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Neo-liberal Libertarian holds up Victorian England as “model for success”

30 September 2012 18 comments

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As the sun slowly sets on the political tragi-farce that was the rich man’s parliamentary vehicle – the ACT Party – it’s core supporters are desperate to find a new Party to call home.

Colin Craig’s  Party is most likely anathema to  socially-liberal and fiscally neo-liberal ACT-types and Libertarians – they would view the Conservatives as another ‘false god‘, to be studiously avoided.

Libertarians are of a strange species who hold ideological views diametrically opposed to socialists/marxists/social democrats – and even National Party policies.

For Libertrarians, the State is something to be cut back and allowed to wither away.

Which, strangely enough, is what Marxist/Leninists also propose in their vision of  a communistic society, where the State “withers away”.

The difference, of course, is that in a Libertarian world (which I shan’t call a “society” as societies do not exist in an individualistic, Libertarian model) property is individually owned and protected by all means, including use of deadly force.

In a communistic society, the same property is collectively managed, though again deadly force is used to prevent counter-revolution taking place…

It’s interesting to note that whilst marxist/socialist/communist regimes have existed in various forms, throughout the world – not one single modern nation has ever existed using  a Libertarian model.

In some ways, Somalia came close, with two out of three Libertarian tenets in play; minimal government and no taxation. The third tenet, a strict rule of law to protect private property rarely exist – though property rights were often enforced by force of private militias.

Indeed, the use of private militias to protect one’s own property is naked libertarianism at it’s  truest form. After all, if Libertarians argue that taxation is theft; that individuals should not contribute to  the education of everyone’s children – then it stands to reason that one should not have to pay for a Police Force to protect someone elses’ property.

When Richard McGrath was asked on TV3’s “The Nation”  about the implementation of libertarianism in any country, his response was eye-opening,

THE NATION: ‘Is there anywhere in the world that’s  a model for how you think?”

RICHARD McGRATH: “Well though it sounds strange, Victorian England actually had a lot of institutions that really looked after people in need, the friendly societies, and those sorts of voluntary organisations. And a lot of that’s gone now because the government’s moved in, muscled in, and taken it over.”

See: Is John Banks causing ACT’s demise?

Victorian England“?!

Is that the model of a Libertarian nation? A society that was class-ridden; poverty-stricken; poorly-educated; rampant with disease and crime; and where factories were free to dispense massive pollution into the air (causing the infamous London “fog”) and Thames River,  turning it into an open-air sewarage channel?

Is McGrath holding up, as the ideal Libertarian model, a society where mentally ill were incarcerated as criminals; ill treated; and poorly fed? Where children worked as slaves in vast factories? Where, if a husband deserted his wife and children, she’d be forced into prostitution to survive?

McGrath refers to the charity work of  “ friendly societies, and those sorts of voluntary organisations ” - which was indeed the case. There was no organised State social welfare, healthcare, or superannuation for pensioners.

Whilst factory owners made vast sums of profits on the backs of lowly-paid, over-worked, and mis-treated workers – those without work; the sick; the infirm; and other unfortunates survived on the meager handouts from charities that relied solely on the generosity of  some benefactors.

Oliver Twist‘ was not some fanciful tale of a dark Fantasy World. It was a slice of life from our nasty, brutish past.

A nasty, brutish past that Libertarians want to bring back?

To show how utterly mad these people are, and how disconnected they are from the real world, I refer the reader to another Libertarian, Peter Cresswell.

In the same programme, on Christchurch’s rebuild,  Peter Cresswell suggested,

” You could say, no taxes; get rid of the RMA;   so for 3 or 4 years or 5 years you’ve got complete freedom for people to do what they wish with what little they have left.”

See: Ibid

Complete freedom for people to do what they wish“?!

What – like rebuild on the same fault-lines where previous buildings crashed into piles of rubble on 22 February, last year? Or re-build using techniques , designs, and material that would be wholly inappropriate and dangerous to occupants?

Perhaps build a fifty story high-rise in the same manner as the ill-fated CTV Building?!

It is little wonder that in last year’s general election, the Libertarianz Party won only 1,595 votes (See: 2011 general election official results).

Very few people would want to live in a Libertarian nirvana that replicated Victorian England. It might be a fine thing if you’re a rich Estate holder, Industrialist, or Merchant.

But it’d be Hell to be working in one of their factories.

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Guest Author: David Cunliffe on Scandinavian Economic Development

- Hon David Cunliffe, Labour Economic Development and Associate Finance Spokesperson, Clean-tech Cluster Chair

Published 30 September 2012

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Scandinavian Economic Development Speech: Fast Forward – Growing Good Jobs

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Speech to Laingholm District Citizens Association, Laingholm, 30 September 2012

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Robert Louis Stevenson, the man who wrote ‘Treasure Island’, once said: “Everybody lives by selling something”.

In these days of economic treachery, this sounds like a very negative statement.

Everybody lives, today, by selling something.

But actually, the phrase: ‘Everybody lives by selling something’ is merely stating a simple truth.

In order to survive I must breathe air.

In order for me to breathe air, there need to be green plants producing oxygen.

So, when I breathe in, I’m breathing in air that was mostly made in the green plants.

But this is not a one-sided trade.  I don’t just breath in air, I breathe out carbon dioxide, which is in return breathed in by the green plants, and converted back into oxygen, for me to breathe once more.

The green plants and I need each other. We trade what we produce, and both sides survive and prosper as a result of our necessary partnership.

Ecologists call this process of mutually-beneficial trading ‘symbiosis’.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Motivational speakers have a simpler term: they call this process ‘win-win’. There’s no winner and loser when I trade my carbon dioxide to the green plants and get oxygen in return. I need the oxygen; the plants need my carbon dioxide in order to convert sunlight into food.

Provided both sides play fair, this is truly a win-win situation.

The problem is, too often over the last 30 years, and some would say for much longer, the world’s economic system has not been win-win for the average person, indeed for most of us. It’s been win-lose: they win and you lose.

The rich speculators and traders get richer, while the rest of us get poorer. Like it or not, our country is going backwards.

What happened? This widening gap isn’t the Kiwi way. What’s changed over the last thirty years?

Let’s have a quick recap of history. As a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the New Zealand Labour Party – like its counterparts around the world – legislated to rein in speculation, to protect jobs and to protect human rights.

Most of New Zealand’s great economic assets, such as our farms, our roads and our forests, grew and prospered as a direct result of these policies. As our nation grew more prosperous, the wealth was widely shared. No children needed to starve in the New Zealand I grew up in.

However, the 1980s and ’90s saw the rise of a philosophy developed by the rich, for the rich. It was called Neo-Liberalism.

Neo-Liberalism is based on the idea that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Neo-Liberalism is based on the idea that greed is good, that we’re all locked in an economic life-and-death-struggle with each other. Neo-Liberalism says that compassion is for suckers. Neo-Liberalism says that if the world is going to the dogs, it might as well be the top dogs. Indeed, to borrow from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, not only is greed good, “it’s legal.”[i]

When the British Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher was asked about the effects that her Neo-liberal policies would have on society, she replied:

There is no such thing as society… There are individual men and women.[ii]

The amazing thing about the Neo-Liberals is their wilful blindness to how badly their ideas have failed. Not just once, but repeatedly. Neo-Liberal policies directly caused two of the largest financial crashes in history. Did they apologise? No way. Like some mad doctor, when the first dose of medicine didn’t work, they wanted to double the dose.

And so, the Neo-Liberal bandwagon rolls on. Right here in New Zealand, the National Party is still trotting out the same discredited economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

I have just returned from Denmark and Finland, and I am convinced there are lessons for us all in how these Scandinavian countries run their economies. In particular, we need to take note of why the Scandinavian countries are slowly winning while many other European countries are rapidly losing.

Let’s take a quick look at the ‘Scandinavian model.’

The ‘Scandinavian model’ isn’t really Scandinavian at all. It could also be called the traditional New Zealand model. A model based on the idea that the economy is like a farm or garden. If you want a garden to grow, then you have to dig the soil and plant the seeds. You have to feed and nurture the plants and you have deal to the weeds when they grow up amongst the crop.

If this sounds like simple common sense: it is.

Any farmer will tell you that you get back from a farm what you put in. If you let weeds grow, you get a farm full of weeds. If you nurture your soil, livestock and crops, you have a good chance of a healthy farm, and a healthy return on your investment.

Which countries are currently surviving the recession best? The ones with the Scandinavian economic model.

According to Neo-Liberal economic theory, the Scandinavian countries should have collapsed by now. After all, they have large numbers of public employees on decent wages. Large trade unions. Very high taxation. A huge amount of government spending. I’m not arguing for a carbon-copy, but it has worked for them.

While the Neo-Liberals in America, Britain and New Zealand have been targeting those on welfare, blaming them for the world’s problems, the Scandinavian countries have been doing the opposite. That is, they’ve been helping those on welfare to get jobs, not blaming them for being poor.

After taking a big hit from the global financial crisis in 2009, the Scandinavian economies have bounced back strongly, while most of the rest of Europe seems stuck in reverse.

What’s the Scandinavian secret? The Scandinavian people have mastered the art of win-win.

For example, on my recent visit, I saw the Danish approach to economic development.

Denmark doesn’t tell its businesspeople what to do. Instead, Denmark sees its businesspeople as partners. The Danish government sits down with its key business groups. The two sides plan a workable strategy. After listening to its voters, workers and business partners, the Danish government doesn’t muck around. Incentives, sector plans, skills training, research and development, industry investment, targets and timetables are all actively used to get the economy moving and to keep it moving.

There is real symbiosis; it’s a win-win partnership, and the whole country benefits.

No surprise then, that Finland and Sweden came third and fourth respectively in the latest World Economic Forum competitiveness survey.[iii]

This competitiveness is driven by a government that understands how to invest in its people. According to the World Economic Forum, the key to the Scandinavians’ success is largely the result of a high level investment by the government and industry in education and training.[iv] The Scandinavians understand that ignorance is poison.

The Scandinavians know they cannot compete with China for low labour costs. They don’t bother to try. Instead, the Scandinavians have learned the value of working smarter instead of merely working harder.

Scandinavian bosses and workers don’t see each other as natural enemies. They may not always get along and they may not always agree, but they understand clearly that bosses and workers need each other.

I wish our government understood this.

GROWING JOBS, NOT WEEDS

So what would a good farmer do to grow the farm called New Zealand? What practical tools and lessons can we take from the small, smart countries of Scandinavia?

Good soil

A good farmer ploughs the soil to create the conditions for healthy growth.

Getting the economic basics right is important.

The first economic basic that we need to get right is trust. Whether it’s with respect to John Banks skirting around the truth or John Key burying his head in the sand over the Dotcom saga, New Zealand’s reputation as an honest country in which to do business is under serious threat.

We have to restore trust, both in New Zealand and overseas. Investors won’t come to New Zealand if they think we’re a banana republic.

And make no mistake about it: Labour welcomes investors to New Zealand. However, we welcome investors who come as partners, not masters. Our country is not for sale. New Zealanders do not wish to become tenants in their own country.

We also need to stabilise our currency, so that businesses have some certainty. We need to keep the New Zealand dollar from continually rising, because if the dollar is too high then our exported goods become too expensive. Other countries do this – so should we. The high New Zealand dollar is making life hard for exporters and it’s simply ruining manufacturing in New Zealand.

As my colleague David Parker has said recently, targeting inflation alone is an old orthodoxy that few countries support[v]. We need more balanced objectives, and a broader range of tools to achieve them.

We also need to stop the housing market from spinning out of control. Not only do high housing prices make homes unaffordable for many ordinary families, but housing booms are usually followed by housing busts. We’ve had quite enough economic train wrecks in recent years, thanks very much.

But economic and financial stability is about more than just keeping prices stable.

Watering the soil

Good farmers don’t just dig the soil, they keep it watered.

The lifeblood of business is capital, but many private investors have taken flight since the crash of 2008. A business community without investment is like a field without irrigation: without some water, the crops will wither and die.

I’m not advocating the government dolling out taxpayer funds to big business. There’s been too much of that already. Taxpayers are sick of it. I’m sick of it.

However, there’s no reason that the government can’t help those who are helping themselves.

For example, suppose a private company needs to do some expensive research and development, and this research and development benefits the whole country.

As another example, suppose a private company is researching a cure for Kiwifruit disease? Labour’s research and development tax credits would help that company find a solution.

Accelerated tax depreciation for short-life technology, and other measures soon to be announced, would also assist the innovation process.

Those kinds of policies could be part of a broader win-win approach. That’s how things work in the Scandinavian countries. That’s how the Scandinavians gets results.

Investment also comes from savings. For those who don’t know it, New Zealanders in recent times has had some of the lowest levels of savings in the developed world.[vi] This is wrong for two reasons: one, without savings, our citizens have no fall-back position if something goes wrong. Two, because when people save these savings can be invested wisely.

That’s why Labour’s universal KiwiSaver plan lifted our savings rate four times faster than National’s alternative. Under Labour’s policy, New Zealand would have more capital available for local investment, rather than relying so heavily on foreign-owned banks.

That’s a lesson the Scandinavians have learned and that our Aussie mates have also got right. We need to get it right as well.

Another area in which Labour is streets ahead of National is in the area of capital gains tax. Let me explain this very briefly: many New Zealand businesses have given up investing in useful and productive areas. Why? Because the New Zealand tax system encourages business to invest in the wrong places. That’s because many of the richest New Zealanders have grown rich from capital gains. They buy a piece of land for a million and sell it for three million. That’s a cool two million dollar profit, much of it tax-free. Regardless of how they earn their income, everyone should pay the same rate of tax.

Investing in property for capital gains not only makes home buying unaffordable for many families, it sucks billions away from productive investments.[vii]

Worse still, history has shown that what goes up generally comes down, and often with a crash.

What a capital gains tax does is encourage all investors to put their money into areas that produce something.  This will have the effect of dampening the current property bubble, while freeing up billions for investment in areas like computer technology or energy production.

This is not some freak theory; it’s acknowledged internationally. That’s why there are only two other developed countries that don’t have a capital gains tax.

Pro-growth tax reform, including a capital gains tax and the restoration of tax credits for research and development, is needed to water the soils: feeding real Kiwi businesses and creating real Kiwi jobs.

Planting the seeds

Good farmers carefully sow and nurture the seeds and tend the crops as they grow to maturity.

The seeds of our economy are the innovation and ideas that can be raised in our universities, businesses, garages and garden sheds.

Kiwis are an innovative, creative people. Our capacity for working wonders with reduced resources has led us to developing the world’s first electric fences, jet boats and so on. The list is almost endless and the ideas are often brilliant. But too often, unless the inventor has deep pockets, too many good ideas don’t get off the shelf. Once the seed capital from ‘friends, fools and family’ runs out, often, so does the business. The sad fact is that – even during the economic good times, four out of five Kiwi business start-ups withered and died in the first two years.

In Japan and Korea, four out of five new businesses survive past two years[viii]. The difference is that in Japan and Korea, there is comprehensive government support for small business development. Support with budgeting. Support with obtaining investment. Support with business plans. Support with taking successful products and showing them to the world.

Last week, the New Zealand Herald told the sad story of how 32 of New Zealand’s biggest high-tech companies have been sold off overseas at an early stage[ix]. That’s like ripping out a crop when it’s half-grown. It’s madness.

Labour welcomes positive investment, but we want to avoid the best and brightest of our young companies being continually hollowed-out from Kiwi ownership.

We need policies that will help young Kiwi companies grow for longer, and become stronger, right here in New Zealand. We know the main problems: a lack of capital to support growth, a lack of experience in trading outside of New Zealand, difficulty communicating with overseas customers and a difficulty delivering the product or service around the world. David Shearer, who is also our Innovation Spokesperson, will be speaking more on our ideas in this area shortly.

Labour also believes that government should try to buy Kiwi-made products where possible and appropriate, and ensure that Kiwi companies have a fair chance to sell to their own government. Taking a hard look at government procurement is also a part of Labour’s policy mix.

The government should also have a strong policy of avoiding products that cause significant environmental harm and those that rely on the cynical exploitation of workers, especially women and children.

Rebuilding manufacturing, sectors and regions

Good farmers have a plan for every paddock on the farm. We need a sustainable growth strategy for every industry sector and region.

Sadly, however, since National took over many regions have slipped backwards, and this is no accident. The East Coast and Northland have skyrocketing youth unemployment. Wasting a generation of young Kiwis in our regions is not good enough. Take forestry for example. We don’t build enough quality products with our own wood. Instead we cut down the trees and ship the logs to ‘sweatshops’ overseas. Under the current New Zealand government policy, there’s simply no incentive to do otherwise.

A similar thing happens in dairy. Our milk is mainly shipped overseas as commodity products like milk powder, while too often those that develop these ingredients into branded products get most of the benefit.

It’s even worse with our seafood. Did you know that for the next four years it is legal for New Zealand companies to catch fish in our waters using Korean boats manned by Filipino sailors who are treated like slaves?[x] This fish, in some cases, is then sent to Asia for processing, then shipped back to New Zealand for sale in our supermarkets. This is madness.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the credit rating agencies have said New Zealand’s biggest weakness is that too great a share of our total exports is selling raw commodities like milk and logs at low prices. Instead, we need to be making something more valuable out of our milk and timber before we export them[xi]. That’s the Scandinavian way.

In case anyone has missed the headlines of the last few weeks about massive layoffs at Tiwai Point, Norske Skog’s Kawerau mill, Solid Energy’s Huntly and Spring Creek mines, Nuplex and APN in Auckland, and many, many others – manufacturing is in crisis in New Zealand.

40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2008 when National came to government and there are more layoffs to come[xii].  Some 65,000 more New Zealanders are unemployed[xiii] and that’s not counting what Bill English now calls the “safety valve”[xiv] of 54,000 other New Zealanders giving up and moving permanently to Australia in the last year alone – an all-time record.

So we desperately need a high-value manufacturing strategy in this country. Gone are the days when manufacturing was just some unskilled worker bolting two parts together. That style of manufacturing is now inevitably done in low-wage countries. In most cases, we simply can’t compete with Asia when it comes to large-scale, low-cost manufacturing.

However, we’re not out of the race, by any means. According to Statistics New Zealand, there are about 22,700 manufacturing businesses in New Zealand[xv], which together produce about $20 billion of sales[xvi]. $20 billion.

I believe we could triple that, not by lowering our environmental standards or paying our workers less, but doing what we do so well.

New Zealand is very good at thinking small and thinking smart. We can do small production runs of specialist items. We can process raw materials that were gathered nearby. We can produce products on demand for our local market or international markets.

Above all, we can think smart. We can take an idea from concept to manufacture, often on a budget that wouldn’t pay for lunch in America or Germany.

Should the government be backing the manufacturing sector? Absolutely. Just look to the Scandinavian example.

Prof Göran Roos, a leading Scandinavian industrial economist, points out that every dollar in manufacturing business leads directly to $1.74 in turnover elsewhere in the economy[xvii].  And he and others point out that with increasing linkage between manufacturing and high value services in global trade, you can’t win without manufacturing capability. Buy a new car, get a regular servicing package.

The Scandinavians understand that a successful manufacturing strategy provides high-value jobs, good incomes, and helps reduce our overseas debt.

Labour will work with unions and businesses to enhance skills training to help support a strong manufacturing heart. The heart of a high-performance manufacturing sector is highly-productive workplaces with excellent training and decent living wages.

Like in the Scandinavian countries, we want workers to have the training and support to adapt to changing jobs with ‘flexicurity’ throughout their lives. Flexicurity: it means ‘flexible security’[xviii].

This is important. Look at what’s happening with the West Coast coal miners. After a lifetime of hard work in the coalmines, these miners are now facing the economic scrapheap[xix] thanks to National’s plans to railroad the sale of Solid Energy. The miners must now adapt to a changing world.  Can they do this overnight? Of course not.

That’s where the government can help, not with a handout, and not by lowering environmental standards or strip-mining national parks, but with an investment in the future of those workers and an investment in the future of our entire country. It’s time to recognise that our most valuable resource is not just our land, but our people.

Clean and green

Another crucial sector is clean-tech. Labour leader David Shearer has called for a clean, green and clever economy for good reason – there are almost seven billion people on the planet[xx].

It’s obvious now to most governments, including not only the Scandinavians but also most of Europe, China, Korea and Japan, that we simply can’t keep living the wasteful and destructive ways of the past. As government regulations around the world get tougher, there’s a huge global market for clean technology. That is, technology that makes more effective use of our precious resources while reducing pollution and wastage.

You may rest assured; our competitors are investing heavily in clean technology. Why is New Zealand not doing more to win in the global green race – the $6 trillion export market for clean-tech[xxi]?

There are already some great ideas being developed, but building a strong clean-tech sector will only happen if the government sends the right signals. For example, the more we require our power generators to act responsibly, the more we are encouraging the development of alternative ways of generating electricity.

But the National government is going the other way – scrapping Labour’s biofuels obligations and effectively wiping out the infant biofuels industry.  Now they have the gall to say biofuels will save Kawerau[xxii]. Shameful.

Labour believes there is no inherent conflict between positive business and the environment.

Labour is not opposed to environmentally responsible mineral and energy exploration. However, Labour never forgets that most of New Zealand’s export dollars come from living things. A wise government, like a good farmer, needs to protect and nurture the source of our wealth.

We are interested in investments that have a win-win outcome. Investments that create jobs and exports, balanced with appropriate responsibilities to our communities and the environment.

Nobody in Parliament, and nobody in this room, will still be here in 100 years. However, those who follow us will enjoy the gifts we give and will endure the mistakes we make. That thought alone should make us pause.

GROWING JOBS AND HOPE

We need better from our government. We need a comprehensive strategy that includes planning, research, financial incentives and assistance with helping local companies sell their products overseas.

It’s not rocket science; it’s common sense.

Kiwis are very decent people.  They know they’ve been conned by Neo-liberalism and its National-Act acolytes. They want to do something about it. They want to reclaim that wonderful sense of fairness, safety and honesty that used to be the hallmark of this country.

In my remarks today I have stressed three key things:

First, contrary to the failed Neo-liberal policies that got the world into this mess, it’s really clear to you, to me and to the incoming Labour government, that we all do better together when we all win together. Think Scandinavia. Think symbiosis.

Second, it’s in Kiwi DNA to understand farming – the role of government in helping to create an innovative, job rich economy should be like a good farmer.

  • Tending the soil to get the fundamentals right.  Irrigating it with capital and fertilizing it with skills and technology.
  • Planting the seeds of future success through a step change in innovation.
  • Having a plan for each paddock – our industry sectors and regions – so we can be the best we can be.  Understanding that it is crucial to have high value manufacturing and clean technology developed alongside making the best sustainable use from our resources.
  • And never forgetting that our most valuable asset is always our people. Investing in education, skills and lifelong learning; building decent high performance workplaces, and using the power of government to reward good business practices.

Third, we need a government that listens, that works in partnership, then takes action. We can rebuild this economy. We can make this country the envy of the world again. But we need a government that acts, like a good farmer, not one that just sits on the fence, watching the weeds grow, and letting the farm go to ruin.

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REFERENCES AND READINGS

[i] Internet Movie Database, Gordon Gekko quotes, available at http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0012282/quotes

[ii] Keay, D. (1987, September 23), Margaret Thatcher interview, Women’s Own.

[iii] Schwab, K. (ed.), ‘The Global Competitiveness Report 2008–2009’, World Economic Forum, available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf

[iv] ibid.

[v] Hon David Parker’s recent Finance portfolio statements are available at http://www.labour.org.nz/portfolios/finance

[vi] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012, June 7). Household saving rates – forecasts: Percentage of disposable household income, DOI: 10.1787/2074384x-table7.

[vii] New Zealand Labour Party (2011), David Cunliffe talks about the debt propelled economy (video), available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjyHctIljPM

[viii] Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. Briefing note.

[ix] Wishart, S. (2012, September 24), ‘Kiwi high tech for sale’, New Zealand Herald, available at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10836029

[x] Ministry for Primary Industries (2012, February), Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels, available at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/Ministerial+Inquiry+into+Foreign+Charter+Vessels/default.htm

[xi] International Monetary Fund (2012, June 7 and prior), New Zealand and the IMF series, available at http://www.imf.org/external/country/nzl/index.htm

[xii] Newson, B. (2012, September 12), ‘Nothing ‘inevitable’ about mass redundancies’, EPMU statement, available at http://www.epmu.org.nz/news/show/173416

[xiv] Cited by Tarrant, A. (2012, September 21), ‘Record loss of migrants to Australia in year to August, Stats NZ says; Nearly net 40,000 cross Tasman to the ‘lucky country’’, interest.co.nz, available at http://www.interest.co.nz/news/61231/record-loss-migrants-australia-year-august-stats-nz-says-nearly-net-40000-cross-tasman-lu

[xv] Statistics New Zealand (2012, September 10), Survey and methods section, ‘Quarterly economic survey of manufacturing’, available at http://www.stats.govt.nz/surveys_and_methods/completing-a-survey/faqs-about-our-surveys/quarterly-economic-survey-of-manufacturing.aspx

[xvi] Statistics New Zealand (2012, September 10), Table 1: All Manufacturing section, ‘Economic Survey of Manufacturing: June 2012 quarter’, available from http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Browse%20for%20stats/EconomicSurveyofManufacturing/HOTPJun12qtr/esm-jun12-qtr-tables.xls

[xvii] Roos, G., (2012, June 29), Is Manufacturing in Decline?, special presentation.

[xviii] One European interpretation of ‘Flexicurity’ is detailed at European Commission – Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion section (n.d.), Flexicurity, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=102&langId=en

[xix] Sabin, B. (2012, September 25), ‘Spring Creek miner’s 5th redundancy’, 3news, available at http://www.3news.co.nz/Spring-Creek-miners-5th-redundancy/tabid/421/articleID/270538/Default.aspx

[xx] World Bank estimate cited in Google Public Data set. Granular global population analysis is available from the WolframAlpha knowledgebase (2012), available at http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=world+population&lk=4

[xxi] Innovas, cited in Pure Advantage (2012, May), New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race, p. 2.

[xxii] Hon Steven Joyce, National Party MP and Economic Development Minister, cited by Radio New Zealand (2012, September 11).

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Previous related blogposts

Guest Author: David Cunliffe, Get your invisible hand off our assets

Guest Author: David Cunliffe, A Bold New Direction?

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

Finland, some thoughts

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It’s Daylight Saving Time…

30 September 2012 5 comments

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… don’t forget to set your clocks forward by two years, and go out and vote!

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Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

29 September 2012 Leave a comment

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- Citizen A – Kim Dotcom/GCSB special -

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- 27 September 2012 -

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- Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher -

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Issue 1: How does the GCSB miss a $500 000 firework display by the person they are supposedly spying on? How incompetent can the case against Kim Dotcom get?

Issue 2: Why do so many NZers blame the parents for child poverty?

and Issue 3: 600 job losses in a week equals 600 families without an income – when does unemployment start impacting politically?

Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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Guest Author: responding to Michael Laws

- Bryan Bruce, Inside Child Poverty

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Michael Laws. I don’t really want to start a chain of debate on this man’s opinion about child poverty because I have traversed all he has to say before. Nor do I want to fuel his talk show. But because he has attracted some attention recently on the child poverty issue here are my comments.

Yes there are SOME parents in New Zealand who are not as good as they should be.

Yes there are SOME parents who drink too much or take drugs .

Yes there is also a child abuse problem in New Zealand we need to address which is not the sole province of the poor.

But blaming and finger pointing and ” what parents ought to do” does not help the child who turns up hungry and cold to school.

A child does not get to choose its parents.

It is my view that our community has a responsibility to the well being of ALL of our children . That’s why I want to see healthy school meals in ALL of our schools so that our children enjoy the same right to healthy living that Swedish children get everyday.

I have not published Mr Laws piece or supplied the link to it because it is my policy as the editor of this page that I will not publish anyone who wants to shout ” Bad parent” over the head of a hungry child.

There are many,many parents who ( thanks to the economic decisions made by almost 30 years of Neo-Liberal driven governments) are just finding it very, very tough at the moment.

We need to ring fence our kids in these cruel times – not betray them by turning our backs on their most basic needs and closing their schools.

Yes parents should behave responsibly.

But so should we – they are OUR children, OUR future, OUR responsibility.

- Bryan

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Other Blogs

Chris Trotter: Not So Great Expectations

Important links

Campbell Live and KidsCan present Lunchbox Day

Campbell Live raises $300,591 for KidsCan

Child Poverty Action Group

Documentary: Inside Child Poverty

Kidscan

Additional

NZ Herald: UN urges Govt reforms to not target beneficiaries

Fairfax Media: Inequality is now at its highest level

Fairfax Media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

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Spy VS Politician

29 September 2012 23 comments

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You have reached the office of Planet Key. All our agents are busy undermining your rights and selling your assets. Goodbye.” – Kim Dotcom on Twitter, 24 September 2012

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1. Firstly, some relevant background;

A. Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ)

What is OFCANZ? 
OFCANZ is the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand. It was established on 1 July 2008 to combat serious organised crime. 
 
Is OFCANZ part of New Zealand Police? 
OFCANZ is a discrete agency that is hosted within New Zealand Police. It takes a whole-of-government approach, working with information and resources from a range of agencies.
 
Is the Serious Fraud Office part of OFCANZ? 
No. The Serious Fraud Office investigates serious and complex fraud, especially commercial fraud.  OFCANZ will concentrate on fraud that relates to organised crime. The two agencies will continue to collaborate where appropriate as sometimes these two types of financial crime can overlap.
 
Who will do OFCANZ work? 
Staff for operational activities will be drawn from OFCANZ, Police and other agencies through secondments and taskforces. 
 
How will OFCANZ work be prioritised and assigned? 
OFCANZ activity is ultimately the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police; the Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)
Once the Commissioner tasks OFCANZ to work on the focus areas, the intelligence process will identify targets within those focus areas. Taskforces will operate against the targets, and use a variety of methods to investigate and disrupt the targets’ activities.

Source: OFCANZ

B. Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)

When the GCSB was established in 1977, oversight in the sense of both operational supervision and policy guidance, in addition to a general overview of the Bureau’s management was provided by a Committee of Controlling Officials (CCO) chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department. In December 1983 the existence of this Committee was published in the Directory of Official Information. In 1989 the CCO was disestablished and the responsibility for oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau was assumed by the new Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC).

Source: GCSB – Oversight

Points A and B explain the connection between the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ).

OFCANZ was  in charge of the Dotcom case and subsequent raid on the Coatsville Mansion.

‘Oversight and policy guidance‘ of the GCSB is the responsibility of ODESC,

“The Police Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC).”

ODESC is chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

C. Key’s letter To Judge Paul Neazor

Prime Minister

17 September 2012

Hon Paul Neazor CNZM, QC
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Dear Inspector-General,

KIM DOTCOM AND ORS V ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS ISSUE

As I have been briefed today by the Director of GCSB, and as I understand you have now been made aware, the GCSB has discovered that it acted unlawfully in intercepting the communications of certain individuals connected with the above case, apparently acting in the erroneous belief that they were foreign persons when in fact they held New Zealand residency status.

I would be grateful if you would undertake without delay an inquiry into the circumstances of this matter and provide me with a report which identifies:

The facts of the case;

An assessment ofthe circumstances including any errors by the Bureau and its officers; and

Any measures which you consider necessary in order to prevent a recurrence.

I look forward to receiving your report as soon as possible.

Yoursrs sincerely
Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister

D. To which Judge Neazor replied with this report,  ten days later,

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
THE HON D.P. NEAZOR CNZM

27 September 2012

The Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Building
WELLINGTON

Dear Prime Minister

KIM DOTCOM AND OTHERS v ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS

This report relates to your request on 17 September that I should enquire into action by the GCSB affecting Kim Dotcom and others including making an assessment of errors. The Bureau has reported to you that there appears to have been a breach of statutory restrictions applicable to the collection work of the GCSB.

Background:

Kim Dotcom is in dispute with United States authorities about the accumulation of sums of money, the gathering of which may have given rise to allegations of criminal activity in the United States which the authorities there wish to pursue. That pursuit may well involve an attempt by Court proceedings to extradite Kim Dotcom and others to the United States, involving questions of discovery of documents and arrest of persons, Kim Dotcom and others.

New Zealand Police involvement in the event:

A specialist group of New Zealand Police Officers has been involved in assisting the United States authorities and investigating a couple of related New Zealand matters. As part of the New Zealand Police assistance, communications passed between the Police group and GCSB. Those communications were related to a proposal to arrest Kim Dotcom and associated persons. lt was believed by Police Officers that these persons could present potential danger to officers and others involved if the attempted arrest was made. With that belief it was important for the Police to know what action Dotcom and associated people might plan to take and where; i.e. they sought intelligence about possible events. The documents show that information was collected about Dotcom and his associates by the Bureau (largely about their movements or possible movements at relevant times) and passed on to the Police. In my view, considered on its own, the passing on as such could have been lawful but the collection in the circumstances was not. The documents I have seen which record the events do not disclose any interest or inquiry by GCSB about the facts or events of Dotcom’s disputed activity; just where he might be and who might be with him.

Involvement of the GCSB Mechanism:

Like other countries, New Zealand has Government agencies whose task is, covertly if necessary, to collect and report on information which is relevant to security. information is obtained by various appropriate techniques which it is unnecessary to set out. The relevant New Zealand agencies are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. Only the latter is involved in this event. The mandate of each agency is set out in an Act of Parliament which is designed to control the range of the agency’s enquiry and how it works, Each agency’s work is not at large; it is limited by its controlling Act.

GCSB Gathering and Retaining Information and Dealing with Crime: For present purposes GCSB has the specific functions of gathering foreign intelligence, in accordance with the foreign intelligence requirements of the Government of New Zealand:

(i) by intercepting communications under the authority of the GCSB Act 2003;

(ii) by collecting information in any other lawful manner.

Another of the Bureau’s functions is to provide advice and assistance to any public authority in New Zealand on any matter that is relevant to the functions of the public authority or other entity and to a purpose specified in the Act e.g. to pursue the GCSB’s objective of the provision of foreign intelligence that the Government in New Zealand requires, to protect the safety of any person, and in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime. The Bureau has other specified functions, but these are what is presently relevant.

The Bureau is specifically empowered to retain any intercepted communication if its content relates to the Bureaus’ objective or functions.

lt may for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime in New Zealand or in any other country, retain information that comes into its possession and may communicate that information to members of the New Zealand Police. Hence my view that passing information to the Police could be lawful.

Foreign Element:

This is the significant factor in the present case.

The Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only. That theme runs through the whole Act. All of the provisions authorising collection of intelligence and communications are related to what is “foreign” – “foreign inte//igence” (s.7 (i) (a) and (b)), (s.8 (i) (a)) “foreign communications” (s.8) and prohibition against targeting domestic communications (ss. 13, 14, 16 and 19).

A descriptive process is used in the GCSB Act. Examples are-

“foreign communications means communications that contain, or may reasonably be expected to contain, foreign intelligence”.

“foreign intelligence means information about the capabilities, intentions, or activities of a foreign organisation or a foreign person “.

”foreign person means an individual who is neither a New Zealand Citizen nor a permanent resident…”.

“permanent resident means a person who is, or who is deemed to be, the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act 2009. “

The first inquiry as to whether a person is to be regarded as “foreign” under this Act is related to citizenship or permanent residence. lf the person concerned does not have one of those statuses, he or she is foreign for the purpose of the GCSB Act and his or her communications are not protected. If the person is a citizen of New Zealand or a permanent resident his or her communications are protected. People in the permanent residence category were originally described in the GCSB Act as the holder of a residence permit but are now described by a concept called a “residence class visa”.

The Immigration material I have seen in respect of Dotcom shows that he was granted a residence visa offshore under the Immigration Act 1987, Investor Plus category, in November 2010. At that point in time he did not meet the deinition of ‘permanent residence’ under the GCSB Act as it then was.

However, before he arrived in New Zealand the new Immigration Act 2009 came into force on 29 November 2010 and deemed him to hold a residence class visa from that point in time. He met the definition of ‘permanent resident’ for the purposes of the GCSB Act accordingly.

Although Dotcom’s status is subject to monetary and residential conditions for a period of three years short of actually being deported l\/lr Dotcom retains his immigration residence status and remains a permanent resident for the purposes of the GCSB Act.

It was on my understanding not recognised that Dotcom as the holder of a resident visa under a particular category provided for by the Immigration Act was therefore a ‘permanent resident’ (and thus a protected person) under the GCSB Act.

Potential for confusion:

Dotcom is not on my understanding a New Zealand citizen – he is Finnish or German. He is however one of a category of people who is treated in New Zealand as if he ought to have protection against collection of his information. This result has come about by reference to and application of the Immigration Act. That he (and others) has protection of their communications under the GCSB Act is simply an effect of what has happened under the Immigration Act, so long as the relevant words apply to him.

As this matter went along what was discovered in the case of Dotcom and associated people was that resident status had been obtained on their behalf under the Immigration Act 1987 and carried forward under the later 2009 Act. It was understood incorrectly by the GCSB that a further step in the immigration process would have to be taken before Dotcom and associates had protection against interception of communications.

Leaving aside possible confusion arising from the effect of the permit to be in New Zealand Dotcom and party had, the application made by the Police to GCSB was a proper one: the request was made on the basis that the information sought was foreign intelligence contributing to the function of the New Zealand Police and supporting the prevention or detection of crime. The GCSB acting on it was proper.

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.

Complete avoidance of a recurrence will only come about if the system is such that those requesting assistance from the Bureau about non citizens check with Immigration the immigration status of people who may become targets to be sure of what their immigration status in fact is (not may be) in terms of the GCSB Act definitions and tell the Bureau what they have ascertained. It is important to realise that what the GCSB may do is governed finally by the GCSB Act, not the Immigration Act. Because the law allows the covert collection of information about only some people in New Zealand, the events demonstrate that it is important to be sure at all times of the proposed target’s legal status in the country.

Summary:

- In my view the only issue of illegality arises in this matter from confusion in this instance between the case of a person transferring funds and the general category of residents .

- The GCSB is controlled by its governing Act in what it may do. That Act makes it clear that the Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only, but that includes the function of assisting the Police by gathering foreign intelligence for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime.

- A foreign person for the purpose of the GCSB Act is someone who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor (now) the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act.

- People who hold a residence class visa under the Immigration Act have protection against the collection of information under the GCSB Act even if they are not classified as a citizen.

- In this case it was recognised that Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was classed as the holder of a residence class visa in a particular category but it was not apparent to the Police or GCSB that he thereby fell into a protected category. Because he should have been regarded as in such a category, collection was not allowed under the GCSB Act and in that way illegal.

- Collection had in fact stopped before it was recognised that he did fall within a protected category..

- The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.

Recommendation to prevent recurrence:

16. Since occasions for the Police to seek assistance from GCSB in matters of safety or security will assuredly arise again under the GCSB Act as it stands, what is needed is assurance available to GCSB that the subject of the information sought is not protected by the terms of the GCSB Act, i.e.

that the person concerned is not a New Zealand citizen, that he or she is not a permanent resident and is not the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act. There will need to be alertness that:

(i) the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling;

(ii) since the relevant wording of either Act may change it would be useful for the applicant for assistance to advise what factors as to status they rely on, and what words in the GCSB Act they rely on for their application.

Yours sincerely
D P Nealzor
Inspector-General

(Source: Scoop.co.nz)

2. Three Subsequent Questions;

A. Evidence given under oath by Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, head of the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand

It has been established that,

Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison told the High Court at Auckland yesterday that Mr Wormald had said in evidence on August 9 there was no surveillance of Dotcom undertaken by anyone other than New Zealand police to his knowledge.

However, the GCSB were engaged by police to monitor Dotcom for at least a month before his arrest in January and attended a meeting with police and Crown Law before the raids. “

See: Dotcom’s lawyers question police statements

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During the exchange between QC Paul Davison and Detective Inspector  Wormald, in the video clip above, the latter stated,

DAVISON: was there any other surveillance being undertaken here in New Zealand, to your knowledge?

WORMALD: No there wasn’t.”

Detective Inspector  Wormald,  head of  the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ),  and planner and over-seer of the Coatsville mansion raid,   would have been privy to all matters relating to the Dotcom Case, and would most certainly have known the source of  ‘intelligence’ – the GCSB.

See: Raid planner continues Dotcom evidence

GCSB agents even attended a December meeting about the raid.

(See:  Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government)

It is inconceivable that Detective Inspector  Wormald had no idea where information was coming from. (Because quite simply, if he didn’t know – wouldn’t he have asked, to ensure the information was valid?)

As outlined above, Detective Inspector  Wormald is head of OFCANZ, which is linked to ODESC, which has  oversight and policy guidance of the GCSB.

Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison said,

There are very grave and significant implications arising from this recent discovery. We had evidence from an officer on oath and we have some other material which makes it look to be inconsistent with that.”

No wonder Mr Davison was concerned.

Which means that Detective Inspector  Wormald perjured  himself whilst in the Witness Stand.

Which raises the first question: How much of the Dotcom case is similarly ‘tainted’, and have police officers perjured or hidden any other evidence?

B. Oversight of GCSB

The Prime Minister has stated that he was overseas at the time  GCSB requested a Ministerial Certificate from Bill English to block  information about the Bureau’s involvement in the Dotcom case (to cover up their actions from Court and media scrutiny).

The certificate was signed by Deputy PM Bill English,  acting Prime Minister, whilst John Key was overseas. The certificate was requested by the GCSB after Mr Dotcom’s lawyer requested from Crown Law all information relating to the case that was intercepted by the GCSB and provided to police.

However, the GCSB monitoring of  Dotcom took place from 16 December 2011 to 20 Jan 2012.

See: Memorandum for Directions Hearing (para 12)

Key was definitely in the country – in part –  whilst the GCSB was spying on Dotcom. (See: Prime Minister John Key’s Address in Reply Debate – 21st December, 2011)

At some point between 21 December and 27 January, Key holidayed in Hawaii. (See:  John Key Video Journal No.50)

On 27 January 2012, Key attended the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting and  joint meeting of senior Cabinet Ministers. (See: PM to visit Australia with Ministers)

Second question: Was surveillance of Dotcom discussed at any meeting around that time period by the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? If not, why not? Considering that ODESC is responsible for “oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau, if the Dotcom cases and cross-organisational liaison did not merit discussion – what then,  is ODESC overseeing?

C. Reason for GCSB involvement

The last question, and perhaps one that has only briefly been touched upon: why did the  Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) feel the need to request assistance from the GCSB in the first place?

According to documents, the rationale given was that the GCSB monitored Kim Dotcom’s communications  for the purposes of establishing his location for the impending raid,

“The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

It seems incredible that NZ Police are unable to keep track of suspects they are surveilling without requesting assistance from a spy organisation such as the GCSB (or SIS?). It beggars belief that Police required surveillance assistance when,

  • Dotcom and his entourage lived in one of the biggest mansions in Auckland
  • Dotcom drove bright, flashy, very expensive cars
  • Dotcom was quite a big bloke himself and would’ve stuck out like an Afro-American at a White Supremacists tea-party
  • Dotcom made no effort to evade authorities
  • The raid was executed at 6.47am in the morning – more than likely that the occupants of the Coatsville mansion were still indoors – if not still in bed.

There appears to be no rational reason for a spy agency to have been involved – at least not for the stated purpose  of “where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time“.

It was pretty bloody obvious where Kim Dotcom; his wife; his employees; and probably the family pets were, on that early morning on 20 January 2012,

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If the NZ Police are unable to locate and keep track of  a businessman who makes no effort to conceal himself; where no efforts are being made to evade anyone (indeed, he probably wasn’t even aware of being under surveillance);  then that raises serious concerns at the ability of the New Zealand police force.

Third question:  Why was the GCSB involved?

None of these questions are answered – nor even raised – in Judge Neazor’s report on this matter. In fact, reading his four page report offers very little insights as to how and why this incident came about. Neazor confirms that,

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

So there we have it: “confusion“.

Neazor’s “report” is so poor in facts and explanations that a further wider ranging investigation is warranted. In fact, his “report” cries out for further inquiries to be made.

What the public have been given is superficial, meaningless, pap.

Key’s apology is pointless if questions remain unanswered and suspicions abound that  Neazor’s report is essentially  a “white wash”. As Key himself said,

I’ve asked the Bureau [GCSB]  about why they failed  at that point to identify  the problem. I’m not entirely sure I’ve had a completely satisfactory answer…”

See: PM apologises to Kim Dotcom

Indeed, Prime Minister.

The public is also ” not entirely sure we’ve had a completely satisfactory answer “.

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Other Blogs

The Standard: What does Key have to gain by lying?

Tumeke: Was our new Governor-General involved in authorizing illegal spying of Kim Dotcom?

Tumeke: 4 Kim Dotcom questions: How could the GCSB miss a half million dollar fireworks display?

Tumeke: Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Tumeke: No one believes you John Key – The GCSB knew spying on Dotcom was illegal

Gordon Campbell: On the failures of the Neazor report

Past Prime-Ministerial-I-Don’t-Knows

NZ Herald: Key admits mistake over shares (23 Sept 2008)

Fairfax Media: PM signed papers relating to BMWs (22 February 2011)

NZ Herald: Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster (9 April 2011)

TV3: PM’s credit downgrade claim under fire (10 October 2011)

TV3: Who knew what about Kim Dotcom (2 May 2012)

Fairfax Media: Master of Keyvasive action (18 September 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Additional

Time: WATCH: The Hollywood-Style Police Raid on Kim Dotcom’s Mansion (9 August 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on illegal spying on Dotcom (24 Sept 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Kim Dotcom hints at suing Govt (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Dotcom case makes world headlines (25 Sept 2012)

Radio NZ: Minister stonewalls over police Dotcom evidence (26 Sept 2012)

Parliamentary Hansards: Questions for Oral Answer (26 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on the back foot as Opposition leaders twist knife (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: PM apologises to Dotcom over ‘basic errors‘ (27 Sept 2012)

Scoop.co.nz:  Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Greens ask police to investigate GCSB (28 Sept 2012)

TV3: No need for GCSB inquiry – Key (28 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Police had queried if spying was illegal (29 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government (29 Sept 2012)

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John Key: Man of Many Principles

28 September 2012 25 comments

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In case anyone has been holidaying on Planet Key lately, and missed the latest shenanigans from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive,  John Key has apparently  abandoned his earlier principles rejecting  possible coalition deals with Winston Peters. He  has found new principles of  “wait and see”.

In 2008 and 2011, Dear Leader Key was fairly adamant and all but promised to poke himself in both eyes with red-hot pokers, rather than go into any coalition with Peters,

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But this blogpost is not about Key’s ‘principles’ which, as we all know by now, are so bendy-twisty ‘flexible’ as to be positively plasticine.  When Key assures us that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, we still want to see it for ourselves. Just to make sure.

Indeed, another blogger – NZ Pundit – scarily predicted back  in August 2008  that Key’s “read-my-lips’ rejection of Winston Peters, as a possible coalition partner, was little more than a “hollow promise“, and would change overnight if National found itself desperate for a coalition partner.

See: NZ Pundit – Key’s Hollow Promise On Winston

Fast forward to 2012 – National finds itself desperate for a coalition partner.

With ACT now a Dead-Party-Walking after one scandal too many and Peter Dunne effectively a One-Man-Party, that leaves the Nats with two options;

  • The Maori Party. Does National really want to be beholden to a Maori nationalist party? Even if it is a paler-version of Hone Harawira’s Mana Party? Will the Maori Party make it back in 2014 anyway?
  • The Conservative Party. Notwithstanding it’s quasi-religious flakiness, Colin Craig has managed to alienate about 60% of the population (women and gays) plus probably everyone else with two interconnected braincells. Even if National drops the MMP Party threshold from 5% to 4%, there is no likelihood Craig will increase his electoral support.

In reality, with John Key showing the amorality of a  political  serial-adulterer, he will take whatever option is on offer. Whether his coalition bedmate is  the Maori Party  or CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party) or a menage a trois of both, concerns him nought.

As long as he can cross that magic 61 or 62 seat majority (depending on over-hangs) is his sole concern.

To achieve that end, National’s back-room strategists have been working over-time and have fixed their laser-sights on Winston Peter’s New Zealand First.

Said strategists have taken a single  approach to dealing with NZ First – with two planned outcomes.

In both scenarios, National makes overtures to NZ First and make it clear to the voting public that this time, Key will not resile from a  National-NZ First Coalition . Key will make the age of super entitlement and promise of abandonment of asset sales two prime factors that Peters will  find hard to reject. ( Peters is not as hard-line in his opposition to asset sales as he makes out.  See “Peters switch on Asset Sales“)

A third common ground between the Nats and NZ First;  if water rights is still a burning political  issue, this will move NZ First to the right, into National’s camp, as both parties have stated positions firmly rejecting Maori aspirations on this issue.

1. Yay

First scenario; Despite been seen as “cosying up” to National, NZ First retains electoral support, and makes it over the 4%/5% threshold. With Peter Dunne, John Key leads a third term of a National-led coalition government.

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

2. Nay

Second scenario;  As National electoral support drops and public hostility to John Key increases, any perceived “cosying up” between the Nats and NZ First is viewed with displeasure by Peters’ supporters.

NZ First’s supporters – traditionally seen as the “grumpy vote” – either do not bother to cast a vote on Election Day (as many of Labour’s supporters stayed away last November), or cast their vote for the Conservative Party or possibly  Labour.

NZ First fails to cross the 4%/5% threshold, and loses their seats in Parliament. In effect, National has been toxic to NZ First. Why would voters support NZ First if appears they will  be getting a National-led government? Those who vote NZ First traditionally do so as a protest vote against the incumbent government (whether Labour-led or National-led).

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

Both scenarios are a No Lose situation for National. Except that in Option #2, any perception of a “cosying up” by National to NZ First may mean the “kiss of electoral defeat” (again) for Peters. If National’s support drops further in the polls; if Key’s status of Preferred Prime Minister  wanes; and if the Nats are seen as ineffectual in a stagnating economy – does Peters want to be “tarred by association” by a Party on the way out?

Many New Zealanders – especially those in the late 30s and older – will remember the events of December 1996.

Many voters viewed NZ First’s decision to coalesce with Bolger’s National Party as an electoral betrayal – especially when Peters had made several Key-like statements during the 1996 election campaign. These statements were  unequivocal in denouncing National as a a potential coalition partner, and sent a clear message to the voting public,

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Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?

Winston Peters: Oh no we are not. – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996

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There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First. – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996

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Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?

… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance  [so] that they are now arguing for stability. – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996

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The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition. – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996

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It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12…  Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats. – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996

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The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling  behaviour. We are not into State treachery. – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996

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We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people. – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996

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We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences. – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996

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Despite Peters’ assurances,  on  11 December 1996  the public woke up to this announcement,

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Front page, Otago Daily Times, 11 December 1996

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The following three years were harsh for NZ First, culminating in it’s tearing apart in late 1998.The party split in two, with the ‘rump’ NZ First, and breakaway ‘Mauri Pacific‘, led by Tau Henare (now a National MP).

NZ First was nearly annihilated in the following year’s General Election, with Peters barely retaining his seat of Tauranga,

1996 – NZ First Party Vote: 276,603 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 18,997 (source)

1999 – NZ First Party Vote: 87,926 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 63 (source)

The message from voters was crystal clear for Peters; supporting an incumbent Party to retain power was a ‘no-go’ . People voted for NZ First to get rid of the incumbent government – not prop it up.

Cosying up with the Nats will not serve Peter’s  interests one iota. It will remind the electorate of the events of the late 1990s, and will harm popular support for NZ First.

Peters should consider; as opposition to National grows, why would people who oppose National vote for a small Party that may end up propping it up? The answer is; people will not vote for such a small Party.

This should serve as a warning to Peters and his Party: coalesce with National at your peril. History can repeat.

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Peters ‘sorry’ about coalition – NZPA – 14 September 1998

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Previous Related Blogposts

Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

Additional

Otago Daily Times – NZ First leads in ‘most loathed’ poll  (8 October 1999)

Dominion Post – Key rules Peters out of National’s future (27 August 2008)

Sean Plunket – PM should ponder the Orwellian switch to the farmhouse (22 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Duncan Garner: John Key refuses to rule out Winston Peters (24 Sept  2012)

TV3 – Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Video:  Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)

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Mayor decrees 162,000 New Zealanders as ‘persona non grata’

25 September 2012 11 comments

This is a new one for the books; social apartheid based on one’s employment status,

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Full story

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So – how do you stop someone moving to your town?

Well, there are at least three methods – both tried proven in the last century.

1. Visual Identification

In the 1930s and 40s, the German government hit upon the novel idea of forcing certain classes of people – those classed as “undesirables” by the State – to wear colour-coded symbols sewn onto their clothing.

Jews were made to wear a bright yellow “star of David”,

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Gays were made  to wear a pink triangle,

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The full list of colour-coded badges,

  • Yellow star – a Jew
  • Red triangle—political prisoners: liberals, communists, trade unionists, royalists, social democrats and socialists, Freemasons, anarchists.
  • Green triangle— “professional criminals” (convicts, often Kapos).
  • Blue triangle—foreign forced laborers, emigrants.
  • Purple triangle—Bible Students, a term taken from a name of, and primarily referring to, Jehovah’s Witnesses, though a very small number of pacifists and members of other religious organizations were also imprisoned under this classification
  • Pink triangle—sexual offenders, mostly homosexual men but rarely rapists, zoophiles and paedophiles.
  • Blacktriangle—people who were deemed “asocial elements” and “work shy” including
    • Roma (Gypsies), who were later assigned a brown triangle
    • The mentally ill
    • Alcoholics
    • Vagrants and beggars
    • Pacifists
    • Conscription resisters
    • Prostitutes
    • Some anarchists
    • Drug addicts
  • Brown triangle—Roma (Gypsies) (previously wore the black triangle)
  • Uninverted red triangle—an enemy POW, spy or a deserter.

See: Wikipedia – Nazi emblems for undesirables

This system could be very useful for Herr Campbell – indeed for New Zealand as a whole. Easily identified classes of undesirables makes it easier for Good Citizens to deny services; prevent association with, and cultural contamination by,  undesirables; keep our children safe from undesirables; and keep our young people pure by isolating undesirables.

Eventually, Undesirables can be removed from society altogether and ‘re-homed’ in specially-designated “reservations”. (The Kermadecs may be a possibility?)

2. Reservations

Reservations – aka “Homelands” in apartheid-era South Africa – were designed as a ‘final solution’ for non-White races.

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In our case, separate reservations could be intended for separate classes of people. Of course, that entails breaking up entire families of undesirables – but that is a minor issue. Good Citizens do not concern themselves with the welfare of undesirables.

Undesirables, as Citizen Campbell would have us know, are lesser creatures and do not feel emotional hurt as we, normal Citizens do. (It’s in their genes.  Or blood. Or something.)

As a start, every person who voted for John Banks would be assigned to a Reservation on White Island. Yes, we know it’s an active volcano, but it’s as close to Hell as we can get for these obviously sub-normal voters.

3. Internal passports

Internal passports were/are very popular with totalitarian regimes that demanded full control over  the movements (or lack, thereof) of their people. The former Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent, the Russian Federation, utilised internal passports. As does China to this day.

And of course the former apartheid regime of South Africa had it’s own Pass Laws.

New Zealand could easily turn Community Services Cards into a de facto Internal Passport. Simply add a computer chip (like most modern credit cards) and take it from there.

Result; voila! Full control of undesirables’ movements.

(Mr Campbell may start doing his little ‘happy dance’ now.)

Full disclosure

In case anyone missed it – I’m taking the piss here. I do not advocate Visual Identifications, Reservations, or Internal Passports. A society that employs such policies is one that is utterly alien to ours.

Perhaps Mr Campbell might reflect on the sort of society we are becoming when a class of people is discriminated against in such a callous manner.  If New Zealand is going to treat the unemployed – who are simply the victims of an ongoing global financial crisis – as pariahs; second class citizens; the Jews and Gypsies from the 1930s, then there is something seriously wrong with us.

Only a brutalised society could behave in such a brutal fashion.

One cannot help but suspect that Welfare Minister Paula Bennett’s ongoing harassment and vilification of unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), widows, etc, is becoming part of our social fabric. National has many failures to cover up and shifting blame onto others is one way of ducking responsibility. (Right wingers are not as Big on taking responsibility as they make out.)

I wonder if Mr Campbell prays every night that his butchery business thrives, and that he is not voted out of his mayorlty role.

It would be unfortunate for him if he were to become unemployed.

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It can happen to anyone.

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The Benign Neglect of the Free Market

25 September 2012 3 comments

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Nuplex joins a long line of other industries, manufacturers, retailers, government departments, SOEs, etc, who plan to shed jobs,

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Full story

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The announcement of redundancies adds to a shocking list of job losses this year alone,

What sets Nuplex’s announcement apart from others was this extraordinary statement from New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association president, Brian Willoughby,

New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Brian Willoughby said Nuplex’s decision would have come after all other options were exhausted. “Nuplex would have been working really hard to be as effective as it could, like the other companies that have announced these closures and layoffs. This is the end game – they can’t make it work.”

He said the Government, and past governments, clearly understood the reasons why manufacturers and exporters were facing such challenges.

“They have all operated with benign neglect and let it get to this,” said Willoughby. “There are so many buttons that could be pushed.”

He said the Reserve Bank could lower interest rates, which would help keep the New Zealand dollar’s strength in check.”

See: Ibid

Benign neglect“, Willoughby calls it.

Another term is the free market in full operation.

Were it not for the fact that thousands of New Zealanders are losing their jobs on a weekly basis, pushing up the unemployment rate, I would find Willoughby’s remarks laughable.

Businessmen and women are quick off the mark to demand less State interference and more market de-regulation to suit their vision of a pure free market.

Both National and Labour governments  have been happy to comply, reducing company tax rates, as well as personal marginal tax rates for high income earners.

In the last four years, company tax rates have been slashed from 33% to 28%.

See: IRD – For businesses and employers

Industrial labour “reforms” have included the 90 Day “trial rate” to allow employers to take on more staff more easily (and still unemployment is rising?!) since 1 Aprl last year.

See: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – 90 Day Trial Period

And FTA deals are being planned all over the place.

If National was any more “business friendly”, politicians would be literally climbing into bed and sleeping with business people. (No inferences made.)

And business sector groups are now whinging that past governments  ” have all operated with benign neglect “?!

Ungrateful buggers.

As if Brian Willoughby’s whining wasn’t enough, Catherine Beard, executive director of Manufacturing NZ, made this stomach-churning complaint,

She said measures the Government could take to address the strong dollar included reducing debt, to take the pressure off interest rates, and putting an end to “poor quality spending” such as Working for Families and student loans.

See: The axe falls: Industry boss blames cuts on Govt

Yeah. Why should families raising kids  and young people starting out in life get all the breaks, huh?

I look forward to Ms Beard advocating  an end to namby-pamby laws protecting workers’ conditions so that children can have real choices in life.

Like whether to work in sweat shops or clean the insides of chimneys.

Choice is important.

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Polls, Rogue Polls, and Damned Rogue Polls!

24 September 2012 3 comments

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Two previous polls this month showed a slight increase for National, and a small corresponding drop for Labour,

National – 47.9% (+0.45)

Labour – 32%  (-2%)

Greens – 10.7% (+1.6%)

NZ First – 5.5% (+1.1%)

ACT – Dog tucker

Source: Herad Digipoll 11 September 2012

National – 46.5%  (+2%)

Labour – 31%  (-1%)

Greens – 12.5%  (-2%)

NZ First – 4.5%  (-0.5%)

ACT  – still dog tucker – with biscuits thrown in

Source: Roy Morgan 13 September 2012

Which makes a recent TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll somewhat odd, as it appears to break the trends shown in the above two polls,

National – 45%  (-3%)

Labour – 34%  (+2%)

Greens – 12.0%  (n/c)

NZ First – 2.0%  (-1%)

ACT  – dessert, leftover humble pie

Source: Labour makes gains on National – poll 23 September 2012

So two polls show National tracking up – and one shows the same Party dropping. Which is correct? Which is the ‘rogue poll’?

This blogger opts for the latter, the TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll.

With National’s recent strategy to paint Maori water claims as “greedy” and maintaining that “no one owns the water” (as opposed to coal, oil, and gas being sold to power thermal electricity generation) ; and Bennett’s relentless beneficiary-bashing proceeding at Warp Factor 9 – it is hardly surprising that the Nats are rising in the polls.

This is the same dog-whistle politics which Don Brash used during his stint as leader of Labour Greens ACT Mickey Mouse Party  the National Party (finally got the right one – hard to keep track of  The Don, these days)  in January 2004 during his infamous “Orewa Speech”.

The racists and low information voters loved it. Whether bashing the “lazy druggie benes” or bashing the “lazy greedy Mow-ries” – National and ACT know they can always rely on exploiting this country’s latent prejudices to secure some increased electoral support.

The Nats enjoyed a stunning 17% meteoric rise in the polls in 2004, thanks to Brash’s odious speech, that would’ve made a certain German Corporal proud.

The  TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll is definitely rogue.

It is too early for the punters to cotton on to the fact that National Party strategists, beavering away in their little dens on the Beehive’s Ninth Floor (or basement dungeon, or where ever Key keeps his Orc-ish minions) are conning them Big Time.  Diversion and distraction – the oldest game in the political book to keep the Middle Classes from realising that National is failing to rev up the economy and unemployment is on the rise.

I am reminded of playing with kitty cat with a bit of string…

It works similar with the Middle Classes. But instead of string, use bene-baiting or “standing up to dem  Mow-ries“. Guaranteed to work.

This blogger still believes that we are in line for a change in government come 2014 (or earlier). Eventually, the Middle Classes tire of hearing the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), Maori, etc, demonised and begin to realise that National has nothing positive to offer.

That is when people realise that the Emporer has no clothes. *ick*

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Addendum

As a side issue…

Colmar Brunton brags on its website that it ” is delighted that the One News Colmar Brunton Poll is noted as the poll that most closely predicted the 2011 election “.

According to their own data, they are nothing of the sort. In fact, Roy Morgan achieved closer Party polling than Colmar did. The closest polling figures to actual Election Night voting results are marked in red,

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Source

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Colmar Brunton got four results closer to Election Night with scores for the Conservative Party, Labour, Greens, and Mana.

Roy Morgan got five scores closer to Election Night; National, ACT, United Future, Maori, and NZ First.

If you’re going to brag that you do a better job than your competitors, it might be a good idea to back it up with real evidence. (At least 50% of respondents agree with that assertion… )

Interestingly, Colmar Brunton generally got it right with the opposition parties (except for Conservatives) whilst Roy Morgan generally got it right with the government coalition parties (except for NZ First).

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Previous related blogposts

As predictable as the rising sun (11 Sept)

Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics (18 Sept)

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A Dolphin’s Tale

24 September 2012 11 comments

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To our great shame, one of the world’s most endangered species, the Maui’s Dolphin, now has less than 55 individuals left.  The species is 54 deaths away from extinction.

See: Forest & Bird – Hector’s & Maui’s dolphins

It’s close cousin, the Hector’s Dolphin, numbers around  7,000-8,000 – a drop from 30,000 in the 1970s.

Each year 23 Hector’s dolphins are drowned in fisher’s nets.

See: Hector’s dolphins on course for extinction

Set nets have all but destroyed these air-breathing mammals in our insatiable rush to strip the seas of edible fish.

On 28 June, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced,

I have decided to extend the recreational and commercial set net ban in the Taranaki area, from Pariokariwa Point south  to Hawera, with an offshore boundary of 2 nautical miles (nm)…

In addition, due to the level of uncertainty in information relating to Maui’s dolphin presence in the area, I have decided to prohibit the use of commercial set nets between 2 nm and 7 nm in this area without an observer onboard.

Observers will:

  •  report start and end positions of nets set between 2 and 7 nm from shore; and
  •  report dolphins sightings to DOC.”

See:  David Carter – Maui Dolphin Decision Letter

See:  Set net restrictions to protect Maui’s dolphins

Which seemed remarkably less than what was required to save Maui’s dolphin and prevent Hector’s dolphin from sliding further toward extinction.

On 21 September, Radio NZ featured a report about New Zealand’s governmental delegation to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s conference, held in Korea. Shockingly, our delegation   voted against  strengthening measures to protect  Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins,

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Full story

Radio NZ:  Listen to more on Morning Report

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It must be one of the few  occassions  in our history that New Zealand has voted against a conservation measure in an international forum, focusing  specifically on  an endangered species within our own territory.

There must have been several raised eyebrows at that Conference.

How much longer can call ourselves “100% Pure – Clean & Green”? (Maybe 70%?)

On 12 June, John Key fronted a “Live Chat”, hosted by Fairfax media, where he answered questions put to him by readers.

See Previous blogpost: Fairfax – an hour with Dear Leader

One of the questions put to him referred to endangered dolphins in our waters,

12:28  Moderator:
Anna asks:
What is the govt doing to prevent the extinction of the Maui dolphins? DETAILS! Not just “we’re working on it” NZ wants answers. We want a moratorium on set net fishing.

12:28  John Key:
We are very close to making an announcement in relation to that issue. Stay posted.

That tantalising hint of  “an announcement in relation to that issue” raised hopes that National was set to take firm,  decisive action to preserve both species from the abyss of permanent extinction.

No such luck.

By now we should be used to National stating lofty goals – and taking the lowest road possible to the easiest, cheapest outcome. An outcome we live to regret later.

In two years, Maui’s dolphin may be extinct.

That’s one hell of a “legacy” for John Key’s Prime Ministership to be remembered by.

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Take Action

Forest & Bird: Hector’s Dolphins: Distribution

Previous Related Blogpost

An Open Letter to John Key

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National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums (part rua)

24 September 2012 6 comments

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Continued from: National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

Yesterday (12 September) Welfare Minister Paula Bennett released this piece of spectacular “data” to the media,

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Full story

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It was one of those “Shock! Horror!” stories that the media loves – great headlines, not much critical analysis. When you read the whole “story”, the questions that are not answered scream out at you,

  1. What is full meaning of the statement “An actuarial valuation conducted as part of the Government’s welfare reforms shows the average total cost of those who had received a working-age benefit in the year to June 30, 2011 was $78.1b”?
  2. Why did the Fairfax reporter not cross-reference invalid and sickness beneficiaries to ACC policy of “exiting” clients onto welfare, where ongoing rehabilitation was not available? (ACC staff rewarded for cutting off clients – MP)
  3. How accurate is the report?
  4. How does this report help create 170,000 new jobs, promised by John Key last year?  (See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs)
  5. What was the point of the report, when Bennett herself has admitted on TVNZ’zs Q+A,“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:  http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/transcript-paula-bennett-interview-4856860)
  6. Why has National spent $800,000 on this “report”, when previously  Bennett refused to undertake further research to gain information on child poverty,  “of course there is poverty in New Zealand. This has been acknowledged by the Government but it’s not a priority to have another measure on it” ? (See: Combating poverty more important than measuring it.)

It’s interesting that Paula Bennett rejected calls for further research to quantify the levels of child poverty in this country stating that, ” it’s not a priority to have another measure on it” – but feels it necessary to spend nearly a million dollars of our taxes on a study of  “an actuarial valuation” on long-term costings of  welfare.

If this doesn’t raise the hackles and outrage of New Zealanders then they are truly braindead.

Worse still is the timing of the realease of the Taylor Fry report.

The report – designed to paint unemployed and solo-mums in a maximum damning light – was released on 12 September.

A day later, this story became public,

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Full story

Listen: Listen to more from Bill English on Morning Report

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Thus far, that story does not seem to have appeared in any other media.

It has been quietly “buried” under a mountain of negative press releases from National.

This blogger has zero doubt that National was fully aware that Statistics New Zealand was in the process of releasing the data on job losses to the public. That story, plus ongoing redundancies and rising unemployment led National’s taxpayer-funded spin-meisters to pre-empt Statistics New Zealand’s bad news shocker, and instead release their own “Shock, Horror!” story.

Thus far, it seems to have worked.

But for how long?

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank has released an astonishing report blaming National’s policies for low economic growth,,

Fiscal consolidation is expected to have a substantial dampening influence on demand growth over the projected horizon. This consolidation will, all else equal, lead to a lower OCR (official cash rate) than would otherwise be the case.

See: Govt austerity slows growth, keeps rates low – RBNZ

National fails to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us last year, and blames beneficiaries for their incompetance? Noice.

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Addendum

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Yesterday, this blogger emailed Paula Minister on National’s recent bout of beneficiary bashing,

Date:   Wednesday, 12 September 2012 2:23 PM
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Recent “welfare reforms” – Some questions for you.
To: “Paula.bennett@parliament.govt.nz” <Paula.bennett@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>,
    “campbelllive@tv3.co.nz” <campbelllive@tv3.co.nz>,
    Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
    Daily News <editor@dailynews.co.nz>, Daily Post <editor@dailypost.co.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>, Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
    “Joanna Norris ( DPT)” <joanna.norris@dompost.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    “kate.chapman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz” <kate.chapman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz>,
    John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>, Listener <editor@listener.co.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    “news@dompost.co.nz” <news@dompost.co.nz>,
    “news@radionz.co.nz” <news@radionz.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    “primenews@skytv.co.nz” <primenews@skytv.co.nz>, Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.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>,
    “tariana.turia@parliament.govt.nz” <tariana.turia@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>,
    Wairarapa Times-Age <editor@age.co.nz>
Kia ora Ms Bennett,
 
Regarding your proposals to compel the unemployed, solo-mothers, etc, to undertake various obligations, or face having their welfare payments cut, I have some questions to put to you;
  1. Will recipients of Working for Families – which some call a “welfare benefit – also be expected to compulsorily enroll their children in Early Childhood Education and doctors? If not, why not?
  2. Will superannuitants who are caring for children also be expected to compulsorily enroll their children in Early Childhood Education and doctors? If not, why not?
  3. Will children of all families, regardless of financial and/or employment circumstance also be expected to compulsorily enroll their children in Early Childhood Education and doctors? If not, why not?
If  compulsory early childhood education and doctor’s visits for children of unemployed, solo-mums, and other welfare recipients is such a good idea that National is willing to enact legislation, and financially penalise parents for failing to carry out this policy – why are other parents also not being compelled to enroll their children in Early Childhood Education and medical clinics?
 
Is there a basis upon which only the unemployed who have been made redundant from companies, government departments, and SOEs, are being targetted? What is that basis?
 
If unemployed or low-income families are financially unable to enroll their children in Early Childhood Education, doctors, etc, what steps will National take to offer additional financial assistance?
 
Do you still stand by your comment that you made on TVNZ’s Q+A on 29 April 2012, that, “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”.
 
And lastly; is this propopsal – plus your other so-called “welfare reforms” – simply not an attack on the unemployed and solo-mothers to deflect attention away from your government’s inability to generate the 170,000 new jobs that Prime Minister John Key promised us at the last election?
 
I await any possible answer you might be able to provide to these questions.
 
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger
 

PS: This correspondence is not to be regarded as permission, whether actual or implied, to release any personal details about me that the State might hold about me.

Her office has responded today (13 September),

Date: Thursday, 13 September 2012 9:06 AM
From: Natalie Hansen <Natalie.Hansen@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “‘fmacskasy@yahoo.com'” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: FW: Recent “welfare reforms” – Some questions for you.

Hello Frank

The Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development has asked me to thank you for your email. 

Consideration is currently being given to the matters you raise and you may expect a reply at the Minister’s earliest opportunity.

Kind regards

Natalie Hansen

Private Secretary, Office of Hon Paula Bennett Minister for Social Development | Minister of Youth Affairs Executive Wing 5.5, Parliament Buildings| Private Bag 18041 | Wellington 6160

Telephone: +64 4 817 6815 | Fax: +64 4 817 6515 | Email: Natalie.hansen@parliament.govt.nz

Consideration is currently being given to the matters”  I raised?

It will be interesting to see what – if any – rational response Bennett comes up with. This should be good.

* Up-date*

Date:  Monday, 24 September 2012 3.57PM
From: “J Key (MIN)” <J.Key@ministers.govt.nz>
To: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: Recent “welfare reforms” – Some questions for you.

Dear Mr Macskasy,

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge the copy of your email sent for Mr Key’s information.

Regards,

E Tanga          

Ministerial Assistant/Records Officer           

Office of the Prime Minister

No further response  received from Paula Bennett’s office as at 24 September.

 

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Sources

Scoop.co.nz: Combating poverty more important than measuring it

NZ Herald: Fate of youth gloomiest stat of all

NZ Herald: Benefit tally ‘not an excuse for hard line’

NZ Herald: Andrew Cardow: Bennett out-nannies Labour’s nanny state

NZ Herald: Govt austerity slows growth, keeps rates low – RBNZ

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Uncle Sam, Over Here?

23 September 2012 14 comments

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Full Story

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The interview with Panetta,

CORIN DANN: Putting the ship issue aside, is there perhaps the potential for New Zealand one day to host US marines in that same way, perhaps, that Australia and the Philippines might be in the future?

LEON PANETTA: Well, you know, I think one of the things that was made clear to me by the Defence Minister is the interest in developing amphibious capability here with the New Zealand forces. And we certainly can help provide assistance in that. The marines are among the best in terms of that capability. And I would hope that, you know, we could develop an approach where we could continue to do exercises, continue to provide training and assistance, continue to provide our expertise and try to build up New Zealand’s capabilities so that you will be in a better position to be able to provide not only for your own security but help us in providing for the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

See: TVNZ’s Q+A Interview

Stationing US troops here on New Zealand soil, on a permanent basis?!

Ahhh, that would be a definite NO.

Not unless National was hell-bent on buying into a fight with every leftist, peacenik,  anti-war Christian, and  middle class liberal  in this country?

The only reason National might conceivably go along with such a nutty proposal is that middle class New Zealanders are finally  tiring of beneficiary-bashing, and Key’s spin-meisters needed a new diversionary strategy.

Our Aussie cuzzies might be happy at the prospect of becoming the 51st state of the U S of A – but I suspect us kiwis draw the line at having crappy tv programmes broadcast into our homes.

No thank you, Dear Leader, Uncle Sam, or Uncle Tom Cobbly.

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Liberalising WoF rules – where have we heard this before?

20 September 2012 2 comments

The latest liberalisation policy from National; changing the frequency of Warrants of Fitness for new and older vehicles,

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Listen to Simon Bridges on Checkpoint

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Listen to more on Nine to Noon

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I have an uneasy feeling about National’s proposals…

On one hand, it would be easier and cheaper to have my car checked for a WoF once every six months.  Who could say ‘no’ to saving $40 or $60 a year?

On the other hand, a lot can go wrong with a car in one year.  As mechanic, Don Sweet, told Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme,

When you talk about the repairs, I’ve found steering joints falling off, brakes worn right out, brake hoses cracked to bursting, rusted brake pipes, tyres with steel cords coming out.”

So why my apprehension? What is it about National’s liberalisation of  this regulation that causes my ‘spidey-sense‘ to tingle, with on-coming danger?

Perhaps because we’ve been down this road before – with disturbing and tragic consequences,

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Full Story

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Source: Hansards – Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (Financial Assistance Package) Amendment Bill — Third Reading

Despite Minister Williamson attempting to duck responsibility, the de-regulation of the Building Industry, as well as the Mining Inspectorate, can be sheeted home fairly-and-squarely upon National’s neo-liberal shoulders.

As part of an ongoing agenda of transforming New Zealand society and economy into a de-regulated free-market, with minimal state over-sight, both Rogernomics Labour and National pursued liberalisation to the exclusion of common sense, safety, and consequences.

Those politicians responsible for the mess they created; the billions of dollars in damage; and lives lost, continue to abrogate all responsibility for the last two decades. Yet, many of those same politicians are still in office today.

The liberalisation of Warrants of Fitness for vehicles sounds like a good idea.

But so did de-regulation of the Building Industry and Mining Inspectorate, at the time.

One would like to think we have learnt our lessons over time, but it appears not. Our propensity for collective amnesia is as much a part of our nature as it ever was.

Liberalisation  of vehicle safety standards: this will not end well.

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Previous related blogpost

A lethal lesson in de-regulation

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John Armstrong, bloggers, and the free market

19 September 2012 2 comments

NZ  Herald  “chief political commentator” seems to have taken issue with bloggers. Well, two bloggers, mostly,

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John Armstrong NZ herald bloggers

Full bizarre story

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Armstrong’s bizarre comments were… well, bizarre.

Personally, I put it down to an unholy mixture of jet-lag*; long nights; too much/too little caffeine;  mid-life crisis; with a fair whack of frustration. Something has obviously crawled up his bits.

In fact, his comments in his column (above) were not just downright unprofessional, but  suggestive of  poor health. Comments like,

Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists…”

Get off our backs.’

Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons.’

In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week…”

And those were in just the first paragraph. After that, it was all downhill.

The tirade was directed at two gentlemen, Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards. Both responded in their own ways, and style,

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Full story

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Full story

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All three are worth reading.

All  three  speak volumes about the state of journalism in this country.

Firstly; John Armstrong represents the Old Guard of the Fourth Estate; conservative; part of The Establishment; close to government. In fact, how close to government was exemplified by this extraordinary statement from opinion piece above,

“The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.”

With an admission like that, you begin to realise why someone like Armstrong would be so belligerent to the likes of Campbell and Bryce, who are hardly Establishment-types.

Since when was it ever the concern of a journalist whether what s/he  wrote was ” unlikely to please National “?!

A journalist is not put on this Earth to “please National” (or Labour). They are here to tell us what’s going on – regardless of whether or not National (or Labour)  are  “displeased”.

That one remark validates every criticism every made of the NZ Herald that it is a clandestine mouthpiece for the National Party. There is no other way it can be interpreted.

Secondly; whilst Armstrong represents the Old Guard of journalism, Campbell and Bryce are part of the  New Wave of Media. In large part, this involves the latest advent of mass-media, the internet. But the internet is simply the tool – it is an attitudinal sea-change  that best encapsulates what Bryce and Campbell represent.

When Rogernomics engulfed this country, it introduced the concept of the “free market” and “choice” to our economy. Some of it benefitted our nation – much of it did not. Thousands who lost their jobs will attest to that.

But the liberalisation and de-regulation of New Zealand was not simply something applied to our economy. It reached into, and affected every part, of our society.

MMP, for example, did to the electoral/political system was the removal of tariffs did to the  importation of consumer products; it gave the Voter/consumer a greater choice in who to vote for.

That same liberalisation encouraged the de-regulation of the Media. It was no longer the province of  card-carrying journos, feature writers, and freelancers. Suddenly, anyone could get “in on the game”. The internet did for citizen journalists, bloggers, and non-establishment commentators  what the typewriter and paid salaries did for mainstream journos.

The richest irony here is that John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the de-regulated free market – the same de-regulated free market that has pissed him off by letting everyone in on his turf.

Right about now, Armstrong should understand what it felt like when our shops were flooded with cheap clothing and shoes from Fiji, China, and India – whilst New Zealand seamstresses and shoemakers were forced out of business.

Or how Labour and National politicans felt when MMP changed our political landscape and Parliament was flooded with Greens, NZ Firsters, Alliance, ACT, etc.

The de-regulated free market is such a wonderful thing – until it’s your arse that is bitten.

Painful eh, John?

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Addendum

Armstrong complains about the tough nature of his job – especially accompanying John Key and his entourage to the APEC conconference in *Vladivostok last week.

Perhaps instead of writing travelogue pieces (see: Curse of Russky Island strikes ) he might have considered writing about Key’s pursuit of a Free Trade Agreement with Russia. This might have been a worthy topic, considering that Russia appears to have an unhealthy, close relationship with the Russian Mafia. (See related blogpost: A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key! )

Even the Guardian and Washington Post felt the situation warranted some decent investigative journalism. (See: The farce of Russian elections , Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art, Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent )

But we got none of that (unless I’ve missed it).

A story of a sovereign state that appears to have  close connections to gangsters would seem to be much more of a story than interesting scenery in Vladivostok.  That might’ve made an interesting story for Armstrong to pursue – especially if we’re going to be cosying up to our Russian cuzzies with a FTA.

Newsworthy, I would have thought.

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Sources

Bloggers don’t let the facts get in the way

Gordon Campbell on journalism, and John Armstrong

Political round-up: Blogging backlash

Curse of Russky Island strikes

Who owns what: for an answer, start here

Previous related blogpost

A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key!

Tracey Watkins on John Key – Surprised?!

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Paula Bennett: one strike and she’s out.

19 September 2012 9 comments

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National’s diversionary strategem of inferring that our high rate of unemployment is a deliberate life-style choice, and the fault of the unemployed, continues unabated. In large part, with few exceptions, this strategem of Divert & Deflect, is aided and abetted by a compliant media.

People like  Fairfax’s Tracey Watkins,  and NZ Herald’s John Armstrong and Fran O’Sullivan, have been unquestioning in their slavish “reporting” of  National’s assault against the unemployed.

The latest from  National Politburo member, Comrade Bennett, is a new  diktat  imposed upon the unemployed that  ” cancels payments for those who refuse [an]  offer of ‘suitable’ job “,

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Full tragic story

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To repeat and quote Bennett, when she stated on TVNZ’s Q+A on 29 April,

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. “

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

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#1 – Where are the jobs?

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Where are the jobs – especially the 170,000 that Dear Leader Key promised us last november?

This is not just a rhetorical question – National was re-elected upon their (undeserved) reputation as “prudent stewards of the economy”. And a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

That they have failed to produce these new jobs, is an understatement. Unemployment continues to rise.

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc (May 2012)

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc (August 2012

And redundancies continue on an almost daily/weekly basis,

So, where are the jobs,  Comrade Bennett?

Never mind turning down one job – with 162,000 unemployed all competing for a small, limited number of jobs – most jobless people will not even have the luxury of one job offer.

This blogger has a sneaking suspicion that Comrade Bennett is referring to pseudo-“jobs”,

  • telemarketing (best done at dinner time)
  • door-to-door salesperson (households love to greet strangers on their doorstep, flogging vacuum cleaners)
  • prostitute (highly skilled/motivated to satisfy clients’ needs;   someone with passionate  people-skills)
  • chimney cleaner (for small-builds, to facilitate easier access up chimneys)
  • rent-a-womb (for rich, childless couples – males beneficiaries may be excused from this, at WINZ discretion)
  • fruit picker (traditionally seasonal work – but still doable in winter time, lack of fruit is NO excuse!)

All growth industries, no doubt.

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#2 – An alternative to the ‘One Strike’ policy?

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The WINZ Charter, as follows,

What you can expect from us

We will:

  • give you prompt and efficient service
  • let you know about our services and how we can help
  • give you information that is correct and easy to understand
  • give you the assistance you are entitled to
  • explain your rights and obligations
  • explain why we ask you to do certain things
  • listen carefully so we understand what you are telling us
  • be understanding and caring about your needs
  • be respectful, friendly and professional in the way we serve you
  • tell you who may be able to help if we can’t.

You have the right to:

  • be treated with courtesy and respect
  • cultural sensitivity
  • use any of our services
  • be given information about the services we offer
  • be given correct information and entitlements
  • be listened to
  • be given fair, non-judgemental service
  • have your information kept private and confidential
  • have any decisions we make explained to you
  • have a support person there whenever you deal with us
  • make a complaint or ask for a review if you disagree with us.

So that we can help, you need to:

  • give us the information we need to assess your entitlements
  • make sure any information you give us is correct
  • tell us about any changes in your situation
  • keep any agreements you have made with us
  • attend and be prepared for our meetings
  • tell us if you’re unable to keep an appointment
  • treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

See: WINZ – Our Service Charter

I propose a minor amendment to the above Charter with one addition,

Our prime obligation to you:

  • we are committed to honouring the Prime Minister’s pledge to create new 170,ooo jobs
  • we will have one chance to provide suitable work from one of those 170,000 new jobs; at decent pay-rates; within reasonable travel time/distance
  • failure to comply will mean that the Minister of Social Welfare will have her Ministerial salary docked at the rate of unemployment benefit, for each week that you remain unemployed
  • if, after one year of  failing to honour our committment to you, and you are still unemployed, the Prime Minister will personally apologise to you, and will either provide a meaningful job for you, or support you into retraining at a nearby polytech or University, to be paid out of his own $50 million bank account

I think that amendment is fair, and puts the onus on to John Key and Paula Bennett to fulfill their obligations to us, the public, and to those people who voted National on the basis of creating 170,000 new jobs.

Let’s see National meet their obligations: 170,000 new jobs, as promised.

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Full story

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Other Blogs

Why politicians like the beneficiary debate

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Is this what National voters had in mind?

19 September 2012 3 comments

… when they voted for National last year?

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Note, especially, Key’s response to Metirea Turei’s questions, and Key’s  flippant response. Not exactly “Prime Ministerial”, one would think?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to have this guy as our Prime Minister instead,

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He’d be considerably cheaper than the $411,510 currently paid to Dear Leader Key.

And considerably less threatening to Christchurch schools; the unemployed; our conservation lands;  workers’ rights and conditions; and other issues currently facing our country.

Who knows? Mr Clown above (the one with the bright yellow flower – not the one in the suit) might actually have a few decent ideas how to create jobs for the 162,000+ unemployed in New Zealand.

He sure couldn’t do worse than the clown (the one in the suit, not the yellow flower) we already have.

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Additional

Banks of loud rhubarb on Planet Key

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Citizen A – 13 September 2012 – Online now!

19 September 2012 Leave a comment

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Citizen A

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- 13 September 2012 -

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- Claudette Hauiti & Phoebe Fletcher -

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTu0zW1FPVc&list=UU7Jit_xt-bd0g_Z8CIneUeg&index=1&feature=plcp

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Issue 1: Feeding kids at school – everyone seems to want to do it except the Government – who is responsible for hungry children – the parent or the State?

Issue 2: Latest round of beneficiary cut backs now look to punish the child for the sins of the parent – has Paula Bennett gone too far or will she go further?

Issue 3: Maori meet to hui over water today, is the Prime Minister listening?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV – This blogger recommends ‘Citizen A’ as intelligent analysis of current affairs.

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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Diversion Strategem #5

18 September 2012 5 comments

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How to divert the Television Generation public;

Strategem #1: Blame it on dem filthy lazy benes! (*tick*)

Strategem #2: Stand up to dem lazy, uppity Mow-ries! (*tick*)

Strategem #3: Host an international sporting tournament! (Did that last year.)

Strategem #4: Declare war on someone! (Fiji? Kermadec Islands? A passing iceberg?)

Strategem #5: Invite some Royals to visit! (Clothing optional)

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Full pathetic story

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*tick*

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These people are HEROES!!!

18 September 2012 5 comments

In every society and in every age, there is a minority of human beings who reject injustice and put themselves on the line to make a point,

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Full story

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These people are heroes. Every one of them. They make a stand where others sit idly by, accepting without a second thought, the actions of an increasingly desperate and hopeless government.

What National has failed to understand is that if you push people hard enough, they will eventually push back. Demonising a group of people will eventually result in anger, frustration, and will boil over into a reaction.

New Zealanders take stock of what you are seeing; these people are protesting because they want jobs. And they are protesting because they resent being blamed for a stagnant economy and high unemployment they had no hand in making.

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Full story

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Those New Zealanders who side with National on this issue should realise that they too, may one day find themselves out of a job.

It is a shameful thing that we are witnessing here; young people having to protest at a lack of jobs – and having to protest against a government that is effectively waging an undeclared war on the unemployed.

Is this what John Key had in mind for his “Bright New Future”?

Good lord, what is happening to this country?

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Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

18 September 2012 8 comments

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Bennett sez that welfare has,

“…become a bit of a trap for quite a few people

That sounds to me like it’s trapping them there and not giving them the kind of opportunities that they need, so changing those will make a big difference for them.”

I would have thought that it’s a lack of jobs “trapping” people in welfare?!

Not enough jobs = people on welfare.

Seems simple enough to me. Even Bennett admitted this, on TVNZ’s Q+A,

 “ 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

And just five  months earlier, Key had stated,

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” -John Key, 17 November 2011

See: Key and Goff Q and A Creating jobs

So where are the jobs?

Key and Bennett make big noises about jobseekers’ and other beneficiaries having obligations to find work. Where is the obligation of National to create an economy that  would produce these new  jobs?

Thus far, not only has National failed to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised last November – but unemployment is on the rise.

And National’s respomnse is to threaten the unemployed with benefit cuts and force compulsion onto solo-mothers to undertake so-called  “social obligations”?

It’s gotten to the point where this shabby government and it’s incompetant ministers have taken to robbing widows, for chrissakes,

Apart from penalties, the only groups that will face an actual benefit cut are widows and women alone with no dependent children. The widows’ benefit, now $213.49 a week, will disappear next July and widows without dependent children will go on to Jobseeker Support at $204.96, a cut of $8.53 a week.”

$8.53 less: that’s a loaf of bread; a bottle of milk; and a tub of butter, less to put on the table. From women who’ve gone through the tragedy of losing their partners and husbands.

That’s how low National and this country  has gone; taking food of the tables of widows.

Christ, New Zealand, how f*****g proud are you to elect people like these cockroaches to Parliament?

Meanwhile, that taxpayer-bloated, minister –  charged  with  “protecting” the most vulnerable people in our society and who have suffered the most from the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis –  enjoys a highly paid “job” with perks that the rest of us could only dream about.

A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ special allowance)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA, at taxpayers’ expense (which she has since canned for other solo-parents
  • She tried a part-time job whilst at at Uni, but gave it up, citing it was “too much for her” to study and be a solo-mum at the same time.

Source

Source

So that’s the sort of parasitic creature we now have, sitting in a well-padded ministerial chair, on her equally well-padded backside.

All at taxpayers’ expense.

The same could be said of  John Key;  speculator; millionaire; and now ‘esteemed’ Prime Minister.

The same John Key who,

  • as a child, benefitted from living in a cheap, state owned house, at taxpayers’ expense,
  • had a widowed mum who received  a wideowers benefit (now cut) and Family Benefit ( now gone)
  • aas a young man, benefitted from a free University education, at taxpayers’ expense (pre-student fees and loans)

These two well-paid politicians have enjoyed every assistance and benefit imaginable from our earlier social support mechanisms.

Now they have the utter hypocrisy to attack others receiving the same social support systems and welfare that they benefitted from?

And worse still – these two parasites have not even bothered to fulfill their end of the “contract” that they entered with the country and unemployed!

Paula Bennett is muck-raking when she says,

It’s growing all the time … so if we can get them in, if we can give them the kind of help that they need, then I think that will make a big difference.”

See: Reforms to help beneficiaries out of ‘trap’

Rubbish.

The only “help” that welfare beneficiaries need are jobs. Bennett makes no reference to a lack of jobs and growing unemployment, because she is studiously avoiding her responsibilities and attempting to shift blame onto the victims of National’s ineptitude.

Cast our memories back to November, last year;

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National committed itself, and pledged to voters, a programme of job creation. They were elected on the basis of a “bright new future” of 170,000 new jobs.

Instead we’ve had growing redundancies and rising unemployment.

Meanwhile, the unemployed are queuing up for any vancancies that  do appear on the jobs market,

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Jobseekers flood a new Hamilton call centre

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A “high volume” of people applied for jobs advertised with 1st Call, with at least 100 people applying for each administrative role.” – Source

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10 applicants for every one shelf-stocking job

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The jobs are being welcomed by Bay job-hunters – about 1000 people applied for just 90 jobs at a new McDonald’s in Mount Maunganui, which is due to open next month.” – Source

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2700 applicants for 150 jobs

 

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The 20-year-old is among at least 51 people who have been given jobs at Rotorua’s new Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers, which opens next month. After reading about the restaurant’s open recruitment day in The Daily Post, Mr Watson joined 349 people who queued to be interviewed by Wendy’s staff on Thursday last week.” – Source

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Applicants queue for 20 jobs at new KFC store

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1200 applicants for 200 supermarket jobs

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He went for a job at a petrol station and found out he was one of about 60 applying for one position. He was also one of 40 who applied for three jobs at a supermarket.” – Source

Advertisements were placed one week ago for the 124 jobs in sales, administration, customer-service and trade specialist areas, and over 1500 applications have been received so far. Complex Manager Derek Powell says that people from all backgrounds have applied for the roles, and that the positions suit those with a background or interest in customer service, retail or the building trades.” – Source

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It is not the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), widows, etc, who are not meeting their obligations in seeking employment. The evidence shows that they  are queuing up at every opportunity.

It is National who has failed to meet their obligations in fulfilling their committment to create jobs.

Whilst National ministers are collecting generous  ministerial salaries, they are not fulfilling any of their responsibilities to ensure that jobs are being created.

It is not the unemployed who are “work shy” – it is John Key, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce, et al – who are failing to  meet  promises of job-creation, and yet they have the brazeness to blame the unemployed.

And worse still is that a sizeable portion of the population are foolish enough to buy this repulsive attempt to blame the victims of a stagnating economy. New Zealanders might try taking an interest in what is happening in their own society, rather than obsessed aver mother-daughter porn on television.

This blogger is disgusted with the like of Key and Bennett who blame the unemployed for their own failings.

But more than that, I hold every New Zealander, who was idiot enough to vote for National last year, responsible. Theirs is the ultimate responsibility for giving us a government that is hopeless at governing.

Are you people happy now?

 

Guest Author: Where’s National’s ‘corporate welfare’ reform?

- Penny Bright

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“How many billion$ of public monies could be saved by ‘CUTTING OUT THE CONTRACTORS’?

Where’s National’s ‘corporate welfare’ reform?

Which of the major political parties are pushing for ‘corporate welfare’ reform and shrinking the long-term dependency of the private sector on our public monies?

Where is the ‘devilish detail’ at both local and central government level – which shows EXACTLY where our public rates and taxes are being spent on private sector consultants and contractors?

Why aren’t the names of the consultant(s)/ contrators(s) – the scope, term and value of these contracts, published in Council or central government Annual Reports – so this information on the spending of OUR public monies is available for public scrutiny?

Where are the publicly-available ‘Registers of Interests’ for those local government elected representatives, and staff responsible for property and procurement, in order to help guard against possible ‘conflicts of interest’ between those who ‘give’ the contracts and those who ‘get’ the contracts?

Where’s the ‘transparency’?

Given that New Zealand is ‘perceived’ to be the least corrupt country in the world – along with Denmark and Singapore, according to Transparency International’s 2010 ‘Corruption Perception Index – shouldn’t we arguably be the most transparent?

Going back a step – where are the New Zealand ‘cost-benefit’ analyses which prove that the old ‘Rogernomic$ mantra – public is bad – private (contracting) is good’ can be substantiated by FACTS and EVIDENCE?

At last – someone – somewhere has actually done some substantial research – which proves the opposite.

That ‘contracting out’ services that were once provided ‘in-house’ is actually TWICE as expensive.

“USA Project On Government Oversight (POGO)[1] decided to take on the task of doing what others have not—comparing total annual compensation for federal and private sector employees with federal contractor billing rates in order to determine whether the current costs of federal service contracting serves the public interest.

http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/reports/contract-oversight/bad-business/co-gp-20110913.html
Executive Summary

Based on the current public debate regarding the salary comparisons of federal and private sector employees, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO)[1] decided to take on the task of doing what others have not—comparing total annual compensation for federal and private sector employees with federal contractor billing rates in order to determine whether the current costs of federal service contracting serves the public interest.

The current debate over pay differentials largely relies on the theory that the government pays private sector compensation rates when it outsources services. This report proves otherwise: in fact, it shows that the government actually pays service contractors at rates far exceeding the cost of employing federal employees to perform comparable functions.

POGO’s study analyzed the total compensation paid to federal and private sector employees, and annual billing rates for contractor employees across 35 occupational classifications covering over 550 service activities. Our findings were shocking—POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire federal employees to perform comparable services. Specifically, POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates—deemed fair and reasonable—that pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services. ”

The implications of this both nationally and internationally are HUGE.

If NZ central government figures are comparable with those of USA Federal Government – could the current NZ $82 billion central government spend be sliced in half by $40 billion ‘CUTTING OUT THE CONTRACTORS’?

http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2011/estimates/est11sumtab.pdf
Which political parties / candidates are focussing on the SPENDING of public monies, rather than debt and borrowing?

If central and local govt departments /SOEs / CCOs / Crown Research Institutes are all defined as ‘PUBLIC- BENEFIT ENTITIES’ as defined under NZ Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (“NZ IFRS”) – then their primary objective is to provide services and facilities for the community as a social benefit rather than make a financial return.

So – how come so many services that USED to be provided ‘in-house’ are now contracted out to the private sector – whose primary objective is most certainly to ‘make a financial return’?

What magic is this that transforms public (ratepayer and taxpayer) monies into private profit?

WHERE IS THE NZ EQUIVALENT OF ‘POGO’ the USA ‘Project On Government Oversight ‘ which has just completed first-ever research which proves that private contractors cost twice as much as ‘in-house’ providers of Federal Government services?

HOW MUCH MONEY could be saved in NZ at central and local government by cutting out all the private ‘piggies in the middle’ with their greedy snouts in our public troughs?

Why aren’t the statutory ‘third party’ Public Watchdogs, as well as other major political parties demanding this accountability?

How much public money at central and local government level could be saved by ‘CUTTING OUT THE CONTRACTORS’?

Who else is even asking this question?

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Additional

Govt depts clock up $1bn in consultant fees

Government’s spending on consultants skyrockets

PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting

Government denies MediaWorks loan

Emitters get ‘$1.4b corporate welfare’

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That was Then, This is Now #16

18 September 2012 5 comments

Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics

18 September 2012 6 comments

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Continued from: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

The latest Roy Morgan Poll (27 August –  9 September)showed  a predictable rise in support the  National Party at  46.5% (up 2% since August 13-26, 2012),

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Roy Morgan Poll 9 September 2012 – Trending

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See: National (46.5%) increases strong lead over Labour (31%)

Translated into seats,

National – 46.5% –   56 seats

Labour – 31% –  38 seats

Greens – 12.5% – 15 seats

NZ First – 4.5%  (likely to increase to 5% in 2014)–  6 seats

Maori Party – assuming – 2 seats retained (possible) (3 seats, unlikely)

Mana Party – 2 seats  (possible)

Peter Dunne – assuming 1 seat retained (possible)

ACT – 0.5% – assuming Epsom lost – no seats (probable)

Labour, the Greens, and NZ First dropped minutely, and ACT is heading for Zero Percent territory.

Seen in a Left-Right bloc context;

Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana: 61 seats

National-Peter Dunne-Maori Party: 59 seats

The figures are not at all surprising. This blogger predicted that National will experience a “bounce” in the polls as it engages in dog-whistle politics.

Bashing the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and other welfare beneficiaries and “standing up to greedy Mow-ries” is always a vote winner with low-information voters.

Don Brash’s “Orewa Speech”  in January 2004 was racist dog-whistle politics that pandered to the lowest common denominator in New Zealand politics.

See: “NATIONHOOD – Don Brash Speech Orewa Rotary Club”

It also gave National a temporary boost in public opinion polls, rising 17% in a subsequent  TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll.

See: At least Louis Crimp is honest

17% increase in public support – a sad “reward” for a racist speech that pandered to our most base instincts.

The SOE water rights issue and bene-bashing is a predictable strategy for any right wing Party to employ, to boost public poll support. At the moment, National has very little else to rely on – the news from the economy is all bad.

National may stop at abolishing the Treaty of Waitangi and “nationalising water and air”, and may think twice before demanding that all welfare recipients sew black triangles onto their clothing – but I’m sure several of them have fantasised over the prospect.

This blogger predicts that National may indeed rise another percentage point or two – but like the aftermath of the 2004 Orewa Speech, the Nats will fall back as peoples’ irrational racist fears subside and poor economic indicators and poverty continue to dominate headlines.

We are still on course for a change of government in 2014, if not earlier.

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Previous blogposts

Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government!

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

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Is John Key ‘losing the plot’?!

18 September 2012 3 comments

Lifted from the media today,

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Full story

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When the Leader of the pro-capitalist National Party starts talking about “nationalising elements such as water and wind”  – whilst at the same time instigating a programme to partially privatise Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, and Meridian – the question has to be asked; has John Key flipped his lid?!?!

Regardless of whatever atmosphere they are breathing on the Ninth Floor, there must be some severe oxygen depletion at work to have affected Key’s mental processes so badly.

New Zealanders from both ends of the spectrum, Left and Right, as well as the general populace, must be wondering what is going on in the land of Planet National.

Right wing National supporters must’ve wondered if they had heard their Dear Leader correctly when he uttered the taboo “N” word (“nationalisation – not “n—-r”).

The Left would have been rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in dismay, and wondering, “How much more of this clown will the public take? Does he have to decapitate and eat a kitten before his popularity takes a nose-dive and drops lower than John Banks’ credibility?”

Nationalisation of water and air…

Whilst selling of our state assets at the same time…

The breath-taking audacity of the man.

In reality, what he is saying is that  the government is toying with the idea  of making a grab for certain natural resources – before selling them to private investors.

His comment is as ludicrous as his statement on TVNZ’s Q+A on 16 September when he dumbly blurted out,

… So if you accept that viewpoint, then I think you have to accept that elements like water and wind and the sun and air and fire and all these things, and the sea, along with natural resources like oil and gas, are there for the national interest of everyone. They’re there for the benefit of all New Zealanders, not one particular group over another. “

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

Yeah, right, Dear Leader. I’m sure that came as a bit of a surprise to the private oil and gas companies currently exploiting our gas and oil fields.

John Key – always a laugh a minute with his incredibly outrageous remarks. Unfortunately, his clownish behaviour is ultimately at our expense.

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water rights state asset sales waitangi tribunal Maori King SOEs John Key

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