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Archive for February, 2013

Health and safety jobcuts? Haven’t we been down this road before?!

28 February 2013 15 comments

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Ministry cutting 135 health and safety jobs

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Three things here…

(1) Sacking trained, experienced health and safety inspectors?! Haven’t we been down this road before?

Why yes – indeed we have.

In the early 1990s the Mining Inspectorate was amalgamated with the Labour Dept, and mines inspectors went from 7 to two  positions. And only one of those positions was filled to service the entire country.

The result was a shoddy and lax culture of safety in  mines – and on 19 November 2010, 29 men died as as result. (see:  Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy)

Mines Minister Kate Wilkinson took “responsibility” and resigned immediatly after the Commission report was released.

It was a faux resignation, of course. She ‘jumped’ before the Commission’s report forced Key’s hand. It was a cold, calculating strategy to minimise and close down media and public scrutiny of National’s past performance in de-regulation and reliance on “market” forces.

National does not seem to have learnt a single damn thing.

(2) The irony of sacking 135 people from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has also not escaped me.

Doublethink at it’s best?

I think so.

(3) The 135 sacked employees are expected ” to reapply for their positions through a rigorous process including psychometric testing “.

“Psychometric testing”?!

National is allowing government departments to use a technique that is controversial at best, and  voodoo ‘science‘ at worst,  to interview potential employees?! When  did this bit of hocus-pocus chicanery become State sector policy?

All in all, this is further indication of the mess that National is creating, and will leave an incoming government to clean up.

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Previous related blogposts

Heather Roy – head down the mine shaft?

W.o.F “reforms” – coming to a crash in your suburb

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Is this really the solution to our housing problem?

28 February 2013 4 comments

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Illustration by Tim Denee – www.timdenee.com

Illustration by Tim Denee – http://www.timdenee.com

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Our housing problem is getting worse with each passing year and each successive government.

In 1991, 73.8% of  households in New Zealand lived in their own home. By 1996, this figure had dropped to 70.7%.

By 2001 home-ownership rate was 67.8%, and by 2006, this had dropped below the half-way mark to 44%

(see: Stats NZ – Owner-Occupied Households, Home-ownership falls dramatically)

As with so many other indicators, the “free market” reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s were creating a flow-on effect that very few had foreseen.

The drop in home ownership was perhaps worsened after the 1987 share-market crash when  investors – many of them ordinary folk – were burned and lost theire lidfe savings, and often their homes.

Part of the problem is that the housing stock is insufficient to meet demand of New Zealanders wanting to buy their own home. Far from being a Local body council or RMA problem, this blogger sheets home responsibility on successive governments who have failed to,

  1. Introduce a comprehensive capital gains tax to stifle speculation,
  2. Speculation drove up property prices as investors played an out-bidding war against each other,
  3. Uncontrolled capital flowing into the country allowed prices to rise as vendor’s expectations grew for higher and higher sale prices (much like in the 1970s and ’80s when wage spirals led to price-rise spirals)

During the  2011 Election, Labour campaigned to introduce a Capital Gains Tax (CGT).  A CGT, Labour (and others) maintained, would put a dampener on housing speculation by removing it’s near total  tax-free status. As well as driving up house prices, speculation of this sort took investment away from more productive industry.

Speculation also relies on using overseas borrowings, pushing up the amount we owe to offshore lenders,

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- Treasury

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Predictably, the “genuises” at National – and especially John Key – trashed the idea immediatly,

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New property tax would send NZ 'screaming backwards' - Key

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Key’s criticism ranged from “complexity” (it is not more complex than other tax laws) to “when you put more taxes on the economy you slow things down” (the economy can’t be any slower than it is now).

A few days later, Key went one step further,

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Labour's capital gains tax aims misguided - Key

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According to Dear Dear, in one of his LSD-inspired moments of alternate-reality,

Labour are trying to put up, as a stalking horse if you like, a problem that existed when they were in government but doesn’t exist now.”

Source: IBID

That was Key being his usual mendacious self, of course. Despite his assertion that National had “solved the problem”, our housing crisis was worsening.

In fact, less than  two years later,  the headlines were screaming the problem from Bluff to Kaitaia,

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NZ housing 'seriously unaffordable'

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As per usual, National Ministers were pointing the finger at everyone except themselves (see:  Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis) and English was quick to point the finger at the RMA ands local body councils.

Of course, the last time National interfered with home-building processes, they de-regulated the building industry; loosened the Building Act 1991; and gave New Zealand a legacy of thousands of rotting houses.

National’s most recent pronouncements are vapid and will do nothing except put  superficial band-aids over a deep cancer in our society and economy,

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House buyers may need bigger deposit

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Restrict high-loan-to-value ration lending in the housing sector”  translates to requiring first home owners – usually young couples – to have to save tens of thousands of dollars, whilst at the same time paying high rents and other out-goings.

Let’s be crystal clear what National is advocating here;

1. Without a capital gains tax, National is allowing the older generation (sometimes referred to as “Baby Boomers”) to;

  • keep their rental investments,
  • use the equity in their currents investments to buy more properties,
  • eventually ‘flick off’ their investmental properties for a tax-free profit

2. New home owners will have to;

  • build up a large savings deposit (returning us to a 1970s-style era),
  • create a demand for more expensive, second mortgages,
  • push up rents as more and more young people are forced to rent for longer,
  • compete with property investors who will continue to drive up prices,  to buy a home

In effect, young New Zealanders will find it harder and harder to get into their own home whilst Baby Boomers will continue  to make the most from increasing rents and a tax-free regime for property  (house) investments.

It will be young New Zealanders being penalised for high house prices – a situation not of their making.

And worse still – and this is truly salt in the wound for young New Zealanders – the money they will be forced, by National’s decree, to save, will be used by Banks to on-lend to housing speculators to buy more investment properties.

The sheer obscene unfairness of this scenario cannot be under-stated.

By what logic, or concept of justice, is it fair to make it harder for young New Zealanders to buy a home whilst older generations continue to enjoy their tax-free investments – which contributed to driving up house prices and our overseas borrowings in the first place???

If this country wants to send another 500,000 New Zealanders to Australia, I can think of no better policy with which  to achieve this enforced emigration. National is practically screaming at our kids to “bugger off !”.

Good on you, John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce, et al. Another dumb idea.

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Previous related blogposts

A Capital Gains Tax?  (3 Aug 2011)

Blood from a stone? (27 Jan 2012)

Regret at dumping compulsory super – only 37 years too late (21 Jan 2013)

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Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

28 February 2013 11 comments

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Continued from: That was Then, This is Now #18 (Solid Energy)

A bit of  very recent history,

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Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant

Friday, 9 September 2011, 2:57 pm
Press Release: Solid Energy NZ

9 September 2011

Solid Energy marks the start of work at its Mataura Briquette Plant

The Hon Bill English, MP for Clutha-Southland and Minister of Finance, today marked the official start of work at Solid Energy’s Mataura Briquette Plant, by “turning the first sod” at a small event on site with neighbours, local authorities, and other guests.

The $25 million Mataura briquette plant is planned to start production by June 2012. It will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of low-moisture and higher-energy briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine and trucked to the Craig Road site. The plant will use technology developed in the USA by GTL Energy.

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Eighteen months later, on 19 February, the SOE Shareholders Bill English and Tony Ryall,  made this shock announcement to the public (see:  Statement on Solid Energy).

The media were quick to report the crisis,

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Solid Energy in debt crisis talks

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National’s response?

Default to Deflection #1 (see previous blogpost: National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2 )

As described in my previous blogpost (see:  Taking responsibility, National-style), National does not do Taking Responsibility very well. Their automatic instinct is to blame someone else – anyone – for problems of their making,

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National and John Key blames...

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And true-to-form, National and Dear Leader are once again playing the Blame Game over Solid Energy’s woes,

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Prime Minister criticises Solid Energy

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Govt, Labour squabble over Solid Energy

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“They can’t wash their hands of the fact that from 2003 on, they were intimately involved with the plans that that company had,” sez Key?!

Really? 2003 ???

Why stop at 2003?

Personally, if I was John Key, I’d be asking serious questions on Labour’s role in the sinking of the Titanic. The Cuban Missile Crisis. And don’t forget the 2007/08 Global Financial Meltdown – that has Labour’s fingerprints all over it, surely???

Getting serious again…

National is supposedly Very Big on responsibility issues. Their website is constantly referring to responsibility,

The National Party is built on age-tested principles that reflect what is best about New Zealand. We are a party of enterprise; a party of personal freedom and individual responsibility; a party of family; an inclusive party; a party of ambition.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

We also need to remember the enduring principles on which the National Party is based – individual responsibility, support for families and communities, and a belief that the State can’t and shouldn’t do everything.” – John Key, 30 January 2007

It seems that their constant refusals to accept responsibility is also one of those things that “the State can’t and shouldn’t do”, according to Dear Leader.

A few questions spring to mind,

  1. How far back will Key go to blame others for his failures?
  2. How many terms in office will National have to win, before blaming Labour or Uncle Tom Cobbly is no longer tenable?
  3. If John Key and his cronies are unable to ‘man-up’ and take a hit for any one of their balls-ups, and constantly feel the need to sheet responsibility back to Labour – then why is National in government? Why not just resign and put Labour back in office? After all, what would be the difference?

We wouldn’t accept finger-pointing and blame-gaming from our children (or, at least I hope we wouldn’t). So why is the public and media letting Key get away with it?

I look forward to National’s next major cock-up.

Who will they blame next? Australia?

Meanwhile,  back to 9 September 2011…

Doesn’t Bill seem a happy chappy in this photo-op?

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Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at Mataura  - 9 sept 2011

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Bill English, poses with ex-Solid Energy CEO, Don Elder, as the ‘first sod is turned’ at a new  Briquette Plant in Mataura, Southland.

The same plant that was “Labour’s fault”.

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Oh Dear Leader, stop teasing us…

26 February 2013 4 comments

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Key not ruling out snap election over water rights

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What can I, and a million New Zealanders say?  Bring it on!

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319 million reasons not to part-privatise our power companies

26 February 2013 3 comments

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SOEs

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There are at least 319 million reason why it is sheer madness for National to be considering part-privatisation of  state-owned power companies,

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Half year profit jump for Meridian Energy

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Genesis Energy half-year profit

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Mighty River Power profit quadruples

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Acknowledgement for above media reports: Radio New Zealand

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The half year (not even a fullyear!) profit for the above three power SOEs is: $319.5 million.

Combined dividends paid the the government will be: $224 million.

If 49% of all three SOEs is sold to private investors, the State (ie, You and Me) will lose out on approximatelt $110  million.

That will be $110 going into bank accounts of  institutional investors, or the pockets of wealthy New Zealanders with sufficient income to buy shares.

It will mean a drop in government income.

Worse still, going by historic events in the late 1990s when the  ECNZ (Electricity Corporatrion of NZ)  was split up, and the newly formed Contact Energy was split off and fully privatised, power prices will continue to skyrocket,

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power-prices-set-to-soar

National-led government – NZPA – 12 May 1999

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Privatisation will not mean competition resulting in cheaper power prices any more than competing fuel companies are giving us cheaper petrol prices.

In fact, as Economics Professor, Geoff Bertram said on 13 February 2013, at an anti-asset sales rally in Wellington,

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“… It’s my view that probably the  most important political consequence of the part-privatisation of SOEs is to place private investors in those enterprises  and thereby immunise them against possible future policy that might reduce their value.

And since  I think an important part of an improved government policy would indeed reduce their value, I am opposed to the asset sales…

…The companies have a very high valuation. The reason why they have a very high valuation  is that they have successfully participated in a long-running rort to extract cash from residential electricity consumers by the inexorable driving up of prices of electricity.

That rort, has been possible, because government policy has allowed and has indeed supported the emergeance of a cartel of five, large, vertically-integrated, generator-retailers – three of whom are SOEs  – which have been able to operate without any effective regulation, at the expense of  consumers who were too vulnerable to protect their interests against price hikes.

And if you looked at the tracks of electricity prices over the last 20, 30 years you will have noticed that large industry has protected itself very successfully; commercial electricity buyers have done fine; residential who are the dis-organised, unrepresented, undefended, captive group of customers have seen their prices go up in real terms 100% since 1986.

And the main consequence of the electricity reforms has indeed been that doubling of the cost of electricity to ordinary  households. 

That’s a major cause of energy poverty; it’s been an important part in the growing  inequality of income and wealth in this country; and it’s something that a socially responsible government would,  in my view,  be taking serious action to reverse.”

Geoff Bertram continued,

“Just to put that doubling of the residential price in context. New Zealand’s pretty much on it’s own in the OECD and if you look at  the figures for other countries around the OECD, from 1986 to the present, the price of electricity to residential consumers  in OECD Europe, in Australia, and in the United Kingdom, is still the same as it was in 1986. In the United States, Japan, and France, prices are down 25% , compared to where they were in 1986, in real terms.  In South Korea they’re down 50%, compared to where they were in 1986.

New Zealand is the only only OECD country that has gone out there and driven up electricity prices 50%. We’re also pretty much the only country that doesn’t have a regulator in place, and where government doesn’t have any particular social policy relating to the pricing of essential services to the public.”

Prof Bertram explained,

And here’s how it works.

You take a bunch of assets with a given value, and you look at the existing price, to consumers of the product, and you say “well look, we can get the price up”; so you project  that higher price; you capitalise that; and then if you can get the price up the asset will be worth more; so then you re-value the asset; and then you go and use the higher value of the asset to justify raising the prices, and then you repeat.

And this is the circular process which has been going on in New Zealand now, in electricity, for more than a decade. It is completely legal under New Zealand law.

It is not illegal to profiteer or  to gauge captive customers in this country. [In] very few countries is that true.

And it’s consistant with New Zealand’s generally accepted accounting practice which basically tells you that there’s a rotteness at the core of accounting practices in this country.”

And added this shocking insight,

Here’s the problem. Electricity was once an essential service provided to households at the lowest price, consistent with covering the industry’s costs. 

Since 1986 the sector has been corporatised and part-privatised, and it’s pricing has been driven by the quest for profit by giant companies that have the market power to gouge their consumers.

As the owner of three of those companies, the New Zealand government has therefore become a predator. And now the Treasury wants to cash in on that rort by selling out half the government’s stake.

What that means in terms of the options for the future for government to turn around and come back from the predator model and return to a social service approach  for energy supply, is being closed off.”

Concluding with,

But if you want to deal with energy poverty and get kids out of hospitals with asthma and other respiratory diseases and so on, one of the really good  things that you can do is get cheap energy into New Zealand households and that would be sustainable on the basis of the current government owned assets.

About 300 kwh free. [But if] you sell Mighty River and what’s feasible comes down to 200 [kwh]. You sell Genesis and what’s feasible comes down to 100 [kwh]. You sell Meridian and it’s gone…

What I’m saying is the contract  that supplies the Rio Tinto smelter down at Bluff, the old Comalco contract, is the contract New  Zealand households should have had from the start.

And it still could be done.”

See previous blogpost: Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

As Radio NZ reported on 21 February,

“Electricity prices paid by Mighty River customers rose 2% over the period while costs fell 22%.”

See: Mighty River Power profit quadruples

Which leads us to these points to consider,

  1. Despite a glut of electricity, prices continue to rise. There is price-gouging going on by all power companies, whether State Owned or by privately-owned Contact Energy.  There is no competitive force driving prices down. There is no indication that part-privatisation will create any competition.
  2. At least state ownership means that most electricity profits stay in New Zealand and contribute to the State, to pay for health, education, roading, etc. However, one wonders if this sort of punitive,  indirect-taxation, on low income families is fair, whilst more affluent households can afford insulaion, solar power, and other energy-saving strategies.
  3. As Prof Bertram maintains, partial privation will most likely close off future progessive governments’ abilities to reform  the electricity industry and return to a  social service approach.

See also previous related blogpost – with Max Bradford’s response on this issue: History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”

Meanwhile, some of our past political leaders are waking up to the realities of historical state asset privatisations,

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Bolger -Telecom sale a mistake

See: Bolger – Telecom sale a mistake

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Better late than never?

Nah. Better now than later.

These mistakes are too expensive and we all end up paying.

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And the Oscar for Union-Smashing and Manipulating Public Opinion goes to…

26 February 2013 2 comments

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… Peter Jackson, John Key, and Warner Bros, for their cunning performance over, ‘The Hobbit‘!

In 2010, Jackson, Key, and Warner Bros, created mass public hysteria by suggesting that film production of ‘The Hobbit‘ would be moved overseas,  unless labour laws were changed; the union,  Actors Equity neutralised; and film subsidies increased.   (see:  Hobbit tax rebate swells to $67.1m in second year of production).

Only private schools and soon-to-be-set-up Charter Schools enjoy similar taxpayer funded subsidies.

Key duly bent over,  changed labour laws (See: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 – Legislative history) and turned actors and film technicians from being employees to “contractors”.

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 changes were 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.

The law was passed in under 48 hours.

It subsequently turned out, according to an email from Jackson to National Minister, Gerry Brownlee, that the threat of moving ‘The Hobbit‘ overseas was non-existent,

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

Actors, as well as film technicians, lost many rights, and Warner Bros got everything they demanded.

Two and half years later, and consequences  remained to be played out.

Yesterday (25 February 2013), the Oscar Awards were held in Hollywood.

The Hobbit‘ did not fare well,

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Weta misses out on Hobbit Oscar

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It might be said that events in New Zealand in 2010 – with the craven capitulation to Hollywood business moguls – did not escape the attention of actors and others in the film-making industry. The corporate-government assault on the rights of film workers has not been forgotten.

What is ironic, though, is  that Jackson, Key, and Warner Bros have forgotten that, in Hollywood movies, the ‘little guy’ triumphs in the end.

What was Frodo’s journey all about, Mr Jackson?

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Previous related blogposts

Foreign fishing boats, Hobbits, and the National Guvmint (2 March 2012)

Key: When I say ‘no’, I mean ‘no’. Maybe.  (4 Oct 2012)

Muppets, Hobbits, and Scab ‘Unions’ (9 Oct 2012)

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law” (11 Nov 2012)

Peter Jackson’s “Precious” (28 Nov 2012)

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Charter Schools – contrary to ACT’s free market principles?

25 February 2013 8 comments

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we're trialling an ideological approach

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When the blogger, Imperator Fish  asked in a blogpost headlined – Did You Vote For Charter Schools? – he wasn’t just using a catchy title. He was raising a valid point.

Nowhere on the ACT website is Charter Schools mentioned in any of their policies.

Not. A. Word.

Instead, ACT’s education policy page mentions the usual waffle about “more choice” and some disturbing rhetoric about “the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial” (1), and principals setting salary for teachers “like any other employer” (4),

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ACT - Education policy

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If that is ACT’s Charter Schools policy, the message is hidden deep amongst the swirl of right-wing rhetoric.

Curiously, for a Party that allegedly has an innate aversion to taxpayer-funded subsidies for business enterprises such as farming, exporting, manufacturing, etc, etc, etc – they seem more than eager to subsidise private schools (3 & 5).  Which seems more than contradictory, since one has to question what is the difference between private schools and other private businesses.

If ACT is comfortable  (indeed, eager) to subsidise private schools, including their Charter School agenda, why not subsidise private hospitals? Private power companies? Private radio and TV broadcasters? Private mining compnies?

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to exempt private schooling and Charter Schools from ACT’s policy opposing state subsidies for business.

Unless they’re chasing votes for the Middle Class Aspirationists?

ACT’s “Principals” are quite clear when it comes to using taxpayers’ money,

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ACT - Principles policy

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Paragraph 5 clearly outlines that the role of central government is to provide “economic support for those unable to help themselves and who are in genuine need of assistance“. It’s hard to see where private enterprise such as private schools and Charter Schools fit with this notion.

Paragraph 8 states that ACT supports  “a free and open market economy“. Are state-funded subsidies to private business conducive to “a free and open market economy“?

Ditto for paragraph 9, which states that ACT will  ” limit the involvement of central and local government to those areas where collective action is a practical necessity“. Is ACT telling us that taxpayer subsidies to private enterprise is a “practical necessity”?

Rob Muldoon thought so, and his government paid millions to farmers through various subsidies, making them beneficiaries of the State.

ACT’s plan will be that whilst Charter will be owned and operated by private institutions (religious groups, businesses, etc), that they will be funded by the taxpayer. And Charter School operators will be able to run these “schools” at a profit.

If this ain’t the State subsidising private enterprise – when very few other businesses are able to enjoy similar benefits – then I fail to see the difference.

After all, we’ve lost 23,000 construction jobs and 18,000 manufacting jobs. If any sectors need state support, via subsidies, shouldn’t it be  Construction and Manufacturing?

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Data reveals drop in manufacturing, building jobs

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(It’s a shame that the loss of 41,000 construction and manufacturing has been offset by the creation of approximately 68,000 personal/community services – traditionally low-paid roles. See: PM – No money for aged care workers)

The question this blogger is asking is; if Charter Schools are a viable business proposition, why is the taxpayer  paying for it?

Perhaps someone from ACT can explain it to us?

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Previous related blogposts

Privatisation of our schools?! (13 Dec 2011)

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks! (2 Aug 2012)

Q+A – 5 August 2012 (5 Aug 2012)

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools (15 Sept 2012)

Charter Schools – John Key’s re-assurances (2 Nov 2012)

Other Blogs

Imperator Fish: Did You Vote For Charter Schools?

Sources

Fairfax media: Education shake-up ‘biggest for years’ (7 Dec 2011)

The Press: A controversial way of learning (7 April 2012)

NZ Herald: Editorial: Partnership opportunity for teachers (17 Oct 2012)

NZ Herald: Charter schools escape scrutiny (17 Oct 2012)

References

ACT Policies: Economy

ACT Policies: State Owned Assets

ACT policies: Spending Cap

ACT Policies: Education

ACT Policies: Principals

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Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event (part rua)

24 February 2013 3 comments

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national-needs-act-hide

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Continued from: Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event

I’ve always believed that the Left’s ability for in-fighting and self-mutilation is without peer. Our ability to attack each other – whilst the barbarian hordes of neo-liberals run rampant through our societies – is without peer, I’ve thought. (The self-destruction of the Alliance Party, in 2001,  was a recent example of this.)

But, nah.

I was wrong.

There are times when the Right can be equally adept when it comes to bouts of masocistic self-harm.

The recent ACT conference at Alan Gibbs’ farm-estate at Kaukapakapa, about 50kms north of Auckland, was an eye-opener.

First of all, the choice of holding a Party conference at an isolated Rich White Man’s farm-estate, complete with bizarre multi-million dollar “art” and a private zoo…

Pray tell, ACT Party – precisely what message were you thinking of sending to the public of New Zealand?

That ACT chooses to be isolated from the rest of society, and stand apart from other New Zealanders?

That ACT is a Rich White Man’s Party?

That ACT surrounds itself with the trappings of an eccentric millionaire (who is absent from New Zealand most of the year), whilst unemployment, child poverty, and growing wealth-income divide worsens?

If those were the messages – consider them received and understood.

Secondly – who let the clowns out, ha, ha-ha, ha!

Rodney Hides “performance” on Saturday, 23 February was gob-smacking.

It’s pretty fair to say that I am no friend of ACT or the Right Wing in general.  But even I was embarressed at Hide’s weird behaviour in front of media cameras, and felt truly sorry for all those ACT Party activists who work their butts off at elections.

But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself. The ‘action’ rolls from 0:40 to 1:30 on TV3′s video,

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ACT 2013 conference_rodney hide_gibbs farms_hates unions

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That kind of bizarre, blokey ‘humour’ might be fine amongst friends and colleagues, away from the public eye. But televised to the entire nation, the message it sends me is,

  1. Rodney Hide doesn’t give a sh*t anymore
  2. Rodney Hide just gave the metaphorical “fingers” to the whole country
  3. Arrogance and inappropriate ‘humour’ is a bad mix – especially in public.

By the way. It may escape folks attention, but Hide’s outburst against TV3 was the height of irony.

ACT is a Party that supports free enterprise and business.

Mediaworks (TV3′s parent body) is privately owned business.

ACT supports businesses because they are supposedly more efficient than the State.

TV3′s journalists are highly effective at their profession.

So what’s the problem between ACT and a business such as TV3?

If TV3′s journos are doing well at investigating and probing politicians and their Parties – then that’s free enterprise doing what it ought to; providing a service to consumers; selling advertising; and returning a profit to shareholders.

Anyone would think that ACT is hostile to free enterprise.

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That was Then, This is Now #18 (Solid Energy)

24 February 2013 6 comments

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That was then…

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September 2011,

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Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at Mataura  - 9 sept 2011

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Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant

Friday, 9 September 2011, 2:57 pm
Press Release: Solid Energy NZ

9 September 2011

Solid Energy marks the start of work at its Mataura Briquette Plant

The Hon Bill English, MP for Clutha-Southland and Minister of Finance, today marked the official start of work at Solid Energy’s Mataura Briquette Plant, by “turning the first sod” at a small event on site with neighbours, local authorities, and other guests.

The $25 million Mataura briquette plant is planned to start production by June 2012. It will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of low-moisture and higher-energy briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine and trucked to the Craig Road site. The plant will use technology developed in the USA by GTL Energy.

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This is now…

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February, 2013…

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No more bonuses at Solid Energy - English

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State miner to return to coalface

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A year and a half  later, neither Dear Leader Key nor Little Leader Bill English seemed terribly keen to be associated with  any more  photo-ops with Don Elder.

In fact, the much vaunted sod-turning in September 2011, to build a brand-new $25 million  briquette plant at Mataura, was no longer quite so glamous. Despite probably still having Southland dirt on his shoes, both Bill English and John Key were at pains to distance themselves from Solid Energy’s highly publicised energy projects,

“Four or five years ago they set out on a big programme of expenditure on alternative energy, including researching into lignite down south to coal gasification and other research-based speculation, and that hasn’t turned out the way they thought.” – Bill English, 22 Feb 2013

“The second thing is that they made a number of investments which have proved not to be very valuable and the Government has been working on that process for the last couple of years.” - John Key, 23 Feb 2013

It’s amazing how politicians seem to have this ability – verging on a preternatural super power – to distance themselves from something  they had only recently embraced and supported with whole-hearted gusto.

Interesting to note that as well as the $23.5 million in bonuses paid  over the past two years to 950 employees,  Solid Energy also paid out considerable dividends to the government;

 

30 June 2009 – $59.9 million (source)

30 June 2010 – $54 million (source)

30 June 2011 – $20 million (source)

30 June 2012 (paid at 30 Sept 2011) – $30 million (source)

Total: $163.9 million

Plus millions more paid in company tax.

With the data above, I have some questions;

  1. It seems remarkable that National only discovered a couple of days ago that Solid Energy’s financial position was not sound. What was Bill English doing last year?
  2. How could Solid Energy’s financial position go from a pre-tax profit of  $127.5 million (see: Solid Energy shines despite earthquakes) in August 2011 – to a massive $389 million debt this year? Did National gouge one of our cash-state-cows?
  3. With Solid Energy’s expansion projects (which Bill English must’ve known about, as he turned a sod of earth in Southland on 9 September 2011), were the dividends paid since 2009 realistic?
  4. With National’s track record of constantly shifting responsibility away from themselves, who are pointing the finger at? With all the highly paid Ministers, board members, and executives – will the office cleaner be held to account?
  5. Is the corporate model, with big salaries and bonuses paid to executives and an evident  lack of transparency, appropriate for state owned enterprises?
  6. Will workers be made to suffer job lossses and subsequent economic hardship, because of the actions of  Solid Energy’s executives and Crown Ministers? Why aren’t the workers offered the same ‘golden parachute’ that ex-CEO Don Elder most likely received?

No doubt neo-liberals will point to the failure of  ‘Solid Energy’ as proof-positive that governments cannot run state-owned businesses.

Not true.

This is proof positive that National (or other right wing) governments cannot run state-owned businesses.

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Acknowledgement

Tim Jones, Coal Action Network Aotearoa

Previous Blog Post

That was Then, This is Now #17

Other Blogs

Robert Guyton: Comments on Solid Energy

The Standard: Nats’ fossil fuel bet & culture of excess bankrupted Solid Energy

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It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984…

23 February 2013 4 comments

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surveillance2

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First, the Labour government introduced the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. This law could outlaw an organisation and declare them a “terrorist groups”.

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Facts about Terrorism Suppression Act

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Some see  Greenpeace as a terrorist organisation.

Ten years later, and National enacted the Search and Surveillance Act 2012. This law allowed the Police to search or keep citizens under surveillance, without a warrant. The Police simply had to show it was an “emergency”.

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More surveillance powers for Govt and police

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This law  allows  Police to keep someone under surveillance and search their home if they are a political dissident/protestor.

Or maybe I’m being overly dramatic?

After all, Police wouldn’t be interested in people exercising their democratic right to protest.

Right?

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Police software mines social media

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Eventually, though, the gradual demise of our privacy impacts on all of us. Even for those within the Establishment, who originally thought it was a good idea.

After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Right?

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National Party boss alleges covert filming

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As mainstream media focus and reports endless stories about crime and violence, society becomes more frightened of bogeymen just around the corner; or lurking behind bushes; or following us.

So we welcome any and all laws that successive governments give to the Police because, like children, we’re afraid of the bogeymen that the media tells us is waiting… just around the corner, or behind bushes.

Yes, crime does exist. Meteorites falling out of the sky also exist. Lotto winners exist.

So what are your chances of experiencing all three?

The way the media constantly fixates on crime – you’d think it could happen to you tomorrow.

The government could pass new laws every day of the week. Crime, however, will not go away. You probably will not be a victim tomorrow. Society will not be any more or less be any safer.

After all these laws – is it any more or less safer now?

Is the bogeyman real? Yes, he probably is.

But not today. And not tomorrow. Perhaps, for you, not ever.

But your loss of privacy is with you always.

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No more anarchy

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Seven Sharp turns into Serious Shite?

23 February 2013 9 comments

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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The State of Media

With so much happening in this country over the last thirty years, one would think that this should be the Golden Age for investigative journaliasm and documentary-making.

Sadly, this is not the case.

On the contrary, our print and electronic journalism  have been relegated and turned into ‘McMedia ‘; quickly produced; lacking in any substance of value; and just as quickly (with some exceptions) forgotten.

In terms of documentary-making, what really stands out (confirmed by a ten second survey conducted in my household) is Bryan Bruce’s insightful and provocative doco, ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ (see:  Inside Child Poverty – A Special Report).

No other single, one-off documentary came to mind.

In terms of television current affairs, the only recent stories that came to us were stories to do with Novopay and the Bronwyn Pullar-ACC story which saw a government Minister and several ACC executives lose their jobs. ‘Campbell Live‘ and several ex-TVNZ7 documentaries such as  ‘The Court Report’ featured in our household discussion of what stuck in our minds.

Other current affairs such as ‘Q+A’, ‘The Nation’, and vastly under-rated ‘Think Tank’, were consigned to ghetto-times of Sunday mornings. TVNZ’s ‘Sunday‘ programme – on at a more watchable time-slot of 7pm – was cut from an hour to thirty minutes (less, once you excise advertisements for unfeasibly fast cars, personal hygiene products, and the latest Briscoes “sale”).

The print media is still reasonably diverse, though Wellington’s “Dominion Post” is fast losing circulation and becoming thinner and thinner. (Don’t think we haven’t noticed Mr Williams and Mr Thompson.) Constant reductions in staffing levels has resulted in a predictable down-turn in news stories – especially relevant news stories, which put issues and events into context.

For example, prior to the ‘Evening Post’ and ‘Dominion‘ being amalgamated, the ‘Post‘ employed two journalists to cover Wellington City Council issues on a full-time basis, and a third journalist, part-time. Former journalist, Lidia Zatorski, wrote some of the most insightful pieces on Council-related issues. (The mayor couldn’t sneeze without Ms Zatorski noting time, place, and potential effects on the capital city.)

As a result, Wellingtonians were well-served with an on-going stream of local body reports that not only informed readers – but also put events into context. Events weren’t isolated – they were linked, giving us an overall impression what was taking place in our city.

These days, Fairfax media has one journalist, working part time, covering City Council issues. There could be a mass shoot-out between Councillors, disagreeing on what colour to paint park-benchs, and we’d probably not know until a week later.

With TVNZ, a state-owned, supposed “public broadcaster”, dumbing-down has plumbed new depths in a stagnant pool of irrelevancy with it’s much-criticised, ‘Seven Sharp‘.

The replacement to ‘Close-up‘ (which, in itself was a replacement to ‘Holmes‘), ‘Seven Sharp’ may have met “demographic targets” and “consumer needs” – but fewer and fewer people are watching it. In fact, it’s turning viewers away in droves.

TVNZ’s descent into Idiocracy – like many things in the last 30 years – began with the corporatisation of state-owned bodies. Turning a profit was to be the number one goal – and television was no exception.

In 2003, the  Labour Government attempted to mitigate the worst effects of commercialisation by implementing a Charter for TVNZ to follow. The Charter would supposedly direct TVNZ to offer quality programmes for viewers,

Provisions included,

  • Having the presence of a significant Maori voice, including programmes promoting the Maori language and programmes addressing Maori history, culture and current issues;
  • Include the tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters;
  • Provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs;
  • Promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population;
  • Feature New Zealand films, drama, comedy and documentary programmes;
  • Provide for the informational, entertainment and educational needs of children and young people;
  • Observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed.
But National would have none of that “socialist” stuff, and by July 2011, Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman had repealed the Charter with the euphemistically sounding Television New Zealand (TVNZ) Amendment Bill. It was the end of any semblance of public broadcasting and Coleman’s assurances that,

The removal of the Charter will have little impact on what is shown on the screen. TVNZ will still screen content of relevance to a broad cross section of New Zealanders, and they will still screen high levels of New Zealand content.”

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- was a mealy mouthed, empty promise.

In fact, almost 16 months earlier, Coleman had told the public what he really wanted for TV 1 and TV2,

Everyone … could be a lot happier if they had that clear view where you go in TVNZ to find public broadcasting content and where you can expect to find frankly nakedly commercial stuff.”

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Coleman also made this extraordinary at the same time, in March 2010,

My view was if we could get that demarcation … once everyone has got access to digital television, which isn’t too many years away, if you know that if you go to 7 or maybe 6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content.

“Then if you flick to One and Two you get whatever they serve up … it would bring some more honesty and clarity to the situation,” Coleman said.

“The 7 schedule pretty much already fits that definition broadly.”

IBID

His reference to  “going to [TVNZ]7 or maybe [TVNZ]6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content” was the same TVNZ7 that National canned in July year, despite strong public opposition. (And politicians wonder why we distrust them?)

Parts of TVNZ6 was later leased to SkyTV for pay-viewing only.

In July 2011, Coleman stated as bluntly as he could, that removing the Charter and rejecting non-commercial   public-service content, would give TVNZ,

“…the flexibility it needs to effectively pursue commercial objectives”.

Under National, TVNZ programming was pre-ordained  to be 100% commercialised and ratings-driven. Much like giving children ice cream on demand, the viewing public got what they (supposedly) wanted; entertainment ‘lollies’.

In return, National would “milk” it as a cash-cow (as with Genesis, Mighty River Power, Meridian, Air New Zealand, and until lately, Solid Energy).

Seven Sharp‘ – or ‘Seven Shite‘ as one Facebook commentator labelled it – was simply the natural end-result of this process.

This was made no more clearer than when TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick admitted to a Parliamentary Select Committee that the broadcaster was now,

“... entirely driven by consumer behaviour”, and Seven Sharp was “absolutely in the right territory…”

“… And now there are so many more opportunities and places you can access the news and as a result of them I think that consumers are looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery.”

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Well, if viewers are “looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery” – they are showing it in a strange way by deserting TVNZ and switching on to ‘Campbell Live‘ instead,

The ratings head-to-head between Seven Sharp and Campbell Live reveals TVNZ’s new offering outperforming TV3 in total audience terms all but twice in its first two weeks.

But over the same period, the TVNZ show lost the key demographic both channels are chasing, those aged between 25 to 54, eight times.

Figures supplied by Nielsen TAM show that apart from the first big bang on February 4 where 508,500 tuned into Seven Sharp compared to 246,300 on TV3, there have been plenty of nights where the two have been separated by barely a percentage point or two of the total television audience.

For Campbell Live, February 12 was historic. It was the first time the channel won the slot since TV3 began in November 1989, a win it repeated three days later by taking 7.2 per cent of the total audience aged five and over with 298,800 viewers to 242,300.

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Perhaps TVNZ’s attitude toward public broadcasting and criticisms for a lack thereof, can be summed up by  this comment by Kendrick,

There has been a lot of commentary about Seven Sharp which has typically come from less than 12 commentators, and they tend to reinforce a more traditional perspective of what current affairs has been as opposed to a reflection of what it might be.”

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There is an underlying arrogance in Kendrick’s remarks. It is a “We Know Best What You Want” conceit. Never mind if the public are craving intelligent, challenging TV content – we’ll get dumbed-down viewing because that’s what “We Really Want”.

Which is a self-fulfilling curse; the more crap broadcast, the more crap some viewers will watch, which then shows up in the Ratings…

Public reaction

Meanwhile, apart from the “12 commentators” that Kendrick dismisses  in a cursory, derisory manner, what people are really  expressing is just as critical of ‘Seven Sharp’.

As Facebook users have said to this blogger,

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Jenny B

“Apparently it has the pollings. Sad reflection that NZ’ers prefer to be entertained than educated.

 Loving Campbell taking on social issues now. But last Century, Sunday night was the time for hard political journalism – why are we being fed sop?”

Taura J

“They assume the audience is stupid. They assume the ratings won’t be good enough, which in turn, won’t draw the advertisers. Which in turn, won’t pay for their prime time news slot. They apparently don’t think there’s enough local news around because everyone is watching garbage.

The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”

Hone W

“Advertisers react to raw data, and I’d be fairly sure the drive for less hard news content on TV is coming from the viewers, (us).. not any grand conspiracy…
As long as the value of a given programme is rated by viewer numbers, and nothing else, car crash footage will always beat political debate.”

Matthew H

“every body i know is crying out for decent news & political shows in prime time, instead of this diet of cooking shows & crap sitcoms, with all the political talk on a sunday morning… if, as he says,  consumers are the ones who ask for this low-rent shit that claims to be ‘news’, then no bastard asked me”

David MF

“Seven Shite”

Alastair F

“State television has been wallowing in the sewer for at least 15 years. Nothing has changed.

 Their political independence has never been credible. You wouldn’t trust TV3 to report impartially on a corporate scandal involving Mediaworks and you wouldn’t trust The Press to report impartially on a scandal involving Fairfax, so why would you trust state television to duly criticise its owner?”

Jill M

“I didn’t think it was possible to get worse… but it has.”

Mike P

“TVNZ news and current affairs seem to be following an agenda of ‘keep ‘em dumb.’ Looking at comparisons between SevenSharp and Campbell this is plainly obvious, but the the same is true between  Breakfast and Firstline, and increasingly so in the 6pm slot.

Here’s a question, as state broadcaster how much influence is placed on their independence and impartiality. Can we truly believe that at a time when John Key is singing the ‘nothing to see here’ tune that the state owned and operated news service are singing along.”

Mike M

“Is it for education or entertainment ?”

Robbie K

“Given Kiwi’s television addiction, you could put any crap on TV and it will find an audience, so ratings don’t really come into it. Television is the cheapest form of entertainment available, so not hard to understand our love affair with the box.

However, I cannot accept New Zealanders are so intellectually deficient they can’t handle cerebral programming. Natural history and science programs rate very well in this country, so the problem is not what Kiwi’s choose to watch, it is simply that what is offered up is mindless rubbish. Is Kevin Kenrick cerebral enough to understand this? Now there’s a question.”

Robert G

“Some harder journalism asking questions about things like the obscene prices expected of us by oil companies, the Sky City Casino deal, a constitution for New Zealand among other things, would be better.”

Mark H

“Feel free to include my thought that Kevin Kenrick is an idiot.”

Marianne H

“I’ve switched to 3 and Campbell after years of sticking with TV One”

Wendy EM 

“I do not believe the content that 7 sharp even hits it with the under 35 year olds after all they have SKY television and reality shows and Seven sharp is hideous of course the people that are over 20 tend to be with Campbell Live, I have moved to Campbell being in my 50!!! I am embarrassed by TV ONE in every journalism respect. Campbell Team are on the pulse night after night.”

Alison W

“The mainstream media generally get their tips and news from Tweets, Facebook posts and freelance bloggers. I would rather read and view the news of intelligent, articulate, investigative, freelance bloggers and journos, than have my mind dumbed down and filled with the biased agendas of a right wing, Fairfax driven media. That being said, Campbell Live does at least demonstrate a social conscience, and I made the switch to watching that over a year ago now. Seven Sharp is Seven Dull.”

Taura J

“The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”

Daphne M

“NZ tv show’s are alright! It’s when the MP’s start adding their bits in that the flavour become’s kawa (sour). If MP’s, had real job’s, instead of being in a studio for picking on somebody about their job,..  then,it’s time to GO!!! Leave the real worker’s to do their own job’s….KEEP YOUR NOSE, OUT!!!”

Duncan L

“I no longer watch what passes for news generated by any teevy broadcaster in NZ – I turn to Triangle/Face for Al Jazeera and DWTV, and occasionally, if I can stop my soul from rising up and strangling my moral conscience, Voice of America.

News on NZ teevy is dominated by road accidents, boozy teenagers, sport and scandal – as for expecting any in-depth analysis or anything remotely resembling investigative or critical journalism, well, we’re screwed, unless you happen to be one the unlobotomised, multi-tasking few who can listen to the radio (and I’m refering exclusively to the National Programme here) at the same time as they walk and chew gum. 

I’m ashamed, sometimes, to be part of the institution which churns out the next-generation of wannabe journalists whose sole ambitions seem to be getting a job with a corporation and their grinning mugs on the small screen.”

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Sell it?

Writing for the Herald on 8 February (see: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ), columnist Toby Manhire suggested that TVNZ was so far gone in terms of quality that it was irredeemable and fit only to be hocked of.  He said, in part,

So sell TVNZ. It would end any residual confusion within the organisation about their purpose. It would end any misplaced vestigial attachment by audiences who still dream of the Goodnight Kiwi. Paradoxically, it might encourage TVNZ to pursue more public-interest journalism to retain a “national voice” reputation. For anyone who believes, as I do, that New Zealand should have a mainstream public TV broadcaster, it would blow away any fog around the question of whether we currently have one. We do not.”

In case Toby Manhire is being dead serious and not indulging in wry tongue-firmly-in-cheek black humour, any suggestion to sell TVNZ because it has been dumbed down, is simply rewarding National for deliberately undermining our State broadcaster.

It is not a solution. It is a reward for bad behaviour.

Not only would it fulfill what might be a deliberate agenda to alienate public support for TVNZ – but it closes of future avenues to bring the broadcaster back from the brink.

A future progressive government would have a massive task on it’s hands; to effectively undo decades of commercialisation and bring back a true public service.

But it’s not impossible.

If free-marketeers can wreck it – we should be able to repair or replace it.

One classic suggestion is to make TV1 a non-commercial station, funded by a fully commercial, go-for-trash, TV2 broadcaster.

Or to fund public television through a small levy on pay-to-view broadcasters, such as SkyTV.

More importantly, any such progressive reform would have to be entrenched in legislation and tied up in so many safe-guards that it would take years for any future National government to undo  and wrecking it all over again. (See upcoming blogpost, ‘Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters’, on ‘The Daily Blog‘, on 1 March.)

One-stop shop or multiple platforms?

An argument has been made that public-service programming should be left to NZ on Air, which would be responsible for dispensing contestable funding for documentaries, current affairs, and other public interest programmes.

So  programmes like ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ and ‘The Nation‘ could be funded by ‘NZ on Air‘, and broadcast by any number of  electronic media, irrespective of whether of who owns said broadcaster. As it’s curreently mandated to do.

To a degree that has some validity.

Unfortunately, at least two cases point against ‘NZ on Air‘ as the sole agency for intelligent tv viewing,

Key defended ‘NZ on Airs‘ public funding for ‘The GC’ by claiming,

They make their decisions completely independentlyOur board is to appoint the board, and their job is to make the funding calls.

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Yeah. Nah.

“Independent”, Mr Key?

I don’t think so.

Not when your own Electorate Chairman and National Party Regional Deputy, Stephen McElrea, sits on ‘NZ on Airs‘ Board – which is responsible for funding decision-making. (see:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air)

Only a politician might think  that is “independepent” and “non-partisan”.

Secondly, there are two other  reasons why this country needs a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service broadcaster.

It is the same reasons why we have a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service radio station, Radio New Zealand. Namely;

  • Convenience

Much like going to a supermarket which retails a wide range of goods, and saves us the effort of going to separate retailers for fruit & veg; meat; fish; hardware, the supermnarket is a convenient  one-stop shop.

It’s what consumers want. And in a market-driven society, what consumers want, consumers get.

Why should it be any different for a one-stop broadcaster/shop?

In fact, we already have racing channels; religious channels; shopping channels; cartoon channels; etc, etc, etc.

So why not a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service television station?

  • A sense of purpose

TV3 did well to broadcast  ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ and it’s ‘Campbell Live‘ programme is to be commended for it’s investigate and advocacy journalism. Long may TV3 survive and return good dividends to it’s shareholder(s).

But we also need a dedicated  public service television station that has a sense of purpose that is different to commercial TV.

We need a sense of purpose that is not controlled by ratings; has public service as it’s #1 goal; and broadcasts programmes that are challenging as well as informative. Programmes that might not be commercially successful, but nevertheless spark public debate on isues.

Such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ did, in November 2011.

Unfortunately, programming such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ by commercial broadcasters is a rarity, and TV3 received much flak for the courage they displayed that day.

It is a fact that almost every OECD nation, as well as Russia,  has a public service tv broadcaster. Australia has seven; ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS1, SBS2, and NITV (National Indigenous TV).

It is depressing to realise that this   National government refuses to give New Zealanders what other countries already have.

Conclusion

There is no arguing with the simple fact that Nationaland ACT have zero interest in public service broadcast.

In fact, if anything, the dumbing down or ghottoisation of public broadcasting serves their political  interests. After all, a commercialised broadcaster will most often choose to focus their News stories around crime/police/court reporting – which is cheaper than investigative journalism, as police feed information directly to journalists in News Rooms.

Investigative reporting – such as  “Campbell Live”  – is much rarer.

Documentaries that look behind the superficialities of our society – such as  Bryan Bruce’s  ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ – is rarer still.

Which is probably why right wing governments love the commercialisation of our broadcasting.

Evidence for this is  on TV1, 7pm, week nights.

I rest my case.

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Previous related blogposts

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

Public Broadcasting – down, but not out

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

The Ridges are on tonight!!!

NZ media; the Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very, Ugly

Sources

Fairfax media: Government signals big changes for TVNZ (13 March 2010)

TV3: TVNZ Charter abolished (13 July 2011)

NZ Herald: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ (8 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Susan Wood new host of TVNZ’s Q+A (21 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Seven Sharp staff in talks on show (22 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live – who’s winning? (22 Feb 2013)

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Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters…

23 February 2013 3 comments

Coming  to “The Daily Blog” on 1 March…

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Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

22 February 2013 6 comments

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key's credibility takes a hit

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Continued from: Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!

From comments he made in Parliament, two day ago (20 February 2013),

20 February

John Key said:

It is pretty straightforward. Skycity, after it decided it would be prepared to enter an expression of interest process to have a larger convention centre, went off to its architects. Its architects designed such a thing, realised they needed more land, worked out who owned the land, and approached Television New Zealand…

[...]

I cannot speak for the Television New Zealand board, but I am finding it reasonably hard to believe that Television New Zealand entered a commercial agreement with Skycity to sell land that it owned, and it did so without its board knowing. If that happened, then maybe its board process needs to be improved, and maybe the mixed-ownership model would work for it…

Source*

Caught out fabricating facts over the Skycity and TVNZ non-land-deal, Dear Leader Key is backing away faster than an Aston Marton at top speed. The NZ Herald reports,

A spokesman for Mr Key said: The Prime Minister is happy to accept the assurances from TVNZ this morning that no approach has been made”.

Source

A “spokesman”?

Key tells a fib in the House.

Then get a Party functionary to front when he is caught out?

Not a good look for Mr Key.

At least now the media – both msm and bloggers – will be  scrutinising Key’s comments, even closer than before,  for the slightest hint of distortion or outright lie.

Such as Key claiming that he had been “vindicated” by the Auditor-General’s report. That was a distortion of  the Auditor-General’s findings.

As Toby Manhire, writing for ‘the Listener‘ said, the Auditor-General’s report on  Key’s Skycity dealings was anything but a ‘vindication’,

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1. “We found a range of deficiencies in the advice provided and steps taken leading up to [the] decision.”

2. “Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed.”

3. “By the time it was expected that SkyCity would put a firm proposal to the Government for support, officials should have been working to understand and advise on the procedural obligations and principles that would need to govern the next steps. We found no evidence that officials were doing so at this stage.”

4. “The meetings and discussion between the Government representatives and SkyCity were materially different in quantity and kind from those between the Government and the other parties that responded.”

5. “SkyCity was treated very differently from the other parties that responded and the evaluation process effectively moved into a different phase with one party. In our view, the steps that were taken were not consistent with good practice principles of transparency and fairness.”

6. “Overall, we regard the EOI [expressions of interest] process in stage two as having been poorly planned and executed. Insufficient attention was given to planning and management of the process as a whole, so that risks were not adequately addressed and managed.”

7. “We did not see any evidence of formal discussions or decisions on the evaluation process and criteria, or mapping out of the basic options for what might happen next, or advice to Ministers on how the process would be managed and their involvement in it. We do not regard this as adequate for a project of this potential scale, complexity, and risk.”

8. “We have concluded that the preparation for the EOI process and the EOI document, fell short of good practice in a number of respects.”

9. “In our view, the result was that one potential submitter had a clearer understanding of the actual position on a critical issue – that the Government did not want to fund any capital costs – than any other potential submitters … We accept that it is unlikely that this flaw made a material difference to the outcome. However, we have spent some time discussing it because we regard it as symptomatic of the lack of attention to procedural risks, and therefore to the fairness and credibility of the process.”

10. “We are unable to comment on the value of any contribution the Government might make as part of any eventual agreement with SkyCity, because negotiations have not yet been concluded.”

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Source

Sprung, again.

He is on notice; keep telling porkies and he’ll be sprung each time. A few more incidents like this, and the wide-spread public perception of Dear Leader will be one of someone not to be trusted.

This is something the public already suspected in November 2011, just prior to the election,

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John Key - Safe hands, forked tongue

Source

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*

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* Note

Hansards can be “corrected” by MPs and Ministers. The comments quoted above were taken from Hansards at 5.20pm on 21 February, prior to any “amendments” being made. (see previous blogpost:  Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!)

Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

Sources

Fairfax media: John Key: Safe hands, forked tongue? (10 Nov 2011)

NZ Listener: The SkyCity convention centre deal: 10 quotes from the Auditor-General report (19 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’ (20 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: SkyCity: Key retreats from TVNZ land deal statements (21 Feb 2013)

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= fs =

Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event

22 February 2013 5 comments

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rich men_taxes_one percent_1%

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As reported on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘ this morning (22 February), ACT’s 2013 Annual Conference kicks off today.

Part of the Conference will be held on Alan Gibb’s farm-estate at Kaukapakapa, about 50kms north of Auckland,

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ACT Annual Conference 2013

Source

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ACT Annual Conference 2013

IBID

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An Annual Conference on an isolated,  private property, belong to one of New Zealand’s richest men; Alan Gibbs.

Gibbs – worth an estimated $420 million according to a NBR report -  spends most of his time in London. This doesn’t seem to stop him from influencing politics in this country.

Holding a conference on Gibbs’ private property, away from any urban centre does hold several benefits.

Firstly, attendees can marvel and appreciate Gibbs’ very private art collection,

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gibbs' private art collection

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And secondly, there’s a low-to-zero risk of pesky demonstrators turning up, protesting at the neo-liberal policies that have been in effect for 30 years.

After all, having a bunch of poor folk turning up to a predominantly Rich White Men’s (there appear to be no women or Maori speakers at the Conference) political party, to protest policies which have increased poverty and widened the income/wealth gap, is probably not a good look.

The question I always ask myself, though is, are they locking us out? Or are we locking them in?

Meanwhile, the sell-off of the people’s assets to wealthy men like Alan Gibbs, and others like him (aka, the One Percenters), continues,

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Key defends $100m asset selldown cost

Source

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*

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References

Radio NZ audio report: ACT meets at weekend for annual conference

ACT 2013 Annual Conference

NBR: Alan Gibbs

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= fs =

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!

21 February 2013 6 comments

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lying-politician-copyright3

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Oh dear, it seems that Dear Leader has been caught out (again) being creative with facts. According to Hansards, on 20 February, Key told the House,

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Hansard debates - john key - skycity 20 feb 2013

Source*

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Slight problem though… None of it was true.

TVNZ has come out, effectively  rubbishing Key’s comments on any supposed land sale to Skycity,

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PM forced to back down over TVNZ claim

Source

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To put this into a time-linear context,

20 February

John Key said:

“It is pretty straightforward. Skycity, after it decided it would be prepared to enter an expression of interest process to have a larger convention centre, went off to its architects. Its architects designed such a thing, realised they needed more land, worked out who owned the land, and approached Television New Zealand…

[...]

I cannot speak for the Television New Zealand board, but I am finding it reasonably hard to believe that Television New Zealand entered a commercial agreement with Skycity to sell land that it owned, and it did so without its board knowing. If that happened, then maybe its board process needs to be improved, and maybe the mixed-ownership model would work for it…”

21 February

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kendrick said:

“I’ve only been involved since May of last year, but we’ve seen the speculation in the media same as everybody else and so we’ve acknowledged that is a topic that’s live. We’ve yet to have any approaches from SkyCity about the land.”

Which means that Dear Leader either made it up; or one of his Advisors has mis-led him; or he’s talking about some Skycity-TVNZ deal from a Parallel Universe Earth.

At any rate, it kind of reminds me of this incident,  from October 2011,

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S&P contradicts Key downgrade claim

Source

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That’s quite a dodgy rep that Dear Leader is developing…

Continued at: Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

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*

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* Note

Hansards can be “corrected” by MPs and Ministers. The screen capture above was taken at 5.20pm on 21 February, prior to any “amendments” being made.

Additional

NZ Herald: Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’ (20 Feb 2013)

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= fs =

Three recent polls

21 February 2013 16 comments

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polls_ist2_141437_arrow_graph_down_rev_2249_704752_poll_xlarge

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A TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll on 17 February must have been a joyous event for National and it’s supporters.  At 49%, it appeared to show the governing Party with increased (up 5%!) public support.

No such luck, I’m afraid, my Tory fellow New Zealanders.

Three polls this month (February, 2013)  yielded two distinctly different results.

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Roy Morgan

13 Feb 2013

TVNZ/Colmar Brunton

17 Feb 2013

Fairfax/Ipsos Poll

20 Feb 2013

Right bloc:

National

44% (-2%)

49% (+5%)

44.9% (-1.3)

Maori Party

0.5% (-1%)

1% (n/c)

1.3% (-.01%)

ACT NZ

0.5% (n/c)

.01% (-0.5%)

.04% (+.04%)

United Future

0% (n/c)

.02% (-0.3%)

.01% (-.01%)

Left bloc:

Labour

34.5% (+3%)

33% (-2%)

36.3% (+1.9%)

Greens

13.5% (n/c)

11% (-2%)

10.7% (+.02%)

Mana Party

0.5% (n/c)

1% (n/c)

1.4% (+.08%)

Other:

NZ First

4% (-1.5%)

4% (n/c)

2.8% (-1%)

Conservative Party

2% (+1.5%)

1% (n/c)

1.6% (.02%)

n/c = no change

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Both Roy Morgan and Fairfax/Ipsos show similar, almost identical results for National; 44% and 44.9% respectively. Both also record a drop for the Nats.

Curiously, TVNZ/Colmar Brunton went against the tide, showing support rising by a massive 5%, to 49%.

That 5% rise seems utterly unlikely given the other two polls, and is way outside the “Samnpling Error” of  +/- 3.1%, according to Colmar Brunton’s own website.

So what’s going on? Which polling companies are closer to the real picture (bearing in mind that phone polling is done by calling land-lines – not cellphones, nor door to door)?

A clue might lie in the polling leading up to the 2011 general election:

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Roy Morgan

24 Nov 2011

TVNZ/Colmar Brunton

24 Nov 2011*

Fairfax/Media Research

23 Nov 2011

2011

Election results

Closest Polling result

Right bloc:

National

49.5%

50%

54%

47.31%

Roy Morgan

Maori Party

1%

2.0%

1.1%

1.43%

Media Research

ACT NZ

1.5%

1.7%

0.7%

1.07%

Media Research

United Future

0.5%

0.1%

0.1%

0.6%

Roy Morgan
Left bloc:

Labour

23.5%

28%

26%

27.48%

Colmar Brunton

Greens

14.5%

10%

12%

11.06%

Media Research

Mana Party

0.5%

1.0%

1.1%

1.08%

Media Research
Other:

NZ First

6.5%

4.2%

4%

6.59%

Roy Morgan

Conservative Party

n/r

2.4%

n/r

2.65%

Colmar Brunton

n/r = no result provided

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(A) Roy Morgan was closest to Election Day results with their polling for the combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 51.5%.

Colmar-Brunton came second with their combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 51.8%.

And Media Research came third with their combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 54.8%

The Election Day result for the combined National/ACT/United Future bloc was 48.98%.

(B) By comparison, the results were reversed when it came to the Labour/Green/Mana bloc.

Media Research was closest with their combined result for the Labour/Green/Mana bloc at 39.1%

Colmar Brunton was again second with 39%.

And Roy Morgan came last with 38.5% for the Labour/Green/Mana bloc.

The Election Day result was 39.62%.

When it came to polling in the week leading up to the 2011 general election, all three pollsters seemed to “pick” correct results – but for different Parties.

Roy Morgan picked National, United Future, and NZ First.

Colmar Brunton picked Labour and the  Conservative Party..

And Media Research picked Maori Party , ACT,  Mana, and the Greens.

As such, for accuracy relating to National, Roy Morgan is the poll to watch.

For Labour, it is Colmar Brunton. (Which, for Colmar Brunton is supported by data here: Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election)

Even well-known  right-wing commentator and National Party apparatchik, Matthew Hooton confirmed this on Monday, 18 February, when he said on  Radio NZ,

According to that [poll], National could govern alone. Look, I find that Colmar Brunton poll has a consistant history of over-estimating National’s support, going back right through to the nineties, if not before. I don’t believe that National has more votes, more support, than it did at the time of the election. National got 47.3[%] [at] the last election. This poll gives it 49[%].”

Source: Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

Conclusion

Polls seems to be varying wildly, but Roy Morgan appears to be marginally more accurate for National, and Colmar Brunton for Labour.

Having said that, all pollsters rely heavily on landline phone-interviews. Anecdotally, fewer and fewer households (low income; students; etc) are relying on landlines and preferring instead cellphones and the internet.

Support for left-wing Parties, from low income households, may therefore be under-represented in Colmar Brunton polling. The task for the Left, though, is to motivate these housefolds to go out and  vote on Election Day.

If that can be achieved, the Kiwi flirtation with the centre-right will be at an end.

National is also vulnerable on issues relating to,

  • high unemployment
  • increasing job losses
  • a stagnant economy
  • unaffordable housing driven by investors/speculators driving up prices
  • Christchurch
  • asset sales
  • an upcoming poll on asset sales, which could be a hard slap in John Key’s face, with hisinsistance  of having a “mandate” to partially-privatise several SOEs
  • watch out for on-going problems with education, school closures, charter schools, novopay, etc
  • and potential “hot spots” with environmental controversies and health-related issues

All of which will act as a slow-acting political corrosion on National’s polling.

Note 1

(*) The data for Colmar Brunton was updated on 25 February. New data obtained  was closer to Election Day results  than previous figures quoted in this blogpost, which gave an incorrect result.

Note 2

NZ First is the ‘wild card’ in this equation.

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*

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References

Scoop: Support for National barely damaged by Tea Tapes (18 Nov 2011)

Fairfax: National still cosy in polls after tea break (23 Nov 2011)

Roy Morgan: National set for election victory, but no majority as ‘teapot tape’ scandal dents National & benefits NZ First  (24 Nov 2011)

TVNZ: Gap closes as election looms – poll (24 Nov 2011)

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election  (26 Nov 2011)

Wkipedia: Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election (2011)

Roy Morgan: National (44%) lead down over Labour lead down over Labour  (34.5%) Labour, Greens, with minor parties would win election (13 Feb 2013)

TVNZ: National bounces up in poll (17 Feb 2013)

Colmar Brunton: Current One News Colmar Brunton Poll

Fairfax media: National no longer a sure winner – poll (20 Feb 2013)

Other blogs

The Dim Post: My theory about what’s happening in the polls

Brian Edwards: John Key on 41%, David Shearer on 10%. That can’t be right. Can it?

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= fs =

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

20 February 2013 14 comments

Twentyfour hours ago, the Auditor general released her report into questionable (some might say, dodgy) dealings between SkyCity and Dear Leader John Key.

Whilst the report supposedly “vindicates” National and especially Key, there are questions as to the preferential treatment afforded SkyCity.

The MSM is especially hot on this issue;

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Report sparks fresh debate over more SkyCity pokies

Source

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SkyCity report slates Government ministers

Source

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SkyCity 'treated very differently' in tender

Source

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The SkyCity convention centre deal 10 quotes from the Auditor-General report

Source

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Toby Manhire’s Listener report gives ten quotes from the report, which are damning in themselves,

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1. “We found a range of deficiencies in the advice provided and steps taken leading up to [the] decision.”

2. “Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed.”

3. “By the time it was expected that SkyCity would put a firm proposal to the Government for support, officials should have been working to understand and advise on the procedural obligations and principles that would need to govern the next steps. We found no evidence that officials were doing so at this stage.”

4. “The meetings and discussion between the Government representatives and SkyCity were materially different in quantity and kind from those between the Government and the other parties that responded.”

5. “SkyCity was treated very differently from the other parties that responded and the evaluation process effectively moved into a different phase with one party. In our view, the steps that were taken were not consistent with good practice principles of transparency and fairness.”

6. “Overall, we regard the EOI [expressions of interest] process in stage two as having been poorly planned and executed. Insufficient attention was given to planning and management of the process as a whole, so that risks were not adequately addressed and managed.”

7. “We did not see any evidence of formal discussions or decisions on the evaluation process and criteria, or mapping out of the basic options for what might happen next, or advice to Ministers on how the process would be managed and their involvement in it. We do not regard this as adequate for a project of this potential scale, complexity, and risk.”

8. “We have concluded that the preparation for the EOI process and the EOI document, fell short of good practice in a number of respects.”

9. “In our view, the result was that one potential submitter had a clearer understanding of the actual position on a critical issue – that the Government did not want to fund any capital costs – than any other potential submitters … We accept that it is unlikely that this flaw made a material difference to the outcome. However, we have spent some time discussing it because we regard it as symptomatic of the lack of attention to procedural risks, and therefore to the fairness and credibility of the process.”

10. “We are unable to comment on the value of any contribution the Government might make as part of any eventual agreement with SkyCity, because negotiations have not yet been concluded.”

Source: IBID

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When National’s dirty dealings; dodgy Ministers; or somesuch other scandal is about to go thermonuclear, they will automatically deflect to one of three default positions;

  1. Blame previous Labour government
  2. Release story on ‘welfare abuse’
  3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event

And on-cue, 24 hours later, National’s spin-doctors have spun a deflection story,

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Government cracking down on benefit fraud

Source

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As always, predictable.

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= fs =

Christchurch will cost National the Election

20 February 2013 19 comments

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cartoon - parata - I will do my homework

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There are three things that will cost National the election in 2014 (or earlier).

The first is jobs. The Market is simply not creating new jobs as neo-liberal dogma dictates it should. And with National’s Hands Off policy in the economic, their 2011 promise to create 170,000 new jobs (see: “Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs” ) is something that will be used to beat them over the head more and more as Election Day looms.

The economy. A Hands Off policy in good times, when unemployment is low and growth is reasonably good, can be expected and understood.

In bad times though, taking your hands of the economic tiller poses one question; if government doesn’t act proactively (as other governments are doing around the world) – then what is the point of having a government?

And lastly, events with education-related problems will remain an open, painful sore for the Nats. Whether it’s the quasi-privatisation of education through dodgy “Charter Schools”; the unrelenting Novopay cock-up; or proposed closures/amalgamations of 19 schools in Christchurch – this will be an on-going sign for the public (and voters) that National does not have the co-operation of the community and can ride rough-shod over people’s concerns.

As Colin Espiner wroter in Christchurch’s “The Press” on 19 January,
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“The secret to great comedy, they say, is timing, and if “they” are right, then this Government is not very funny.

With Friday looming as the second anniversary of the most devastating of the Christchurch earthquakes, Education Minister Hekia Parata’s school closures announcement could not have come at a worse time.

I don’t think anyone who wasn’t in the city on that day can truly appreciate the impact it had on the people of Christchurch, and continues to have to this day. Certainly Hekia Parata doesn’t.

I accept that in the wake of the quakes some decisions about the future of schooling in Christchurch needed to be made. Actually I think everyone accepts that.

I also accept that some of those decisions won’t be popular, but needed to be made. As John Key said yesterday, “the Government needs to address this issue for the long-term good of the community”.

But there are ways and means of doing something that isn’t going to be pleasant. Dentists use anaesthetic before drilling a hole in your tooth. And they warn you beforehand.

The manner in which this Government has approached the issue of Christchurch’s post-quake schooling has been woeful. Actually, that’s being too kind. It’s been careless, haphazard, unfeeling and downright incompetent.”

Source:  Timing of school closures couldn’t be worse

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After a while “strong government” becomes arrogant, uncaring government. And that’s when voters rebel.

A recent IPSOS/Fairfax poll, which showed a drop in support for the Nats  at 44.9% (1.3% points down on their previous poll in December) made this interesting obserservation;

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” With the election probably still at least 18 months away, the big battleground will be for undecided voters, who made up 11.1 per cent of those surveyed.

Pollster Duncan Stuart said a breakdown of undecided voters suggested many were “soft” National supporters, who had started looking around. “

Source: National no longer a sure winner – poll

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In other words, we are seeing a re-play of the final two years of the Shipley-led National administration, in 1998 and 1999, when public odium because so strong that voters couldn’t stampede fast enough to the Ballot Booths to vote for Labour and the Alliance. There is only so much “hands off” government the Middle Classes  will tolerate before their ‘comfort zone’ is breeched.

In the late ’90s, the ‘touch paper’ was health.

This time it will be jobs and education.

After two major earthquakes; a loss of 185 lives; thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed; upheavals in peoples’ lives; increasing numbers of homeless living rough; slow processing of insurance claims; and many who have simply quit the quake-ravaged city – the current agenda from National, and implemented by Hekia Parata, is like a rolling, political slow-quake, of additional stress on the city.

Cantabrians must be looking skyward and beseeching the Heavens, “What have we done wrong to earn all this?”

That stress is leading to desperation and behaviour that in other, saner times, good people might never think of doing,

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Dark side of opposition to school mergers

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Source: Dark side of opposition to school mergers

The stress on families, teachers, and others in areas targetted for school closures/amalgamations must be phenomenal.

New Zealanders watching all this, up and down the country, must be secretly sighing relief that they aren’t the one’s in the firing line of  Christchurch’s twin curses of natural disaster and political upheaval.

Yesterday (19 February) National electorate-MP, Nicky Wagner stated on Radio New Zealand,
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“The National MP for Christchurch Central, Nicky Wagner, accepts she may lose votes as a result of the education overhaul. But she says she believes the right decisions are being made. The MP won her seat with a majority of just 47 votes.  
She said,  
‘‘ We need to make really good decisions for Christchurch. We need to make good decisions in education but in all other ones and to make the most of every opportunity, and personally if it’s a matter between a good decision and being voted in again I’d take the good decision any day.’’   “

Source: Radio NZ, 10pm news bulletin, 19 Feb 2013

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Ms Wagner’s  nonchalence in losing her seat in favour of  taking a “good decision any day” may come true sooner than she anticipated.

Cantabrians will be happy to assist.

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*

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Additional

Fairfax media: 71pc want Parata gone – poll

Fairfax media: Parata’s ‘lie-telling’ infuriates principals

 

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= fs =

A tale of contrasts…

19 February 2013 9 comments

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Once upon a time, there was a small nation at the bottom of the world, where the people were proud of their egalitarianism…

Then they f****d it all up.

To he, who has plenty, they gave $100,000. Not because he saved lives or raised families out of poverty. He got it because he was leaving a high-paid job after just nine months in employment,

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ACC pays $100,000 bonus to former chief executive

Source

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From he, who has very little, they took away $3.73 (per week). Not because he did something wrong, but because a government department – supported by aParty in power that looks down on the poor – could.

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Jobless battler takes on Winz for a $3 cause

Source

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$3.73. That buys a ‘budget’ loaf of bread and maybe a small block of cheese or bottle of milk.

$100,000 – buys an upmarket sports car or a good deposit on a nice house.

Who needs the money the most; Mr Stewart or Mr Holmes?

Welcome to New Zealand, circa 2013AD.

Are we proud of what we’ve become?

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= fs =

Priorities – according to the ‘gospel’ of Colin Craig (part rua)

19 February 2013 24 comments

Four days after I blogged this -  Priorities – according to the ‘gospel’ of Colin Craig – the NZ Herald followed up with it’s own story,

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Party leader funds attack on MPs

Source

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The NZ Herald story reports Colins as stating,

“It does cost money to be in politics, and it’s helpful that I’ve got an income. But having said that, it wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have such a base of volunteers.”

This is absolute rubbish.

The lealet’s were not delivered by “volunteers”. The leafet in question,

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four pages of leaflet

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- appeared  with two or three other other bits of commercial junk-mail (despite a “No Junk Mail” sign clearly visible) in our letterbox.

So unless Conservative Party “volunteers” are also delivering promo-leaflets for a pizza company, Mr Craig is fibbing.

The Conservative Party leaflet was obviously delivered by a commercial company specialising in mail-dropping advertising material.

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= fs =

David Farrar stirs the bullshit pot

19 February 2013 9 comments

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Wait come back - you forgot your bullshit

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Reported today (19 Feb) in the NZ Herald,

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is facing criticism for hiring a sixth “spin doctor” six months out from the official start of the local body elections.

[...]

Blogger David Farrar has questioned whether ratepayers are funding Mr Brown’s re-election campaign.

In a post on his Kiwiblog site titled “Len’s gaggle of spin doctors”, Mr Farrar said Mr Brown’s hiring of Dan Lambert took his tally of spin doctors to six – more than the entire parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour has five parliamentary press secretaries and a part-time speech writer for 34 MPs. Prime Minister John Key has four press secretaries and one media assistant.

See: Mayor heavy on ‘spin doctors

The Herald story, written by Bernard Orsman, seemed so unlikely that I searched out Kiwiblog to see if Farrar’s comments were accurately reported.

Indeed they were.

Len’s gaggle of spin doctors

February 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Len Brown has just hired his sixth spin doctor. That’s six spin doctors, all funded by the ratepayer, working in Len’s private office. That isn’t six spin doctors for the entire Auckland Council. That is six spin doctors just for Len.

Started this month is Dan Lambert as Len’s propaganda manager. He comes from the United Kingdom.

Dan joins Glyn Jones who was the chief spin doctor, and who is now called Media Communications Manager.

Len also has a senior press secretary, a communications advisor, former Clark spin doctor David Lewis as a media consultant and a speech writer on top of that.

Len has more spin doctors than the entire Parliamentary Labour Party (they have five). The previous Mayor of Auckland had just one – Cameron Brewer.

Should Auckland ratepayers be funding Len’s reelection campaign?

Talking of the election, isn’t it time also for C&R and their friends in Auckland to get their shit together and select a Mayoral candidate. Otherwise Len and his six spin doctors will have too easy a time of it.

Source

Now, despite the fact that Farrar is a National Party supporter/member and has worked for successive National governments – one might still expect him to report such issues with perhaps a measure of balance.

Because the way he tells it, leaves a whole lot out of the picture.

Especially when Cameron Brewer in the same NZ Herald article said “nobody would be able to match Mr Brown’s army of spin doctors, advisers and consultants“.

Mr Brewer has also worked as a former spin doctor to ex-Auckland City Mayor John Banks, ex-Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, and very ex-Act leader Rodney Hide.

Farrar mis-represented the issue by omission.

Brewer mis-represented the issue with an outright lie.

If citizens really want to look at where their tax-dollars are going to, I would refer the reader’s attention to an article written by  NBR’s Matt Nippert, in August 2010,  about the Prime Minister’s Office. (This article is now behind a paywall, but an excerpt can be found on Bryce Edward’s “Liberation” blog.)

Entitled ‘Panic station: policy quashing on the ninth floor of the Beehive’, Matt Nippert wrote,

“…the ninth floor of the Beehive contains the most spinners and advisers in New Zealand history. Whereas Helen Clark employed six communications staff in her office, currently seven staff in the PMO are listed as having communications roles.  And whereas Miss Clark’s chief of staff Heather Simpson managed two political advisers, Mr Eagleson has five reporting to him along with Mr de Joux as a deputy.”

Secondary Source: National’s ‘panic pants’ spin-doctors

In September 2010, Bryce Edwards, political lecturer at University of Otago, wrote,

The PMO has about 25 highly-professional staff working in it. Under Helen Clark’s rule, Heather Simpson (pictured on the right) was of course the head of the unit, and thus the second in command of the Labour Government. Simpson’s replacement is Wayne Eagleson, who like Heather Simpson is highly aversive to both media scrutiny and political risk.

In his unit of about 25, he has people working for him such as Kevin Taylor (Chief Press Secretary), Phil de Joux (Deputy Chief of Staff, former head of the National Party research unit), Sarah Boyle (Senior Adviser; apparently a “guru of the Official Information Act”), Stephen Woodhouse (Senior Private Secretary), Grant Johnston (Chief Policy Adviser; former Treasury policy wonk and partner of columnist Joanne Black), Jason Ede (Senior Adviser), Nicola Willis (Senior Advisor), Lesley Hamilton (Press Secretary), and Paula Oliver (Press Secretary). Some of these ‘shadowy people’ we already know something of, but generally their immense power is unexamined.

Source: IBID

Currently, according to the Prime Minister’s own website, just one group numbered over a dozen,

Policy Advisory Group

The Policy Advisory Group was formally established in 1990 within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). Prior to that time, policy advisory services were provided through the forerunners of DPMC.

The Group consists of a director and 13 policy advisors, with a range of skills and experience including legal, business, economic and social policy.  The mix of skills changes from time to time, with changes in staff.

The role of the Policy Advisory Group is to support the Prime Minister as leader of the Government…

… From time to time Advisors lead policy projects specially commissioned by the Prime Minister to “cut through” on issues of significance.

Source

And there’s more here about the Department of Prime Minister’s Office: About DPMC.

But of course, none of this merit’s Mr Farrar’s attention. The Prime Minister may have 25 (or more, by now) spin-doctors – but the owner of Kiwiblog prefers instead to focus on the mayor of Auckland with his supposed six advisors.

This was not always the case.  Once upon a time, Mr Farrar was very concerned about the numbers of communication staff working for the government and it’s various Departments,

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kiwiblog - $47 million a year on Govt “spin doctors”

Source

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But that was under a Labour government.

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= fs =

Amazing events this last month!!!

19 February 2013 5 comments

Three amazing events that’ve taken place this last months, and which serves to remind us how unpredictable and weird the Universe can really be…

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Sensational!!!

Richard III’s skeleton discovered!

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The grave of Richard III was discovered on 4 February, under a carpark in Leicester (fitting, being the 21st Century), and caused a worldwide sensation as this 528 year old King was prominent in British history as well as the subject of a play by William Shakespeare…

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Richard III king's face recreated from skull discovered under car park

Source

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Astounding!!!

Meteor shower over Russia!

Straight out of a science fiction movie, a huge meteor entered the atmosphere and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, three days ago. Luckily, it exploded into fragments high up in the atmosphere.

Had it impacted the ground intact, the devastation and loss of life would’ve been far more severe.

It was a small taste of what our dino cuzzies must’ve experienced, 65 million years ago…

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Russian meteor fragments 'discovered at lake'

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Unbelievable!!!

Hekia Parata fronts on Campbell Live – Sceptics Society shocked!

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campbell live - hekia parata - christchurch schools -  18 february 2013

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Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either…

After sending her ‘flunkies’ (see previous blogopost:  Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?) to front for her and take media heat for Christchurch schools closures, the Novopay debacle, and other foul-ups – Education Minister, Hekia Parata finally fronted for an interview with TV3′s John Campbell.

The media training that Parata has been given seems to have worked. Her demented grin…

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hekia parata - 30 september 2012 - Q+A

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- was gone.

Meanwhile, in ‘quake ravaged Christchurch, where increased stress is causing children to have nightmares and instances of bedwetting has skyrocketed (see:  Quakes traumatise kids), Parata has decided not to close or amalgamate 31 schools.

She’s only going to close/amalgamate 13 schools (see:  Minister announces fate of Canterbury schools).

Well, that’s that’s f*****g big of her, isn’t it?!

Why not further gut the heart out of a community that has lost 185 of it’s people to a violent,  natural disaster; thousands of homes damages or destroyed; businesses closed; insurance companies and EQC dicking people around; and entire neighbourhoods written off.

In case anyone needed proof that National has no heart, well, look no further.

And for all you National supporters out there who don’t give a rats because it hasn’t happened to you… well, Karma is working over-time at present.

Your turn will come.

To the people of Christchurch, and for those shocked by today’s announcements, I just want to say that a whole lot of your fellow New Zealanders are with you, in spirit at least. I just hope there’s a change of government before Parata can implement her rotten-to-the-core, penny-pinching, policies.

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Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part toru)

17 February 2013 3 comments

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Continued from:

 

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

 

NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – At this point, there was some light entertainment – firstly from this chap,

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“John Key” – first tried to convince the crowd that he’s really a “nice guy”.  The response from the crowd was anything but ‘understanding’.

“John Key” then sang his now-famous version of the New Zealand anthem, which he said was now “partially privatised” – so minus every third or fourth word. Thwe song made bugger-all sense – much like asset sales themselves.

The anthem was missing the last line, which he said, had been “sold in it’s entirety, including the word ‘New Zealand’.

After “John Key” was ‘helped’ off the stage with accompanying boos and cat-calls, Energy campaigner, Molly Melhuish took the microphone.

Ms Melhuish spoke for Greypower. Like Geoff Bertram, she is also deeply knowledgeable about all facets of the energy industry, including pricing systems used for residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

As always, listeners leave a talk by Ms Melhuish with a greater knowledge and insights into the electricity industry in our country,

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Ms Melhuish first explained a bit of the background of the  “Keep our Assets” campaign,

“… Greypower was essentially asked to front this campaign, and we said at the first strategic meeting of the ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign that we wanted to co-front it with the youth, so we found a youth group, it was the University Students Association.

Because we believe this campaign is about those older people. Surprisingly many of our members were involved in building those assets. We said they’re ours, we want to keep them.

But we speak to our grand-children and our grand-children recognise… they just don’t want them sold. So the Greypower group board as a group, supported this ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign, all seven zones.

There are a small number of individuals in our meetings who really believed John Key when he said ‘we have to sell the assets so we can  re-pay the debts’. Geoff [Bertram] told you how wrong that is, but people are conservative,  want to be safe, and many, or most of the people who still say ‘we have to sell the asssets’ do so because they believed [John Key]. John Key is a show pony, he’s… telling the story told to him by others. He’s  a used car salesman. Would you buy a used car off that guy? I wouldn’t.”

“…Just yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Mana Tawa… The very very first question I asked was ‘Why can’t we have solar power on our houses? Our family in the U.K., you know, they got money to put photo-voltaics [on our roofs] and they were able to pay it off on our power bills. She said, ‘Why can’t we have that?”

We could, but we have to vote for it.

We won’t under this administration.

Another one  said, when I bought my place in a retuirement village in Porirua, we were promised lower bills. We are now paying more for our little retirement village than I paid for a four bedroom house.

So you get a captive consumer and they  can hike power bills not twice, but four times!

Greypower now has a policy that says energy leglislation must say [that] all household energy and especially electricity must be provided in a manner that’s fair, sustainable, efficient, and reliable. That was the law in 2001- Labour changed the law to make that. [But] National government took away “fair and sustainable” [from legislation]. That is wrong.

What to do about it? Change the government!

The only way you will get a change is to change the government! Vote for it! Peter Love told you that  in the first speech; vote for change. Greypower sez vote for change. That’s your job – We Greypower can support it but it is your job to vote for change.”

And she’s right. The only way we can effect change is by the ballot in the Voting Booth. Deciding not to vote because of some half-arsed cliche about “all politicians being the same”  is defeatist garbage. It is  craven surrender to forces who welcome people giving away their vote because vested interests have persuaded you that “change is not possible”.

Change is possible. But not when cynicism guides your decisions.

Molly Melhuish was followed by Aotearoa Not For Sale activist, Frances, who spoke of her own ‘journey’ to  set aside her apathy and become active. Despite English being a second language from Frances, her words were truly inspiring. A million New Zealanders like her, and no government would dare risk selling our treasures,

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Frances first described the desperate conditions that afflict the poor or unemployed in other countries, where social welfare services barely exist, or not at all. She referred to the shame of someone loosing their job, and killing themselves and their entire family by mass-suicide – because the provisions that we often take for granted (or that right-wingers complain about), do not exist in their society.

“…I saw this country as a country so beautiful and with a humanity and the government with a heart [?] to looking after the poor and the under-privileged and  the vulnerable groups. But throught the years I don’t know what has happened, I was too busy looking after kids, young children, and being someone who didn’t speak very good english. I sort of stayed low and keeped quiet and don’t want to say much about nothing against   government. Although I do complain a lot at home if I say something, I see the government doesn’t do something nice to people.

But then I accidently walked through a public meeting … beginning of last  year and then that was about state asset sale. And I was so shocked about what ‘s going to happen. And I thought, well,  for the last 15 years my shower time from … ten minutes down to three minutes, because we need to have a budget for our power because the power bill kept going up.And then I cut my hair short so I don’t have to spend so much time [in the shower]. So all these things, and  I decided maybe this year I will not harass my kids to have a showers if they don’t want to because it’s just getting more and more expensive.

There might be more stinky people around the city.

And hey, we are from middle income family, and during the winter time we fight often … argue with my husband about whether we should have the heater on. And I just never thought  will  come to this day!

And now they’re going to privatise these companies and  sell to all those rich, only going to benefit the very rich few. Especially some foreign companies. And I was like,  that’s not right, I can’t afford to pay even higher bills.”

And I thought, what happened? … From me not paying attention to politics. I actually don’t like politics. I  want to just appreciate art and literature, but then from me not doing anything for so many years, what has this country become? Because a lot of people are like like me, they don’t like politics. They don’t want to take action; “I often give them moral support, I’ll  give you some  dollars, but you do the work. You go against the government.”

But then this time I realised what example I was setting for my children…

… But I feel great because I work with so many dedicated people and so many beautiful people, and  selfless. And they are wonderful. We are all trying to make this country a better place for us, for others,  for our children.

And for middle income like us, we struggle, and I just hate to think how the low income, how the  beneficiary actually survive. And this government keep taking things away from the general  public, from the  weaker and from the vulnerable group. …

… Being a housewife, what can I do? I go out to collect signatures because that’s  easy thing for me to do. It takes a lot and time and a lot of effort, but I’m glad I can make  contribution. And I feel everybody here can make contribution…

… And being at home I can teach my kids, say, well don’t believe everything you heard from the media. And don’t just listen to what people say, you watch what they do. Especially our Prime Minister.

Frances finished with these thoughts,

“We can all make a difference… I saw so many people on the street. Some  are angry but most  of them are so depressed because they think government will never listen, and they think what we are doing going to be  in vain, just not going to change anything.  And I say to them, I say, if you don’t make any noise for this, what do you think government are going do to us next?

I want to set  example to my children to say, if you really believe, and you have to believe, you can make a difference, you can change something. You just take actions and do whatever you can….

… But  we have to still have to pressure the government, we want our referendum now, not later!

… One day when my kids ask me ‘mum have you done anything to protect us from being attacked by our government’ then I can say, I have done something. And I hope we can all say that, say  we have done something to protect you from bad government policies.”

Amen to that, Frances.

Frances struggled at times with the English language  – but the message she gave was as clear and meaningful as words could possibly convey.

This blogger found her to be truly inspirational.

As clouds darkened the evening sky, and the southerly ‘breeze’ gave a ‘bite’ to the assembled crowd, there was final entertainment from Steve and  John,

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And finally, a rousing applause given to Richard, who shouldered much of the responsibility in organising the event,

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Meanwhile, further down the waterfront, others were more comfortable with their boutique beers and frothy lattes,

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*

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Want to help?

Make a donation (any size) to: BNZ, 02-0560-0158770-00

Volunteer by contacting: saynotoassetsales@gmail.com

Go to: any of the Relevant orgs listed below.

Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

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.

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

17 February 2013 5 comments

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Continued from:

 

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part tahi)

 

NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – The first speaker was Peter Love; Te Atiawa, and Board Member of the Wellington Tenths Trust,

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Peter Love spoke of having to buy a bottle of water from the dairy – and yet Maori were castigated for trying to assert their own water rights. Holding up a plastic bottle of water, he said it’s not about “Maori owning the water”,

We have to make sure you don’t have to go into a dairy to buy this!

He spoke of countries such as China sending their workers into Pacific Island nations to build infra-structure and buildings for the locals, but for a price.  Peter Love spoke of powerful interests  seeking valuable resources  such as the fish in Cook Islands territorial waters.

He said asset sales would be a magnet for overseas investors,

They’re after our assets!”

Which is why“, he said, “we’re all here this evening challenging the government.”

Peter Love finished with a humorous touch,

My wife said, ‘hullo – don’t get arrested Peter...”

He encouraged the crowd,

“…Don’t forget, keep it up. Sign the petition against it. And we may have to call you again to go to Parliament.”

The next speaker was Peter Love’s mokopuna (grandchild), Kaira Ranginui-Love, of Te Atiawa, who spoke directly to the many young people in the crowd,

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Ms Ranginui-Love spoke with deep passion about her feelings for this country, and how others wanted a piece of our paradise,

I love Aotearoa! I don’t know about you but I absolutely love this country. I believe Aotearoa is Heaven on Earth…

… For many of you, Aotearoa has been a home for you and your families since the time of the settlers, and for others.”
 
“… But regardless of how we all got here and what we’re all doing here, I think we can all agree  what connects us is our love for Aotearoa.”

“We are very lucky to live here. We have the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the lands,  and all that dwell therein. So we must look after our country, and be the caretakers, for now and for the future generations to come. We need to be wary that we don’t allow our country to be exploited by those in a position of power. The National government, the National Party, they have an immoral agenda based on monetary gain only…”

“…Is this government listening to our views?”

“I think this govermnment blatantly  ignores it’s people and what they want. What we all want. No thought has gone into the rippling effect that this will have on our futures.”

“…We’ll have no say, and we’ll  have no rights. This referendum will help to stop the government from making a terrible mistake. Remember, everybody wants a slice of our country, our paradise. So it is time to stand up. It is time to fight for this generation and the generations to come….”

“…The time to act is now, before it’s too late.”

Next, the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown – a veteran campaigner against the privatisation of Wellington’s former “Capital Power” company in the 1990s – spoke of her thoughts on selling strategic assets that belong to the people,

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Mayor Wade-Brown welcomed people to the rally and acknowledged the hard work by organisors to set up the rally,

Let’s give the organisors a big round of applause!”

This week there’ve been a number of really important issues raised that resonate with all of us; leadership; jobs; a fair go; and a clean environment; public ownership of strategic assets. Those aren’t alternatives to each other, they go hand in hand.”

The Mayor spoke of Deborah Littman visiting Wellington and talking to Council (see: Mayor pushes to give hundreds a pay increase ) about how a living wage has in helped  many aspects of society in Vancouver and London, by raising incomes,

Low pay doesn’t help the local economy; low pay doesn’t educational failure, and low pay doesn’t help poor health. So the living wage is an idea to inspire us, it’s a journey, not an overnight transformation… … a living wage is good for the local economy.”

Mr Wade Brown referred to a Greenpeace economic report which outlined ambitious ideas for new jobs, new prosperity, and a clean economy. She outlined Greenpeace’s ideas for how huge wealth could be created for New Zealand by building an economy based on 100% renewable energy,  energy efficiency, and sustainable transport.

The mayor went on to describe one of her earliest actions soon after being elected to the City Council in 1994,

I voted in one of the earliest political decisions when I was elected on Council against the sale of Capital Power. And now the energy retail and lines businesses have been split up and sold and sold again  and it’s really impossible to assess what they would  be worth now.

But it could’ve been a huge help to the capital city as a basis for a smart grid, for electricity demand management, and for more manageble bills for people on low incomes. So I understand your concerns about selling of power generation companies.

More successfully, Wellington City Council voted against the sale of our Airport shares. Although one third does not give us control. But it does keep us in the loop and it gives us a considerable dividend that keeps your rates down.

And in the ’90s there were really truly mutterings -  I saw Cr Stephanie Cook here earlier and she’ll back this up – there were muttering about selling of our council social housing. It never did get to a vote, thank goodness... “

Social housing for vulnerable tenants was a social partnership, she said.

Mayor Wade-Brown then described Wellington’s water supply and categorically stated,

The basic public infrastructure should remain in public ownership and the charging policies and the conservation policies should be set democratically.”

She took a good natured ‘dig’ at Peter Love with the remark,

And I would like to add that you don’t need to buy in bottles because there are free water fountains along the waterfront.

Ms Wade-Brown told the audience that Council, in partnership with local Iwi, was bringing back alienated land to return to the Town Belt.

The Mayor added,

So local government faces the same financial pressures as households do, as you do,  as business does, and as central government does. But we’re not going to face those pressures by selling of our strategic assets. We won’t sell social housing, we won’t sell water infrastructure, we won’t sell the reserves that make this capital city so special.”

The mayor implored people to sign the petition – but not ten times,

It doesn’t help to sign it ten times, ok guys? If you’ve signed it, you’ve signed it…
… And tonight people are tweeting, blogging, using Youtube, and everything else to have your say. And that’s my main message; stand up and have your say, in the capital city!

Kia kaha.”

Next up – perhaps the country’s sanest, most common-sense economist – Ganesh Nana, rose to tell it from an economist’s  perspective.

Perhaps surprisingly, he wasn’t tied up and thrown into the harbour. Economists in the last thirty years have had a bad rep – perhaps only second to certain policians.

But Ganesh Nana is a rare breed of economist. He sees through the neo-liberal fantasy world of ideology and tells us that the dogma of the New Right simply does not work as ‘the label on the can’ promised,

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Ganesh Nana started by saying,

I’m an economist, ok, so I promise not to say anything about ‘The Phoenix’ or anything about cats…”

That elicited a laugh from the crowd and then he launched straight into the issue of asset sales and started by asking,

You might ask why would you at all be interested in hearing from an economist, and I ask the same thing; “why is anybody  interested in hearing from an economist given whate total mess we’ve made of the economy to date, but never mind… You guys should really be asking for an apology from the economists given the mess we’ve made...”

“… But I will apologise on my own behalf for not not actually shouting out a lot louder evertime we’ve made a wrong turn. So today here I am shouting out just a bit louder for making a wrong turn yet again.”

The audience warmed quickly to Ganesh Nana’s self-deprecating comments and clapped at his remarks. Only a lone heckler, yelling out comments he must’ve thought were very hilariously witty (mistakenly),  stood apart from the crowd.

Ganesh Nana continued,

From a business perspective; a business person’s perspective;  this is a very, very, very,  simple problem facing us, or a simple question; why would you sell an asset?

I ask you that question and from my own academic perspective or background, when faced with that question  I go to a dictionary and look up the definition of an asset.

It’s really quite simple… … you’ll find some words around something that is valuable and of use. And then I started to think as a business person or as an ordinary person why would I get rid of something that is valuable and of  use?”

He then asked,

“…These assets that the Crown have, [that] the government on our behalf, [as] taxpayers, are holding. Do they continue to be valuable and useful?

And if so why are we getting rid of them?”

… From a business perspective the only reason I’d get of an asset is if it suddenly became a liability.

That is, it required a lot of upkeep and it wasn’t paying it’s way, so it wasn’t really an asset. And then, yes,  you get rid of it fast.

But is anybody seriously trying to tell me that those electricity generation stations, and all the infra-structure around it,  is something that we, as a nation, ‘ain’t gonna’ need for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years?

Because if the answer to that is ‘yes’, then let’s get rid of it, because we don’t need it. But if we do need them, we need to hold onto them. It’s really quite that simple.”

Ganesh Nana was also adamant that not all economists follow the neo-liberal, monetarist line,

“…People who think that businesses or economists totally agree with getting rid of assets or following the market path, and there are lots of other reasons we could go into which are far too technical to go into tonight, about following the market and about how government shouldn’t be involved in assets; and shouldn’t be involved in the economy – those are smokescreens.

There are quite surprisingly some economists, myself included, who don’t follow that [ideology], and actually go back to the textbook… If it’s an asset, and it’s going to earn something over the future, you hold onto it for dear life. Because that’s what your future relies on!”

Ganesh Nana’s speech was well-received by the crowd. One could sense  that it was a relief for many who were listening,  that not all economists were wide-eyed free-marketeers demanding the dismantling of the State.

Ganesh Nana was followed by Geoff Bertram, Senior Economics lecturer at  Wellington’s Victoria University, and one who had been closely studying the energy sector. Mr Bertram understands the mechanisms by which our energy companies are valued and re-valued – and his simple explanations quickly reveal these valuations as clever, malevolent, rorts.

The same rorts used to drive up power prices on an almost annual basis,

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Now, the government’s aiming to sell off nearly half of some state-owned companies worth about ten billion [dollars], so it’s hoping to get a bit about under half… perhaps $4.5 billion from the sales from anybody prepared to buy the shares that they’re going to issue.

I’m going to talk tonight really about the motivation  that might lie behind those sales, and I personally think it boils down to two things.

The first is the desire of  the Treasury to get the money and run before certain things become very apparent about the way that electricity prices have been set over the last two decades.

And the second reason I think is to close off policy options that might remain open to future governments if the assets remain in full public ownership. Because while the assets are in full public ownership, it is possible to change the way they are managed and change the way that  electricity is supplied…”

Geoff Bertram then made an explosive accusation against the government which, if true, revealed a shocking reason why National is so hell-bent on privatisation of certain state assets,

“… It’s my view that probably the  most important political consequence of the part-privatisation of SOEs is to place private investors in those enterprises  and thereby immunise them against possible future policy that might reduce their value.

And since  I think an important part of an improved government policy would indeed reduce their value, I am opposed to the asset sales…

…The companies have a very high valuation. The reason why they have a very high valuation  is that they have successfully participated in a long-running rort to extract cash from residential electricity consumers by the inexorable driving up of prices of electricity.

That rort, has been possible, because government policy has allowed and has indeed supported the emergeance of a cartel of five, large, vertically-integrated, generator-retailers – three of whom are SOEs  – which have been able to operate without any effective regulation, at the expense of  consumers who were too vulnerable to protect their interests against price hikes.

And if you looked at the tracks of electricity prices over the last 20, 30 years you will have noticed that large industry has protected itself very successfully; commercial electricity buyers have done fine; residential who are the dis-organised, unrepresented, undefended, captive group of customers have seen their prices go up in real terms 100% since 1986.

And the main consequence of the electricity reforms has indeed been that doubling of the cost of electricity to ordinary  households. 

That’s a major cause of energy poverty; it’s been an important part in the growing  inequality of income and wealth in this country; and it’s something that a socially responsible government would,  in my view,  be taking serious action to reverse.”

The audience broke into heavy applause as the implications of Geoff Bertram’s comments sank in.

It is simply extraordinary that none of the media present at the rally that day has reported Geoff Bertram’s amazing – and disturbing – analysis of the energy sector and electricity pricing in New Zealand. Is what he’s saying boring?! Too complicated?! Risking opening a can of worms?!

This should be a prime-time story on TV3′s “Campbell Live” and Radio New Zealand.

Geoff Bertram continued,

“Just to put that doubling of the residential price in context. New Zealand’s pretty much on it’s own in the OECD and if you look at  the figures for other countries around the OECD, from 1986 to the present, the price of electricity to residential consumers  in OECD Europe, in Australia, and in the United Kingdom, is still the same as it was in 1986. In the United States, Japan, and France, prices are down 25% , compared to where they were in 1986, in real terms.  In South Korea they’re down 50%, compared to where they were in 1986.

New Zealand is the only only OECD country that has gone out there and driven up electricity prices 50%. We’re also pretty much the only country that doesn’t have a regulator in place, and where government doesn’t have any particular social policy relating to the pricing of essential services to the public.”

Geoff Bertram then explained what he called “the re-valuation game”, as it applied to electricity pricing in New Zealand,

And here’s how it works.

You take a bunch of assets with a given value, and you look at the existing price, to consumers of the product, and you say “well look, we can get the price up”; so you project  that higher price; you capitalise that; and then if you can get the price up the asset will be worth more; so then you re-value the asset; and then you go and use the higher value of the asset to justify raising the prices, and then you repeat.

And this is the circular process which has been going on in New Zealand now, in electricity, for more than a decade. It is completely legal under New Zealand law.

It is not illegal to profiteer or  to gauge captive customers in this country. [In] very few countries is that true.

And it’s consistant with New Zealand’s generally accepted accounting practice which basically tells you that there’s a rotteness at the core of accounting practices in this country.”

Geoff Betram further described how the ECNZ had sold power stations to the newly formed Mighty River Power, in 1999, at a considerable mark-up. In effect  government sold these power stations to itself and in the process pocketed a huge profit. To pay for those power stations, prices were raised, forcing captive residential consumers to pay more and more for their electricity. He added that we have been,

“…living under a government which for two decades has  become effectively  a corporate predator, in this sector, where once it used to be a social provider.

The applause that followed that statement was louder than before. People were ‘getting’ what Geoff Bertram was telling them. He continued,

Here’s the problem. Electricity was once an essential service provided to households at the lowest price, consistent with covering the industry’s costs. 

Since 1986 the sector has been corporatised and part-privatised, and it’s pricing has been driven by the quest for profit by giant companies that have the market power to gouge their consumers.

As the owner of three of those companies, the New Zealand government has therefore become a predator. And now the Treasury wants to cash in on that rort by selling out half the government’s stake.

What that means in terms of the options for the future for government to turn around and come back from the predator model and return to a social service approach  for energy supply, is being closed off.”

Geoff Bertram suggested that every household in New Zealand could be allocated 300kwh [kilowatt hours] of free power every month, and pay market rates for anything over and over used. He added,

But if you want to deal with energy poverty and get kids out of hospitals with asthma and other respiratory diseases and so on, one of the really good  things that you can do is get cheap energy into New Zealand households and that would be sustainable on the basis of the current government owned assets.

About 300 kwh free. [But if] you sell Mighty River and what’s feasible comes down to 200 [kwh]. You sell Genesis and what’s feasible comes down to 100 [kwh]. You sell Meridian and it’s gone…

What I’m saying is the contract  that supplies the Rio Tinto smelter down at Bluff, the old Comalco contract, is the contract New  Zealand households should have had from the start.

And it still could be done.”

Imagine, every household in the country, receiving a dividend of 300 kwh, each month. The positive benefits for low-income families, in damp, drafty houses, would be incalculable. Coupled with providing free meals in schools for children, it would be a major blow against child poverty in New Zealand.

But not if National get’s it’s way.

A new Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana coalition government must listen to people like Geoff Bertram, Ganesh Nana, et al, if we are to progress forward.

After Geoff Bertram, the crowd was entertained by Maarama Te Kira and Lucky Ngatuere,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Following on from the entertainment, Jane Kelsey, Law Professor from Auckland University, addressed the Rally. Professor Kelsey is also one of the country’s acknowledged experts on globalisation, and a staunch critic of the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), which is being negotiated in secrecy and condemned worldwide.

Professor Kelsey has also been the target of some fairly vindictive statements from the NZ Herald (see: Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey).

Professor Kelsey started by welcoming old friends to the rally,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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“…It was great to see lots of familiar faces from battles of the past, but it was also great to see so many young people here, because these battles are your battles for the future…

… I congratulate not only the organisor here, but  those who have been running the campaign  in Wellington gainst the asset sales, because it’s been a real inspiration across the country, and I know it’s being watched by people outside the country as well.

Some of those who are here will remember those battles we had in the mid 1980s when we were told that state-owned enterprises were simply a way of creating more efficient ways of keeping assets in  our hands. And we said at the time that it was a lie. And we knew it was a lie and they knew it was a lie. And we proved it was a lie and then they sold them off and then we had to buy them back.

Because as we predicted would happen, when you have private owners, especially private foreign owners, who have no stakes in our future, they will strip the assets. And thats what Bell-Atlantic and Ameritech did with Telecom and that’s what Wisconson Railways  did with the railways, and that’s what the [foreign ]banks that still own our banks, did with the Post Office Savings Bank and the BNZ and the Rural Bank, and so on, and we’ve been there and done that and we know what it means.”

At this point, Professor Kelsey held up a metre-square white board with heavy black lettering on it; ‘SAY NO’. It was a take on Winston Peter’s ‘NO’ sign from the Owen Glenn Donations affair in 2008. (see: Peters denies latest Owen Glenn allegations)  The placard provoked laughter from the crowd who obviously recalled the significance of it.

” They also know that the problem [for the neo-liberals] was that we were able to reverse some of those failed privatisations, and other things that failed. Like when they tried to privatise ACC. Like when they tried to de-regulate the electricity market. … So what they have is a new strategy designed to lock-in and make potentially irreversible the kinds of policies that they want to see rule in the interests of their cronies for the indefinite future.
These particularly  toxic legal products are known as Free Trade and Investment Agreements but they have nothing to do with trade, they’re actually investment protection agreements that make it almost almost impossible for us to be able to do the kinds of reversals of failed privatisations we’ve done in the past. We have a number of those agreements already.

And they are potentially causing some problems.
Some of you will have followed what’s happening with the tobacco companies, and their threats to sue over the introduction of plain-packaging tobacco. What we have now now is a particularly virulent strand of this this toxic disease. It’s known as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or the TPPA. We have other ways of describing the TPPA – Taking People’s Power Away. Toxic Profiteers Plundering Aotearoa.
What it’s designed to do, in particular in relation to investment, is to say ‘You have to open your doors without restrictions to the rights of foreign investors to be able to buy any of the assets within Aotearoa’.
Now, we already have an open door,  and they’ve already signed away the ability to reverse some of that.

But now they want to raise the thresholds even further, so that our ability to vet foreign owners is effectively taken out of our hands. But worse than that, once the foreign investors own the assets, these agreements give special guarantees to those foreign companies. They give guarantees that we will  not alter our future laws and policies in ways that significantly affect the value or the profitability of their investments.
So once we have – or they have – given away our assets, our ability to do anything to recover them is not only constrained by the kinds of threats that we’ve seen in the past and concerns about ‘crisis’ and ‘investor confidence’ and all of that other bullshit – we have threats from foreign investors under an agreement like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, that they will sue our government not only for the loss of the value of their assets but the for the loss of future profits from those assets.
…It will not be a case that will be brought in our domestic Court. It is a case that will be brought in a secret, off-shore tribunal, where there will be three Arbitrators who would sit on the Hearing who last week were acting for an investor, and this week are acting as a judge in the cases brought before them by an investor. There is no system of  precedent, there is no openess so we can see the documents, or even sit in on the Hearings. There may not even be a publication of their judgement at the end of it!
These kinds of secret offshore tribunals are  so discredited now that many  governments are saying  they won’t agree to deals that allow foreign investors to have those powers.  And the Australians have said in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that they won’t agree to foreign investors having those powers.

Our government – when John Key was first asked about this – said, “Oh, well if the Australians don’t think it’s a good thing, it sounds a little bit off-beam to me, so I suppose we’d go where Australia goes”.

Then his officials officials briefed him and said, “Well, actually Prime Miniter, no, we’re going to agree  to foreign investors having these powers”.
So this Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is currently being negotiated. They want to try to close off the negotiations in October this year. The negotiations are all taking place in secret. We don’t get to see the final agreement until it’s signed off by the eleven countries negotiating it, which includes the US where the big foreign investors are based.
So, effectively the government is negotiating a Bill of Rights for foreign investors not only to enter and buy up this country, but to be able to threaten us in the future if we try to take back control of what is ours.”

Professor Kelsey invited the crowd to join in the campaign to oppose the TPPA, and pointed out information that was freely available on nearby tables. She warned the crowd,

“Join us in the campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, because so many of the things that we care about – We will not be able to effectively regulate in the future; we will not be be able to take back control of our future; if this agreement is passed. Parliament doesn’t get  an effective say on it. This is an agreement negotiated by the  Cabinet, it can be ratified by the Cabinet; and we have no say until it is a done deal.
We know that the Prime Minister is very good at secret done deals. We know that the Prime Minister is happy to do deals on behalf of his cronies. We know that the Prime Minister is prepared to sell out democracy, sovereignty, and tino rangatiratanga. And if we’re going to take back control of our futures then this agreement is a priority to stop this year, along with the asset sales.”

Professor Keley thanked the audience, who in turn cheered and clapped for her.

Meanwhile, Shane and Ariana (?) held aloft the anti-TPPA banner,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Next up, Bishop Justin Duckworth – the Anglican Bishop of Wellington. He had some very personal but salient anecdotes to share with us,

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Bishop Duckworth greeted the crowd and started with this story from his own family,

” I was sitting out before and listening to the speakers, who were awesome, and I was suddenly talking to a new friend, I met a new friend, and he was telling me he was a father like I was a father, and we were discussing our children, and I suddenly remember a story that happened between my wife and my teenage boy. Classic conversation went down about domestic chores. And my beautiful wife, Jenny was saying to my boy, “it’s your turn to do the dishes”.

And he sort of said, “No, I did the dishes last night”.

And then she said, “I vacuumed the floor.”

And then he said, “Well, I watered the garden.”

And then she said, “Well, I dropped you to school.”

And it was escalating. Until my wife finally busted what I thought was the argument to end all arguments. And she said this; “I gave birth to you.”

I thought;  that’s it. Argument stopped. How could you argue with that?

My teenage boy had this comeback, “And your generation destroyed the environment for us.”

Good line, eh?

And it’s true isn’t? It’s true that our generation not only did we destroy the global environment, but  we have also instigated the global recession as well. And I think that the issues that we are talking about today about asset sales; the reason why that this issue in particular hits our public so strongly, and we have such a good turnout to this rally, is that because I think it’s at the core of a whole lot of other issues.

And so, as a man of faith, as a follower of Jesus, I just want to tell you what concerns me. And these are questions I have, I haven’t got the answers, but these are just questions.

Around asset sales I have questions  around the lack of regulation already  in place in the assets that we own…

… I heard Geoff speak, and I also read his articles, the reports about his papers a couple of weeks ago.  I am concerned that that it is simply not fair, and not just …”

“If we were to sell our assets how less a control do we have? If we already have such limited control at the moment on the regulation of them, how much more limited will it be in the future?”

My second question I would have is this. Recognising… that the Kai Tiaki of New Zealand is Tangata Whenua’s Maori people, and the wairua of this country, the spirit of this country is held by that Kai Tiaki, by the Maori people. I would have questions around what happens if we start selling our assets overseas, what does that mean for the Kai Tiaki here?

“… Third question would follow on from the Greenpeace speaker [Bunny McDiarmid - no recording of her speech made; blogger's stuff-up], and that woud be this; What happens to the environment longer term if we lose responsibility and control of our power companies? What guarantees do we have whether actually our environment and our global climate change issues will actually be positively addressed by our country? I think there are huge issues there if we choose to sell our assets.”

Bishop Duckworth then concluded with this sobering anecdote – something personal, yet with global implications in how we treat each other,

“…Those of you who don’t know, my father was born in Burma – in Myanmar. A few years ago I went back with him; never visited before, me and my brother went back to Burma. Took my dad, visited a whole lot of wider family.

Once we were on a temple tour, as you do on these sort of trips. We were touring around these temples, and me and my brother, having a lot of sibling rivalry, we’d constantly compete to see who could get the best bargain for the little knick-knacks. You know that I mean? Those little things you buy constantly. So me and my brother were constantly competing for who could get the best deal  on knick-knacks.

One night we were just finishing another temple tour and this guy sidled up to me and was selling me hand-painted pictures of Burmese countryside. Now I’ve been around long enought to know what you can normally get these pictures for.

Normally you pick these pictures up for about three US dollars.
But I was militant that night. And I thought I’m going to prove once and for all that I can run the biggest, best bargain in the world. So I drilled that fellow down to get the best  bargain I could. And in the end I managed to get four pictures for five US dollars!

…We were getting a lift home, and I was showing the pictures to my brother and saying, “Look, I’ve got the best bargain ever!”

And the driver of our horse and cart leant over and asked, “Hey, um, what’d you pay for those?”

I said, “I paid five US dollars for the four of them”.

He sez, “Ohhh, it must’ve been a bad day.”

I go, “What do you mean?”

“The man musn’t have been able to sell anything that day, so he had to sell his goods at cost price, at least at cost-price,  just to buy rice for his family.”

And suddenly I realised what was just some crazy game, ideological game, for me, was actually  life and death for other people.

And my big questions I have around this issue is this; is this some crazy ideological issue that we’ve been driven  here, or is it actually about everyday people who are struggling, who need jobs, who need security, who need a future, and who need decent power.

And that’s my question.”

Ariana then troduced Maanu Paul, Chairman of the Maori Council, and  who was currently taking the Government to the Supreme Court over water rights. Maanu Paul had some interesting observations, and made a call to action,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Maanu Paul offered a greeting to the people at the rally, and then began with,

“When I was asked to come and speak, at this,  I asked, “who makes money out of this lot [asset sales] ‘?

And the answer was, we need to raise the consciousness of our nation in respect of our opposition to the sale of assets. The New Zealand Maori Council has had a long history of opposing the sale of our assets, beginning in 1986, when we established Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act, which we said, “nothing in this Act shall be contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi”.

And then we had the lands case in 1987 when we stopped the sale of state owned land. And then we had a negotiation with the Crown over the sale of the biggest man-made forest in the southern hemisphere – the Kaingaroa Forest. And then they sold the spectra. And  we had an argument with the Crown over who owned the spectra. It’s about the same argumwent as who owns the water.

And the government of the day said, ‘Maori did not know anything about the spectra’. And I shot back to them, ‘Neither did they. An Italian  fellow named Marconi knew about it, and the Poms didn’t know anything about it at all’.

The upshot is that they allocated us a portion of the spectra and now we’re a part of Two Degrees.

Finally we come to the sale of the dams and the capacity to generate power. The whakapapa so far tells us that the constant that is present in all this is that the Maori Council has ensured that state owned assets stay in this country.”

There was strong applause at this point, and with a smile, Maanu Paul continued,

“Thank you. Because I’m going to ask you to put your hands in your pockets, because you owe us.”

More good natured laughter, and Maanu Paul’s smile widened, as the audience understood the nature of his remarks. He explained,

“You owe us because if we didn’t take this government to the Tribunal, to the High Court, and the Supreme Court, our assets would’ve been gone, would’ve been sold by now.

That is the reality of what we’re facing. And so the Council is dedicated to ensuring that we leave the world a better place for our mokopunas. We leave the world a better place that wehen we were born to it. And the world we were born to was, as far as I was concerned, I had the right to go and fish in my foreshore in my foreshore and seabed… heh heh heh…

I had the right to swim in my rivers and my lakes and call them my own. I had the right to do what I wanted with my land without having it confiscated.

And all of these tell me right now, that those rights have been eroded. Those rights have been eroded because this government, and previous governments, have failed to properly honour the Treaty of Waitangi.”

At this point, Maanu Paul called for direct action of a sort that up until now had not been considered. His comments have been reported in the media, and this is what he said, verbatim,

“And so my  message today, to us, is quite simply, is that we need to do more than sign a petition. We need to do more than gather in Frank Kitts Park, and what we need to do is to sit outside of Parliament and demand that we maintain the control of our assets.

What I’m suggesting – and I don’t know whether my Council’s going to agree with me about  this – but what I’m suggesting  is that we have a Noho Kainga [sitting] on Parliament grounds!

And we sit there until a fellow called Winston Peters might have put a Bill in Parliament that says ‘we are wishing to maintain ownership of the assets that we paid for in the taxes that’ve been levied upon us in the name of the public good’.

The audience resoponded enthusiastically to this suggestion, and the feeling was strong that many would’ve upped and left for Parliament’s ground at that very moment.

Maanu Paul continued,

“And the reason I’m saying this to you is that simply because there is no protection of your assets paid for by your taxes, which were levied upon you in the first place, in the name of the public good.

And we are the public and we should have a Nono Kainga to protect to protect our public good.”

Maanu Paul then sang a new “public anthem” to the crowd. This blogger can report that  his singing is something to behold – Maanu Paul has an awesome singing voice. Firstly his song was rendered in Maori, and then for the benefit of those who don’t yet know the language (including this blogger), in English,

‘I am the water, the water is me,

Cascading down,

from Ranginui,

Enveloping all,

The environment,

I am the water,

the water is me.’

Ariana asked the crowd,  “Yes, yes, yes! A sit down at Parliament – who’s up for it?

The response was shouted from the crowd loud and in affirmation.

A new people’s action may be in the offing… Stay tuned, folks. This ain’t over – not by a long shot. Or by John Key’s lamentable imagination.

A new chapter is unfolding.

Continued and concluded at:

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part toru)

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Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

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.

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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= fs =

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part tahi)

17 February 2013 6 comments

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SOEs

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NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – Set against an overcast early evening sky, and a chilly southerly, several hundred Wellingtonians of all ages, races, political affiliations, and backgrounds came together at Frank Kitts Park, on Wellington’s waterfront,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Their common unity of purpose was to oppose the partial sale of state-owned assets,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Electricity-dustry expert, Molly Melhuish, with others from DEUN (Domestic Electricity Users Network). Ms Melhuish (center, holding white clipboard)  is  intimately familiar with the working of the electricity industry in this country and was a key member in   campaigns to oppose electricity privatisation in the 1990s – including Wellington’s Capital Power.

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The messages were simple, and to the point. From Labour,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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… to the Mana Party,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The message for National  was clear – what’s ours is ours,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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This Wellingtonian understood the folly and false-economy of selling state assets which are money-making cash-cows. Right wing politicians know this – but their zealous obedience to neo-liberal dogma seems to over-ride any semblance of common-sense,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Many in the crowd were of an age to recall the sale of Telecom – something that was resisted by 93% of New Zealanders,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Interestingly, at least one right-wing politician has belatedly realised that selling state assets was a mistake – see: Bolger: Telecom sale a mistake

Dedicated ANFS activist, Frances, had a very simple question for Dear Leader,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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ANFS activist, Athena, handing out leaflets to people in the crowd and discussing issues with them,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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With media filming the event, ANFS co-convenor, Ariana, opened the Rally with a welcome to the crowd and  an introduction of the speakers who had been invited to address the rally, with their thoughts on the sale of state assets,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, and each gave their perspective on the issue of selling the people’s assets.

To be continued:

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

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Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

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.

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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= fs =

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