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Archive for November, 2012

Peter Jackson’s “Precious”…

28 November 2012 36 comments

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Today was the premiere of the first movie in “The Hobbit” trilogy.

I was not about to comment on todays events. For me, the shine has long since corroded from the Ring Trilogy and the “Hobbit” that came after.

Events surrounding the industrial dispute; the mass hysteria that followed; the vilification of actors who stood with Actor’s Equity; the demonisation of trade unionists; the the carefully crafted manipulation of public hysteria by some very skilled creators of illusion; the actions of National in unilaterally changing employment law – all left a sour taste in my mouth.

Whilst I loved the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy; the talents of actors, technicians, director and producer, and all the other fantastically imaginative craftsmen and woman who contributed to one of the most epic movies of this century -  I can no longer share those same feelings with “The Hobbit”.

As with our fraudulent claim to be “100% Pure”, there is something about “The Hobbit” which is a sham.

Unlike the “Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit” is not the product of Kiwi ingenuity. It is the product of back-room deals; media manipulation; and political-corporate connivance.

Have a look at TV3′s report today into the tumultuous  background of  “The Hobbit”, when Hollywood Hell broke loose in our country,

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[click here to direct to TV3 Video]

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Note Peter Jackson’s comment @ 1:27,

We are now being given signs that they [Hollywood producers] are looking very seriously about shifting [the Hobbit].”

Source: Ibid

That was a lie.

We know it was a lie.

We know it was a lie because Peter Jackson admitted it in an email to National’s Economic Development Minister, Gerry Brownlee, on 18 October 2010,

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Sir Peter Jackson told the Government he did not believe an international actors’ boycott would force The Hobbit overseas, emails show.

The message, sent to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee on October 18, is in stark contrast to comments the film-maker made earlier in the month.

On October 1, he said: “The Hobbit is being punished with a boycott which is endangering thousands of New Zealand jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign income, for no good reason.”

Sir Peter dismissed the idea that movie production was moving overseas because it was cheaper to make films there.

“It’s completely absurd! Eastern Europe is only being considered because a minority group of the New Zealand acting community have invoked union action that has blacklisted our film, making it impossible to shoot in New Zealand.”

But on October 18, Sir Peter said the boycott had nothing to do with the movies potentially moving overseas.

“There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit,” he wrote.

“What Warners requires for The Hobbit is the certainty of a stable employment environment and the ability to conduct its business in such as way that it feels its $500 million investment is as secure as possible.”

The October 18 email also suggests Sir Peter thought the boycott had been lifted, even though he said in television interviews three days later he was unsure if it had been officially ditched.

Sir Peter declined to comment through a spokesman yesterday.

See: Sir Peter: Actors no threat to Hobbit

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And Fairfax Media reported,

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The email showed Warner Bros wanted ”stability” to film the movies in New Zealand and was worried about ”grey areas” of employment law.

The Government secured the movies in October by an urgent amendment to the law which prevented independent contractors from claiming entitlements as employees, as well as an agreement to increase the tax concession for big screen productions.

The report said the email was signed ”Peter J” – apparently director Sir Peter Jackson – and was sent to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee who was involved in the negotiations with Warner Bros.
  
It said there was no connection between Actors’ Equity union action against The Hobbit movies and choice of location, which contradicted government statements at the time – which were that Warner Bros was concerned about strife caused by the blacklisting of the movies because of a row over collective pay conditions.

See: Union: Protest did not affect Hobbit decision

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It was all a giant con. And we, as a country, were the ones being conned.

Because three days later, on 21 October 2010, Jackson issued  a Press Release stating,

Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.”

See: Warner preparing to take Hobbit offshore – Sir Peter

Peter Jackson knew full it well was unlikely that  Warner Bros would move “The Hobbit”, for several practical, hard-nosed reasons.  Which Jackson duly shared with Gerry Brownlee.

Unfortunately, neither Brownlee nor Jackson shared that information with the rest of the country, and the mounting public hysteria gave John Key and National the ‘mandate’ they needed to act decisively.

The country panicked; and National used the opportunity to play “hero” by saving the day. It was like a Hollywood  scripted movie. (Though, for the life of me, I’m not sure that the “good guys” won.)

In 48 hours, National rammed through legislation amending the law covering all workers in the movie and television entertainment industry. The Bill was introduced on 28 October. It gained Royal Assent on 29 October. The fastest piece of legislation enacted since politicians voted themselves generous superannuation entitlements, late one night, in the 1980s.

See: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 – Legislative history

At the stroke of a pen – similar to a Decree issued by a lone despot in some authoritarian regime – National unilaterally changed workers from being employees to sub-contractors.

The resulting change was stark;

  • Employees can negotiate collectively for a collective agreement
  • Sub-contractors cannot
  • Employees had minimum wage; sick pay; holiday pay; appropriate employment/termination protections; etc.
  • Sub-contractors do not.

National got what it wanted; public support through a bit of Union bashing, and preliminary legislative attacks on de-unionisation of the workforce. (See: New industrial relations laws rewrite labour rules)

Warner Bros got what they wanted; more money (courtesy of the taxpayer) and de-unionisation of “The Hobbit” workforce.

Peter Jackson got what he wanted; an irritation out of his life.

In a way, I don’t blame Peter Jackson – despite his masterful manipulation of public opinion and reaffirming (if re-affirmation was ever required) that we can be a nation of sheep.

Peter Jackson is a talented, imaginative artist who can create the most visually stunning images on a screen. He is, in most likelihood, a genius.

Unfortunately, geniuses are often so focused; so obssessed; and so fixated on their work, that they will disregard all others around them. A genius is all-consumed with his work, to the detriment of others.

In this case, Peter Jackson identifies utterly with his projects; immersing himself in childhood fantasies that he now has the power to bring to life – albeit a two-dimensional “life” on the big screen.

In doing so, he swats aside any irritation that might distract him from his work.

Actors Equity was such a distraction, and Jackson used his masterful skills at perception-manipulation  to rid himself of that irritation. He had the power – so he used it.

He’s not evil or tyrannical or nasty.

He’s simply a boy who never quite grew up and realised that he could fulfill all his childhood fantasies.

Unfortunately, in doing so, and like many other obessively-dedicated geniuses before him – he has hurt many people in the process.

Will I go to see “The Hobbit”? I really don’t know.

But if I do, it won’t be the same as “Lord of the Rings”.

The illusion will be broken -  the suspension of disbelief (film makers and writers  will understand what I’m referring to).

Because all the while, there will be the spirit of a little boy who never quite grew up; holding on to his childhood fantasies; and murmuring ‘my precious‘, as he never lets go.

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Additional

Fairfax: Union: NZ actors suffer after dispute

Gordon Campbell: On The Hobbit finale

Fairfax: To save regular earth, kill Hobbit subsidies

Fairfax: Hobbit ‘better deal than Lord of the Rings’ – Key

Previous Related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law”

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WINZ Privacy for some – but not for others

28 November 2012 5 comments

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Most of us remember this apalling episode of Paula Bennett’s career as Social Welfare minister,

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Full Story

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In 2009, Bennett made public private details of two solo-mothers. She  handed over personal information to the media without the knowledge of the two women, Jennifer Johnston and Natasha Fuller.

The information included each woman’s weekly income from the State, including benefits and  allowances.

Her move was supported by misogynists;  right wing nutjobs; assorted beneficiary bashers; and National’s core constituency of conservative cranks.

Bennett’s actions were roundly condemned by fair-minded New Zealanders who recognised the Minister’s actions as a gross abuse of her power and invasion of their privacy.  No wonder that many who  remembered Rob Muldoon’s style of authoritarian governance likened Bennett’s behaviour to the late, former, Prime Minister.

But Bennett defended her mis-use of Ministerial powers,

If someone is deciding they’re happy to use their case to speak about or against something we are doing, I think it’s fair the full story be told.”

Three years later…

Deputy Chief Executive, Janet Grossman, who had been head-hunted from Britain and paid over $50,000 of taxpayer’s money to re-locate to New Zealand, resigned only eleven months after taking up her role with WINZ,

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Full story

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Despite quitting less than a year into her new job; and despite over $50,000 paid to relocate her to New Zealand;  it is reported that Grossman was paid out $97,000 as some sort of severance pay.

When Labour MP Jacinda Ardern questioned this extraordinary payment in Parliament, this exchange took place with National Minister, Jonathan Coleman,

Jacinda Ardern: Was the only reason she was given for Janet Grossman’s departure in that briefing or information that “her husband has had job opportunities in the UK and she wishes to return back there.”?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Yes.

Jacinda Ardern: Was Janet Grossman paid a termination benefit?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: As you know, $97,000 was allocated across five people who left that year, and there will be no breakdown given, for privacy reasons, of the allocation to any of those five executives.

See: Social Development, Ministry—Resignation of Deputy Chief Executive

Really? Dr Colemnan cited “privacy reasons “?!

Chief executive of  Ministry of Social Development, Brendan Boyle, was reported by Radio New Zealand as stating,

Mr Boyle says there is nothing unusual in paying out someone their entitlements when they resign but he refuses to disclose just what payment Mrs Grossman got, saying to do so would breach her privacy.

See: MSD chief clashes with MP in committee

So let’s get this straight…

Two solo-parents who have done nothing wrong; and their only ‘misdemeanour’ was daring to criticise a politician; have their personal details of WINZ payments splashed all over the country’s media, inviting lunatics to attack and threaten them…

But the payout to a senior WINZ executive  who resigned/sacked/? is suddenly a matter of “privacy”?

The double standards set by National, and their cronies at highest MSD levels, beggars belief. However, it is unsurprising.

National’s reputation for One Rule For Everyone and One Rule For Themselves, is by now fairly well known in this country.

It demonstrates their  complete contempt they have for the rest of us.

This is the sort of arrogance that in other countries leads to authoritarian rule;  jails full of political prisoners; eventual uprisings by the populace; and a bullet through the head of despots.

Here in New Zealand, we do things differently. Here, despots get elected to two terms of government.

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Previous related blogposts

“One law for all” – except MPs

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Sources

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Fairfax Media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

NZ Herald: Work and Income boss quits

NZ Parliament: Social Development, Ministry—Resignation of Deputy Chief Executive

Fairfax Media: Social Development Ministry grilled over security

Radio NZ: MSD chief clashes with MP in committee

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Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key – Update & more questions

28 November 2012 19 comments

Continued from: Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key

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http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/reaching-out-300x196.jpg?w=300&h=196

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To re-cap,

Allyson Locke and a handful of other New Zealanders are suffering from Pompe Disease – a terminal condition. Their only hope is an expensive drug – Myozyme – which they cannot afford.

Allyson and her fellow Pompe sufferers have appealed to the Prime Minister for assistance.

They are appealing for equal treatment to breast cancer sufferers,  who gained extra funding for extended herceptin treatment, as part of John Key’s election campaign promise in 2008.

This blogger supports Allyson and her fellow pompe sufferers to plead for mercy from John Key.

Considering that Key and National found over $200 million to support last year’s rugby world cup tournament(Blowouts push public Rugby World Cup spending well over $200m), it is inconceivable that they cannot fund medicine which seven New Zealanders desperately require.

The alternative is death.

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Full Story

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Following on from a previous blogpost (Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key) on 12 November, the following exchange of emails between this blogger; John Key’s office; and Tony Ryall, has taken  place.

Email sent to the Prime Minister on 11 November,

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Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:34:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: A request for mercy
To: John Key “john.key@parliament.govt.nz”
Cc: Allyson

Kia ora Mr Key,

Allyson Lock, has contacted you via your Facebook page. Allyson suffers from  Pompe Disease  a terminal disease, requiring a  medication. The cost of that medication is beyond her means.

Her case is outlined here: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/terminal-disease-sufferer-appeals-to-john-key/

Allyson has appealed to Pharmac for funding to treat her and six other New Zealanders who also suffer from this extremely rare condition. Pharmac has rejected her on the grounds of cost and efficacy.

I would like to  remind you that in 2008, one of your election promises was to extend herception from nine weeks to twelve months, even though Pharmac had up to that point been resisting all such requests on the grounds of cost and efficacy. You subsequently won the election and carried through with your pledge to fund herceptin to twelve months.

Allyson is requesting that you offer her, and six others in her position, the same opportunity to treat her condition.

I request that you take her pleas seriously and respond to her request.

Her life is in your hands.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

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Response from John Key’s office, five days later,

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From: “J Key (MIN)” “J.Key@ministers.govt.nz”
To: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: RE: A request for mercy
Date:  Friday, 16 November 2012 3:52 PM

Dear Mr Macskasy

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge your email of 12 November 2012. Please be assured your comments have been noted.

As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, your email has been forwarded to his office for consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Prime Minister.

Regards

L Diehl

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Tony Ryall’s response, dated 22 November, and sent via email by his Private Secretary,

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Follow-up email to Tony Ryall,

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Date:Thursday, 22 November 2012 9:41 PM
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: Pompe Disease sufferers: A request for mercy
To: Tony Ryall “Tony.Ryall@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>,
    Grant Robertson <grant.robertson@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>,
    John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.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>,
    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>, The Press <letters@press.co.nz>,
    The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>

Sir,

I am in receipt of your email dated 22 November, regarding Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) for sufferers of Pompe Disease. I understand you have already been in contact with Ms Allyson Lock on this matter.

You state that your reason for not supporting funding for ERT is – and I quote you – that “as a Minister I am prevented by law from intervening in PHARMAC’s decision-making process”.

I refer your attention to the 2008 election campaign where your Party pledged to extend herceptin treatment for breast cancer, from nine weeks to twelve months, even though Pharmac had up to that point been resisting all such requests on the grounds of cost and efficacy.

Post election, after becoming government, you implemented your election promise, and you stated in a press release dated 10 December 2008,

“We are extending funding for Herceptin to allow patients and their doctors to have a choice of a 12 months course. The nine-week treatment option also remains funded and available.”

I refer your attention to the following press releases from yourself and the Prime Minister, announcing additional funding for herception, despite PHARMAC’s initial decision opposing the move;

12-month Herceptin treatment now available

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0812/S00083.htm

Government honours Herceptin promise

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0812/S00082.htm

I have three subsequent questions, which you may be able to clarify;

1. If you are unable to intervene in PHARMAC’s  decision making process – what process did you use to fund herception from nine weeks to twelve months?

2. Where was funding obtained from?

3. Why are you unable to use the same process to fund ERT as you did for Herceptin?

I hope this problem can be resolved with some urgency, as Pompe Disease is terminal, and seven New Zealanders are facing a death sentence unless help is forthcoming.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

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Response from Tony Ryall’s office on  26 November,

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From: “Nicole Hine (MIN)”   “Nicole.Hine@parliament.govt.nz”
To: “fmacskasy@yahoo.com” “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: RE: Pompe Disease sufferers: A request for mercy
Date: Monday, 26 November 2012 9:14 AM

Dear Mr Macskasy

On behalf of Hon Tony Ryall, Minister of Health, thank you for your further email of 22  November 2012 about ERTs.

The Minister has asked Ministry of Health officials to advise him on the matters you have raised.  Please be aware that due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, a personal reply to your letter may take some weeks.

Kind regards

Nicole Hine

Private Secretary – Health

Office of Hon Tony Ryall

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Let us hope that common sense, mixed with compassion, prevails.

This issue will be updated when new information, or events, come to hand.

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Sources

John Key: Government honours Herceptin promise (10 Dec 2008)

Tony Ryall: 12-month Herceptin treatment now available (10 Dec 2008)

Additional

Drug trial gives hope to Pompe sufferer (1 Dec 2012)

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John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth

27 November 2012 8 comments

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Full story

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Continued from: When spin doctors go bad

The truth? You can’t handle the truth!

When Jack Nicholson bellowed that famous line in the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men“, few would have thought that it would apply twenty years later; down under here in Godzone; but that this time the tables would be turned against an apologist for the Establishment.

Mark Unsworth – a right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth, seems to find difficulty “handling the truth”. Especially when that truth comes from respected and reknowned environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy…

On 16 November, the New York Times carried a story on the upcoming release of “The Hobbit“. The article made reference to Tourism New Zealand’s publicity campaign centering around a supposedly   “100% pureNew Zealand” theme.

As we should all know by now, New Zealand is not  “100% pure”. In fact we probably haven’t been “100% pure” for several decades now.

Dr Joy stated as much and was duly quoted by New York Times,

There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.”

Green MP, Eugenie Sage, backed up Dr Joy’s brutal truth, and was quoted in the same article (from a statement she made in Parliament last month),

We promote our country as 100 percent pure and 100 percent Middle Earth. But to swim in our rivers, which is the birthright of Kiwi kids — you cannot do it in the majority of the rivers that the Ministry for the Environment monitored.”

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

And you know what? They are telling the truth. The clear, unvarnished, simple truth.

Dear Leader John Key and Trade/Climate Change Minister Tim Groser Minister,  have now waded into the ‘mix’.

Yesterday (26 Nov), Groser rebuked Environment scientist, Dr Mike Joy, by saying,

It’s been used as a stick to beat New Zealand by environmental activists.”

See: Minister lashes out at environmentalists over 100% Pure

Today, Dear Leader added, just to make sure we understood what our politicians were “hinting” at,

It’s like saying ‘McDonald’s, I’m loving it’ – I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it . . . it’s the same thing with 100% Pure. It’s got to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt.”

Dr Joy replied,

I’m not going to lie about this stuff.”

He’s right. Why should he lie?

Politicians know that the “100% Pure” is a marketing scam to bring tourists (and more importantly their cash) to New Zealand and can only succeed if the true nature of our degraded environment is kept secret.

After all, successful  politicians like Dear Leader John Key are so used to manipulating facts and employing half-truths  to serve their political purposes (usually getting elected), that they forget that the rest of the population are not politicians.

So, having created their own “dynamic” standard of ethics, Key,  Groser, and  minions like Unsworth, are  taken aback when the general populace raise an eyebrow in disbelief when we are expected to take part in conning overseas tourists? Our response is, “They want us to what-?”

How many times has Key been caught out telling half-truths, or not being upfront with the public?How many election promises has he broken; side-stepped; back-tracked; or watered-down until his pledges were useless?

The trouble now seems to be that Key and Groser are now expecting the public to buy in to their truth-bending ways.

Not just “buy in” – but to be  tacitly  complicit with the scam.

John Key wants 4.4 million people to be like him.

A nation of  ‘politicians’.

Surprisingly most of the  the general populace won’t have a bar of it.

Key says that no one expects New Zealand to be “100% Pure”.

I wonder what he expects when he buys a bottle of  “pure water” to drink?

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Sources

’100% Pure’ is like McDonald’s ad, says Key

Minister lashes out at environmentalists over 100% Pure

Other blogs

The New Zealand story: 100% pooer!

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Aotearoa Not For Sale – Big signature-gathering push in Kilbirnie, Wellington

25 November 2012 2 comments

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24 November, Wellington – Aotearoa is Not For Sale (ANFS), Wellington branch, took part in a nationwide push to gather more signatures for the petition,  calling for a referendum on state asset sales.

ANFS campaigners took to the streets of Kilbirnie, one of Wellington’s eastern-suburns, close to the airport.

Campaigners took up prime spots in Bay Rd – Kilbirnie’s main street – and outside Pak’n’Save, in the next street adjacent.

Phil, Shane, and Warwick, posing for the camera, before taking up positions around Pak’N’Save’s main doors,

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Ready to take up the challenge,

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A citizen only to happy to sign Warwick’s petition,

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This gentleman needed no encouragement to sign Phil’s petition and was not happy with National’s plans to partially-privatise assets that belong to us all,

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No sooner does one finish signing, and another person comes up to Warwick,

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Collecting more signatures in Bay Road, Kilbirnie’s “main drag”,

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All up, several hundred signatures were collected and several dozen electoral enrollent forms handed out. It was a good day for hittuing the streets.

One interesting thing that we found was that most people had already signed the petition. It seems the campaign is well supported by New Zealanders of all walks of life. (John Key – take note.)

Anyone wanting to download the petition can do so from here: http://keepourassets.org.nz/

If you  can’t print of a petition form, please email this blogger, and I will post out forms to you,

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Remember – every signature counts! (And make sure you are on the Electoral Roll – if you’re not on the Roll, your signature may be discounted.)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Exclusive: Provocateurs attempt to disrupt March for Palestine, in Wellington!

24 November 2012 121 comments

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Wellington, 24 November – A Solidarity-with-Gaza protest march in Wellington today was briefly marred when two young men wearing Jewish Kippah/Yarmulke walked at the front of the procession, and had to be led away by a lone police constable for their own protection.

The protest march, numbering approximately 100 to 150, marched along Wellington’s main streets, calling for justice for Palestine and for the ending of the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Organisors of the protest call themselves “Wellington Students for Justice in Palestine“.  They are New Zealanders who  stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

They say,

We support Palestinian self-determination and Palestinian refugees’ right  of return. We advocate a just solution  to the conflict that allows Palestinians, Jews, and others to live in peace and equality regardless of religious or ethnic identity.”

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According to a conversation overheard on a Wellington bus driver’s radio, the Police had not been alerted to the protest march  – though it was well-organised and  moved peacefully through the city,

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The messages on placards and banners was simple and direct,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Free Palestine support Gaza Wellington Oppose Israel aggression Protest 24 Nov

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Students of history will recall that Nazi occupiers throughout Europe referred to various localised resistance movements as “terrorists”,

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Men, women, and children – the procession moved peacefully through the streets of the city, with their  chants echoing through the concrete-and-glass-walled canyons of the city,

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One lone police car parked on an intersection, to slow down and divert on-coming traffic,

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At this point, this blogger witnessed a lone police constable hauling two young men away from the front of the march,

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My first thoughts were that individuals within the protest march had caused an ‘incident’, and were being arrested. Then I noticed their head-gear,

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I also overheard snippets of conversation between the constable and the two young men; they had been pulled away from the protest march not because of breaking any law – but for their own safety. The constable was adamant that the pair would not be permitted to return to the protest march.

One of the young men responded that it was his right to freedom of expression,

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The constable replied that either they walked away,  or they would end up in a police car – for their own protection. She was in no mood to be playing silly-buggers with this pair of fools,

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As the two young men walked away from the protestors, this blogger caught up with them and tried to find out what their intentions were,

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They began with a curious comment that they did not want to be recorded because it was their “Holy Sabbath”. When pressed what they meant, the following conversation was recorded,

Him: “I’m gonna ask you not to record anything today.”

Frank: “Well it can’t be too much of a Holy Sabbath if you’re down here to protest [the] march, and walking in front of it.”

Him: “Well, they chose that day unfortunately. I’m talking, I’m allowed to talk.”

Frank: “Well that’s right, so, what have you got to say for yourself as to why you were standing in front of them? What was your message?”

Him: “I don’t want to be recorded on my sabbath. Is that… Can you respect that?”

Frank: “Alright, well, ok, but can I ask you then-”

Him: “I can give you my email address. You can memorise it, write it down, whatever you want. You can email me, you can interview me later, how’s that?”

Frank:  “Ok. Do you think it was appropriate to put yourself  in front of that protest march? Any comments, sir?”

Him: “Who are you?”

Frank: “I’m a blogger-”

Him: “Ok, you can take my email address if you want, but no recordings.”

Frank: “-I’m a blogger, Frank Macskasy, and I’m covering this.”

Him: [no response]

Frank: “Ok, thanks gentlemen.”

Him: “Thank you.”

The pair then walked off,

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This blogger then returned to the body of the march; the passionate chanting and  vocal  demands for justice for Palestine still very strong,

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Standing beside one of the protestors, she informed me that “they’ve been here the whole time… they often come to these things“.

She asked me what they had said, and I repeated their refusal to go on record with a taped interview, claiming it breached their Sabbath. Did it stop them chanting their own pro-Israel slogans in front of the march?

“Oh no,” she replied.

Perhaps the two young gentlemen felt shy in expressing themselves – without backup from the Israeli Army?

The protest march made it’s way to Wellington’s civic centre,

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A young Palestinian, Mohammed, addressed the crowd, which had swelled along the way to the Civic Square,

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In part, he said,

“… Since 1948, when they stole our land, killed our people, and displaced millions of us. And up till now Israel continues their massacres, their discriminations against Palestinians, again and again.

More then ten thousand prisoners, waiting for their human rights, waiting for freedom in Israel’s jails.

[cries of 'Shame! ' from the crowd]

Last week they started their attack, their war over Gaza, over the civilians in Gaza. And they killed 162 civilians, including children, women, elderly, and men. More than 1,200 severe injuries. This attack on Gaza is by no means the last crime of Israel on Gaza.

Once the ceasefire agreement has been signed with the [distorted word] government of Israel, they arrested more than fiftyfive people in the West Bank and their ‘mistake’  was just to be demonstrating  against the attack on Gaza. Yesterday two young people were shot by Israeli forces around the border with Gaza.

[cries of 'Shame! ' from the crowd]

Even the seige of Gaza is still going on which prevents essential needs to be delivered to the people of Gaza. And quite simply I would say, as any Palestinian says, we’ll never forget our people who are killed by Israeli  forces. We will never forget our land. We will never give up.

Thank you so much for joining us today in solidarity with Palestine, especially the Gaza.”

Despite english being his second language, those listening to Mohammed understood the meaning and pain inherent in his words.

How many times have we heard similar words from  around the world, where people are repressed with harsh brutality.

In the past, New Zealand has played it’s part in rejecting repressive regimes, and standing firm with people suffering from suppression. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.

The Palestinian people deserve our support and friendship.

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“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
- Abraham Lincoln

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Contact

vicpalestine@gmail.com

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= fs =

When spin doctors go bad

24 November 2012 8 comments

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When Jack Nicholson bellowed that famous line in the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men“, few would have thought that it would apply twenty years later; down under here in Godzone; but that this time the tables would be turned against an apologist for the Establishment.

Mark Unsworth – a right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth, seems to find difficulty “handling the truth”. Especially when that truth comes from respected and reknowned environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy…

On 16 November, the New York Times carried a story on the upcoming release of “The Hobbit“. The article made reference to Tourism New Zealand’s publicity campaign centering around a supposedly   “100% pureNew Zealand” theme.

As we should all know by now, New Zealand is not  “100% pure”. In fact we probably haven’t been “100% pure” for several decades now.

Dr Joy stated as much and was duly quoted by New York Times,

There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.”

Green MP, Eugenie Sage, backed up Dr Joy’s brutal truth, and was quoted in the same article (from a statement she made in Parliament last month),

We promote our country as 100 percent pure and 100 percent Middle Earth. But to swim in our rivers, which is the birthright of Kiwi kids — you cannot do it in the majority of the rivers that the Ministry for the Environment monitored.”

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

And you know what? They are telling the truth. The clear, unvarnished, simple truth.

As early as  July 2010, NIWA reported,

There is now considerable evidence that the combined effect of light exposure, bank damage by livestock, and poor water quality has substantially degraded the ecological health of pastoral streams. Nutrient enrichment, when combined with sediments and other stressors, can cause irreversible shifts in aquatic ecosystems, particularly in downstream lakes and estuaries.

[...]

The fact that some heavily polluted rivers – mostly in dairying areas – have turned the corner in recent years gives us cause for optimism for the future, says Dr Davies-Colley. For instance, the NRWQN shows water quality has improved in some Taranaki rivers and the Manawatu. A programme of widespread riparian fencing and planting in Taranaki probably explains most of the improvement there, he says.

But although science identified the effectiveness of these measures 15 years ago, implementation has been lacking, according to Mr Deans. “There’s a bit of fiddling while Rome burns, I’m afraid. Unless we take action, we’re going to see continuing water degradation and be in a worse position in five or ten years’ time.”

See: How clean are our rivers?

When we read articles in our own media such as this,

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Full story

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… then we know we have a serious problem.

The Herald article above revealed in no uncertain terms, that we were turning  our rivers  into open toilets,

The results showed water quality was poor or very poor at 52 per cent of monitored river sites.

A further 28 per cent were graded “fair” – with a risk of illness for those swimming there.

Only 20 per cent of monitored river recreation sites were graded good or very good.

Health effects from swallowing water tainted with faecal micro-organisms or other bacteria can be unpleasant. They include diarrhoea or vomiting, and infections of the eye, ear, nose and throat.

See: Ibid

The New York Times article simply mirrors what we already know; our dirty little secret. A “secret” that is becoming more widely known with modern communications and tourists spreading the word,

But New Zealand’s reputation as a pristine place might not be exactly warranted. Since European colonization 150 years ago, as much as 90 percent of the country’s original wetlands have been drained to make way for towns, farms and roads. The wetlands are considered to be of international importance for supporting numerous species of birds, fish and plants.

For creatures like the black stilt, which lives in such places, it may be too late. There are only about 100 left, making it possibly the rarest wading bird in the world. It is just one species out of the 2,800 that the country’s Department of Conservation considers endangered.

In 2008, New Zealand ranked first among 146 countries in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index , which ranks countries on the quality of their environmental policies. The report compares international data on criteria like habitat loss, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and protected marine areas.

In 2012, however, the country slipped to 14th. New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, half of which are caused by the agriculture industry, are the fifth-highest per capita among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the association of free-market democracies. Most other countries in the O.E.C.D. have managed to reduce per capita emissions, but New Zealand’s have increased 23 percent since 1990 — from about 66 million tons of carbon dioxide in 1990 to about 83 million tons in 2009, according the country’s Environment Ministry .

Pure Advantage, a nonprofit group promoting green business, estimates that the country will overtake the United States in per capita emissions in less than eight years, putting it almost into the world’s top 10. But total emissions in New Zealand, which has a population of 4.4 million, are far lower than those of the United States, with 312 million people.

This month, New Zealand refused to commit to a second round of emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international agreement on reduction of greenhouse gases. Instead, it will align with several of the world’s largest emitters, including the United States, China and India, in negotiating an alternative agreement. That could be approved by 2015 and in effect by 2020.

This is a day of shame for New Zealand. Our reputation as a good international citizen has taken a massive hit, Moana Mackey, a member of Parliament who is the climate change spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said in a statement.

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

Indeed, this very issue came up in a BBC  interview last year when Dear Leader was challenged by Steven Sackur about our supposedly “clean and green” and “100% pure” image,

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See @ 10:50

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Key dismissed Dr Joy’s research as “Mike Joy’s view“.

Since when is a river too filthy to swim in considered a “viewpoint“?

For Mark Unsworth to then send this offensively-worded email, criticising Dr Joy’s research,

From: Mark Unsworth [mark@sul.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:15 a.m.
To: Joy, Mike
Subject: Ego Trip

Dear Dr Joy
Is your ego so great that you feel the need to sabotage all the efforts made by those promoting tourism in NZ because of your passionate views on the environment ?
You have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly .
Letting your ego run riot worldwide in the manner you did can only lead to lower levels of inbound tourism.

You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge ,but to others this affects income and jobs.
Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York .And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate
Cheers
Mark Unsworth”

See: Facebook Page

…   is not just the hallmark of a narrow-minded person – but the height of futility.

Abusing a scientist doesn’t clean up the Manawatu River and make it suitable for swimming in.

Using gross insults such as “you guys are the foot and mouth disease of the tourism industry‘ will not change the tonnes of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc, that we daily spew into the air.

And what does it mean to say “you have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly” ?

Is Mr Unsworth suggesting that anyone paid by the taxpayer should keep the truth to him/herself? Isn’t that what authoritarian regimes try to do; squash dissenting opinions and hide facts from everyone?

And since when is detecting, recording, and reporting levels of pollution “holding strong views“?

If the pollution of waterways like the Manawatu simply a “strong view“, I challenge Mr Unsworth to drink a glass of  ‘water’ from that river. (Note: have a medic with a stomach-pump standing by.)

Mr Unsworth; when it comes to choosing whether to believe an environmental scientist whose purpose it is to seek the truth about human impacts on our land and waterways  -  or to believe a spin doctor like you, who is paid to tell us whatever your employers want us to hear – who do you think we’ll believe?

Can you guess?

It beggers belief that someone with Mr Unsworth supposed education (?) cannot grasp a simple, inescapable fact; the truth about our degraded environment and poisoned rivers cannot be hidden.  People are not fools, and eventually the truth will out.

The NY Times has called us on our claim to be “100% Pure”. The bullshit has, literally, hit the fan.

So what are we going to do about it?

Sulk and malign the messengers of the truth?

Or get our act together and clean up the mess that we, ourselves, have made in our own country?

Time to roll up our sleeves, Mr Unsworth…

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Sources

NZ Herald Editorial: Green growth potential not to be wasted

NIWA: How clean are our rivers?

Pure Advantage: PURE ADVANTAGE LAUNCHES NEW ZEALAND INTO THE GLOBAL GREEN RACE

New York Times: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

NZ Herald: Lobbyist stands by ‘ego trip’ email

Other blogs

The New Zealand story: 100% pooer!

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Silly Idea # 341,907,775 – increasing our population

23 November 2012 18 comments

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From the Silly Ideas files comes this local story from the NZ Herald, regarding a proposition from  ExportNZ and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER),

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Full story

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ExportNZ  executive director, Catherine Beard, has suggested,

One of the obvious ways to overcome these problems is to make New Zealand a bigger country with bigger companies. We need a national debate on population policy and how big we should be by 2060.

Once grown, the challenge is then keeping these companies in New Zealand so the country benefits from them. The alternative is selling out to other countries and losing talent overseas for better jobs and better pay.”

The NZIER suggested  a population of 15 million for New Zealand, by 2060 .

NZIER deputy chief executive, John Ballingall, stated (with a straight face I assume),

We need to ensure existing capability-enhancing policies are delivering value for money. Our immigration, tax, welfare and foreign investment policies need to enhance rather than restrict the ability of New Zealand firms to gain scale.

On-going efforts to cut less vital spending like Working for Families and interest-free student loans will ease the pressure on the kiwi dollar. Public spending has acted like a tax on the export sector.”

Leaving aside the issue of migration for a moment, the question that  demands an answer is:  do these people actually think through issues before making public pronouncements?

Because reading their comments and thinking through the issues to inevitable conclusions leads this blogger to conclude that NZEIR and ExportNZ indulge in superficial thinking and short-term, easy “solutions”.

For starters, what would be the consequences of a population of 15 million people?

This country already suffers from the following;

  • 175,000 unemployed.

How does adding ten and a half million people help address those already jobless?

  • More pollution.

I think most of us know by now that our “100% Pure” and “Clean and Green” reputation is now mostly a fiction to rival that of elves, goblins, hobbits, pixies, Easter bunny, Little Red Riding Hood, Mickey Mouse, et al.

With 52% of our rivers having water quality at poor or very poor, what would tripling our population do to our environment?

Think of 15 million people needing clean water to drink; cook with; shower in; and wash laundry in… and then think of 15 million toilets flushing…

How does adding ten and a half million people help our “100% Pure” image?

Do we downgrade to “75 Pure”?

“50% Pure”?

Or wait for those 15 million toilets to flush simultaneously  and call ourselves “100% Pure Manure“?

  • Housing

We already have a pressing,  critical housing shortage. The cost of housing is spiralling further and further out of reach from New Zealanders.

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Source

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As our population has increased, so has housing affordability and availability worsened. Housing was more affordable fourty years ago and young New Zealanders are having to migrate to Australia to buy a home of their own.

The ‘market’ has been spectacularly inept at meeting demand. And when we do build houses, they tend to “dissolve in the rain”, as Bernard Hickey said with disturbing accuracy on 28 October.

How does adding ten and a half million people help address our critical housing problems?

  • Transport

Something for every Aucklander to ponder: think of your roads now, clogged with cars, with a city of over 1.5 million  people.

Now treble it.

Point made, I think?

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Perhaps the most laughable aspect to NZIER’s comments was when John Ballingall, said,

On-going efforts to cut less vital spending like Working for Families and interest-free student loans will ease the pressure on the kiwi dollar.

It may “ease the pressure on the kiwi dollar” – but how much extra pressure will be put on New Zealanders; their families; and students?

And what might possibly be the consequences of putting more pressure on Kiwi families and students? Clue: Australia.

There are six  countries on this planet with populations ranging from 14,478,000 to 15,883,000;

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     Malawi   -  15,883,000
Burkina Faso   -  15,730,977
Guatemala  -   14,713,763
Mali  -   14,528,662
Ecuador  -   14,483,499
Cambodia  -   14,478,000

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Source: List of countries by population

None of the above nations have a GDP, per capita, higher than ours. So can we deduce that tripling our population is no guarantee of increasing our exports and thereby our wealth?

I believe that would be the first safe conclusion.

The second safe  contention might be the impact on our environment, with 15 million souls living within our shores, would result in environmental degradation  that would seriously harm our Destination New Zealand tourism  – a NZ$9.6 billion industry according to March 2012 figures.

The damage caused to our expanding tourism industry would most likely outweigh any benefits accrued from an increase in exports.

Third and last contention;  trebling our population seems a simplistic and hopelessly lazy “solution” to a problem that appears more rooted in other factors such as National’s blind obedience to neo-liberal policies, and it’s refusal to address the high value of our dollar.

It seems bizarre that ExportNZ has wandered off on some weird  tangeant, and ignored the real problems affecting exporters. It’s almost as if Ms Beard; her colleagues; and NZIER, have experienced a collective - dare I say it – brain fade.

If this is the best that our business leaders can come up with, then I despair for our country.

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John Key: When propaganda photo-ops go wrong…

23 November 2012 9 comments

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Desperate measures…

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Desperate to seize power from Labour, and faced with strong, experienced leadership in the form of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, National and it’s fresh,  new leader – John Key – launched a series of public-relations  media/propaganda initiatives. One of those propaganda exercises, a photo-op with a schoolgirl, would come back to haunt  Dear Leader and ridicule one of his major pledges…

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Opening shots…

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The campaign to mark out National’s “human face of neo-liberalism” was launched  on  30 January 2007, when Key made his speech  “The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All” at the Burnside Rugby Clubrooms, Christchurch.

See: The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

It had all the nice, warm, fuzzy sound-bites; “good Kiwi upbringing“; “betterment of all New Zealanders“, “proud of our culture and society“; “opportunity and hope“; “giving people a fair go”; “egalitarian society“; “The Kiwi Way” (mentioned ten times); “born into a struggling household“, etc, etc, etc…

Whoever wrote that speech really mined the  handbook of the Kiwi Psyche.

But the real opening shots in the political battle for the hearts and minds of New Zealanders began in the opening months of 2007 – two full years leading up to the November 2008 general elections.

Reading many of Key’s speeches and policy announcements,  was almost like tapping into a Scandinavian model of a social democratic society. Michael Joseph Savage would have nodded in approval to many of Key’s utterances.

Especially when, on 3 February 2007, Key announced the launching of National’s “Food in Schools programme“. It was pure 1930s Labour stuff,

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National Party Leader John Key has announced the first initiative in what will be a National Food in Schools programme.

“National is committed to providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist,” says Mr Key.

During his State of the Nation speech on Tuesday, Mr Key indicated National would seek to introduce a food in schools programme at our poorest schools in partnership with the business community.

Mr Key has since received an approach from Auckland-based company Tasti foods.

“I approached Wesley Primary School yesterday, a decile 1 school near McGehan Close, a street that has had more than its fair share of problems in recent times. I am told Wesley Primary, like so many schools in New Zealand, has too many kids turning up hungry.”

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See: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Of course once National came to power twentyone months later, on 8 November 2008,  Key’s  quasi-socialistic policy of  ”  providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist “, quietly slipped beneath the waves and disappeared from public sight.

It had achieved it’s purpose.

In fact, National’s policy stance  on any suggestion of  Food in Schools programmes, is now somewhat more hostile,

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Organisations working with the poor and opposition parties say Prime Minister John Key is in ”la la land” if he thinks fruit is enough to get a hungry child through a school day.

Labour yesterday unveiled a $10 million policy to provide free food to 650 of the country’s lowest decile primary and intermediate schools.

Key immediately rejected the idea, saying free fruit was already provided in the ”vast bulk” of low-decile schools and there was often a breakfast programme.

”Not every school wants every child to be provided a lunch,” he told reporters in Russia before leaving for Japan. ”There are many families that can provide those lunches’.”‘

See: Key in poverty ‘la la land’

And in case anyone missed the point that National was not about to follow the Scandinavian model of  helping  children living in poverty,

Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.

Mr Key made the comment when asked in Parliament yesterday about poverty levels.

When Labour’s social development spokeswoman Annette King asked about Salvation Army reports of high demand for food parcels, Mr Key responded by saying it was true that the global recession meant more people were on benefits.

“But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

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Not only has National’s  “Food in Schools programme” vanished, and subsequently replaced with naked antipathy, but this blogger’s emails to the Prime Minister’s office on the issue have gone unanswered.

Too embarressing, no doubt.

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Firing Photo ops missiles…

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On 6 February 2007, National’s tax-payer funded spin-doctors organised this photo-op for Dear Leader,

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Aroha Ireland, John Key, McGehan Close, Waitangi Day

Full story

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Key was attempting to re-play  a much earlier scene on Waitangi Day in 1973, when then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk walked onto the grounds on Waitangi, with then-ten year old, Moana Priest,

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prime-minister-norman-kirk-and-moana-priest-waitangi-day-1973

Acknowledgement:  Life and career of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk, Herald Book

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However, it can safely be stated that the  difference between Kirk and Key was/is monumental. It was a  distance between two men that can only be measured in interstellar terms.

Kirk believed deeply  in what he was doing.

Key simply exploited a naive young girl and her family for a photo-op -  which we all now by now is something he cannot pass by.

In the Herald, on 6 November 2007, Aroha and her family expressed delight at attending Waitangi Day celebrations with the leader of the Opposition (as he was then),

Yesterday morning, Mr Key picked Aroha up in a Crown limousine and took her to Waitangi with him, discussing, among other things, her favourite band, Panic at the Disco.

She described the trip – one of the few she’s made outside Auckland and which included her first stay in a hotel – as “exciting”.

She said her family were also rapt with the visit, and felt much more comfortable when they realised National list MP Jackie Blue, who accompanied Mr Key to McGehan Close, would be with her for the trip.

Dr Blue was Aroha’s grandmother’s doctor and also attended to her mother, Joan Nathan, so “Mum said I’d be in good hands”.

The pair spent part of the day with Mr Key but slipped away for lunch at the Copthorne Hotel, where Aroha described the chips as great but said she didn’t think the fish was fresh.

“Dad always says if it doesn’t fall apart it’s not fresh.”

Aroha said she knew little about events at Waitangi on Waitangi Day, but was looking forward to finding out.

See: A day out with friends in high places

It’s somewhat disturbing to note that National list MP Jackie Blue, who had a close personal  relationship with Aroha’s family, played along with the photo-op. That was despite reservations expressed by some,

Labour list MP Dover Samuels was the only one publicly labelling Mr Key’s invitation a stunt yesterday, but others quietly voiced similar concerns.

See: Ibid

The family, though, seemed blissfully unaware that they were little more than pawns in National’s pre-election grand strategy and expressed their comfort with events,

Mrs Nathan told Close Up last night that the invitation had given her daughter a good opportunity.

She continued to disagree with some of Mr Key’s views on McGehan Close, but she believed he was trying to push for positive changes.

See: Ibid

Three months later, on 27 May 2007, Key referred to Aroha Ireland in a speech strangely entitled, “Tough on Crime”. His reference to Aroha was fleeting (as was his brief intervention in her life), barely rating a mention,

For the past six months, I’ve had the privilege of travelling New Zealand from city to town talking to the people who make our country tick. I’ve been to places like McGehan Close and met people like Aroha Ireland, a young girl with big dreams for her future. I’ve milked cows in Horowhenua. I’ve visited primary schools in Canterbury. I’ve met with iwi in Ruatoria. “

See: John Key’s speech  – Tough on Crime

Cows weren’t the only thing he milked

In the same speech, Key ramped up the aspirational rhetoric,

The first ‘E’ is the economy. National will emphasise this theme because we are committed to delivering New Zealanders the fruits of a wealthier country. Make no mistake – Labour’s policies are seeing us fall further and further behind the rest of the world. The recent Budget did absolutely nothing to alleviate that slide.

Michael Cullen has given up on growing our economy, instead he’s preparing for retirement: Labour’s retirement.

Well, National is a lot more ambitious than that. We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives,as well as a good retirement. That’s why we will pursue economic policies and infrastructure development that will keep New Zealand competitive on the world stage. Make no mistake – Bill English’s first Budget will include tax cuts.

See: Ibid

The rest of Key’s speech was pure knee-jerk, tough-on-crime, BS – so beloved by National’s fearful aging middle classes.

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Shots that re-bound and ricochet

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Three Years later, and Key’s visit to McGehan Close had lost it’s gloss, as the NZ Herald reported on 10 February 2010,

The mother of the 12-year-old girl John Key took to Waitangi three years ago says she has been let down by the Prime Minister, and her daughter now wants nothing to do with him.

Joan Nathan said she and her family were worse off since National won the election.

She’d lost her job with National list MP Jackie Blue, arranged by Key, and a training allowance she received had been cut.

“They gave me the job to sweeten the deal, and then as soon as they got elected I got the sack,” she said.

“I’m pretty anti-Mr Key at the moment”..

[...]

“He’s just made everything worse for us and made it easier for ones that are higher up. I’m struggling every week.”

See: Family still on struggle street after Key leaves

The NZ Herald story went on to state,

A spokesman for Key said he had visited her home last year to try to help resolve the housing issue, and had spoken to her on the phone several times since the election. Key didn’t wish to make any further comment.

See: Ibid

Yeah. I’ll bet he didn’t want to comment.

Why should he? Aroha Ireland had served her purpose for the 2008 general election, and like some Bond Villain, Key was now disposing of his ‘puppets’ – they were no longer useful for his grand Master Plan for World New Zealand Domination.

And  Key’s crony, National MP Jackie Blue’s,  response was even more insightful,

Jackie Blue said Nathan worked 10 hours a week doing administration for Mt Roskill office up until the 2008 election.

She wasn’t re-employed because Blue merged her office with Lotu-Iiga, and didn’t need to rehire staff.

Blue said she had tried to keep in touch, but Nathan’s phone had been disconnected.

See: Ibid

Irony heaped upon grim irony… made redundant from a faux-job created specifically by the Nats as an enticing  “lolly” for Joan Nathan (Aroha’s mother)… phone disconnected as a sign of lowered income and encroaching poverty… Ms Nathan’s loss of employment symptomatic of National’s do-nothing approach to the country’s growing unemployment crisis…

Little wonder that Aroha Ireland no longer wanted to talk about Key’s visit three years ago. One cannot feel any measure of   pride in  being used.

John Key’s photo-op had gone full-circle, and was lining up to tear big chunks from Dear Leader’s arse.

If anything, Aroha’s situation was now a prime example of National’s policies (or lack thereof) – but not as the Nat’s politburo had intended.

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Shot himself in the foot…

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By November of last year, Key’s photo-op with Aroha Ireland had jumped from expressions of disgust, by her family at being exploited, to one of high farce for the Nats – and a measure of  hope for Aroha.

Ms Ireland was joining the flood of New Zealanders escaping over the Berlin Wall Tasman Sea to a Brighter Futurein Australia,

National leader John Key says the teenager he took to Waitangi Day three years ago is not leaving for Australia because life is better there.

Aroha Ireland, 16, became the face of National’s campaign to close the gap with Australia and help struggling families during the last election campaign.

Now it has been reported that Miss Ireland is headed across the Tasman.

See: PM denies teen leaving for good life

Dear Leader sez  “the teenager he took to Waitangi Day three years ago is not leaving for Australia because life is better there ” ?!

Oh yeah, spin it, John Boy, spin it!

Key went on to state (with a straight face, I hope) that  he did not think she was going because of the yawning wage gap, between our two countries,

I’m proud of the Government’s record – in difficult times, we’ve closed that wage gap with Australia. We’ve grown after-tax wages by 10 per cent in the last three years, Australia by six.”

Except… well… Yeah, nah. John Key is now piling the BS on top of his previous outrageous spin. The facts speak otherwise – the wage gap is growing, not reducing, despite what Key and his spinmeisters might want us to believe.

In fact, Key should be fully aware that he was being less than truthful by suggesting that the wages gap was closing. As right wing politician, and  ex-Reserve bank governor, Don Brash stated only two weeks earlier,

In 2008 we estimated the gap was 35% currently it’s nearer 40%.”

See: Aussie wage gap now 40% – Brash

(Unfortunately, Brash’s brief moment of lucidity was short-lived, and he thereafter  descended into right wing nuttery to solve the growing wage gap. In essence, more of the same of the last thirty years. What’s that definition of craziness; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome?)

It was little wonder that Key claimed he had “no idea” why Aroha was escaping to Australia,

Lots of young people decide to go for an OE – I don’t know how long she’ll last. I’m not in a position to go into too much; hope she comes back.

I’m disappointed she’s going for her, because I think New Zealand has got a great future in front of it and I’d like her to be part of it.

See: PM denies teen leaving for good life

Of course Dear Leader knows why Aroha left New Zealand. But to admit it would be a colossal admission of National’s failure to address critical economic and social problems in our country.

Key’s comments are lame by any standards. We simply laugh harder and louder at his moronic utterances.

A year later, all doubt was removed why Aroha Ireland – like thousands of other New Zealanders, before and since, her voting with her feet – had moved to Australia…

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And the photo-op blows up in Key’s face…

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According to a NZ Herald report this year, Aroha’s move to Australia held no great mystery,

… Aroha Ireland has given up on New Zealand, is engaged to be married and earning good money with no plans to return to her homeland.

The 17-year-old bailed for the lucky country last year, disillusioned with her prospects in Auckland.

Miss Ireland, who is engaged to Stuart Spashett also of Auckland, did not return the Herald’s calls.

She has told family members and friends she is embarrassed by the publicity that followed her since her visit to Waitangi in 2008.

Lisa Spashett, who calls herself Aroha’s second mum, said the Government had failed people like her future daughter-in-law.

She said there was nothing for them in New Zealand to look forward to or return to.

See: Key’s poster girl finds life much better in Australia

Ms Spashett went on to say, with drilling, laser-beam, accuracy,

As far as they are concerned, no, they [the National Government] hadn’t done anything for them. I can tell you that straight up and that’s why they are in Australia.”

See: Ibid

From 6 February 2007,

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Aroha Ireland, John Key, McGehan Close, Waitangi Day

Full story

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… to 13 November 2012,

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Full story

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From self-serving exploitation by a cynical multi-millionaire-cum-politician – to an embarressing example of  National’s failure.

And the best thing about this? National has shot itself in it’s own foot, with no help from it’s political opponants whatsoever.

They did it to themselves.

Classic.

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Sources

National Party Speech – The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All (30 Jan 2007)

National Press Release – National launches its Food in Schools programme (4 Feb 2007)

A day out with friends in high places (6 Feb 2007)

Aroha is missing her Key friend (10 Feb 2007)

National Party Speech  – Tough on Crime (27 May 2007)

Family still on struggle street after Key leaves (7 Feb 2010)

Aussie wage gap now 40% – Brash (7 Nov 2011)

PM denies teen leaving for good life (21 Nov 2011)

Key’s poster girl finds life much better in Australia (13 Nov 2012)

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Missionary, doggie, cowgirl, or -?

23 November 2012 11 comments

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National MP, Kanwaljit Bakshi Singh, asked this extraordinary question in Parliament,

If you get married, who will be identified as husband, and who will be identified as wife?

See: Interesting questions at gay marriage bill hearing

This, I submit to the reader, is a pretty good indication how ridiculous and pathetic the whole issue becomes when Parliament intrudes into the private lives of consenting adults (aided and abetted by some extremist religious groups who feel they have a monopoly of certain institutions).

We now have the bizarre spectacle of a Member of Parliament asking some fairly personal questions that – if I went up to some strangers in a bar – would probably earn me a smack in the head.

But let’s take this situation to it’s natural conclusion. If Mr Singh feels it appropriate to ask personal questions about peoples’ personal lives, my questions to him are;

  1. Does he prefer missionary, doggie, cowgirl, or perhaps something a little more exotic from the Kama Sutra?
  2. Does he and Mrs Singh ever do the Wild Thing somewhere other than the marital bedroom? Kitchen? Attic? Laundry?
  3. Spit or swallow?

As a taxpayer who pays for Mr Singh’s Parliamentary career, and now his opportunity to delve into people’s private lives, I feel I have a new-found right to make these enquiries of Mr Singh.

Actually, I think all Parliamentarians should answer these questions! (Except John Banks. I really don’t want to know. )

This is how utterly stupid the debate on marriage equality can get, when those in “authority” believe they have a moral right to sit in judgement of others, and ask loathsome questions of their private lives.

And if our society applied the same standard of bigotry against Mr Singh that he levelled at the two gay men who appeared at the Select Committee hearing today (22 Nov) – a Whites Only racist society might not have been so welcoming toward him when he applied to  immigrate to this country.

Thankfully, he doesn’t have to face a system of apartheid here…

One wonders about his own bigotry.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial Gathering

21 November 2012 6 comments

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Wellington, 20 November – Agender NZ held a public Day of Remembrance Memorial Gathering for transgendered people who have  been victimised, harmed, or killed  because of violence against people of different gender identities or presentations.

The Memorial Gathering was opened just after 7pm, by AgenderNZ Organisor and President, Claudia, who welcomed the 50+ people who turned up,

“… We felt it was a really, really important thing  to acknowledge those of us that, basically, had our lives stolen from us.”

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Candles were lit – each one representing a known or unknown person of different gender identities, who has been killed.

Claudia explained,

The event itself started in San Francisco in 1999, and is now held in many places around the world.”

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The gathering listened to Claudia and other speakers, who voiced their feelings on the loss of life around the world, and the harassment that many still experience.

Claudia said,

I want to acknowledge the courage of the people who have had their lives taken in this awful manner… there’s something about those people that their killers will never have. These people had either found their true selves or were on their way to finding their true selves. I truly doubt  that those that took their lives will ever comprehend  that, or have any real understanding of their own true self. If they did they would be very ashamed of themselves...”

Claudia said that whilst “transpeople in New Zealand generally do not fear for their lives… I can recall somebody that I knew, not very far from here, in Upper Hutt, two years ago, Dixie Jones, was brutally beaten to death. So we are not immune…“.

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Claudia then introduced Brazilian-born, Dayna, to read out a list of 40 transgendered people, from many parts of the world, who had been killed. Dayna revealed that she was in pain at having to read out a roll call of so many victims, but regardless,  spoke with a quiet passion and  dignity, reciting nearly 40  names, along with their ages, and their country.

Many were young people, in their teens. The youngest was 16.

Dayna started with Charmine Rosa, 25 years old…

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As Dayna read out the names, the secretary of AgenderNZ – Denise – knelt, and blew out a candle. The snuffing of each candle symbolised the senseless snuffing of a human life.

At the same time, Claudia rang the bell – once – for each victim,

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At the end of Dayna’s  roll call, Claudia added,

“… the last time I did one of these was in 2007. The list was seventeen names. It’s not a good look that it’s now up to thirtynine. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Claudia then invited people from the gathering to come up to the microphone and express their thoughts and feelings.

First up, Kay spoke on behalf of two people, Ashley and Julianne Kramer – the latter having been killed on 8 November, in a helicopter crash in the South Island.

Kay spoke of the double tragedy regarding Julianne’s circumstances; her death; and the fact that her family wanted her described as a male and previous name, “Julian”,

I’m just going to mention another friend, whose life was taken from her. Not because of the manner of her death recently, but Julianne, when she died in a helicopter accident, her family  couldn’t bear to live with her as Julianne and so they got the newspaper to use her earlier name, and to take back the life that she had built  for herself, take it from her in her death.

So I wanted to remember the life that Julianne had made for herself, not the life that her family had tried to push upon her.”

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Remy told us of three young people who – under pressure from constant bullying -  had over the last year either attempted or eventually committed suicide. Their ages ranged from 17, 19, and 21.

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Alexandria (tall woman with a cap on), led a group to the microphone.

She  lit two bright pink candles – one for Ashley, had been a former flatmate and, one for Andre.

Alexandria spoke warmly of Ashley, her vibrance, her love of pink, and how she tried to cope with systemic rejection but how it was too much for her. She said that Ashley had died because of disrespect by authorities and the hospital. Alexandria was accompanied by friends who knew Ashley.

Alexandria also spoke about her late partner, Andre, who died from health complaints and who had also encountered the negative pressures from authorities. (Acknowledgement, Kay, for further details.)

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And others who had the courage and/or need to say something,

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Claudia with Green MP, Mojo Mathers, who attended the gathering in a supportive capacity,

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Claudia thanked everyone for turning up to the gathering and being part of the Memorial.

As Dayna said,

We all bleed the same blood, it’s the same colour and it’s unfair of people to attack us…

… we’re all human at the end of the day and we all cry the same salty-tasted tears and we all bleed. This is my gender, this is what I am.”

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Related links

AgenderNZ

Additional

Agender urges respect for killed trans pilot’s identity

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Anonymous hacks Israel’s Vice Prime Ministers Twitter and Facebook A/c

21 November 2012 5 comments

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See: Twitter account

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Anonymous has hacked Israel’s Vice Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Whilst the Face book page has been closed to public view, as at 1.50pm today (21 Nov),  Anonymous still  has control over Shalom’s Twitter account.

See: https://twitter.com/SilvanShalom

It’s little comfort to the oppressed Palestinian people, but it’s a global in-your-face to one of the war mongers within the Israeli government.

The first Anonymous message seems to have been posted an hour ago,

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Silvan Shalom ‏@SilvanShalom

MY HEART GOES OUT TO ALL THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING IN PALESTINE. STOP THIS WAR NOW!!! END THE OCCUPATION. #GAZA

IT’S TIME TO STOP OCCUPYING PALESTINIAN LAND. TIME TO END THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL. FREEDOM TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. #GAZA

END THE MURDER OF INNOCENT BABIES, CHILDREN, WOMEN AND MEN. STOP THE BOMBING AND SORT YOUR HEADS OUT > ISRAEL #FREEPALESTINE#GAZA

ORGANIZE YOURSELVES. STOP BELIEVING THE POLITICALLY BIASED MEDIA! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR IMPACT ON OUR PLANET. #FREEPALESTINE#GAZA

CALLING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. BOYCOTT ALL ISRAELI GOODS. PROTEST EVERYWHERE AGAINST THIS UNJUST WAR AND OCCUPATION. #GAZA

FREE PALESTINE FROM ISRAELI MURDERERS. END THE OCCUPATION. BRING DOWN THE WALL. SEND SUPPLIES, MEDICINE AND FOOD. POWER TO THE PEOPLE #GAZA

Who can bare to see the horror, the deaths of children and innocent people trying to protect their occupied land? STOP THE WAR #GAZA

I FULLY SUPPORT PALESTINE AND DENOUNCE THE ZIONIST ISRAELI REGIME. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. WE NEED PEACE!!! #GAZA

and to my sociopathic wife Judy > FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE IS THE ONLY WAY TO ACHIEVE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. #GAZA

ISRAEL < STOP KILLING PEOPLE YOU FUCKING TWATS!!!! FREE PALESTINE #GAZA

WE NEED PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THE WORLD IS NOT BLIND TO THE LIES OF ISRAEL. STOP THE BOMBING OF PALESTINE #GAZA

BOYCOTT ISRAELI PRODUCTS WORLDWIDE. END THIS MASS MURDER OF PALESTINIANS. END THE WAR. END THE OCCUPATION. ZIONISM WILL BE DESTROYED #GAZA

Benjamin Netanyahu is a Zionist murdering psychopath. FREE PALESTINE!!!! STOP THE MURDER. END THE OCCUPATION!! SUPPORT HAMAS. #GAZA

FREE PALESTINE! END THE OCCUPATION! STOP THE MURDER OF PALESTINIANS NOW!!!! #GAZA

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Excellent work, Anonymous. You are on the right side of history and justice.

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Acknowledgement

S Woo Satya Yuga

Related

US Navy orders Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group to head to Israeli shores

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Categories: Global Tags: , , ,

O is for Obama, H is for hypocrisy…

20 November 2012 7 comments

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US President Obama stated today,

“Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

See:  Obama: Israel has ‘every right’ to defend itself from Gaza missile attacks

Really?

I wonder how Pakistan feels about US drone missiles raining down on it’s citizens, from outside it’s borders?

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Full story

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Obama – you are no better than Mitt Romney or John Key.

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National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

19 November 2012 3 comments

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Prologue…

On 10 August 2010,  the resignation of  former Labour Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Winnie Laban,  triggered a by-election in the Mana electorate.

The by-election was contested by almost every  party on the New Zealand political spectrum; Alliance,  Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis,  ACT,    Labour, Libertarianz,  Green Party,   Matt McCarten  (Independent), and the National Party. Only NZ First and United Future did not stand candidates.

The by-election was bitterly fought between Labour and National and was seen by many as a de facto “vote of confidence” in the current National-led coalition government.

National stood Hekia Parata, a List MP, as their candidate.  (She had also previous stood in the Mana electorate in the 2008 general election.)

October 2010: Gateway Project ON!

As part of National’s campaign to win Mana from Labour, Housing Minister Phil Heatley announced a new housing programme called the “Gateway Housing Assistance“. According to their press release,

Housing Minister Phil Heatley has today launched a new programme which will make it easier for first-time buyers and those on lower incomes to build or purchase their own homes.

Gateway Housing Assistance allows purchasers to build or buy a property but defer payment on the land.

“It is important the Government provides opportunities for people to move into home ownership. Affordable homes schemes such as Gateway is another way we can assist more people into a home of their own,” says Mr Heatley.

“Under Gateway full and final payment for the land can be deferred for up to ten years. This ten year period allows people on lower incomes to concentrate on designing and building, or buying, their homes before they assume the additional burden of paying for the land,” says Mr Heatley.

[...]

“Gateway will be yet another tool in the affordable housing tool-box. The Government already supports housing affordability through a number of other measures including Kiwisaver First Home Deposit Subsidy and the First Home Withdrawal, Welcome Home Loans, the Housing Innovation Fund and the Tenant Home Ownership Programme.

“We have also cut unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape to streamline building processes, which reduces the cost of building for everyone,” says Mr Heatley. “

See: Gateway to improve housing affordability

It was an election stunt, of course. Much like National’s “sudden interest” in upgrading State housing in the Porirua area,

National Party by-election candidate and Mana-based List MP Hekia Parata has welcomed the Government’s commitment to better maintaining state houses.

“It was great to get Housing Minister Phil Heatley out to Cannons Creek to see how the Government’s commitment to catching up on maintenance is making a difference. But it’s also been a good opportunity to reinforce with him that there’s been a long period of neglect.”

She’s commenting after visiting the Cannons Creek renewal project in Hampshire and Flora Streets today, and accompanying the Minister to the Government’s new Gateway Housing initiative, which was also launched in Porirua.

“The Minister revealed that beginning today, a further 360 upgrades will be carried out on state houses in Porirua City during the 2010/2011 financial year. That’s on top of the 275 houses that have received upgrades in the 2009/10 year.”

See: State housing improved in Porirua

The by-election was won by  Kris Faafoi, three months later on  20 November.

May 2012: Gateway Project OFF!

Having lost the Mana by-election, and as National scrambled to cut  state services; close schools; and scrap any  projects it could get away with (avoiding any public backlash in the process)  the “Gateway Housing Assistance” programme became a casualty,

John Key has defended a decision to cancel sales of affordable housing in an Auckland development, saying low interest rates are making it easier for first-time buyers and people on low incomes to afford their own homes.

The Hobsonville Point development, started in 2009, allocated up to 100 of 3000 houses under the Gateway scheme, a helping hand for lower-income first-home buyers who could not afford to buy in Auckland.

[...]

The Prime Minister defended the decision not to include more of the Hobsonville development in the Gateway scheme.

“The Government has looked at that programme and decided that’s now not the most effective way of going forward”.”

Key added,

He said one of the positive stories at the moment was that mortgage rates had fallen.

“So we think the capacity for lower income New Zealanders to own their own home is greatly enhanced by the fact interest rates are lower.

“If you have a look at the average home owner in New Zealand, they are paying about $200 a week less in interest than they were under the previous Labour Government”.”

See: Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

It’s a shame that  Dear Leader spends so much time swanning around the golf courses on  Planet Key, that he obviously hasn’t heard of the critical housing shortages in Auckland and around the rest of the country; the astronomical prices for Auckland properties; nor the shortage of rentals.

On 19 November, Labour Leader David Shearer delivered a speech to  his Party conference, promising to implement a mass-construction project to build 100,000 homes for desperate families.

November 2012: Gateway Project ON (again)!

Having gotten ‘wind’ of Shearer’s plans for “Kiwi Build”, National scrambled to dust off it’s Gateway Project, three days before the Labour leader’s speech,

The Government has reinstated plans to allocate a percentage of the houses at Hobsonville Point in Auckland as affordable homes priced under $485,000.

In 2009, 100 of the 3000 homes at the development were tagged as affordable under the Gateway scheme, giving lower-income first-home buyers a helping hand.

Only 17 were sold, 14 for less that $400,000.”

See: Quota reintroduced for Hobsonville housing development

Heatley was keen to reassure the voting public that National would “do it’s bit” to help Kiwi “mums and dads” into their own homes – something that has become a distant dream during National’s term. Heatley stated,

This initiative will both add to Auckland’s housing supply, and demonstrate innovative commercial market-based solutions that could be replicated in the affordable housing market elsewhere in New Zealand.

Twenty per cent of the 2500-3000 new homes at Hobsonville Point will be priced at $485,000 or less. This means 500 to 600 more affordable homes will be built in this Auckland development alone.

The Hobsonville Land Company, a subsidiary of Housing New Zealand, will introduce a simple scheme to prioritise home-ownership access to some of the houses.”

All very plausible-sounding, though he was quick to allay any possible impression  of “nanny statism” or “socialist” interference in the Holy Grail of the Free Market by adding,

This initiative will both add to Auckland’s housing supply, and demonstrate innovative commercial market-based solutions that could be replicated in the affordable housing market elsewhere in New Zealand.

[...]

To protect taxpayers, the project’s lifespan will be determined by market conditions and the need to achieve a reasonable rate of return on the taxpayer’s investment.”

See: Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing

One aspect to Housing Minister Heatley’s press release (Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing) that is painfully evident is National’s luke-warm approach to the housing problem in this country.  Having read it, one cannot avoid the conclusion that their heart simply isn’t in it, and each word in their press release must have felt like pulling teeth.

Just by comparing the two releases of housing policies, one could easily gauge which Party was more enthusiatic;

National: a press release

Labour: a major policy speech,  given by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the Party annual conference, and released via television, internet, newspapers, etc.

National is not interested in assisting New Zealanders into their own homes. In this instance, National was more interested in trying to up-stage and undermine Labour’s release of  a major policy initiative.

It is apalling that National can play childish games with critical problems such as housing. This is naked politicking – at our expense.

Epilogue

National’s on-off-on-again approach to housing gives Flip-Flopping a whole new meaning.

Personally speaking, this blogger gives the Gateway Project another six to twelve months – and then it will be scrapped again.

It will then be resurrected during the 2014 (or earlier) election.

Are we having fun yet?

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Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

Frankly speaking on Budget 2012

David Shearer: New Zealand – A new direction

Other Sources

Scoop: Gateway to improve housing affordability (11 Oct 2010)

National Party: State housing improved in Porirua (11 Oct 2010)

TVNZ: Loans for housing on crown land (11 Oct 2010)

NZ Herald: Labour’s Kris Faafoi wins Mana by-election (20 November 2010)

NZ Herald: Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan (18 May 2012)

Scoop: Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing (16 November 2012)

NZ Herald: Quota reintroduced for Hobsonville housing development (16 November 2012)

Additional

Wikipedia: Mana by-election, 2010

Other blogs

Red Alert: Housing response a sham

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Guest Author: David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

- David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

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Speech: New Zealand – A new direction  |  Sunday, November 18, 2012

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Today I want to talk about two paths that lie before us as a country.

Each offers very different directions and different choices.

One path leads to disappointment, decline and constant struggle.

That’s our country’s current path, the one National is taking.

The other path is about change.

It’s about a new direction for Labour and a new direction for New Zealand.

A new direction where we fight back, create opportunity and build a world class New Zealand that we’re proud of.

A new direction that’s about what is best for the long term, not just the short term.

A new direction that’s about all New Zealanders daring to dream and having the opportunity to get there.

Not just accepting second best and managing decline.

We’ve always been a creative, innovative people with a ‘can do’ attitude.

Respected and admired across the globe.

Down to earth. Willing to give it a go.

We need that new direction now more than ever.

It’s about building a smart, new and powerful economy that delivers a fairer society.

That’s what I stand for.

That’s what we can achieve together.

For most of the last 20 years, I lived in parts of the world where life was bleak.

Every time I came home, I counted my blessings.

I counted my good fortune that I had grown up in a country like this.

But we are losing what we once held dear.

Kiwis just want the chance to succeed, to be the best they can be and to build a great life.

It’s not too much to ask.

I got my fair chance growing up in Papatoetoe. My father was a teacher. My mum worked at the local school.

They gave us the kind of Presbyterian upbringing where you saved for what you needed, and made the most of what you had.

I remember Dad wanted a boat to take us kids out sailing but he didn’t have the money to buy it.

So he rolled up his sleeves, went to night classes and learned how to build one.

Over 4 months, he and I built that boat together in the garage.

That was the way things worked. The State backed you so you could realise your dream.

I grew up in a time when there were plenty of part-time jobs for kids and – thanks to penal rates – some of them were quite well-paid.

I had a paper round that earned me the money to pay for my own bike. I pumped gas at the Puhinui petrol station and learned the value of a dollar.

That’s what it was like back then, growing up in New Zealand.

I know it wasn’t perfect for everyone but for most Kiwi families, life gave you a fair go.

And, free, to everyone, was an education that could match any in the world.

A nation flourishes when it gives every person a fair chance.

When it looks after its own.

And when it prizes fairness and humanity.

It was when I went out into world that I discovered just how much that means.

I also learnt something about myself.

That if you’ve grown up with the values this country gave me, you can’t turn away. You just can’t.

So my life has been about making a difference.

Lifting people up when they need it the most. Making their lives better.

Giving them the opportunity to take the next step.

This world can be hugely indifferent to suffering.

For me, that came into stark relief when I went to Somalia. War and famine was overtaking the country.

A small group of us working there realised that unless something changed, thousands would die from hunger.

With daily gun battles being fought in the streets, we were faced with a choice.

Take a risk and make a change. Or shrug our shoulders and say the job’s too big, let’s get out of here.

We stayed. We made a change.

I worked with a dedicated team of Somali doctors and others. We fought to keep supply lines open to bring in food.

We fed around 30,000 children who would have died otherwise.

We evacuated our staff three times. I lost a colleague on that operation.

But I was never in any doubt. Standing up for what was right – what would make a difference – that was the right decision.

Looking back I feel immense satisfaction.

But I can tell you it also makes it very clear to me where my priorities lie.

I am in politics to make lives better.

I’m not here to cross something off my bucket list. Or to indulge in some sense of celebrity.

I went out into the world to help improve people’s lives and I’ve chosen to enter politics for the same reason.

It’s why I want to lead this country and it’s why I need your support to get there.

Together we can make a difference. A big difference.

The values I bring with me are the ones that I was raised with.

They are the ones that I took with me out into the world.

They are Labour values. They’re our values: that everyone should have a fair chance and the opportunity to get ahead.

And if you agree people are not being given that fair chance right now then I’m asking you to join me in making the changes we need.

Change can make people uneasy.

But change has always been what has saved us in times of trouble, and it can save us again.

The first Labour government made the big changes that mattered:

affordable housing,

free schooling,

free health care,

a fair start for every child.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

Those big changes led New Zealand out of the Depression and it was this party that made them.

We are the party that is brave about change.

I think about Norman Kirk’s government establishing the Waitangi Tribunal that has helped reconcile Māori and Pakeha. And his commitment to New Zealand’s independent place in the world.

I think of David Lange standing up for our independence at the Oxford Union debate:  “hold your breath for just a moment – I can smell the uranium on it.”

It’s not just a great line, it’s about a great idea. Today we’re still nuclear free and I’m proud of that.

And the thousands of children lifted out of poverty under Helen Clark. The icons of Kiwisaver and KiwiBank were put in place.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

We made big changes and New Zealand flourished.

But where is our country today?

Where is the sense of possibility?

Where, I ask our Prime Minister, are the jobs?

It should never have come to this.

Imagine this scenario, for just a moment.

If we had kept Norman Kirk’s Superannuation Scheme – that Muldoon scrapped – it would be worth more than $240 billion today.

We would probably still own some of our banks and many other major companies.

Our entrepreneurs would be thriving because we’d have so much capital to invest in their ideas.

The Kirk Labour government could see the future. The National government saw political opportunism.

When our opponents say they want to grow our economy, I don’t doubt their sincerity.

But I doubt their method. I doubt it fundamentally.

How have they done in the last 4 years? Measure the results any way you want:

the cost of your groceries,

the money you’re earning,

the affordability of houses

1,000 Kiwis a week give up hope and go to Australia despite John Key promising he’d turn those numbers around.

That’s the population of Hamilton leaving since National was elected. It’s never been higher.

This government simply hasn’t delivered.

Our unemployment rate is 7.3%. Can you remember who was in power the last time it was this bad? Let me remind you it was the last National Government.

Right now there’s 175,000 people looking for work.

Māori and Pasifika unemployment is at 15%. One in four of our young people are unemployed.

And week after week, the losses just keep on coming.

Behind those numbers are real people, real families and real communities.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with miners who’ve lost their jobs at Spring Creek.

Darryl Sweetman is a miner. His future should be bright.

He has a lovely family, a partner, a daughter and a new-born son. But Darryl’s been laid off.

He’s worried he’ll lose the home they’ve been renovating and have to leave the town he’s lived in his entire life.

Paris Brady came back from Australia to raise his young family in Greymouth. He’s the kind of guy we need here.

Keen, motivated and used to hard graft. But just 10 weeks into his mining apprenticeship, he’s had the rug pulled out from under him and he’s out of work.

All over the country that’s the human face of losing jobs.

When this Government rests its entire hopes for future economic growth on the rebuild of Christchurch – our biggest natural disaster – you know it has no ideas.

What will it take for National to admit its hands-off policies aren’t working?

They know in their hearts that selling Mighty River Power will not make our power bills cheaper.

That selling Meridian won’t create a single job.

That selling Genesis won’t grow the economy.

Yet they knock us for being a party that can’t deliver growth.

Let me tell you. The evidence tells a different story.

If we compare all National and Labour Governments, back through history, the average GDP growth under National is 2.9%.

Under Labour, it’s 3.7%.

Who are the best economic managers?

But this government takes the prize. It has the worst economic performance in 50 years.

And we should remind ourselves of this:

In 2008, this National government inherited one of the world’s best government books after 9 budget surpluses.

And in 2 years’ time, no doubt, they’ll hand them back to us in bad shape.

The problem is that in order to pull us out of this hole they’re turning to the very ideas that put us there in the first place.

You know and I know: it’s not going to work.

And that’s why we need big change.

VISION

We need a different path.

We need to fight for the future we want.

One where we make a real difference to people’s lives.

We have always been the Party of new ideas.

When it mattered throughout our history, we’ve been willing to use the power of government to give the country what it needs to move ahead.

New Zealand needs to use that power once more. And under my leadership, we will.

Five years ago, that might have been seen as economic heresy in many places.

But not today.

Governments all around the world are intervening in their economies to dig themselves out of a vast Global Financial hole.

And they’ve got it right.

Hugh Fletcher is not what you’d call a radical.

But just a couple of weeks ago he was on the radio saying the laissez-faire status quo position is not acceptable.

He said our exporters were finding it hard to compete and we would have to come up with a new approach.

The Manufacturers and Exporters Association is saying the same thing.

So too is the EPMU.

And so are we.

There is a meeting of minds around a new direction.

The hands-off approach has failed and it’s left the world badly off balance.

Government has at its disposal levers that only it can pull.

Levers to change the settings that stimulate growth and opportunity.

As Prime Minister, I’ll use the power of government to change this country.

Let me be clear, it’s not about big government.

It’s about common sense.

It’s about using government intelligently, so it can transform the economy for everyone.

In a small country like New Zealand competing against the world’s economic giants, we need the government to pitch in together, not step back.

If you are willing to do your bit, the government should do its bit too.

It needs to be a player, not a spectator.

We need to get the country firing on all cylinders again.

I know we need to grow the economic pie – not just be expert in dividing it.

That means prudent financial management. It means balancing our budgets.

It means making the tough decisions to reduce our current account deficit.

This government hopes we can get there by cutting costs, selling assets and driving down the cost of labour.

It won’t work. It never has.

If you want to run the economy like they do, this is what you’ll get:

A few very wealthy people at the top,

No decent jobs in the middle

And a whole lot of low-skill, low wage families barely managing to hold on.

That’s a strategy that is as short sighted as it is heartless.

I have no interest in building an economy where only a few get rich, and everyone else gets left behind.

I lived in too many ruined countries where that happened to want to ever see it happen here.

My vision for New Zealand is fundamentally different from the one National is following.

New Zealand should be a place where people know they can get ahead, a place where the world wants to live and a place we can all be proud of.

A place that rewards talent and hard work, that puts a premium on innovation. Where our environment is a driver of our economic success and our economy keeps our environment clean.

A place which grows skilled, well-paid jobs and keeps our kids in New Zealand.

I want to lead that transformation.

I want a fair society where everyone gets a chance.

Where we look after those who need it, but where everyone has a responsibility to do their bit too.

Rights and responsibilities – a society based on that simple social contract.

I want to lead a country that is independent and confident in the world.

Where our values dictate what we say and do, not the persuasions of other nations.

That’s the kind of country we all want.

A few months ago, I spoke of that vision.

I received an email from Paul Callaghan thanking me. Because of course, his thinking had inspired me.

I phoned him back to thank him. For devoting his life to making New Zealand a better place.

He died 3 days later.

His inspiration is still with me.

He argued New Zealand cannot grow wealthy on agriculture alone. Valuable as it will always be, we must add to it and diversify our economy.

We must get behind our new smart, innovative businesses – that are growing faster than any other sector.

They are doing their bit. The Government should do its bit. Under Labour it will.

To realise that vision I promise that from the day we take office, you will see big change.

Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes.

We will replace a simplistic hands-off approach with a smart hands-on one.

Monetary policy will change.

So when the high dollar is killing our exporters we will give the Reserve Bank tools to act on the exchange rate.

Our manufacturers are our job generators.

If they’re doing their bit, we should do ours with intelligent government.

The R&D policy will change.

Most of what New Zealand exports today was known to the world before the industrial revolution.

This government treats Research & Development as ‘nice to have’.

We will treat it as absolutely vital to grow our smart businesses so they can take their products to the world.

We’ll change our tax system for the better.

We will bring in what this economy desperately needs:  a capital gains tax.

We want people to invest in houses because they need a place to live, not because they get a tax free investment.

To shift investment instead into productive businesses to grow jobs.

The savings policy will change.

We’ll enrol everyone into KiwiSaver. That will support our retirement, but also build an investment pool to power our best businesses.

That means companies like F&P Appliances can be owned here, not sold off-shore.

We’ll change the approach to productivity.

Kiwis work longer hours than just about anywhere else in the world. But you wouldn’t know it looking at our pay packets.

That’s because the hands-off approach says: “pay low wages, cut back on conditions and ramp up casualization”.

That has to end. We’ll be hands-on. The Minimum Wage will go up. A Living Wage must be our goal.

And Labour laws will be reformed to restore decency.

We are proud of our unions and our origins. We thank them for what they do in standing up for workers’ rights, but we need to be in government to back you up.

The procurement policy will change.

The government spends $30 billion a year on contracting goods and services.

The simplistic hands-off approach says “forget about Hillside Railway workshops, forget about local jobs. Go for the cheapest offshore price.”

The intelligent hands-on approach says: “we get much more from each government dollar by investing in a Kiwi company”.

So wherever it’s the smart thing to do, we’ll prioritise the local supplier.

The approach to education will change.

I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do.

And I know a gimmick when I see one.

Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing.

The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks:  what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?

Our teachers are demoralised. Yet we all know they are critical to equipping our kids for the modern world.

We know too that shutting schools in Christchurch destroys communities and causes heartache for already distressed families.

I went to a public meeting there after receiving a moving letter from Christchurch mum Sonya Boyd.  She’s devastated that her local school will close and is worried about the impact on her son Ben, his friends and in fact the whole community.

At that meeting a parent told me: Hekia Parata is doing what 10,000 earthquakes couldn’t do – destroying our school.

I say to the people of Christchurch: we are committed to helping you rebuild your city from the grassroots up – not the Beehive down.

You want, more than anything, to get your lives back, and on your own terms.

It’s time you had a government that stood alongside you.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

So those are the big changes we’ve already committed to.

To lift the economy. To grow jobs.

Today we add another important item: housing.

Owning your own home is a Kiwi ambition but for tens of thousands of New Zealanders it’s a dream that’s out of reach.

If there is one thing your newspaper tells you every day about life in New Zealand it’s this:

We have a housing problem. And it’s a deep seated problem.

If you’re a young person today, you look at the cost of houses and you despair.

For the first time, home ownership in Auckland has dropped below 60%.

It’s one of the reasons so many of our young people are giving up and going to Australia.

The National government’s answer fell woefully short of what is needed.

They don’t understand that the market has failed first-home buyers.

The simple fact is we need more affordable houses.

It’s time for Government to step up.

And we will.

Today I’m announcing that we will put 100,000 Kiwi families into their first home.

That’s the sort of big change we need to make a big difference to people’s lives.

We’ll oversee and invest in a large scale 10 year building programme of entry-level houses that Kiwis are crying out for.

Yes, it’s a big commitment and it’ll take a couple of years to ramp up, but we can do it.

I won’t stand by while the dream of home ownership slips away from future generations.

At the peak of last decade, about 30,000 new homes were built a year. Now it’s less than half that.

These are the missing rungs on the housing ladder. And it shows what an active and responsible government can do to help.

The start-up cost of the building programme will be financed through issuing government stock called Home Ownership Bonds.

The money we make from selling the houses will go back into the pot for building more.

The houses will be compact in size. Some will be stand-alone dwellings and others apartments. All of them will be good quality and energy efficient.

The homes will be sold to first home buyers who’ve saved their own deposit, like with KiwiSaver.

We estimate that the maximum needed to be raised for a kick-start will be $1.5 billion.

It will quickly become self-funding though. And because it’s a capital investment, it won’t affect our commitment to balance the books and return to surplus.

I can already hear our opponents complaining that this is too bold. That the problem’s too big and there’s nothing we can do.

I won’t accept that. I won’t give up on the Kiwi dream of an affordable home.

I have spoken to Auckland Mayor Len Brown to take up his offer of a partnership with Auckland council to make land available.

In addition, we will introduce a National Policy Statement under the RMA to ensure that planning rules and consenting decisions support affordable housing.

We want to make a difference.

Building 100,000 new houses will create training opportunities for apprenticeships, more jobs and give a $2 billion dollar a year boost to the economy.

This will make a big difference but alone, it’s not enough.

HEALTHY HOMES GUARANTEE

Too many Kiwi families are living in cold, damp and mouldy homes.

This affects their health and their quality of life.

Because of this, we’re seeing the sort of third world diseases that I was battling in Somalia in our own communities here. That’s not right.

Child poverty is a scourge that robs hundreds of thousands of kids of their future.

This cannot continue.

Let me be clear, we are not prepared to have families, particularly children, living in these conditions.

Eradicating poverty will be a top priority for the next Labour Government.

That’s why we’ll introduce a Healthy Homes Guarantee so landlords have to ensure every rental property is a healthy home that’s insulated and has efficient heating.

It’s time for poor quality houses to be brought up to scratch with minimum standards.

The crucial point is: this is about smart government pulling the levers to make New Zealand a better place.

We will take action where the market has failed for the benefit of thousands of Kiwis.

CONCLUSION

We have done the work we needed to do to change ourselves at this conference.

Now it’s time to lift our sights and to come together to change New Zealand.

Our Labour movement has always relied on the hard work of volunteers.

I thank you for everything that you do to support our cause and to support our country.

And now I ask you to join me.

Norman Kirk once famously said: New Zealanders don’t ask for much: someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.

As much I’d like to, I can’t provide everyone with someone to love.

But everyone should have a job, a home – and a country we can all have hope in.

But we won’t on National’s track. It’s full of disappointment and is taking us nowhere.

We need to change.

We need a new direction.

One that’s about using our Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude to create new wealth.

One that encourages Kiwis to dream of what can be.

One that offers opportunities to realise that dream.

One where everyone who plays their part shares the rewards.

And, one where the government gets stuck in too.

I promise you this: from the day we take office, we will turn over a new page for this country and continue Labour’s proud tradition of progressive government.

We won’t be taking office to tinker, we’ll be taking office to remake New Zealand.

So I am asking you.

To rise up.

To take a message of hope to New Zealanders.

To fight for our future.

To say loud and clear that there is a better way. There is a Labour way.

We can do it, standing strong together.

We can make the change.

And we’ll do that in 2014.

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= fs =

 

Crony Watch!

18 November 2012 22 comments

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Cronywatch*…

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…Keeping an eye on dodgy government appointees, crony-by-crony!

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In this on-going Thread, I will be reporting on blatant political cronyism from this current government. Considering that the NBR ceased their version of  “Cronywatch” in late 2008, I thought it would be helpful if folks knew what John Key and his government were up to.

Cronyism is when appointments to various quangos, Boards, organisations, departments, and even unofficial positions, are made for no other apparent reason than their membership, or close affialiation to, the National government. Governments do this for various reasons; to keep on eye on things; to try to influence decision-making; to ensure that their policies are carried out according to their agenda; and perhaps even a bit of  ‘pay back‘.

This sort of thing was/is verey commonplace under authoritarian regimes where democracy and an independent civil service are alien concepts. So it is more than a little disturbing when we find such occurrences here, in little old Godzone.

So every time I find a political appointee, I’ll report it here. With each up-date added to this Thread, I’ll ‘bump‘ it back up to the top of Recent Posts.

And now for some cronies…

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Catherine Isaac

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Catherine Isaac

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Catherine Isaac,

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

Despite having zero experience in the education sector, Ms Isaac was appointed by ACT MP, John “I-Don’t-Know-I-Can’t-Recall”  Banks to chair the Charter School Working Group. Ms Isaac’s only tenuous links to educatuion is that she has served on a School Board. (In which case, I look forward to serving on a DHB and thereafter beginning  a practice in brain surgery…)

As most folk know, Charter Schools is an ACT policy. Ms Isaac was appointed by ACT MP, John “What-helicopter-flights?” Banks.  And Ms Isaac is an ACT Party member, ex-candidate, and President.

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Belinda Milnes

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Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has appointed a former official from her own office to the board of the Families Commission.

Belinda Milnes, a former senior policy adviser for Mrs Bennett, has been appointed to the commission for three years.

The minister has been unavailable to discuss the appointment, but in a statement says Ms Milnes understands social policy and is the best person for the job.”

Source: Radio NZ – Bennett appoints former official to commission board

Interestingly, Paula Bennett made no mention of Ms Milnes’ connection with her office when she released this media statement,

” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today announced two new appointments to the Families Commission.

Sir Peter Gluckman and Belinda Milnes have been appointed to the Board of the Families Commission for a period of three years.

The Families Commission is currently undergoing a restructure to assume its new role providing independent monitoring, evaluation and research.

“We’ve appointed the best people for the job to oversee a major change programme within the Families Commission,” says Mrs Bennett.

The Government is reprioritising a minimum of $14.2 million of the $32.48 million funding the Families Commission receives over four years to set up a new Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SuPERU).

“This unit will provide research and best practise advice to government and non-government organisations,” says Mrs Bennett.

This unit will independently monitor and evaluate programmes and initiatives in the social sector, a job currently done largely by Government Departments.

“I believe giving this role to an independent body will see more community organisations entering into robust evaluation and monitoring”. “

Source: Appointments to Families Commission

I wonder how much ” independent monitoring, evaluation and research” will be produced by the new “Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit ” when it is staffed by National Party appointees who have been functionaries within a Minister’s office?

At least the Minister will hear only what she wants to hear, with no pesky dissenting opinions upsetting her day…

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Richard Long

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Former National Party chief of staff Richard Long has been appointed to the board of TVNZ.

[...] He spent two years as chief of staff for National leaders Bill English and Don Brash after leaving the Dominion in 2002.”

Source: Former National Party chief of staff appointed to TVNZ board

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Katherine Rich (#2)

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Frank  Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking

(L-R) National MPs Simon Powell, Katherine Rich, former National leader Don Brash, National MPs Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee applaud John Key as he delivers his speech as the New Zealand National Party launch their election campaign at Sky City on October 12, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

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The latest cronyist-appointment is (again)  former National MP and CEO  of the Food and Grocery Council,  Katherine Rich, to the newly formed  Health Promotion Agency.

The Council  represents a $15 billion food and beverage industry and exerts considerable influence on food legislation and trade practices.

The Council was a vocal opponant, and campaigned against,   mandatory inclusion of vitamin B9 (folic acid) in bread (to prevent crippling  birth defects such as spina bifida) and  anti-obesity proposals such as taxing  sugar. It supports liberal trading policies for alcohol.

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

The Health Promotion Agency incorporates  the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), the Health Sponsorship Council and other  promotion work by the Ministry of Health.

ALAC was an organisation tasked with addressing the growing incidence of alcohol abuse in this country. This increasingly destructive social  problem  has been calculated to be a $4 billion-plus crisis in our society, wasting valuable health, police, judicial, and ACC  resources, and impacting on employment and family life.

It therefore seems somewhat incongruous to appoint a person who  in deeply involved in the alcohol industry in a government body that has a role in identifying and addressing alcohol problems in our society.

In fact, one could see this as a conflict of interest. John Key’s bland assurances therefore sound rather hollow,

I’m comfortable that she’ll be able to manage any conflict….It’s important that a board has a range of different views.” – Source

Key’s views on the Food and Grocery Council’s emotion-laden campaign against folic acid was no less derisable,

The debate wasn’t around whether folic acid might or might not work. It was about people’s rights to have that put in every piece of bread. There’s quite a difference there.”

Unfortunately,  Mr Key fails to realise that foetuses deprived of this critical vitamin B9; are born with spina bifida; and spend their entire (shortened) lives in a wheelchair, have no such “rights” to choose. Foetuses rely on adults to consume appropriate foods and beverages.

Way to go, Mr Key. The manipulation of public opinion on this issue  by the Food and Grocery Council was predicated on saving money for the food industry.

But it’s taxpayers who have to pick up the medical and welfare tab for people with neural tube defects (spina bifida).

That, plus the Food and Grocery Council’s staunch advocacy for the proliferation of alcohol retailing, makes Ms Rich wholly inappropriate for this new government body.

Ms Rich has neo-liberal views on the production and retailing of alcohol,

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) strongly backed the recommendations.

Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said it set out a clear objective of reducing alcohol-related harm which stretched to structure and role changes for the district licensing agencies responsible for managing liquor licensing in their own communities.

Communities up and down the country were sick of the violence and vandalism that came with drinking and that proposed changes to licencing regimes would help address the problem, Mr Vaughan said.

Nearly 3000 submissions were received by the commission, many of which supported the tightening of laws around alcohol sales, purchasing and consumption.

But NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the report reflected “classic nanny state thinking.”

It failed to target those causing the problems and punished everyone, she said. The industry was already one of the most regulated, and more sensible ways to approach existing problems included better enforcement of current rules and better use of legal powers, along with industry-led initiatives.”   Source

Final word to someone more concerned with social issues (rather than profits),

Professor Sellman says supermarkets normalise alcohol as an ordinary commodity and sell it by the tonne at ultra-cheap prices up to 24 hours a day.

He believes Ms Rich’s appointment is a major conflict of interest and indicates the Government wants to have the alcohol industry strongly represented in its preparations for the new agency.

“Seventy percent of the alcohol that’s sold in New Zealand comes through supermarkets and here we have a person in Katherine Rich who’s a staunch defender of the excessive commercialisation of alcohol, particularly though supermarkets, and she’s on a board that is presumably about decreasing the heavy drinking culture”. Source, Radio NZ

See:   Lobbyist appointment no conflict: Key

See:   BERL Report Costs of harmful alcohol and other drug use

See:   Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association: Folic acid and neural tube defects in New Zealand: a cautionary tale?

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Other blogs

The Standard: Katherine Rich on the Health Promotion Board: The next outrageous piece of Nat cronyism

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Roger Sowry

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Roger Sowry has been a National Party MP from 1990 to 2005 – five consecutive terms.  The first two terms were as MP for Kapiti, the latter three as a Party List MP.  He became Chief Executive of Arthritis New Zealand, and then worked at Saunders Unsworth,as a “consultant on Government matters” (ie; lobbyist).

Party positions held:

  • National MP 1990 – 2005
  • 1993, appointed Junior Party Whip
  • 1995, appointed Senior Party Whip
  • 1996, appointed Minister for Social Welfare
  • 1998, appointed Minister of Social Services, Work and Income; Minister in charge of War Pensions;  Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation; and Associate Minister of Health
  • Appointed Deputy Leader of  National Government from October 2001 to October 2003

Government appointments:

Prime Minister John Key said he would not describe Mr Sowry as a party hack and he was qualified for the job.   “We are not going to preclude people solely because they’ve been involved with the National Party. If we were to do that then the talent pool is going to be substantially reduced,” Mr Key said. – Source

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Wyatt Creech

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Judy Kirk

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Jim McLay

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Penny Webster

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Party Positions held:

Government appointments:

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Brian Neeson

Ravi Musuku

Ken Shirley

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(L-R) Brian Neeson – Ken Shirley – Ravi Musuku

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All three men were appointed to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.  All three have connectionas to National, or in Ken Shirley’s case, to ACT, one of National’s coalition partners.

Brian Neeson

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

The appoint was made by the Minister -  without being interviewed, as is the usual process,

“It is the chair’s view that without interviews by an appropriately selected interview panel, the process will not provide an opportunity to properly assess the candidates suitability,” advice to Power in July last year said.

“The required skills cannot be evaluated without interview. He [Mr Hindle] has also expressed concern that the suggested appointment of member without interview would be at odds with the practice of past years“.” – Source

Which was unfortunate, as Neeson has a shocking record for anti-gay/lesbian beliefs that can only be described as homophobic.  He consistently voted against including gays/lesbians in protective Human Rights legislation and voted against legislation to outlaw employment discrimination based on gender. (See ” National’s version of ‘human rights’ ” at Tumeke, for full details.)

It is difficult to understand how someone of Mr Neeson’s beliefs can contribute to human rights issues in NZ, unless his appointment is specifically designed to curtail human rights for women and minority groups?

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Ravi Musuku

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Ken Shirley

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

Statement on Maori:

Graduation day at Te Wananga. Soon after the Labour Government came to office it started showering money on all things Maori. ” – NZ Herald

Soon after the Labour Government came to office, ushering in its flagship ‘Closing the Gaps’ programmes. It started showering money on all things Maori. ” – Ibid

Out of this Te Wananga o Aotearoa pocketed $5.8 million and said that would go a long way towards providing for its growth. ” – Ibid

But the Government went further. Closing the Gaps demanded even more taxpayer money be thrown at Maori. ” – Ibid

Despite its apparent concern, it has continued to shovel huge sums of taxpayer money to this institution – all in the name of the treaty. ” – Ibid

The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commissioners have foreshadowed that the decision to allow the Maori Land Court to hear iwi claims to the foreshore and seabed of the Marlborough Sounds opens the way for similar claims around the country” ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

I now call upon Prime Minister Helen Clark to act consistently, and to declare such claims off limits -as she recently did in the case of the claim for oil and gas reserves. In this instance, it was made quite clear that oil, gas and mineral reserves were vested in the Crown by legislation in 1937.”Press releases on Court of Appeal decision on foreshores and seabed, Recreation Access

I am again calling on the Labour Government to act decisively. It must spell out the bounds to claims – in order to prevent undue anxiety for tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and to ensure that iwi don’t waste any more time and money pursuing claims that should be off limits.” – Ibid

Hopefully Mr Shirley’s anti-Treaty and knee-jerk anti-Maori  beliefs will not be carried over to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

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.(Acknowledgement: David M. and Tumeke)

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Wayne Mapp

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Wayne Mapp (L) and John Key (R)

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Announced on 28 February 2012 by Judith Collins, the Minister Responsible for the Law Commission;  the appointment of  National’s  former Defence Minister, Wayne Mapp to the Commission.

Party positions held:

  • National MP from 1996 to 2011
  • Appointed as “Political Correctness Eradicator” in October 2005, by former National Party leader, Don Brash
  • Chair of National Caucus Policy Committee
  • Minister of Defence
  • Minister of Science and Innovation

Government appointments:

  • New Zealand  Law Commission

The Law Commission is an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004. It is funded by government and reviews areas of the law that need updating, reforming or developing. It makes recommendations to Parliament, and these recommendations are published in our report series.  The Law Commission helps to maintain the quality of New Zealand law to meet the current and future needs of our rapidly changing society. The Commission’s objective is to improve the quality, relevance and effectiveness of New Zealand law, by informing and supporting discussion on and making recommendations to Parliament for law reform.” – Source

I suspect that the Law Commission may have just become a somewhat less “independent Crown entity “.

(Acknowledgement: David M.)

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Kerry Prendergast

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L-R: John Banks (obscured), John Key, Maurice Williamson, Kerry Prendergast

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Best known as Wellington’s mayor from 2001 – 2010, Prendergast is also a member of the National Party.

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Sir Wira Gardiner

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Full Story

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Party Positions held:

Government appointments:

1. Background

2. Background

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Stephen McElrea

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Party Positions held:

Government Appointments:

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Some weeks ago, a furore erupted when NZ on Air boardmember, Stephen McElrea, complained about the broadscasting of a document on TV3, just four days before the Elections last year.

The documentary was a highly critical look at growing child poverty in this country.

The timing of the documentary’s broadcasting  was criticised by Stephen McElrea, who complained that it was highly politicised and could impact of NZ on Air’s “impartiality”. There were suggestion made that NZ on Air should have authority over when programme  should be broadcast.

Some weeks ago, a furore erupted when NZ on Air boardmember, Stephen McElrea, complained about the broadscasting of a document on TV3, just four days before the Elections last year.

The documentary was a highly critical look at growing child poverty in this country.

The timing of the documentary’s broadcasting  was criticised by Stephen McElrea, who complained that it was highly politicised and could impact of NZ on Air’s “impartiality”. There were suggestion made that NZ on Air should have authority over when programme  should be broadcast.

***Update***

It appears that Stephen McElrea was part of a working group that has committed NZ on Air funding to a “documentary” on Whanau Ora.

Whanau Ora is a government department created under the National-Maori Party Coalition arrangement after the 2008 General Election.

NZ On Air states that the “documentary” will  look  at “how successful this new initiative will be in assisting NZ’s most deprived families” and that it would be  “a behind the scenes look at the roll out of this new initiative that seeks to deliver positive social outcomes for Maori“.

It is somewhat difficult to see how a documentary could determine that Whanau Ora  can be a “successful… new initiative … in assisting NZ’s most deprived families” when it is still barely operating. There have been no assessments or measured outcomes yet (to my knowledge) that would merit a “documentary” on Whanau Ora’s “success” or otherwise.

The fact that Stephen McElrea was a participant in the decision-making process to fund this “documentary/propaganda” is clear evidence that NZ On Airs  independence has been compromised.

This is the result of  government cronyism.

Source:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air

Additional

Scoop.co.nz:  PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link

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Catherine Isaac

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An announcement was made on 1 February that ACT  member;  former ACT Party List candidate, and former ACT Party President, Catherine Isaac,  had been appointed to oversee the introduction of the government’s Charter  Schools programme in South Auckland and Christchurch. Ms Isaacs has no formal experience in the education field.

John Banks defended Isaac’s appointment was stating that she has sat of a School Board of Trustees for six years.

In which case, if I sat on a District Health board for a similar period of  time, would that qualify me to carry out  thoracic open-heart surgery? Well, I guess that would be one way to “train” our doctors on the cheap and get rid of that pesky, expensive Med School in Dunedin.

Party Positions held:

Government Appointments:

It seems abundantly obvious that Isaac’s appointment is to ensure that ACT’s Charter School policy is implemented without usual critical oversight, and to further ensure that results are presented in a “positive light” to the public.

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Katherine Rich (#1)

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(L-R) National MPs Simon Powell, Katherine Rich, former National leader Don Brash, National MPs Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee applaud John Key as he delivers his speech as the New Zealand National Party launch their election campaign at Sky City on October 12, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

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The National-led Government is defending its appointment of the Food and Grocery Council chief executive to a board which will set up a new health promotion agency.

Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

The move has outraged advocacy group Alcohol Action. Spokesperson Doug Sellman says Ms Rich has been one of the most vociferous defenders of the alcohol industry.

Professor Sellman says supermarkets normalise alcohol as an ordinary commodity and sell it by the tonne at ultra-cheap prices up to 24 hours a day.

He believes Ms Rich’s appointment is a major conflict of interest and indicates the Government wants to have the alcohol industry strongly represented in its preparations for the new agency.

“Seventy percent of the alcohol that’s sold in New Zealand comes through supermarkets and here we have a person in Katherine Rich who’s a staunch defender of the excessive commercialisation of alcohol, particularly though supermarkets, and she’s on a board that is presumably about decreasing the heavy drinking culture.”

The Labour Party agrees the appointment of Katherine Rich is too much a conflict of interest.” – Source, Radio NZ

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The Radio NZ report does raise an important question regarding her appointment to  the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

ALAC was an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of New Zealand’s considerable alcohol related (some say fueled) problems.

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

Whilst working for the Food and Grocery Council, Ms Rich was a firm advocate of liberal laws surrounding marketting and retailing of alcohol,

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The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) strongly backed the recommendations.

Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said it set out a clear objective of reducing alcohol-related harm which stretched to structure and role changes for the district licensing agencies responsible for managing liquor licensing in their own communities.

Communities up and down the country were sick of the violence and vandalism that came with drinking and that proposed changes to licencing regimes would help address the problem, Mr Vaughan said.

Nearly 3000 submissions were received by the commission, many of which supported the tightening of laws around alcohol sales, purchasing and consumption.

But NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the report reflected “classic nanny state thinking.”

It failed to target those causing the problems and punished everyone, she said. The industry was already one of the most regulated, and more sensible ways to approach existing problems included better enforcement of current rules and better use of legal powers, along with industry-led initiatives.”   Source

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New Zealand has a $4 billion-plus problem with alcohol abuse (BERL report) and Katherine Rich dismissed attempts to address this crisis as “classic nanny state thinking“?

It is worthwhile reflecting that since liquor laws were de-regulated in the mid 1980s (as part of the wave of Rogernomics “reforms”), that 25 years later things have gotten steadily worse.

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Mervyn English

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Full Story

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Though the State Services Commissioner  did find that they were satisfied with English’s appointment, one has to question why  the position was not publicly advertised, as is common practice?

Even if the SSC is satisfied of no inappropriateness, this brings up a valid point; how can we differentiate between blatant political appointees and those made on merit, if the entire system is brought into disrepute? Public perception is growing that this government is stacking various organisation Boards with party apparatchiks – and judging by recent events, that perception is not misplaced.

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Jenny Shipley

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Party Positions held:

  • National Party MP 1987 – 2002
  • Various ministerial portfolios
  • Prime Minister 1997 – 1999

Government appointments:

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Carried on at Frankly Speaking: Crony Watch

* Carrying on, where the National Business Review left of, in November 2008. (Which, by sheer coincidence, is when National took power.)

 

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Key: “I’ve left NZ in a better shape than I found it”

18 November 2012 23 comments

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Without a doubt, the following story by the NZ Herald on Key’s latest utterances deserves an Award for Outstanding Bullshitting – with a special mention for Self Delusion.

WARNING:  do not be drinking anything when you read this – not unless you can stop your gagging-reflex from spraying over your monitor and keyboard,

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Full story

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If Dear Leader truly believes that,

Personally, I think if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it.”

… then he is dangerously more out of touch with reality than the rest of us ever imagined.

But because John Key gives no indication of any head trauma or diagnosis for delusional psychosis, the only remaining option is that this was a pathetically weak attempt to shore up his Party’s waning public support.

Almost every poll has National’s voter support dropping. This blogger suspects very strongly that National’s own internal polling reveals a much more dramatic fall in public support – and that John Key’s credibility as an honest politician has taken some serious battering this year.

One poll in July of this year, by Fairfax/Ipsos, had this unflattering picture of Key,

A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women.

The first Fairfax Media/Ipsos political poll shows National has enough support for a third term, 44.9 per cent to Labour’s 32.6 per cent, assuming the current mix of support parties. But it also reveals a growing divide, with many still strongly backing Key, but a growing sense of anger and distrust among others.

Interviewers asked 1000 people to describe Key in as few words as possible. The pollsters said many voters rated him a straight-shooter and good or excellent leader, but a significant number thought he was arrogant, smarmy and out of touch.

Key still has the confidence of an overwhelming majority – 63 per cent saying he had a clear vision for the country, and was a strong and effective leader.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Since that poll, National’s support has dropped to 45% and Key’s personal support has plummeted to 42%, in a One News/ Colmar Brunton poll released on 4 November.

See: National support holds as Labour slips in poll

National is clearly in trouble with the public and Key’s extraordinary statement that  “I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is utterly laughable.

This blogger’s guess is that Key made this statement, off the cuff, and without his tax-payer funded spin doctors crafting a more credible message.

On almost every level, it is a demonstrably false assertion.

Looking at the facts on Planet Earth, rather than on Planet Key, we find the following;

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Unemployment

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When Key took office at the end of 2008, the household labour force survey reported unemployment at 4.6% or 105,000 real people.

See: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The latest household labour force survey released on 8 November this year had unemployment at 7.3% or 175,000 living, breathing people.

See: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter

In other words, there are 75,000 more unemployed people now, than there was four years ago.

This blogger accepts that the Global Financial Crisis has been a major factor for rising unemployment, but three questions still remain to be answered,

  1. Why has National not done anything practical to counter the effects of the GFC, despite having four years to implements job-creation programmes?
  2. Why did National proceed with tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 when the lost tax-revenue could have been used for upskilling; job creation; building new houses to meet our critical housing shortage; etc?
  3. Why does National continue to blame the unemployed for being unemployed, when they – the Nats -  play the GFC Card when ever it suits them, as an excuse?

Report Card: F – Total Fail

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Economic growth

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Retail

Retail Trade  dropped from NZ$18.8 buillion in December 2011 to the current NZ$16.8 billion, in September,

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Sourc:  Reserve Bank of New Zealand

This constitutes a $2 billion drop in retail activity.

By comparison, the drop from December 2010 to September 2011 was less -  NZ$900  million.  (See: Reserve Bank A1 Domestic trade)

Balance of Trade

Our Balance of Trade has definitly worsened since November 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis had begun to impact on our export sector,

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Source: Trading Economics New Zealand Balance of Trade

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In part, this may be due to our high dollar, which makes our exports less profitable – but makes imports (consumer goods, fuel, building materials, plant & equipment, etc) cheaper. However, whilst this may benefit one sector of our economy, it means that we are not paying our way with our trading partners.

Economists are expecting the figures to worsen in the coming months and year,

The annual current account deficit has widened to 4.8 per cent of GDP and economists expect it will keep getting worse, with sharply falling export prices and rising demand for imports.

The current account records the balance of trade between New Zealand and the rest of the world for goods and services, net investment income and net transfers.

ANZ economists said the 4.8 per cent figure was worse than market expectations and given the worsening trade position with lower commodity prices, the deficit was trending closer to the 5 per cent of GDP “danger zone” for international lenders.

The falling value of dairy exports and a drop in spending by tourists after the Rugby World Cup have seen the current account deficit worsen by $600 million to $2.8 billion, seasonally adjusted, for the March quarter.

That takes the annual deficit back up to $9.7 billion for the year to March 31 or 4.8 per cent of GDP according to latest Statistics NZ figures out earlier today. The deficit was equal to 4.2 per cent of GDP in the December year. “

See: Deficit expected to worsen

Wages

Despite JohnKeys perennial promises (see previous blogpost:  John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface), wages have not risen to anywhere near Australia’s levels.

In fact, wage rises in the last four years have not matched those under the previous Labour government, despite Dear Leader’s pledges and claims to the contrary,

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Source: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/NZIncomeSurvey_HOTPJun12qtr.aspx

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As Statistics NZ states in it’s June Quarter report,

In the year to the June 2012 quarter, there was no significant increase in:

  • median weekly income from all sources – up 1.8 percent from $550 to $560
  • median weekly income for those receiving income from wages and salaries – up $6 (0.7 percent) to $806
  • median hourly earnings – up 48 cents (2.4 percent) to $20.86.”

New Zealanders are generally not fools, and many have taken to voting with their feet to where there are better opportunities for jobs, wages, housing, etc…

See also: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 9. Conclusion

Migration

Migration to Australia was one of John Key’s major election platforms in 2008. He was scathing of Labour and the exodus of New Zealanders to Australia,

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.

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One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.  We must cut taxes and grow our economy, and National will have policies to ensure both occur.”  – John Key,  6 September 2008

See: Speech: Environment Policy Launch

I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves. That’s why this Government is focused squarely on improving New Zealand’s economic performance. And to be frank, New Zealand’s economic performance over a number of years has been disappointing. ” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech to Business Breakfast hosted by Cullen Law

The result? Wholly predictable by now,

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Full story

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As the NZ Herald story reported,

The number of New Zealanders moving across the Tasman hit a record 53,000 in the year to February, but the unemployment rate at home and Australia’s new tax breaks that would make millions better off are tipped to lift that number.”

As Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley stated on  TV1 on 3 September,

We can’t afford to bleed the numbers of people we see leaving for Australia. We can’t afford to lose the skills. We’ve got to do something.”

Key’s response,

Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more [mining] to encourage people to stay. It’s been a 40-year problem, and if we want to resolve it, we need to get on top of all of those issues.”

Oh really? “Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more “?! Gosh, Mr Key – you think?

Key’s statement encapsulates one  simple reality; that his  inept “government”  is utterly clueless. Dear Leader does not even know whose responsibility it is to create jobs;

Last year;

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 November2011

See: Key and Goff Q&A: Creating jobs

This year;

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

See: Key Notes: Honouring our fallen soldiers

Whenever National does become proactive, it tinkers with labour laws which will ultimately have the effect of driving down wages. This, in turn simply accelerates the flow of Kiwis to Australia and elsewhere.

Export Industry

On the other hand, when exporters cry out for relief from a high Kiwi Dollar that is ruining their trade, National either ignores their plight, or derides any possible remedies.

As president of the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Managing Director of two export companies, Brian Willoughby, said in utter desperation,

I’m concerned that this vitally important discussion is degenerating to the point that it is the guy with the biggest foghorn that is going to get heard the most. The Government had the biggest foghorn.

What is starting to irritate me is, here I am just down the road in Christchurch, representing manufacturers producing $2.6 billion [worth of product]. So why doesn’t someone from the Prime Minister’s department pop along and see me? I am far easier to get in touch with than the guys in Hollywood, and I don’t need any special concessions. The ones I need are the same ones with the dollar that the film industry needs.

But the issue is to develop a more balanced economy.

There are a whole lot of people [in manufacturing] who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and there are a whole lot of redundancies going on that the public never hears about.

The other thing that is poorly understood is that manufacturing jobs support three jobs outside – the courier guy, the guy that cleans the towels, the cafes near the factory. We have the contractors and suppliers – the guy that supplies the nuts and bolts and screws, the guy that does the laser cutting, the guy that does the painting, the guy that does the polishing, the guy that provides the plating service.”

It’s wrong to sit on our hands and say there is nothing that we can do.

We need a proper debate because it is extremely important to the New Zealand economy as a whole, not just to my members. In the long run, exporters ensure that we have a reasonable standard of living. If we can’t sell off-shore with good added value margins, we’ll go broke.

See: Soaring NZ dollar has industries in discussion

The Herald story goes on to reveal that Willoughby’s two Christchurch-based companies together employ twenty people. A year and a half ago, it was thirty.

On 25 October, Reserve Bank Governor, was forced to concede,

Offsetting this, fiscal consolidation is constraining demand growth, and the high New Zealand dollar is undermining export earnings and encouraging substitution toward imported goods and services.”

See: OCR unchanged at 2.5 percent

Our export sector is being damaged by our over-valued dollar (pushed up by speculators); profits are down; and redundancies are occurring.

Meanwhile, John Key smiles and waves and does nothing except make derogatory comments against visiting sports people.

Report Card: E – Verging on Total Fail

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Crime

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One of Key’s oft stated “successes” is that “crime has dropped”.

That may well be. But their may be several factors involved here,

New Zealand’s crime rate has dropped to an all-time low, latest figures reveal.

The annual crime statistics released by the police today showed recorded crime dropped 5.2 per cent on the previous year.

There were 394,522 recorded offences in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, compared with 416,324 the previous year – a decrease of 21,802 offences.

New Zealand’s population increased by 0.7 per cent during the period, resulting in a 5.9 per cent decrease in the number of offences recorded per 10,000 of population.”

And as well,

The largest decrease was in Canterbury, where recorded crime fell by 11.7 per cent.

Following the earthquakes there was a sudden large decrease in recorded theft and property damage offences.

Less serious offences reduced the most.

Although small by value, these offences are large by volume.

This decrease appears to be partly due to the public not wanting to bother us with minor matters when they knew we were dealing with the earthquake,” Mr Rickard said.”

See: NZ crime rate at all-time low – Police

Interesting, eh?

The biggest decrease occurred in the Canterbury region in the same year as the February earthquake that killed 185 people.

Surely Dear Leader is not going to take credit for something that a natural disaster caused?! Of course he will.

This is John Key we’re talking about.

Report Card: none (someone nicked it)

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Conclusion

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As is usual for John Key, his statements often contain loose “facts”; half-truths; and often outright untruths. His claim that “if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is patently false.

On almost every indicator known to humanity, New Zealand is nowhere near “in a better shape than [Key]  found it “. Not unless he is using voodoo socio-economic ‘science’ that the rest of us are not privy to?

Perhaps they originate from Planet Key?

On an end note, I leave the reader with not just the results of my Fact Checking – but this dire warning from economists,

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Source

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Roll on 2014.

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Palestine: justice denied for one, is justice denied for all

17 November 2012 5 comments

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A debate on a Facebook page last night reminded me why the struggle to support oppressed people is the responsibility of all of us – not just those people facing oppression at the hands of nations that happen to be well-armed; well-financed; and looked upon faviourably  by mainstream media.

On this Facebook debate, I offered two examples of how  the Palestinian people were facing illegal and unjust repressive acts at the hands of the Israeli government,

  • the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel,
  • the illegal building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank

My post vanished within minutes, and the page authors expressed “lack of knowledge” at my  missing post.

It struck me as curious that the two administrators of that Facebook page felt so threatened by my fairly innocuous comments that they felt the need to remove it. Apparently my support for the persecuted Palestinian people challenged their somewhat one-eyed pro-Israeli convictions.

To re-cap,

1. The blockage of Gaza by Israeli naval and other forces is illegal – and anywhere else in the world would be tantamount to war,

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Full story

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The above article states,

Israel says its Gaza blockade is a precaution against arms reaching Hamas and other Palestinian guerrillas by sea.”

And at the same time reports,

About one-third of Gaza’s arable land and 85 percent of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures, said Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, another of the five.

At least two-thirds of Gazan households lack secure access to food, he said. “People are forced to make unacceptable trade-offs, often having to choose between food or medicine or water for their families”.”

In a special U.N. report in 2007, it was determined that,

Israel remains an occupying Power in respect of Gaza. Arguments that Israel ceased its occupation of Gaza in 2005 following the evacuation of its settlements and the withdrawal of its troops take no account of the fact that Israel retains effective control over Gaza by means of its control over Gaza’s external borders, airspace, territorial waters, population registry, tax revenues and governmental functions. The effectiveness of this control is emphasized by regular military incursions and rocket attacks.”

Source: UN Special Rapporteur, Situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

What pro-Israeli individuals forget is that if you brutalise a people in the worst possible way – do not be surprised when they react brutally toward  to their oppressor. This is simple, human nature.

Do pro-Israeli individuals feel the need to put that  truism to the test?

2. Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

It defies belief that sycophants to Israeli imperialism can even begin to justify Israel’s gradual colonisation of the West Bank.

In fact, the entire area of the West Bank is dotted with illegal Israeli settlements encroaching bit by bit into the Palestinian territory,

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Source

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It’s fairly clear to anyone in possession of their full faculties that Israel is engaged in a slow, methodical land-grab on the West Bank, as it slowly pushes local Palestinian inhabitants into a smaller and smaller territory,

A number of international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and many legal scholars have characterized the settlements as a violation of international law, but other legal scholars, Israel, and the Anti-Defamation League disagree with this assessment. (See Legal background)

See: Israeli settlement

After the assassination of  Hamas military leader, Ahmed al-Jaabari, on 14 November, the response of Palestinians was predictable; the launching of rockets at the Israeli state.

Which, when you think about it, is no less than any other nation on Earth would do in response to an unprovoked attack.

God knows how many drone missiles the United States has launched into areas of Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries.

It is fairly clear that decades of military aggression and suppression has brutalised Palestinians in a manner that we can barely begin to imagine or comprehend.

I wonder how we, as a nation would respond, if an aggressor forced us out of our cities into an area a little over 4% of the  size of the South Island; blockaded vital imports; and then set up  settlements within that small zone, protected by the invader’s military forces.  Imagine if we resisted in any manner, resulting in a rain of bombs falling upon us for daring to resist the occupiers.

And imagine our indignity of the world media depicting us as the terrorists for daring to fight back?

I don’t think we’d be too happy, eh?

This blogger supports the right of Palestine to exist as a state.

This blogger supports the right of Israel to exist as a state.

But at the same time, Israel must support the same right for Palestine to be a fully  independent State; the blockade to be lifted; political prisoners to be released; and  Israeli settlers to be withdrawn from the illegal occupation of the West Bank.

And while they’re at it – Israel needs to be  rid of this abomination,

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The Wall did not work for East Germany, it most certainly will not work for Israel.

There can be no peace whilst Israel plays the role of the aggressor and imperialist coloniser. One thing history teaches us is that the human spirit is indomitable. And Palestinians have that spirit by the truckload.

As for those individuals here in New Zealand who support Israel – you are doing them no favours. Postponing the inevitable is not what a friend does for another friend.

It is an inevitability that Palestine will be free one day. That day cannot be averted unless Israel slaughters every Palestinian man, woman, and child in Gaza and the  West Bank.

And we know what that’s called, don’t we?

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Related

Kia Ora Gaza

Facebook: Auckland protest against Israeli strikes on Gaza

Israeli settlements

Palestinians carry the body of Ahmed Al-Jaabari

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Aged Care: The Price of Compassion

16 November 2012 17 comments

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Rest home care workers are amongst the lowest paid in the country. At around $14-$15 an hour, they are paid a pittance for the important work they do; caring for aged New Zealanders in the twilight of their lives. They tend to our parents and grandparents, keeping them safe, clean, and offering human  companionship at a time when many elderly have less and less contact with the community.

On 1 March of this year, rest home workers went on strike, campaigning to raise their wages from the pathetic $14.61 an hour they were being being. The following pics were of striking rest home workers in Upper Hutt,

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1 march 2012 - striking rest home workers - SFWU - Nurses Organisation - Upper Hutt - Elderslea

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1 march 2012 - striking rest home workers - SFWU - Nurses Organisation - Upper Hutt - Elderslea

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1 march 2012 - striking rest home workers - SFWU - Nurses Organisation - Upper Hutt - Elderslea

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1 march 2012 - striking rest home workers - SFWU - Nurses Organisation - Upper Hutt - Elderslea

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See previous blogpost: 1 March – No Rest for Striking Workers!

A month and a half later, Ryman Healthcare – one of the largest providers for aged care in New Zealand – announced a record $84 million profit, for the year ending 31 March 2012. This  was  an increase of  17% on the previous financial year.

For ten years in a row,  Ryman had posted  record profits. Quite clearly this industry is not short of a ‘bob or three’.

Chairman Dr David Kerr said “the company faced some major challenges in Christchurch over the past 18 months given the earthquakes, and had responded with a performance which had exceeded its own targets “.

See: Record profit for Ryman

So obviously productivity was not a problem for Ryman.  A 17% increase in products – in an otherwise stagnant economy and continuing global financial downturn – shows that the aged care industry is doing very nicely.

On 28 May, Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor, did something that few office-bound  state sector workers do; she went undercover to discover for herself what kind of working conditions rest care workers put up with for $14.61 an hour,

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Full Story

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As Dr McGregor stated,

The complexity of the job was actually a surprise for me. It’s quite physical work, and it’s emotionally draining because you are obliged to give of yourself to other people.  Saint-like women do it every day so that older New Zealanders can have a quality of life.

I’m not sure if I could have. I’m not sure I had the physical stamina and I didn’t want to hurt someone.

On any given shift you would be in charge of six, seven older people, and you would have to wake them, get them up, get them showered, get them toileted, feed them, and the whole time you were conscious that you had another five to go on your shift. It’s like working constantly to deadline.

The reliance of New Zealand, of all of us, on the emotional umbilical cord between women working as carers and the older people they care for at $13-14 an hour is a form of modern-day slavery,” she said in the report.

It exploits the goodwill of women, it is a knowing exploitation. We can claim neither ignorance nor amnesia.”

See: Ibid

National’s Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew replied,

It is important that we take this seriously, that we look at it carefully and we look at what we are doing and what we can do before we provide a considered response.”

However, Dear Leader Key would have none of that, and firmly squashed any suggestion of paying rest home care workers decent wages.  Only a few hours after Jo Goodhew announced that this was a problem demanding that “ we look at it carefully “, her boss stated bluntly,

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Full story

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So there we have it. According to Dear Leader,

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

Falling in line,   Goodhew, conceded that whilst aged care workers were paid at  “lower end“,  she  rejected suggestions that they were being exploited,

I personally don’t believe we should be describing it as modern-day slavery.”

See: Ibid

Gosh, that’s ‘big’ of her. It’s not “ modern-day slavery “.

I wonder what she’d call it?

Especially when it was announced todat that Lo! And Behold! Ryman had posted yet another profit!?!? This time a record half-yearly profit (from 1 April),

The company added another notch to its 10-year sharemarket performance of climbing profits by posting a record half-year profit after tax of $69 million. Its share price rose 6 cents to close at $4.14.

Shareholders will receive an 18 per cent higher dividend for the half-year of 4.6 cents a share. All up, about $23 million in dividends is going to shareholders in the first half. “

See: Ryman plans cautious Aussie debut

Since listing in June 1999, Ryman Healthcare has delivered its shareholders a total return, which includes share price appreciate and dividends, of 1,043%, or 24.3%pa. By cracking the 1000% mark (i.e. returning 10 times the original investment) brokers will, with a good deal of admiration, refer to Ryman as a’10-bagger’.”  – Craigs Investment Partners

Wouldn’t it be nice if the $23 million being paid to shareholders was  instead paid  to the care workers who actually did the hard work?

Who is it that looks after granny and/or grandad – the “Saint-like women do it every day so that older New Zealanders can have a quality of life“?

Or some shareholders sitting on their arses and sipping  chardonnay?

Here’s a thought for Middle Zealand, politicians, and Ryman shareholders; the course of  Nature will not be deviated. Every one of us is growing older.

(You can see where I’m heading with this.)

There will come a time when Middle Zealand, politicians, and Ryman shareholders, and the rest of us will eventually require the services of aged care facilities.

Do we really want to be cared for by underpaid workers who may eventually give up any semblance of dedication to their job, and lose any measure of empathy for  aged folk in their charge? That rest home workers may finally one days have a gutsful of being exploited?

If we want to be treated well in our twilight years – shouldn’t we first be looking after those workers who will be caring for us?

John Key sez that paying rest home care workers is “one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash“.

Rubbish. The money is there.

It’s just going to the wrong people.

C’mon New Zealand – sort it out!

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Previous related blogposts

1 March – No Rest for Striking Workers! (1 March 2012)

No Rest for the Wicked (23 March 2012)

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash” (28 May 2012)

Roads, grandma, and John Key (18 July 2012)

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers (11 November 2012)

Sources

Record profit for Ryman (17 May 2012)

PM: No money for aged care workers (28 May 2012)

Resthome spy hails saint-like workers (28 May 2012)

Ryman plans cautious Aussie debut (16 Nov 2012)

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Did this catch Dear Leader Key by surprise as well?

15 November 2012 8 comments

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Full story

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The sale of Hillside Workshops will affect it’s workers badly,

KiwiRail is making 80 to 90 workers at the Hillside railway workshop in Dunedin redundant after making only a partial sale of the site.”

See: Dozens of railway workshop jobs to go

I wonder – was John Key as surprised with this announcement today as he was a week ago,  when the HLFS   figures were recently  released, revealing that  unemployment was now at 7.3%?

I’m very surprised with the numbers I’ve seen this morning, goodness knows what the next one will look like.” – John Key, 8 November 2012

Perhaps he was. Perhaps, as Bryan Gould pointed out in the NZ Herald today,

In the wake of the grim news about factory closures and lay-offs over recent months, the figures were only to be expected. Indeed, the warnings about a crisis in manufacturing have been coming thick and fast, and from all quarters.

There was, though, one person, it seems, who was blindsided by the bad news. The Prime Minister, we were told by the television news, was “taken by surprise”. The only explanation for this is that John Key has paid little attention to the unemployment issue over the past four years, despite its destructive impact both on individuals and their families, and on society as a whole.”

See: Bryan Gould: Plight of jobless makes us all poorer

After four years of  Key’s “leadership”, what do we have?

  • High unemployment
  • A shortage of housing, and rising house prices
  • Exporters suffering under a high dollar
  • National policy designed to drive down wages (see: John Key’s track record on raising wages)
  • A stagnating economy

Adding to the above,  this report out today,

Continuing bad economic news is prompting forecasters to speculate the economy may have gone backwards for the first time in two years.

Retail figures for the September quarter showing a big fall in spending follow weak inflation and job numbers for the same period have been released in recent weeks.

Westpac economist Michael Gordon says there is a reasonable likelihood the economy contracted in the most recent quarter.

Deutsche Bank senior economist Darren Gibbs believes that at best, the economy failed to grow at all and possibly went backwards during the period.

He said a manufacturing survey for October due in the next fortnight will give the first indication of whether or not the economy’s loss of momentum is continuing in the current quarter.

Finance Minister Bill English told Morning Report that the numbers bounce from quarter to quarter and the latest figures are not of concern.

He said the economy is as uncertain as it has been for years, and the Government will continue to focus on straight forward objectives, like getting back to surplus and rebuilding Christchurch.”

See: Economy may be going backwards

No wonder New Zealanders are escaping to Australia faster than East Germans climbing The Wall, during the Soviet era,

A net loss of 39,500 people to Australia contributed to New Zealand’s net loss of migrants in
the September 2012 year. This is down from the record net loss of 40,000 in the August 2012
year. The September figure resulted from 53,700 departures to Australia, offset by 14,200
arrivals from Australia. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.”

See: International Travel and Migration: September 2012

It’s not just the low pay (which is being driven lower by National policies); nor the cost of housing rising higher and higher as a minority speculate on  property for tax-free gains; nor rising unemployment; nor the growing wealth-divide.

What is driving New Zealanders to escape – and I use that word with precise deliberation – is that our society has a strong impulse for self-flagellation that manifests as constantly making wrong economic decisions. Instead of looking at the long term – sufficient numbers of New Zealand voters opt for short term benefits. The result is that few of our economic problems are actually  addressed in a meaningful way.

The joke is that so many New Zealanders still hold a quasi-religious faith in the National Party as “prudent managers” of the economy.

Which is sad, really.

National is the last political body to earn the reputation of “prudent manager”.

Any Prime Minister who reveals surprise at a worsening economic situation – despite data  screaming “Red Alert! Red Alert!” on every indicator, is one who is asleep at the wheel and hasn’t a clue what is going on around him.

How can a Prime Minister with an entire government department at his disposal, which spends $17,547,000 a year,  be oblivious to 13,000 people losing their jobs in the last three months?

See: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter

Does he not read a newspaper?

Or, as with the GCSB briefing in February, was Key simply not paying attention?

Or perhaps, as with the John Banks police file, did he wilfully choose not to look at the information?

Precisely why are we paying this man $411,510 each year?!

One other reason why so many New Zealand voters are so deluded into voting for National; the old ‘aspirational middle class‘ thing.

We all want to be affluent, succesful, and secure. The National Party is filled to the brim with millionaires, rich lawyers, businessmen and women, etc. Even Paula Bennett knew how to rort the welfare system when she was on the DPB, and bought a nice house with WINZ assistance.

Mowst of us want that. So by electing National,  some of that success will rub of onto us, right?

Right?

So f*****g wrong.

Who benefitted from National’s 2009 and 2010 tax cuts? Check out the data,

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2009 taxcuts

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2010 taxcuts

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As the numbers above show, the higher your earnings, the greater your tax cut. Conversely,  the lower your earnings, the less you got.

If you earned $40,000 p.a. your tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010 was – $9.94.

At the same time, GST went up. That meant you were now paying 15% on food, electricity, fuel (more actually), rates, etc.

High income earners have done very nicely out of the tax cuts.

By contrast, the Australian governments treated their low-middle income earners somewhat differently,

As part of the Government’s policy to spread the benefits of the mining boom, one million people will be freed from paying tax when the tax-free threshold is trebled from A$6000 to A$18,200.

More than seven million earning less than A$80,000 ($102,000) will receive tax cuts and parents with children at school will be paid A$410 a year for each primary school pupil and A$820 for each secondary student.”

See: Fed-up Kiwis head to Oz en masse

That is called re-distribution of wealth to those who need it.

As compared to National’s re-distribution of wealth to those who do not need it.

It takes a while for the Aspirationists to wake up and realise that they’ve been conned. In the meantime, Key smiles and waves and bats away serious economic problems; Paula Bennett targets and blames the unemployed for daring to be unemployed; Hekia Parata is busy undermining our education system; John Banks is throwing taxpayers money at private Charter schools; and the rest of the National Party are further dismantling our once egalitarian society, and doing dubious back-room deals with casinos, big business, foreign governments, and god-knows-who-else.

The only thing that would really, really, really piss me off is that National voters became disenchanted with their own “government” – a mess of their own making -  and headed off to Australia. To hell with that!

It’s a shame that Aussie Customs can’t made a small addition to their Immigration Declaration Form,

Have you ever,

[] been convicted of a drugs offence?

[] been a part of a terrorist group?

[] voted National?

Ticking the last box should be grounds for immediate repatriation to New Zealand.

The Aussies may already have started: I understand that Paul Henry is being sent back to New Zealand?

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Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around…

13 November 2012 13 comments

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Sign of the times: spotted on power pole in Stokes Valley.

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See previous blogpost: Job Hunting, Bennett-style

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As unemployment continues to rise and rise and rise and rise and rise and rise and…  National Ministers have apparently been making friends with Mr Walker, Mr Beam, or indulging in some other relaxing substances

There’s no other way to explain some of the weirdness emanating from Parliament.

Take, for example, Little Leader, Bill English, and his comments about the latest unemployment figures – now at 7.3%, or 175,000 in real people-numbers.

English responded with these curious comments,

What we have found through this recovery is that it has been a bit hard to predict and we’ve seen these sort of numbers jump around, they can be up one quarter and diown another quarter.”

Jumping numbers“,  huh?

Hmmm, maybe Paula Bennet might want to try some of that  work-place drug-testing on Little Leader?

Mind you, it didn’t help when English tried to suggest that the reality of unemployment didn’t match his reality,

These numbers don’t fit with some of the other indicators, just for this quarter. For instance, the number of people on the unemployment benefit continues to drop, including in Auckland where the survey shows a rise in the number of people unemployed.”

See: Jobless figures result of ‘grumpy’ recovery – English

It’s a bugger when “numbers just don’t fit”. Perhaps he needs a bigger shopping bag? Like, enough to hold 175,000 unemployed?!

However, it’s interesting that English sez that “the number of people on the unemployment benefit continues to drop”. He’s either telling fibs (unusual for a National Party politician), or is not aware of MSD unemployment figures which are easily available on the internet…

Registered unemployed on WINZ benefit

December 2011 – 59,964

March 2012 – 53,479

June 2012 – 49,622

September 2012 – 50,390

Source: MSD 2012

Source: MSD 2011

From June to September, there has been an increase in registered unemployed – not a a drop  as English claimed.

So registered unemloyed are rising.

But why are they not rising anywhere near the same numbers as Statistics New Zealand’s  Household Labour Force Survey?

The HLFS survey states that 13,000 more  people were unemployed in the September quarter.  Which is certainly indicated by the number of redundancies we see almost on a daily basis in media reports.

This blogger suggests that there are a number of factors why the number of registered unemnployed does not match the HLFS – though both are tracking upward, proving that unemployment is most certainly on the rise.

1. Married/Relationships

Quite simply; if you’ve lost your job and your spouse/partner is still working, you’re not eligible for WINZ assistance.

This is one of those quirks in our welfare system that a partnered couple can both be working and the State demands that they both pay taxes. Yet if one of them loses his/her job, s./he is not entitled to WINZ assistance. Both would have to be jobless before being eligible unemployment benefits.

Conversely, if two people are flatting together and not ina relationship, the situation is completely different. If both are working and one loses his/her job, s/he is eligible for the unemployment benefit.

Moral of this story; WINZ want to know who you’re in bed with. A quaint bit of 1950s-style moralising by the State?

This blogger suggests that a substantial number who have lost their jobs recently are in relationships will not bother to register with WINZ because it is pointless. They will not receive State assistance. (Despite having paid their taxes.)

2. Redundancy/Holiday Pay

It’s quite like that those made redundant recently still have holiday pay, savings, or redundancy pay to live on. WINZ will not offer an unemployment benefit if the applicant has money in his/her bank account.

3. Stand-down Period

After redundancy or holiday pay is used up, WINZ  can then put an applicant on a 13 week stand-down. (I’ve no idea why. Sadism? Just for the hell of it?)

This blogger suspects that the numbers on unemployment benefits will rise in the next few months, more closely mirroring the Household Labour Force Survey.

Another factor to consider is that Paula Bennett has directed WINZ to make life more difficult for the unemployed, when registering with WINZ. As if losing one’s job wasn’t stressful enough, Bennet has forced the implementation of some draconian rules and requirements for beneficiaries. (The implication being that it’s the fault of  the unemployed for being unemployed?!)

One of the bureacratic bundles of red tape are the number of forms given to WINZ applicants.

Forf those readers who have never had the “delight” of dealing with WINZ – these are the forms that are required to be filled out. Note: every single applicant is given these forms (in a little plastic carry-bag).

The cost of printing these things must be phenomenal.

And if you have to reapply to WINZ for a benefit (if, say, you’ve lost your job again) you are required to fill out these forms all over again.

This is where taxpayer’s money is really going to waste in welfare.

This is the  first booklet; the ‘Unemployment Benefit Application‘ – a thirty-page application form.

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A thirty page document – to apply for a sum of $201.96 a week (WINZ benefit, nett, for a person over 25).

By contrast, banks have a couple of pages for a mortgage application form where sums in excess of $200,000 are being lent, and repayments start at $400 a week.

Next form, something called ‘Find a job build a future Tools to help you find work’,

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And just because the initial 30-page WINZ application form may not have satisfied the Minister; her Ministry; and sundry bureacrats,  another application form was enclosed in the “pack”;  “Jobz4u Manual Jobseeker Enrolment“.

This one was ‘only’ nine pages,

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Another form, this time only four pages long, the ‘Employment-Earnings Verification‘  form,

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Bizarrely, the above form is replicated on page 4 of  the thirty-page ‘Unemployment Benefit Application‘.  One wonders if Bennett is aware of the duplication of these forms?

The next form (yes, there’s more!) was the ‘WINZ – How can we help you‘. When assisting the person fill out these forms, there was a strong urge within me to scribble across each of the following eight pages,

How can we help you?

By cutting down on these goddamn forms!! How many forests had to die for this crap???

I have a sneaking suspicion that might not have helped the person I was assisting in her application.

The ‘WINZ – How can we help you‘ form,

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And the last two, the ‘Unemploymen Benefit Application – What to Bring ‘ and the ‘WINZ Online Services ‘ (both one page),

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All up, seventythree  pages of information and forms to  read, understand,  fill out, collect information…

This system becomes even more laughable when one considers that if an an applicant has been a WINZ beneficiary before, they are still on MSD’s computer files. Much of the information sought would already be on-file.

The cost of this must be horrendous, and it is ironic that at a time when National is cutting “back room” support staff to save money, that they are permitting taxpayer funding for this ‘Monty Pythonesque ‘ exercise in out-of-control form-filling.

No wonder that this was reported in Fairfax media,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett this morning said latest figures showed 328,043 people were now on benefits, with 57,058 of those on an unemployment benefit.

Reforms passed by Parliament require people on an unemployment benefit to reapply for it after one year. Bennett said this change had led to 5000 people cancelling their benefit.

More than 1400 of those said they had found work, more than 2600 didn’t complete a reapplication and more than 1000 were no longer eligible.

See: 5000 beneficiaries quit dole rather than reapply

How many people with minimal education could hope to fill out so many forms of such complexity?

Applying for a bank mortage is vastly simpler – an irony considering the vastly greater sums of money involved.

Addendum

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Date: Tue, Wednesday, 14 November 2012 1:38 PM
From: Frank Macskasy
Subject: Information Request
To: Paula Bennett “Paula.bennett@parliament.govt.nz”

Kia Ora Ms Bennett,

I would like to make an official Freedom of Information Request.

Please provide information as to the costings of the following forms and information leaflets produced by MSD/WINZ;

“Work and Income Employment-Earnings Verification” (VO6-mar 2011)

“Work and Income Find a job build a future Tools to help you find work” (JOBSW0007-nov 2010)

“Jobz4u Manual Jobseeker Enrolment” (-)

“Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Application” (M18-JUL 2011)

“Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Application – What to bring” (M18-JUL 2011)

“Work and Income How can we help you” (CM0001 – OCT 2010)

“Work and Income Online Services”  (-)

“Work and Income” plastic carrybag for above items.

Please provide total costings for EACH item printed, on an annual basis for the last four years, and a break-down of costings for usage per year and per WINZ client.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Job Hunting, Bennett-style

13 November 2012 10 comments

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As unemployment continues in a decidely upward direction…

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Source

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The response from National was swift and decisive…

John Key:

I’m very surprised with the numbers I’ve seen this morning, goodness knows what the next one will look like.

See: Key ‘surprised’ by high unemployment rate

Ain’t it a bugger when a Prime Minister is “surprised” with rising unemployment numbers. “Goodness knows”, it’s only been trending upward since the beginning of the year…

Bill English:

What we have found through this recovery is that it has been a bit hard to predict and we’ve seen these sort of numbers jump around, they can be up one quarter and down another quarter.

See: Jobless figures result of ‘grumpy’ recovery – English

Jumping numbers“?! Has Little Leader  been dropping a bit of bad acid lately?! What next; dancing flowers? Cartwheeling pigeons?

Get those “jumping numbers” under control, Mr English! They’re having waaaay too much fun!

But considering the thousands who’ve been made redundant this year alone…

… how is it “hard to predict”?

But perhaps the top prize for Denial, Deflection, and Downright Dumbness has to go to the Minister for Social Welfare, ex-DPB recipient and expert at using taxpayer funds for her own benefit…

Paula Bennett:

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Source

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Bennett responded with this very helpful advice,

The Warehouse Group has 300 full-time and part-time jobs, across three stores, available between October and January. Brightwater Engineers Ltd is looking for 40 staff at the moment. Mitre 10 is opening a store in Rotorua, and it wants 50 permanent-

See: Parliament – Questions for oral answer

Excellent! 430 jobs!

So that leaves 174, 570 out of 175,000 unemployed!

Oh wait, no. The Warehouse is seeking 430 only between October and January.  After that, those 430 go back on the dole…

Bugger.

Bennett sympathises with the unemployed though, as she stated in Parliament, with great wailing and gnashing of teeth,

It’s tough out there but there are jobs… people need to be actively looking to be able to take up the opportunities, it’s as simple as that.

Yeah, ya losers. Everyone knows there are 175,000 jobs out there. Employers simply aren’t advertising them ‘cos they take a peculiar pleasure in  keeping such things secret. But if you make a wish  to the Magic Jobs Fairy (as well as the Magic Lotto Pixies), your dreams will come true.

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“Yes, Paula, here are the 175,000 jobs you wished for last night! Would you like me to do something about those nasty  poll ratings as well?”

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Good onya, Tinkerbell!

By the way, lose the red dress, sweetie – Dear Leader might think it looks a bit, y’know… gay?

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John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

13 November 2012 1 comment

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Continued from: As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

As if John Key’s broken promises on environmental concerns  and reneging on pledges expressing  “National’s commitment to addressing global climate change.  We view this as the most serious environmental challenge of our time was not enough (see:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch), Dear Leader has made a new committment to New Zealanders,

Next year New Zealand will name a binding commitment to climate change – it will actually have a physical rate that we’re going to hit – but instead of being what’s called a second commitment period that is likely to run from 2012 to 2020, we’ll be able to set our own rules around that.”

See: Key defends decision not to stick with Kyoto Protocol

This blogger demands to know from John Key why on Earth we should take him at his word?  This is a man who has broken so many pledges; back-tracked on so many policies; and paid lip-service to committments – that it has become a standing joke.

Some of Key’s previous statements on the environment include,

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

See: John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

See: Ibid

Up until April/May 2010, Key maintained National’s supportive position on the ETS,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

But by 9 November, National had completed a 180-degree turn on the the Kyoto Protocol, and completed what can only be deemed as a covert policy to repudiate the ETS and our committments to Kyoto. As Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said,

The Government has decided that from 1 January 2013 New Zealand will be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies.”

See: New Zealand Commits to UN Framework Convention

John Key has backtracked on the ETS and Kyoto Protocols – and now expects us to take him at his word at new committments announced today?

I don’t think so.

To rationalise National’s abandonment on Kyoto, Key stated,

We are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of world emissions … New Zealand needs to play its part, it is playing its part, it’s already part of the emissions trading scheme and we’ve made quite a lot of other changes – we are there doing things about climate change. But I think we never wanted to be a world leader in climate change.

I don’t think anyone could ever accuse Dear Leader of   “wanting to be a world leader in climate change“. He’s right on that score.

As for his laughable assertion that “New Zealand needs to play its part, it is playing its part, it’s already part of the emissions trading scheme” – that is the same ETS that National has gutted by excluding agriculture from, despite prior pledges to include it by 2015.

By October of this year, National  scrapped the five yearly State of the Environment Reports, despite John Key having endorsed it in September 2008.

See: National scraps crucial environmental report

No one could ever accuse John Key of keeping his pledges.

He is not to be trusted.

Addendum

For a full time-line of National’s slow dismantling of the ETS and backttracking on Kyoto Protocols, see: ETS – National continues to fart around.

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Other blogs

Tim Groser misleads Parliament

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Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key

12 November 2012 37 comments

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Allyson Lock and six other New Zealanders suffer from a terminal condition called ‘Pompe Disease’. Without medication, Allyson and her fellow sufferers have little hope for survival.

Allyson has appealed previously to the Prime Minister, along with her story in the media,

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Full Story

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In an act of increasing desperation, Allyson has written directly to  Prime Minister John Key, via his Facebook account,


Dear Mr Key

 

I have written to you several times over the past 2 years regarding people with Pompe Disease not being able to get treatment. Pompe Disease is a rare (7 people in NZ have it) and fatal disease. There is a medication available in NZ which will halt the disease and in most cases give some improvement. This is an enormous positive for a fatal disease. The medication has been proven to work and there are published medical papers regarding this. The medication is expensive, but there are medications funded in NZ which are more expensive, and less proven.

 

My question to you Mr Key is, why do you continue to ignore the plight of Kiwis who suffer from Pompe disease, letting us die from slow and painful deaths at young ages. The youngest person in NZ who has this disease is only 20 years old. She has been declined for treatment. Another one of our members has been declined 4 times, FOUR TIMES! Nearly 60 other countries world wide fund this medication.

 

To be honest, your treatment of those of us with Pompe Disease is nothing short of ignorant and criminal. It’s about time you stood up and answered to us. You’re OUR Prime Minister, let’s hear what YOU have to say about it. We are sick of being ignored by you and your PHARMAC crew. If it was a member of your family i bet the medication would be funded asap. But because we are nameless faces, you don’t care. WE are KIWIS and we NEED treatment! If we had cancer we would get treatment! We wouldn’t have to beg and plead for our lives.

 

But i’m not too proud to beg. I’m dying, and i need treatment. What will you do for us? Please answer me.

 

Sincerely
Allyson Lock

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The cost of treating Pompe Disease is high – around $1 million per patient – but not out of reach of the Health budget. Especially when one considers that Pharmac has saved over  $5 billion over the past 12 years in prescription costs,

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Source

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The money is there. We’re not short of a ‘bob or two‘.

As taxpayers we have forked out  millions on MP’s travel perkstens of millions on SOE staff bonuses; $100 million on consultants to sell down state assets;  an estimated $1 billion  on government  consultants fees, and more.

On recreational activities such as the Rugby World cup, we spent well above $200 million of public money  and  $555 million in stadium upgrades.

Government has even pledged $1.26 billion to the IMF, to help overseas bailouts.

When the government wants to spend on something, the cash seems readily available.

Allyson is now voicing her dire situation in the most nakedly emotive terms possible; she is begging for her life.,

WE are  KIWIS  and we  NEED  treatment! If we had cancer we would get treatment! We wouldn’t have to beg and plead for our lives.

 

But i’m not too proud to beg. I’m dying, and i need treatment. What will you do for us? Please answer me.”

During the  2008 election campaign, John Key was eager and willing to assist breast cancer sufferers by promising to extend funding for herceptin from Pharmac’s nine week period, to twelve months. This was despite Pharmac insisting that there were no increased   benefits to cancer sufferers and “the money would be better spent elsewhere”.

John Key was willing to over-ride Pharmac in that instance.

Seven people’s lives now depend on John Key doing the same; to direct Pharmac to fully fund Myozyme, to treat Pompe Disease.

This would be the proper, humane thing for Mr Key to do. He’s done it for breast cancer sufferers.

And it would certainly counter the endless series of “bad news” stories that has afflicted National over the past few months.

Time is running out for Allyson and her fellow Pompe Disease sufferers. There is no reason why the Prime Ministrer cannot act decisively on this mattrer. Yes, he’s done it for breast cancer sufferers.

It is not election year, but let’s hope that Key will do the right thing in this instance.

Seven lives depend on it.

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Email to the Prime Minister

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Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:34:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: A request for mercy
To: John Key “john.key@parliament.govt.nz”
Cc: Allyson

Kia ora Mr Key,
Allyson Lock, has contacted you via your Facebook page. Allyson suffers from  Pompe Disease  a terminal disease, requiring a  medication. The cost of that medication is beyond her means.
Allyson has appealed to Pharmac for funding to treat her and six other New Zealanders who also suffer from this extremely rare condition. Pharmac has rejected her on the grounds of cost and efficacy.
I would like to  remind you that in 2008, one of your election promises was to extend herception from nine weeks to twelve months, even though Pharmac had up to that point been resisting all such requests on the grounds of cost and efficacy. You subsequently won the election and carried through with your pledge to fund herceptin to twelve months.
Allyson is requesting that you offer her, and six others in her position, the same opportunity to treat her condition.
I request that you take her pleas seriously and respond to her request.
Her life is in your hands.
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

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Support Allyson and her fellow Pompe sufferers

Write to John Key at “john.key@parliament.govt.nz” to encourage him to direct Pharmac to fully fund medication for Pompe Disease sufferers.

You could save a life with an email!

Thank you.

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Citizen A – 10 November 2012 – Online now!

12 November 2012 1 comment

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Citizen A

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- 10 November 2012 -

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- Selwyn Manning & Phoebe Fletcher -

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- 7.3% unemployment – Pike River Mine – US Elections -

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Issue 1: Does the Pike River Mine report herald a change in the culture of self regulation and deregulation?

Issue 2: Big gay red shirts and David Beckham’s intelligence rated by the thickness of bat feces – is it Prime Ministerial?

and Issue 3: What can the world expect from an Obama win?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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