the politics section online with it.  But, it seems that John Key’s mates at Fairfax just didn’t have the heart for such embarrassing news about their favourite political party, so according to stuff.co.nz, it simply didn’t happen.  Not a word.

Of course, regular readers of this blog know that this is nothing new, with Fairfax Media regularly avoiding stories – no matter how newsworthy – that are damaging to their chums in the National Government.  And, this blowout is extremely damaging, coming as it does as the Government preach austerity, cut public services, and within a week of annoucing massive job cuts at Kiwirail.  Yes, it seems that the National-led Government can’t find anything in the budget to invest in public transport and state-owned rail, but they are happy to provide jobs for the boys when it comes to their pet roading projects.  Could it have anything to do with the strong association between the National Party and the road transport lobby?  Could it be the dirty covert hand of big oil at play?  Or, is it simply a matter of National doing what they do best – making their rich mates richer at the expense of New Zealand.  In truth, it’s probably a combination of all of this, plus a little pressure from their mining billionaire owner Gina Rinehart thrown in for good measure.

With all of these powerful backs getting scratched, one would think that any real journalist would be itching to get into this story, but it seems that Fairfax are happy just to join in the back scratching, and ignore National’s dodgy accounting altogether.

According to the New Zealand Herald:

“Labour transport spokesperson Phil Twyford told Radio New Zealand it was an “eye-watering amount of money” to be spending on consultants in the current economic climate.

“It really puts a big question mark over the roads of national significance and how much money is being ploughed into these gold-plated projects.

“$200m could buy a lot of useful transport infrastructure and services,” Mr Twyford said.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter questioned the impartiality of the advice given to NZTA by consultants.

“In does beg the question of whether the transport consultants’ industry is actually giving advice that’s totally neutral or whether they’re recommending projects they know are going to result in more work for them,” she told Radio New Zealand.”

Great story eh?  But, Fairfax Media don’t really do the Opposition, especially when their arguments are harmful to the National Party.  So, the issue got the old Fairfaxian denial treatment, just like so many others noted by this blog over the past three years.

If you’ve had enough of corporate Rightwing propaganda posing as news, or of politically partisan reporting controlling the message, boycott Fairfax, join us on Facebook, and tell your friends.

Additional

Road consultants paid ‘eye-watering’ $200m

Facebook – Neil Watts

Consultants receive $200 million for roading work

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Acknowledgement

Fearfactsexposed

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Categories: Media, The Body Politic

Wellington sez Aotearoa is Not for Sale! (Rua)

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   No Asset Sales Wellington 14 July http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com Aotearoa is not for sale

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Continued from:  Wellington sez Aotearoa is Not for Sale! (Tahi)

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What we do now, will impact on her future. Asset sales for this generation’s ‘benefit’ will affect how following generations live and work in our country.  This is unfair and  is little more than a form of inter-generational theft.

What will this young lady think of us when she’s older?

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The link between impending asset sales and the secret Trans Pacific Partnership  Agreement (TPPA) cannot be underestimated. The Agreement will be the vehicle through which our State Assets – currently own by all New Zealanders – will eventually end up in foreign ownership.

The Free Trade Agreement with China has already resulted in the sale of 16 Crafar farms to Chinese investors.

Dear Leader said that he would not like to see New Zealanders as “tenants in our own country” – yet that is precisely the road that he is driving New Zealand down on,

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Citizens young and old, listened to speakers who addressed the crowd,

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CTU Economist and Director of Policy, Bill Rosenberg, addressing the rally, and explaining why asset sales is a really, really bad idea,

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Mother and children… she must’ve been wondering what sort of future we will be leaving  our kids,

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A sign that has appeared in over 16 towns and cities, on a nationwide day of action,

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The crowd gave koha to cover the costs of organising and setting up the Protest rally. Some gave gold coins, others slipped $20 dollars into the jar,

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Entertainment provided by musician, Billy Naylor,

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Onlookers looking at someone who appears on the scene,

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“John Key” broke in to Kris Faafoi’s speech to tell the crowd he had made a wheelbarrow full of money by selling every third or fourth word from our national anthem,

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“John Key” proceeded to sing the “new, revised” anthem,

http://frankly-speaking-blog.tumblr.com/private/27253031438/tumblr_m775z00vlZ1rbqecu

There was mixed reaction  when “John Key” announced he had sold the trademark name “New Zealand” and henceforth we’d be calling our country “Aotearoa”.

“John Key” then happily pushed  his wheelbarrow of  “billions of  dollars” – the dirty proceeds from  dirty little deal-making,

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Blogger, Alistair, distracting “John Key” with a bit of boogey-dancing, whilst the people took back the loot from Key’s wheel-barrow of ill-gotten gains,

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Alastair was interviewed by the Radio NZ journo, who asked him,

* why I was there?

I said that I was concerned about the sale of what is effectively a natural monopoly.

* Asked about the main reason why people in general are so concerned?

I said that people have been burned before, citing Telecom as an example of us being ripped off during the years when technological limitations meant that it remained a natural monopoly.

* I was challenged with the idea that the power companies could be run more efficiently in private hands (or words to that effect)?

I pointed out that the power companies are current well run and wouldn’t have sufficient capital value to sell if they weren’t. I also noted foreign investors’ tendency to starve capital investment, with the result being a loss of productivity within the organisation.

* I told the reporter that higher power prices were my main concern, not so much because of the immediate effect of paying more, but because of the downstream effects of low income people having no spare capacity in their budgets.

Well said, Alastair! Excellent responses!

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“No Deal” – a fitting response to John Key’s “Deal or No Deal”. In this case, however, John Key is playing with assets that belong to us, the people,

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The crowd seemed to grow as the afternoon progressed. Passers-by stopped; watched; and many signed the petition,

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Another of the Convenors, Aroha Priest, Mana whenua from Atiawa, addressing the crowd and reminding them of the cultural history and heritage of  our beautiful country,

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Ms Priest introduced 8-year old Jireh Pirihi, who in turn  gave a brief talk to the rally. A very courageous young lad – perhaps a future Prime Minister?

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Which was followed by an emotion-laden  dance by  Ms Priest, Jireh, and others,

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Marama Te Kira,  using here amazingly beautiful voice with some lovely singing,

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And finally,  Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati thanking everyone for attending the Rally and encouraging everyone to keep fighting National’s asset-sales programme,

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All up, it was a peaceful, dignified protest. In fact, there was no police presence at all (which was quite surprising).   The media gave brief, limited  coverage on TV1, but otherwise it will be up to the internet and social media to report the event fully.

The message continues tgo be sheeted home to John Key and National; our state assets belong to us, and we demand that the privatisation programme be scrapped. Quite simply, Aotearoa/New Zealand is not for sale!

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Important Links

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale

Occupy Savvy

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Wellington sez Aotearoa is Not for Sale! (Tahi)

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Despite a cold, wet afternoon, with intermittant drizzle drenching the city, about 200 hundred people of all ages, race, etc, gathered in Cuba Mall on 14 July.

We were ‘greeted’ by this chap, who had his own ‘beef’ with John Key and a somewhat odious aspect of the recent 2012  Budget,

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This blogger chatted briefly with the gentleman, who was passing out leaflets on this particular issue. In fact, he has a fairly strong point; taxing paperboys and girls for what tiny amounts they happen to earn  reeks of a miserly desperation from  National.

At the same time, the main beneficiaries of the 2009 and 2010 taxcuts were the richest 10% of New Zealanders.

For some reason, taxing children whilst giving more money to the wealthy constitutes “fairness” in the minds of John Key and Bill English…

Approaching the main protest rally, by the Bucket Fountain, we saw this young man. The sign he was holding seemed more than appropriate,

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Signs stuck to park benches in the Mall. One sez, ” We are the average mum and dad and we don’t want our assets sold off “.

I disagree with this sign; there’s nothing average about the good folk who attended this protest. They are each outstanding in their own way, and love their country very much. Definitely above-average, patriotic  folk!

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The message was clear and simple, WE DON’T WANT OUR ASSETS SOLD!!

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One of the organisers of the Protest,

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Bronwyn, from the Labour Party. Where ever there is a just cause to fight, Bronwyn will stand up and be counted. We just need another 4,399,999 like her – and John Key is going downnnn,

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“Zombie economics” – a valid description. Zombies stagger along; oblivious to everything; obsessed; and a menace to everyone. Hmmm, I think we’ve just described John Key and the National Party.

But unlike zombies, we’re not allowed to shoot them. (That’s still a no-no.)

We can, however, vote them out. Much better than shooting them. (And less messy.)

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People were queueing up to sign the petition calling for a Citizens Initiated Referenda to put a halt to asset sales. There simply didn’t seem to be enough clipboards to go around,

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TV1 News and Radio NZ were present to report the event. Sadly there was no sign of TV3 or any other media,

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Members of the public chatted and shared their views on issues,

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Interestingly, there was no police presence at any time during the Protest rally.  Similar past events have all been peaceful, and no doubt our police had better things to do with their time. Like catching crooks.

Don’t forget John Key and his accomplices, Constable…

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Labour’s, Kris Faafoi, was the only Member of Parliament present, and we chatted on issues surrounding state assets and how they might be protected from future National governments,

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Aroha Priest, one of the Convenors of the rally, addressed the crowd. Other speakers and entertainers included Koro Alex, who opened with a mihi and karakia;  Terry Shore (musician); John Maynard (People’s Power Ohariu); Howard  Philips (Rail & Maritime Union); Labour’s Kris Faafoi; and others.

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Someone who obviously understood economic and fiscal issues, and how their impact on other nations serve as a dire  warning for us,

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Obviously a cold, wet afternoon – but folk were not deterred,

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The ones who will be most affected by John Key and his crazy plans for privatisation; our children.  If National’s right wing agenda succeeds, what kind of  society will our youngsters grow up in?

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Many folk realise the close connection between state asset sales and the secretly-negotiated, extremely-dodgy, Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. Both have implications for our society that we can only begin to guess at,

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A presence from the Maritime Union  was good to see. Considering the  vicious attack mounted against Maritime workers  by the POAL board and management, and various right wing reactionaries, it is reassuring to have these gutsy guys standing alongside us,

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Alastair (in blue jacket) – a well-known People’s Journalist, who reports many of these events on his Facebook page,

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This image shows the wide range of ages of New Zealanders who are staunchly opposed to the sale of our State assets. This is not an issue for “young radicals” or “Grey Power” – this issue cuts across age, gender, incomes, race, etc. Quite simply, these are our assets that Key and his cronies are about to flog off,

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A simple enough message for Dear Leader,

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Continued at:  Wellington sez Aotearoa is Not for Sale! (Rua)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Important Links

Aotearoa Is Not For Sale

Occupy Savvy

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Dear Leader’s Mighty Lie?

14 July 2012 2 comments

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In March of this year, this,

That’s what we are working our way through at the moment. But the intention is for that retail distribution, that opportunity for mums and dads to buy, to be absolutely front of the queue. They’re my number one priority.”

“We’ve made it absolutely crystal clear what our intentions are..If it comes to mum and dad, and they want to buy 1000 shares or whatever…I want to make sure they get their allocation, they’re not scaled and they’re at the front of the queue. “

See:  Key: No referendum on asset sales

And this in June,

You can’t and wouldn’t want to stop them – but the question you have to ask yourself is why would they go and do that?   The question comes down to, why would a foreigner find an investment in Mighty River Power to be far more attractive on the long run than a retail investor sitting in Karori? And there’s no logic that they would. “

See:   Can’t stop asset shares being sold overseas – John Key

Had become this, two days ago,

Mighty River Power shares could be listed on stock exchanges on both sides of the Tasman to boost investment from Australian institutions, making shares more expensive for Kiwi investors…

… The joint lead managers – investment bankers helping Treasury arrange the sales – are understood to be pushing for a dual listing, with Wellington-based NZX as the primary exchange and a secondary listing on Sydney’s ASX.

… However, the Government has repeatedly said it wants to encourage a high level of local ownership, which it expects to be 85 to 90 per cent.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall would not discuss the issue, saying no decision had been made on an Australian listing. “

See: Dual listing may hit Kiwi investors

Aside from the breath-taking deception that National and John Key are about to foist on this country, there is an irony here that in June, John Key was assiduously trying to reassure the punters that Kiwi “mums and dads”  would be first in the queue to purchase shares.

Key even tried to find reasons why those “mum and dad investors”  would not on-sell their shares to foreign investors, saying, “the question comes down to, why would a foreigner find an investment in Mighty River Power to be far more attractive on the long run than a retail investor sitting in Karori”?

Now we learn that the shares may be listed in Australia?

Perhaps Key is targetting “mozzies” and their “aunties” on “The GC”?!

Key is well known for saying one thing to one audience, and something completely different to another.  This time, he will have been well and truly caught out if shares are listed on the Australian stock-exchange, for Australian investors.

What are the odds?

My money is on another Mighty Lie from Dear Leader.

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On course for a change in government…

14 July 2012 6 comments

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http://images.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz_images/news2009/politics-generic/mmp_ballot_box_2.jpg

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… by 2014, if not earlier.

The latest Roy Morgan poll has National continuing to fall,

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NZ Newswire

National down, opposition up in new poll

NZ Newswire July 13, 2012, 8:17 pm
 

A new political poll suggests the result of an election held now would be too close to call.

The governing National Party was at 45.5 per cent support in a Roy Morgan Poll taken between June 25 and July 8, down 2 per cent on the last poll taken between June 8 and 24.

The only other parties above the 5 per cent threshold were Labour, up 0.5 per cent to 32.5 per cent, and the Greens, up 1 per cent to 13 per cent.

This put the combined total of Labour and the Greens at 45.5 per cent, the same as National, making it a tight race to decide who had the keys to the Beehive.

NZ First was up 0.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, the Maori Party was at 1 per cent (down 0.5 per cent), while ACT, United Future and Mana were all unchanged at 0.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Roy Morgan confidence rating was unchanged at 117.5, while 51.5 per cent of New Zealanders saying the country was heading in the right direction compared to 34 per cent saying it was heading in the wrong direction.

Economic issues (52 per cent) were regarded as the most important problem facing the country, well ahead of social issues (19 per cent), Government and public policy issues (12 per cent) and environmental issues (6 per cent).

The telephone poll surveyed 1026 people.

Source

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This does not surprise me in the least.

Since National’s lurch to the right after the last election; various scandals; stagnant economy; high unemployment; unpopular dodgy deals; and even more unpopular asset sales, National has been in political free-fall.

The drop in their polling is slow and miscule – but incrementally it will be the undoing of  National in power.

I’ve been preparing for a change of government since the last election. By 2014, the Nats will have dropped to around 38 – 42%. They are goneburger. The public are beginning to tire of radical right wing policies – many based on nothing more than ideology – whilst still seeing unemployment stubbornly high, and the economy stagnating.

More than that, as news of redundancies fill media stories, Middle New Zealand is now facing their greatest fear; the prospect of losing their job, and dropping down the socio-economic ladder.

More than one middle class professional has found him/herself losing their job and ending up on the dole.  Only to find that the dole does not pay as much as their prejudices suggested. How often, I wonder has a recently redundant salaried professional remarked,

$204.96!!! Is that all I get?!?! How do people live on that???”

When the realities of a recession start to get in the faces of the Middle Classes – that’s when governments change. Usually to the Left.

France, Iceland, and Mexico’s recent elections seem to indicate that voters are turning away from market-driven, centre-right parties. What the Occupy! movement could not achieve by occupation, they may be still be influencing voters and gaining victory through the ballot box.

New Zealand’s time to throw out National and replace it with a more pro-active government will soon be upon us.

The big issue is, now, is how many of our State assets can the thieving buggers flog off in the meantime?

And can Labour and David Shearer begin to present themselves with an alternative vision of something better for New Zealand as a whole?

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Bolivia, New Zealand, and Tony Kokshoorn

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As the economy continues to stagnatebusiness confidence plummets, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and other negative social and economic indicators feature in our daily media reporting,  National’s desperation for any means for economic growth becomes more apparent.

The national cycleway fizzled out; the Christchurch re-build moves at a snail’s pace; and the Sky City convention centre has become a liability as the public is (rightly) concerned about increasing problem gambling.

National continues to look at easy, quick-fix solutions. And nothing is easier as a quick-fix than digging a hole and extracting precious stuff. You can’t get easier than that.

Facing staunch public opposition, on  20 July 2010, National announced that it was backing away from mining in Conservation land. In an attempt to allay mounting public anger, Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee stated categorically,

At the time the discussion document was released, I made it clear that it was a discussion. There were no preconceived positions from the Government. We have no intention of mining national parks.”

See:  Govt confirms no mining Schedule 4, national parks

But it seems that the Nats cannot help themselves.  Like a kleptomaniac drawn to shiny things, National disclosed on 25 June,

The Government has confirmed plans to survey for minerals in world heritage sites on the West Coast.

Aeromagnetic surveying will be conducted in the South Island from Haast to Karamea, including large chunks of Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand world heritage area.

The surveying follows a similar project in Northland last year, when more than 13,590 square kilometres of the region were surveyed from February to August. That was followed by an announcement from Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley this month, of a competitive tender process for exploration permits for metallic minerals in the region. “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

They said were  “just looking“.

On the following day – probably sensing rising public unease – Dear Leader John Key rushed to reassure the public,

I can give you an assurance we won’t be mining on world heritage sites.   What we are doing is gathering information for a variety of other reasons.”

See:   Key: No mining in world heritage areas

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One wonders what Key’s “ variety of other reasons  ” are?!

As one media report states,

The Conservation Department says it is one the great natural areas of the world, with “landscapes of untouched beauty”.

The West Coast surveys will not include areas protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. However, the schedule does not prevent mining in world heritage areas such as Te Wahipounamu.

Economic Development Ministry spokeswoman Tracy Dillimore said yesterday that Te Wahipounamu would be surveyed to provide a good understanding of the geology and mineral potential of the wider area.

“New Zealand is potentially highly prospective for a wide range of minerals. The Government would like to see New Zealand maximise the benefits of safe and environmentally responsible development by reputable operators”.  “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

On 11 July, in response to a Herald-Digipoll, Grey District mayor, Tony Kokshoorn was invited to comment on the issue of mining on the West Coast, on Radio New Zealand’s  ‘Afternoon With Jim Mora’s‘ show.

To say that Kokshoorn was enthusiastic about mining – including open cast mining – would be the understatement of the year,

” … Look the benchmark has always been talked about in the last two years was when Gerry Brownlee said they were going to actually mine on Schedule 4  [DoC] land. What happened was you had a big protest  that was just alluded to a minute ago, down Queen Street and they said 50,000 went down there and that was taken as the benchmark and people were against mining on Conservation land.

But the benchmark is totally wrong. I mean, it’s a well known fact it was nothing like 50,000 people. It was more like only 25,000 or 30,000 people that marched in the first place, so it’s all out of kilter. The bottom line here is that  West Coasters  and a lot of people in New Zealand, they do want mining. They want to actually get  the wealth that’s in the ground, out, so we can have  good health, education, and policing. 

Why would we send our workers to Australia and the rest of the world, to earn big wages and earn those countries valuable overseas exchange when we can have it, and we can have wealth ourselves?

Jim Mora asked,

Even if it’s open-cast, a lot of it?

Mayor Kokshoorn replied,

Yes, of course. Look, it’s a pin-prick  on the surface. The West Coast runs from Karamea to Haast, which is the equivalent of Wellington through to Auckland.  It’s a huge, huge, area. We’re not going to ruin the crown jewel that we have, and which is our rain forest. We’re gonna make sure they stay intact.

There’s a big tourist industry round that and you got to go back to the fact that the Resource Management Act 1991 was put in place for that exact reason, and was to get a win/win so we can actually manage our environment and at the same time get economic development for our region. So for anyone to think that somehow we’re going to ruin it; we’re going to get the chainsaws out again; or we’re going to get the bulldozers out, that is just absolute rubbish.

Those days went many, many years ago. “

Source: Radio NZ   The Panel with David Slack and Ali Jones (Part 2)

Tony Kokshoorn sez “we’re not going to gret the bulldozers out again”. In which case,  pray tell, Mr Mayor, how do you propose to dig an open-cast mine? With f*****g teaspoons???

And how can he say that “those days went many, many years ago” – of chainsaws and bulldozers – when that is precisely how open cast mines are dug out of ground or mountains. Let us be absolutely candid and straight up; open cast mines are excavated with bulldozers and other massive earth-moving equipment.

The waste material – millions of tonnes of rock – has to be dumped somewhere.  Much of those tailings contain toxic heavy metals and other elements,

Mining can cause serious long-lasting water pollution through acid mine drainage. Copper, lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic can leach out when water contacts the exposed rock in mine workings or tailings. This pollution is very serious and can be a problem that remains long after a mine is abandoned.

On Mt Te Aroha, poisonous waste –  from just 90,000 cubic meters of tailings of the Tui mine, (which was abandoned in 1970 when the mining company went bankrupt) , is costing taxpayers over $17.5 million to attempt to fix. The Martha Mine will have over 40 million cubic meters of toxic tailings.  Which means the Tui Mine tailings are just 0.225% of  the volume of the Martha mine tailings !

See:  How would outstanding  areas  be degraded by gold mining?

To remind folk what an open-cast mine looks like, this is the Newmont mine in Waihi,

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Perhaps the most dubious claims made by the likes of Tony Kokshoorn, Steven Joyce, et al,  is that mining will create new jobs and increase our wealth.

As recently as 5 July, Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment”. “

See: Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

They almost always point to Australia as an example.

However, Australia’s wealth is predicated on several other factors as well,

  • A$1.3 trillion-dollar compulsory savings fund
  • Stable political system and economy
  • Strong trade union movement that ensures regular wage increases and protection of conditions
  • The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP. Source

Far from rolling in cash, Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years. Source

As well,

”  One single factor that undermines balance of payments is Australia’s narrow export base. Dependent upon commodities, the Australian government has endeavoured to redevelop the Australian manufacturing sector. “

See:  Balance of payments of Australia

So it appears that the mining industry is not quite the ‘gold mine‘ that many believe for Australia.

More to the point, in de-constructing the illusion that mining is some kind of economic ‘panacea‘,  is the example set by Bolivia. A cursory comparison of fiscal indicators between Bolivia and New Zealand yields some interesting facts,

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Bolivia

New Zealand

Population

10,629,000 [2]

4,416,000 [1]

Gross domestic product (2011)

US$24.604 billion [2]

US$161.851 billion [1]

Gross domestic product per capita (2011)

US$2,314.826 [2]

US$36,648.204 [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Total (2011)

$50.904 billion [2]

$122.193 billion [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita (2011)

$4,789.212 [2]

$27,668.367 [1]

Gini coefficient [3]

58.2 (high, 2009) [3]

36.2 (medium, 1997) [3]

Unemployment

5.5% (est.) [4]

6.5% (est.) [5]

Growth

5.1% (2011 est.) [4]

2% (2011 est.) [5]

Inflation

6.5% (2011 est.) [4]

4.5% (2011 est.) [5]

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Sources

[1] Source IMF

[2] Source IMF

[3] Source Wikipedia – The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example levels of income). A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has an exactly equal income). A Gini coefficient of 100 expresses maximal inequality among values (for example where only one person has all the income) .

[4]CIA Factbook

[5] CIA Factbook

Bolivia’s economy is heavily dependent on oil, gas, and mining,

Bolivia’s estimated 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $23.3 billion. Economic growth was estimated at about 5.1%, and inflation was estimated at about 6.9%. The increase in GDP primarily reflected contributions from oil and gas production (7.9%); electricity, water, and gas distribution (7.6%); construction (7.2%); transport and communications (6.0%); and financial services (5.5%). Exports rose by more than 30% between 2010 and 2011 to $9.1 billion, due mostly to increased commodity prices, not increased volume.

In 2011, Bolivia’s top export products were: hydrocarbons (45% of total exports), minerals (27%), manufactured goods (24%), and agricultural products (4%).

See: Wikipedia Bolivia Economy

Quite simply, Bolivia’s reliance on mining and hydrocarbons does not seem to have yielded the wealth that people like Key, Joyce, Kokshoorn, and others, are telling us should be our reward for digging bloody big holes in the ground.

Whilst the Bolivian GDP grew two and a half times that of New Zealand, the income appears not to  have “trickled down” to ordinary Bolivian workers.

In fact, as the chart above shows, GDP per capita and GDP Purchasing Power Parity per capita is greater for New Zealanders by several orders of magnitude, than it is for Bolivians.

Further GDP per Capita rankings can be found here:  List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita. Despite Bolivia’s higher  GDP growth, New Zealanders’ per capita incomes are far higher. Our standard of living is greater.

Accepted wisdom tells us  that our more diverse economy is more productive, and a  subsequently greater wealth-producer. Opportunities for higher wages (than Bolivia) abound throughout our economy that includes food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, as well as mining and hydro-carbon extraction.

As David Slack said on the same panel, hosted by Jim Mora, when he addressed the NZ Herald-Digipoll ‘support’ for mining,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

If mining was such a quick-fix wealth creator, then Bolivia should be light-years ahead of us. It clearly is not, and this blogger believes that our higher per capita income can be attributed to the  diversification  and sustainability of our economy.

It should also be remembered that, as David Slack  pointed out, New Zealand does not earn $100 million from the extraction of Mineral X. We benefit from only the royalties (currently set at  1 or  5 %), some taxes, and a few thousand jobs.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

This Fairfax article is  illuminating,

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Full story

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Compare,

” Crown royalties from the mining industry returned just $6.5 million last year… “

With,

” Mining was a $2b a year industry, with $1.1b in exports… “

Obviously, New Zealand makes bugger-all from mining royalties.

And if the mining companies are owned by offshore interests (eg; New Zealand’s two biggest gold mining companies; Newmont, which owns the open pit Martha Hill and underground Favona mines at Waihi, is US-based; and Australian-based OceanaGold), then profits made are remitted overseas, worsening our balance of payments. Only company tax (which can be minimised) and employment of local people provide any measurable benefits to our economy – and even those are minimal.

Where the mining activities result in a tax loss, this loss may be set off against income from non-mining activities, although the benefit of the mining loss is reduced by 50%; ie $300 of mining losses are required to be offset against $200 of non-mining income. The reasons for these unusual offset arrangements relate back to a period when mining companies paid a lower rate of tax than ordinary companies.

Mining companies are prohibited from grouping their profits or losses with other mining companies or with non-mining companies.

Despite these limitations, the tax regime for mining companies is generally regarded as concessionary. For example, it allows mining companies to immediately deduct their exploration expenditure and any expenditure incurred in the development of the mining licence. Thus buildings, mine-shafts, plant and machinery, production equipment and storage facilities, which would ordinarily be capitalised under standard accounting conventions, may be deducted immediately for income tax purposes.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

Further regarding taxation, the Fairfax article   states,

“… but the Government had not yet done any work on how much more tax or jobs could be created from expanding mining into conservation land.”

“More tax”?

Doubtful.

Dear Leader is already on record opposing the Capital Gains Tax, and any other tax for that matter,

National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes. “

See: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges

And lastly; jobs.

How many workers does the mining industry employ?

Number employed: 4,000 directly, another 8,000 indirectly, as suppliers of goods and services

See: Key Facts of New Zealand Mining

By comparison, the tourism sector plays a significant role in New Zealand’s economy,

Tourism Satellite Account 2011 Report [1 MB PDF]

Year to March 2011 (released October 2011)

  • Tourism Expenditure
    Total tourism expenditure was $23.0 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Contribution to GDP
    Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $6.9 billion, or 3.8 percent of GDP.  The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $8.8 billion to tourism. 
  • Domestic and International Segments
    Domestic tourism expenditure was $13.2 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Export Earnings
    International tourist expenditure in 2011 ($9.7 billion) represents 16.8% of the total export earnings ($52.4 billion).  Tourism is New Zealand’s second largest export earner, followed dairy ($11.6 billion or 19.9% of exports) in 2011. 
  • Tourism Employment
    The tourism industry directly employed 91,900 full-time equivalents (or 4.8 percent of total employment in New Zealand), an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourism Contribution to GST
    Tourists generated $1.7 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.

See:   Ministry of Economic Development – Tourism satellite account

It should not escape anyone that there is a high degree of irony here. A multi-billion dollar industry (tourism) relies on the very environment that the Mining industry would despoil with their activities.

To sum up;

  1. Mining is not as beneficial to a modern economy as some insist.
  2. Bolivia is a mining nation and is lagging behind New Zealand in per capita income.
  3. Bolivia’s GDP is growing 2.5 times faster than ours – but so is their inflation, whilst incomes still lag behind ours.
  4. Australia’s mining wealth is considerable – no doubt – but their balance of payments  is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years
  5. Australia is far too reliant on mining wealth; their economy is far too dependent on commodities; and they need to diversify.
  6. Crown Royalties are minimal – 1-5% .
  7. Big profits by foreign-owned mining companies leave New Zealand.
  8. Open cast mining creates a considerable impact on the environment, despite claims to contrary.
  9. Mining companies enjoy  a taxation regime that  “is generally regarded as concessionary”.
  10. And far more New Zealanders are employed in the Tourism sector than in the mining industry.

To repeat David Slack’s comments from Radio New Zealand,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

Whilst Dear Leader John Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment.

See:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

I know who I believe.

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Additional

NZ Herald:  Optimism dips in struggling economy

NZ Herald:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

Fairfax Media: NZ economic growth ‘unspectacular’

NZ Herald:  Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Crown Minerals Act 1991

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From the National Party Politburo…

13 July 2012 7 comments

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The latest diktat from Commissar Parata: no more criticism of National Party policy will be tolerated.

This blogger now awaits the National Party hierarchy to send in state security (Police? Army? SIS?) to raid offices and homes of School Trustees.

As we saw with police raids on various media offices after the Teapot Tape debacle, National is not averse to using it’s State apparatus when it suits it’s agenda.

Tertiary Education Commissar, Steven Joyce issued similar instructions to University students, to cease their criticsms of National,

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Full story

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So much for respect for freedom of speech.

Will blogs be next?

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Aotearoa Is Not For Sale – Wellington

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Aotearoa is Not for Sale – Wellington – Action Day

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  • Saturday

  • 2:00pm until 4:00pm  

  • Cuba Street by the Bucket Fountain

‘Aotearoa is Not for Sale’ groups New Zealand wide are having an action day this Saturday 14th at 2pm.

The Wellington group, in unity with the nation-wide events, are organizing an afternoon of music and speakers to create and continue the awareness of:

Its not too late to save our state assets  (Power companies have not been sold yet!)

Petitions can be signed, leading to a referendum on the above matter.

Come one, come all; bring banners, playcards and signs!
Show the people in power!

See you there!

Facebook Page

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A lesson well learned in Capitalism 101

11 July 2012 3 comments

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As Joshua Hitchcock posted Twitter a couple of nights ago,

“The Hypocrisy of the Political Right: We believe in property rights, except when they are claimed by indigenous people. We despise collectivism, except when it comes to beaches and waterways which everyone owns”

(Acknowledgement: Maui Street blog)

It seems to have escaped most folk that Maori are making a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal for water ownership rights as a final, last ditch effort to thwart National’s thieving policy of partial asset sales. To date, all other legal, non-violent means of resisting asset sales has fallen on deaf ears.

After two embarressing back downs (mining in conservation lands and Hekia Parata’s attempt to slash teacher numbers), National cannot afford another crushing retreat on any significant policy. It would be the electoral death-knell for the National Party, and would render John Key a political eunuch.

So the Nats have hunkered down. This is going to be messy ‘trench warfare’, and they were counting on the passage of time  to defeat the anti-privatisation movement.

Enter the Maori Council, stage left.

And perhaps the only means left to ordinary citizens; the Treaty of Waitangi. This time, despite the blind ignorance of mouth-frothing racists, employment of the  Treaty will ultimately be to the benefit of  Pakeha, as well as Maori.

John Key may well be legally correct when he says that no government is bound by the Waitangi Tribunal – though somewhat inappropriate and inflammatory.

But not so correct if the Maori Council takes the next step and sues the Government through the Courts. Now we’re playing hard ball, and no Government can ignore a Court decision. (Not unless the Westminster system is being replaced by a model more closely resembling North Korea.)

This is where  rabid racists in our community have been screaming  hysterically. (See: It’s official: racists aren’t very bright  ) Try to explain to these  neuron-challenged  rednecks that the Maori Council are trying to save our own assets from falling into the hands of investors from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston, and their mouth-frothing hysteria increases in intensity. These are not people that one can reason with.

Yet there is a delightful irony at work here…

  1. Maori are claiming ownership rights over water. The concept of private property and ownership rights is a concept that we Pakeha introduced into Aotearoa, upon colonisation. Up till then everything had been communally owned by the Iwi.
  2. John Key says  “no one can own water”. Yet, the government and local body councils think nothing of  charging for metered water in some regions and urban areas. Government sells radio frequencies to the highest bidders. Government sells mining and drilling rights to corporations. Government sells fishing quota – with the implication that Government owns ALL the fish in New Zealand’s territorial waters. And of course, we each (generally) own the land that our houses, businesses, factories, and farms rest on.  Maori have simply taken this concept to the next logical conclusion; Capitalism at work.
  3. Maori are employing the judicial system and testing the law through the Courts – another Pakeha construct which Maori have learned very well to use.

Those racists who think that “no one can own the water” might pause to consider that the concept of private ownership did not originate with Maori.

We Pakeha brought it to this country.

Private ownership and the judicial system were alien concepts,  introduced by colonisers, who made good use of property laws, Courts, and armed State enforcement  to suit themselves.

Maori have learned the lessons  of the coloniser. They have passed all tests when it comes to “Capitalism 101″.  The Pakeha system is one that suits Maori very well when it comes to addressing grievances of past land confiscations and other crimes committed against them.

However, on this occassion, Maori are using the Waitangi Tribunal and the Courts – not for their own purposes – but for the common good of the country. They may be the ones to save our multi-billion dollar assets from being flogged off by ex-money trader, John Key, and his crony-capitalist mates.

Racists may not appreciate this – but they should be bloody thankful for what Maori are doing.

Nothing else has worked thus far.

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Additional

Waitangi Tribunal to hear asset sales arguments

Bad time for PM to shoot from the lip

Other blogposts

Tumeke:  John Key spits on the Treaty and Maori Party sell Maoridom down the river (literally)

Maui Street:  Maori Party takes it to National

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