Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…
Are we witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring? All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.
The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.
In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.
In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.
In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.
Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).
Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.
When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.
Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ - Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill
Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy was safe.
Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.
We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.
There is barely a murmur in response.
Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of the growth of State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…
Peter Dunne, fresh from resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday announced that he might not support National’s Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.
Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.
Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?
Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.
Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.
We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.
Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.
Isn’t that… Big Brother?
I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.
Dunne may well be the man to do it.
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval
I’ve always wondered…
Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National) used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’? The Master Banking Contract has been held by Westpac for 23 years despite never being tendered out. It covers all government departments (except Crown entities and SOEs).
According to Alex Tarrant,
- In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
- A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
- The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
- An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
- The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
- The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
- The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract. Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
- The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.
Here are two further points to consider,
- Last year Westpac NZ reported $707 million in after-tax profit - a 22 % increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
- In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)
So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!
How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?
Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.
So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.
Have I left anything out?
Screw the tender process.
Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic right winger;
- No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
- Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
- All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
- Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments
I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.
Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…
Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.
I can’t say otherwise.
Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $18.40/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
~ Reduce poverty, like we reduced the toll for road-fatalities
~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Being nice to each other
- Letter to the editor – National squanders our super fund!
- OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows
- Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua)
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 9 December 2013
- Letter to the Editor: Should Key attend Mandela’s funeral?
- Farewell, Nelson Mandela…
- I’ve voted – have you?
- John on John…
- A letter to the editor…
- Bring in the clowns…
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 2 December 2013
- The ChCh by-election – a letter to the editor…
- Another “satisfied” WINZ client…
- Full access for everyone!
- Geoff Robinson – an era ends.
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 25 November 2013
- Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 22 November 2013
- 2013 – Ongoing jobless talley
- One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #5…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #3…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #2…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #1…
- Another good poll for a LabourGreen government
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