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When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

30 July 2014 3 comments

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Tova O'Brien - foot in mouth award

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It had to happen, I guess… The media pack-campaign against Labour Leader David Cunliffe has managed to  plumb new depths of absurdity.

On TV3, on 24 July,  TV3/Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;

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tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe

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The print-version on the TV3 website had this to say on the story;

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Key nestles in with the All Blacks

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Tova O'Brien 3 News Political Reporter

Political Reporter – Thursday 24 Jul 2014 6:32p.m.

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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has labelled the Prime Minister a poser and an imposter after yet another photo opportunity coup.

First it was tea with the Queen, then golf with United States President Barack Obama – now he’s managed to nestle in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine.

“Some people will love it and some people will hate it,” says Mr Key.

With the All Blacks almost like royalty in New Zealand it could be seen as an endorsement, and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not impressed.

“I was surprised to see it,” he says. “It’s not often you see a major sporting body getting involved in politics.”

The New Zealand Rugby Union was forewarned by the magazine.

It did nothing but request a small disclaimer that Mr Key leading the pack wearing an All Blacks jersey was not an endorsement – it was photoshopped.

“I think I need to accept that I’d more than likely make it as a mascot than a player,” says Mr Key.

“It’s posing and impostering,” says Mr Peters. “You wouldn’t put an All Black jersey on unless you’re an All Black. He looks like an imposter.”

He did not request the cover, the magazine approached him and it does not breach any electoral laws.

3 News

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However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, is this incredible parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team.Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

Geddit? “Cringey”. “Whingey”. They rhyme!!

Oh how very witty, Ms O’Brien!

Ho, ho, ho! Tova, you certainly earned your salary with that piece. There must have been several children who laughed their heads of at the ‘funny’ you made!

Not so funny is that despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe. This is what we are being served up as “news”;

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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This is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

So what should be the response of the Left? To work our arses off in the next two months and score a decisive victory on 20 September. That will be our “FUCK YOU!” to the media in this country.

 

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References

TV3:  Key nestles in with the All Blacks

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2014.

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When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

29 July 2014 1 comment

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The people will believe what the media tells them to believe

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The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

When you look at the Tale of Two Holidays, it is glaringly obvious how differently the media – and certain ego-driven political commentators who shall remain nameless – reported both events. The public must have been scratching their heads, wondering, What-The-F**k?!

Even right-wing political commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton, remarked on the apparent contradiction on 21 July, on Radio NZ’s political panel;

 “The Prime Minister was away for ten days at his bach or his holiday home. As you say, it seems terribly unfair and Labour people are very angry with the media because they say ‘here’s the Prime Minister goes away for ten days and our leader get’s sick for two days and goes skiing for three days and then get’s criticised’

[...]

… to be completely crass about about this, if the CEO of Coca Cola and there’s the CEO of Pepsi Cola, and one of them’s sale’s are increasing making great profits, and the other one’s got a whole lot of product recalls underway and sales are down and they’re in a shambles, then the first CEO get’s to go on holiday and the other one doesn’t.”

The media’s unhealthy fixation on Cunliffe left me wondering…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:          Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 11:16 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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There has been public disquiet that the mainstream media appears to be unfairly treating the leader of the Labour party, David Cunliffe.

This disquiet appears to have been confirmed by the recent attention and disparaging remarks by political reporters and commentators on Cunliffe’s three day holiday in Queenstown.

The same disparaging remarks were not directed at Prime Minister John Key, who himself took a ten day holiday – three times as long! – in Hawaii, at the same time.

Or the recent Donghua Liu “story”, where Mr Liu claimed he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine to Labour – and then had to retract his allegations. No apology to Cunliffe was forthcoming, I noticed.

It appears to be different rules of reporting by the media when it comes to both men.

Of course, the media will respond that Labour is low in the polls and criticism by political commentators reflects that.

The irony is that constant negative stories by the media, including focusing on trivia (Cunliffe’s red scarf!!) and smear campaigns, feeds into Labour’s low poll rating. It is a ever-descending vicious circle.

Wouldn’t it be a fine idea if the media simply reported the news, instead of making it up and generating sensationalistic headlines, just to sell advertising space?

Far be it for me to tell the media how to do their job. I’m just an ordinary citizen who has to hear this kind of garbage day after day.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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There is another reason why it seems bizarre that the media made such a fuss over Cunliffe’s three day break.

It’s common knowledge that Key takes his holidays in Hawaii. Which is an odd way for a Minister of Tourism to show his endorsement of the local tourism industry, and is something I’ve blogged about in the past. As usual, the mainstream media never considered it worthy of consideration.

But it seems to have been a different story  when David Cunliffe dared take three days off – supporting local businesses in the process – and all hell broke loose.

The campaign against Cunliffe was no better highlighted than the Herald’s recent Doinghua Liu Affair*, when an immigrant businessman made several allegations against David Cunliffe. Of those allegations, one (about a $100,000 bottle of wine) was retracted; one (about a supposed $15,000 book) remains unproven by any evidence; and the other two appear to have been overt attempts by Mr Liu to “curry favour” with a previous Labour minister.

Yet, the allegations were given wide prominence, even though,

  • there was very little (if any) actual evidence presented – it was all hear-say based on one man’s claims,
  • the Herald has pointedly refused to make public Mr Liu’s written statements, despite making public a copy of a letter signed by Cunliffe in 2003,
  • no apology, for the mis-reporting of the now-discredited $100,000 bottle of wine, has been forthcoming.

Then again, perhaps the purpose of the Donghua Liu Affair was not to report the news – but to manufacture it,  and in the process unfairly damage a reputation and undermine a party’s  election campaign…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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John Key takes a ten day holiday in Hawaii and David Cunliffe takes a three day break in Queenstown – and the media go nuts over Cunliffe. All because of one unattributed “letter” from an anonymous individual claiming to be a “senior Labour party official”.

For all we know, the letter could have originated from the National Party’s dirty tricks team and hyped by certain TV3 and Herald commentators.

The Donghua Liu Affair was another sensationalised story based on one man’s unsubstantiated allegations – one of which has been retracted through lack of evidence.

Cunliffe addressed a family violence conference in Auckland and one tiny portion of his speech was taken utterly out of context by a headline-seeking media desperate for a sensational story. His full statement – which is rarely reported – “I’m sorry for being a man right now because family and sexual violence perpetrated overwhelmingly by men”

The true meaning of Cunliffe’s speech was lost in the subsequent media-generated hysteria.

Meanwhile, John Key refuses to apologise to crime-victim, Tania Billingsley for the shocking way in which the government botched the apprehension of the alleged perpetrator. Key says, “I don’t make apologies unless there’s a serious reason for me to do that.”

Evidently sexual violence is not a “serious” matter for the PM?

Key feels he can get away with such an outrageous comment because he knows full well that the media is fixated, with pack-like mentality, on David Cunliffe.

The public are not well-served by such poor “news” manufacturing.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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The  concerted attacks on Cunliffe do indeed reek of a “pack mentality”; the kind of schoolyard or workplace bullying that takes place when a group recognises someone who, for whatever reason, is constrained in hitting back.

In Cunliffe’s case, he can’t “hit” back at the media. Not without adding fuel to the hysterics from the likes of Garner, Gower, Henry, Armstrong, et al.

In John Armstrong’s case, the man is simply so wedded to his mates in the  National Party  that, on the same day Donghua Liu made his allegations, the Herald columnist called for David Cunliffe to step down as leader of the Labour Party;

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John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order

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The fact that there was little actual evidence of wrong-doing was not a matter Armstrong considered.  Indeed, if one carefully reads Armstrong’s diatribe, one curious truth becomes apparent; at no point does he mention that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ was written in 2003 – eleven years ago;

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cunliffe - 2003 dated letter - partial

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Unless one had an eidetic memory, no human being on Earth could possibly recall signing a letter written over a decade ago.

Of course, it suited Armstrong’s purpose to omit the date. To any reader unfamiliar with the full details of the story, taking the letter out of it’s historical context gave Armstrong’s column validity that it barely deserved. It suited the Herald’s agenda to undermine the Labour leader. And it fitted like a hand-in-glove the collective media pack-attack on Cunliffe.

The entire issue became a Monty Pythonesque-style farce when,  on 22 July, when Patrick Gower reported on David Cunliffe’s exasperation with a media obsessed with finding fault with him;

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David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

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Patrick Gower 3 News Political Editor

By Patrick Gower

 

Political Editor

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has done what politicians hate to do: he has admitted to getting it wrong.

And it is a long list – there is his apology for being a man and his apology for taking a holiday. There is even an apology for the scarf he has been wearing.

“I am being straight up – things I could have done better, things that I will do better.”

The Labour Party is in a crisis at just 26.7 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll.

Mr Cunliffe took three days off to go skiing in Queenstown last week and he says he got that wrong too.

 “I’m happy to say, with the information I now have about movement in the polls, when I made that decision I would have made a different decision.”

The poll shows since Mr Cunliffe took over as the Labour leader last year, voters who say he’s performing poorly have doubled, to 53 percent.

After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key takes 10 days off in Hawaii, and refuses to personally apologise to Tania Billingsley – the woman at the centre of the botched Malaysian diplomat case – but instead, it is Mr Cunliffe forced into making multiple apologies.

The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind.

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So there you have it, even the colour of Cunliffe’s scarf had attracted media attention and criticism.

Gower does admit one thing; “The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind“. So the scrutiny on Cunliffe’s leadership was not based on policies nor his  pronouncement on policy matters – it was predicated  on “Labour [...] so far behind”.

 In other others; kicking someone when they’re down. Because to bullies, when someone is down, it’s easier to put the boot in. And make no mistake, this is a form of public bullying. When a person is attacked because of the style of their clothing, what else does one call it?

However, it get’s ‘better’. Listen to Gower’s commentary at the end of this TV3 report, on the same day;

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"So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple 'mea culpas' about what can only be described as  pretty minor issues..."
“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”
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“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”

Pretty. Minor. Issues.

Those “pretty minor issues” are the “issues” which TV3, NZ Herald, and other media outlets have been fixated upon for the last few months – and now Gower is criticising Cunliffe for raising those very same issues?!

This is what I call manufactured news. Manufactured news made worse when a political figure is boxed into a corner to address them, thereby validating the synthetic nature of said “news”.

No wonder that Cunliffe said in the same video;

“I am determined that I will be extremely careful about the way I put things going forward…”

Just what the public needs; politicians fearful of  saying plainly and clearly what’s on their minds because they are wary of their remarks being taken out of context; twisted; and  hyper-sensationalised, by an increasingly tabloid-style media in this country.

We have been poorly served by the media which is more interested in ratings and selling advertising rather than reporting events. As matters stand, we may see politicians self-censoring, thereby pressuring political journalists/commentators to generate even more of their own asinine, manufactured ‘stories’, with ever-more lurid headlines.

Fifteen months ago, John Key expressed his frustration at what he perceived as media hounding. He retaliated;

“What I should have done, and what I will be doing in the future, is saying, well, the member needs to put that down to me in writing, and I’ll be doing that to the journalists as well.

‘Cos if you want perfection of everything I have done, two, three, four, five years ago, I will get you all that information for you, but I’ll get you the whole lot and give it to you.”

Perhaps the Labour leader might consider that mainstream media are no longer merely news-gathering and reporting organisations. They are selling advertising to earn revenue to return a dividend to shareholders.

As such, the mainstream media has it’s own agenda and reporting the news is no longer as profitable as it once was. “News” now has to be “packaged” and delivered to “consumers”. The “packaging” is now more important than the content.

Bear that in mind, Mr Cunliffe; you are being “packaged” for media consumers in whatever manner will sell the product (advertising).

My advice to David Cunliffe; refuse to be “packaged”. Develop a strategy for ignoring “pretty minor issues“. Treat the  next smear campaign that rises in the same way that Key treats such matters; with casual disdain.

And give the Gowers and Garners and Henrys of the media circus a simple message; “if you want to talk with me, fine. But if it’s about “holidays” or “scarves” or non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine – don’t expect any co-operation from me when you’re vying for information.  Because I’m just as likely to give it to your competitors instead.”

So stay aloof and don’t buy into being “packaged” by the media.

It seems to work for Key.

Meanwhile, lest we forget this shameful episode…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor*
NZ Herald

 

It is now nearly one month since your editorial, “Cries of bias will not stop reporting”, where the NZ Herald tried – to no avail – to justify it’s campaign of lurid allegations and sensationalised headlines against Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

So where are we now with the Donghua Liu Affair?

Claims of a $100,000 bottle of wine – retracted.

Claims of a $15,000 book – still not proven.

Claims of a Yangtze River boat-trip and $2000 donation to a rowing club – shown to be one businessman’s ineffectual efforts to ‘curry favour’ with then-Minister, Rick Barker. (One doubts that a free feed and two grand donated to a rowing club would “buy” much in the way of favours from a Backbencher, much less a Crown Minister.)

Where does that leave your paper which has promised “further revelations”? Where is the “evidence” promised by the Herald?

And why have Donghua Liu’s “signed statements” still not been made public so we may judge for ourselves as to the value of his claims?

This has been a shameful, sordid episode from the Herald and will be long remembered by many as an example why journalists rank low on surveys of trusted professions – just marginally above used-car salesmen, politicians, telemarketers, and prostitutes (no offence intended to the latter two).

Indeed, the public will have every justification in treating with total scepticism any future story involving David Cunliffe (or any other senior Labour politician).

This has not been the Herald’s finest moment.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

 

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* Note: the matter of the Herald’s reporting of the Donghua Liu Affair is now a subject of a Press Council complaint, laid by this blogger, as well as OIA lodgements with the offices of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Immigration.

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References

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Radio  NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Fairfax media: John Key changes tack over questioning

NZ Herald: Cries of bias will not stop reporting

Previous related blogposts

John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 July 2014.

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Another media gaffe – this time it’s TV3’s Brook Sabin

26 July 2014 2 comments

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Foot In Mouth Award - Brook Sabin

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Every so often (quite regularly, in fact), a media personality will say something outrageously offensive, or just plain gormless, that results in an uncontrollable  *facepalm* reaction. On 19 July, on TV3’s “The Nation“, it was Brook Sabin’s turn.

Brook was one of three panellists on “The Nation“;

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(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson

(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson

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The discussion centered around coalitions and pre-election deal-making. Colin Craig from the Conservative Party and Jamie Whyte from near-defunct ACT Party, had just been interviewed by a very competant Lisa Owen (unlike the uber differential performance between a very chummy Patrick Gower and NZ First Leader, Winston Peters).

At  1.42 into the panel discussion , there was this extraordinary exchange between Sabin and Wilson;

Sabin: And if John Key says ‘no’ to Colin Craig, he can say why is Labour not saying ‘no’ to doing a deal with Kim Dotcom, and I think that’s quite powerful as well-“

Wilson: Actually, I think that’s, that’s unreasonable. Now, Labour hasn’t done a deal with Kim Dotcom. They are saying maybe they will do some kind of deal after the election, in the same way that National would do a deal with the Conservatives. But right now, Labour’s made it very clear they’re going to do their best to win Te Tai Tokerau. They’re going to do their best to win all the Maori seats. They’re not doing a deal to give Internet-Mana a seat. On the contrary they’re going to fight them. They may need to do a deal later, but it is very different from the Epsom-Ohariu scenario.

Sabin: Yeah, absolutely. But David Cunliffe is leaving that door open…

Wilson: I think… I think they’ve said very clearly Kelvin Davis…[interuption]…

Sabin: …And I think he needs to try to close that door a little bit more…

Wilson: …Kelvin Davis has the party support to win that electorate and they’re going to do that.

Where has Brook Sabin been? Holidaying on Pluto?

The last few weeks have been rife with Labour MPs excoriating Mana-Internet. Simon Wilson  was 100% correct that  David Cunliffe has made it abundantly clear that Labour is not prepared to do Epsom-Ohario style deals – as the Labour leader pointedly made explicit on “The Nation“, just the previous week;

Patrick Gower: If Internet-Mana get there and you need their numbers will you use them to form a government or will you rule them out?

David Cunliffe: We’re not doing any pre-election deals with anybody.

[...]
Patrick Gower: But you would perform-

David Cunliffe: Paddy, with this team to win the election, campaigning for the Labour party vote. After the election we will work with whoever we need to work with to change the Government…

Seems fairly clear to me.
Is it clear to you, the reader?

Evidently it was not clear to Brook Sabin.

Does Sabin not watch his own current affairs show?

The media appears full of political journalists and reporters who simply don’t seem to know what they are talking about and put a ‘spin’ on things that is misleading and damaging to the process of democratic debate. (Note the irony here; even whilst Cunliffe and Labour bend over backwards not to engage in any pre-election deal-making – the media will still portray them as doing precisely that! Labour might as well nut out a full-scale deal with the Greens and Mana-Internet, as media commentators have already convicted them on the charge. All the while, the same media commentators look on in awe at Key’s deft handling of deals with ACT, Peter Dunne, and possibly Colin Craig. My poor little Hypocrisy Meter, which goes *DING!*, has melted down from over-excitement at the double standards of mainstream media commentators.)

If the media cannot be trusted to report what a party leader has said, unequivocally, in black-and-white terms that a five year old can understand – then we are not well served for information.

Brook Sabin tried to ‘lump’ David Cunliffe with John Key when it came to pre-election deal-making. He failed because luckily Simon Wilson was onboard “The Nation’s” panel to correct Sabin’s patently untrue assertions.

Either Sabin was truly ignorant of Labour’s position, or he was indulging in sloppy, lazy “they’re-all-the-same” style of political commentary. If it is the latter, Sabin needs to find a new job.

Are they looking for bar-staff on Pluto?

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References

The Daily Blog: Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

TV3 The Nation:  Interview – Jamie Whyte & Colin Craig (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – NZ First Leader Winston Peters (video)

TV3 The Nation:  Panel – Brook Sabin, Jessica Williams & Simon Wilson (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – David Cunliffe (transcript)

Previous related blogposts

Labour’s collapse in the polls – why?

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!


 

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Lorde wants you to vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.

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Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

25 July 2014 2 comments

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everyday-sexism-book

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If there is one thing that Tania Billingsley has raised in this country, it is focusing the glare of public scrutiny  on New Zealand’s casually sexist and demeaning attitude toward women. Some refer to it as a “rape culture”, where men (and generally speaking, they are men) hold the most repulsive attitudes imaginable toward  women.

I’m not even referring to rapists, molesters, and men who beat (and often kill) their partners senseless.

I’m referring to the casual acceptance of views toward women that are more suited to less enlightened societies, than a supposedly advanced, well-educated nation like ours. It is views of some men who – whilst not abusers and rapists themselves – are enablers of attitudes that empower the abusers and rapists by creating an ingrained belief that they are entitled to abuse and rape. Somewhere in the back of what passes for the minds of abusers and rapists are the comments they’ve read and heard elsewhere in society; that it is ok to mistreat and violate women. (Though they have to be over 16 to be abused and violated. Anyone under that, and the abuser/rapist is labelled a paedophile – which is evidently still ‘not ok” for misogynists. Yet. But working on it.)

The vileness of such attitudes is not just found on rabid social media pages where  poorly-educated,  and often insecure males (predominantly),  click “Like” to show their solidarity  with several hundred (a minority) other poorly-educated and often insecure males.

The mainstream media also has a culture of sexism, ranging from crass innuendo and exploitation of women,  to outright violence.

Case in point is the media personality-cum-village-idiot, Paul Henry.

Henry has a track record in boorish behaviour, more befitting an immature, adolescent male, rather than a mature man who should know better.

As Mike Kilpatrick wrote for Fairfax media on 16 July, Henry’s obnoxiousness reached a nadir when he interviewed Dr Michelle Dickinson, a scientist working at Auckland University;

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Auckland University - Michelle Dickinson - Paul Henry - TV3

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To quote the Auckland university directory, Dr Dickinson’s  areas of expertise are;

Nanotechnology, Nanomechanical testing, Fracture Mechanics, Materials Engineering, Biomimetics, Calcified Biological Structures.

And,

Dr Michelle Dickinson obtained her PhD from Rutgers University (USA) and her MEng from Manchester University (UK) in Biomedical Materials Engineering. She has previously held positions in industry which brings an applied focus to her academic research.

Her research is involved in measuring the mechanical properties of materials from the nanoscale through to the macro scale, specifically using indentation techniques.

She has a special interest in biological material behaviour and adapting traditional engineering measurement techniques and models to suit realistic biological testing conditions.

Dr Dickinson is a scientist with serious credentials*.

Which makes what followed next all the more jaw-droppingly unbelievable.

After a cursory interview with Dr Dickinson, Henry then asked a  question of mind-blowing, crass sexism, as Kilpatrick  explained in his Fairfax piece,

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Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn't sink lower

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Henry then shows a photograph of Branson hugging Dickinson and then asks the question “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

Note the question; “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

For those with kevlar-lined stomachs, they can see the interview here. The offensive remarks are 5:21 into the interview.

To illustrate the sadly-all-too-predictable consequences of Henry’s  comment, read the public comments – 425 as at this blogpost – which followed Kilpatrick’s story. Note the attitude of  those who think that Henry’s comments are acceptable. Note the casualness of acceptance of a remark that, in other circumstance, would be utterly unacceptable in normal social circles, and result in oppobrium.

Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?

What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?

What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?

Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?

If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Allow me to remind TV3 executives, producers, staff, and presenters;

  • It is not ok to treat women like that.
  • It is not ok to have it beamed into our homes.
  • It is not ok to give voice to a culture of sexist denigration.
  • And it is not ok to dismiss it as just “humour”. There is nothing remotely funny about sexist denigration.

After all, this is precisely why 99% of New Zealanders were so horrified at the degrading  behaviour of a group of young men calling themselves “Roastbusters”.

At least the “Roastbusters” had the excuse of youthful stupidity (a crime I was guilty of, in my own youth).

Paul Henry has no such excuse.  He is a supposedly mature, responsible, 54 year old man.

I agree with Mike Kilpatrick. Henry’s comment was beyond the pale. He must resign, or be sacked. Unless New Zealanders are comfortable with more and more abhorrent, gutter-level attitudes being expressed by “media personalities” and broadcast into our homes, this kind of behaviour cannot be allowed to become a new norm.

Changing channels is not a practical option. Not if this kind of behaviour is to be normalised throughout the electronic media.

No wonder Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were able to inflict their decades-long reign of predatory-terror on hundreds of children and women. It had become acceptable and normalised. No one thought to speak out. And if they did, the new normality meant their cries for help fell on deaf ears.

Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were also funny men.

Their behaviour was anything but.

Well, Mike Kilpatrick has spoken out. And I add my voice to his. I refuse to give assent by silence. I refuse to turn my back on behaviour that, to fair-minded people, is just plain unacceptable.

TV3 – Paul Henry has no place in broadcasting.

He must go.

 

* Though all women, regardless of education achievements, professional status,  etc, should be treated with respect and not with degrading sexist attitudes that are demeaning and promote a culture of casual misogyny.

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Addendum 1

Email sent to TV3;

from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Producers <paulhenryshow@mediaworks.co.nz>
cc: Mark Jennings <mjennings@mediaworks.co.nz>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:10 AM
subject: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Kia ora,

Please refer below to a draft of a story which I intend to publish regarding remarks made by Paul Henry on his show, on 15 July and directed at his guest, Dr Michelle Dickinson.

I would appreciate your response to the issues I have raised and what remedies, if any, Mediaworks intends to make before I proceed further.

Your comment s would be appreciated.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

[Draft copy of this blogpost included as in-text]

I received a response the same day;

from: Paul Henry Show <PaulHenryShow@mediaworks.co.nz>
to: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM
subject: RE: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Dear Mr Macskasy

TV3’s company culture is one that highly values equality and equal opportunity. Our news and current affairs division has often led the debate on how women are treated in New Zealand culture, including two of the instances you mention – a 3 News investigation uncovered the Roast Busters group and led the subsequent coverage, and Tania Billingsley recently told her story on 3rd Degree.

The question line taken by Paul in Tuesday night’s interview with Dr Michelle Dickinson was checked with her before the interview, and Dr Dickinson has confirmed she was not offended at the time, and is not offended now. The question was not asked without Dr Dickinson’s okay. She is an intelligent and articulate person who has appeared on the show many times and can hold her own with Paul (and anyone else). Dr Dickinson has since made her views on the interview clear and it is worth paying her the respect of reading her blog at http://sciblogs.co.nz/nanogirl/2014/07/17/science-sexism-and-the-media/

For the record we completely reject the comparisons your email makes between Paul Henry, and the actions of the Roast Busters group and of renowned paedophiles Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris. Such comparisons are irresponsible, lacking in fairness and balance, and verging on defamatory.

I’m afraid it’s just not possible to take your blog or questions about TV3 seriously when they are written from a position of such ignorance.

Regards

Rachel Lorimer
Group Head of Corporate Communications

Fiona MacMillan
Executive Producer, Paul Henry Show

For the record, I did read Ms Dickinson’s sciblog post, and have several points to make;

  1. My criticism of TV3 and Paul Henry in no way reflects on Ms Dickinson or her professional career. Dr Dickinson can in no way be held responsible or associated with things that Paul Henry said.
  2. This issue is wider than Dr Dickinson herself, and if muppets like Henry can get away with asking obnoxious questions from a highly respected; well-educated; professional woman – then no one else is safe from his prurient “humour”. It was not too long ago that Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were suspended as radio-hosts from RadioLive, after  comments were directed to a woman about her sex life, after she disclosed on-air that  she had been raped as a 14-year-old.
  3. I sympathise with Ms Dickinson’s remark in her blogpost; “I feel passionately about providing our daughters with a positive role model for an educated female who is successful in a very male dominated field“. The question is – how does being questioned about one’s sex-life help our daughters to be successful in male dominated fields?
  4. Dr Dickinson further writes; “Yes, I’m not naive to the reputation that Paul has and I go on to his show prepared for a question that may be slightly off topic or controversial, but I’m an intelligent female who works in a very male dominated field, and I’m used to inappropriate and sexist comments and questions, it goes with the territory of being a female engineer!  Perhaps my past experience of being the only woman in a meeting (and asked to make the tea), or being told that if I want to be taken seriously I need to wear shoes with less of a heel as they could distract the men in the room has made me a little immune to sexism and a little more tolerant of comments that I should be offended by.” Should we not be offended by such remarks? And should we not do more than just being offended?
  5. Should boofheads like Paul Henry not be challenged when they make disparaging sexist comments to women they would never dream of making to male guests? Just as scientists once challenged authority on much-cherished beliefs that the world was flat and the sun orbited the Earth or that disease was caused by  ‘humors’ of the body?
  6. Ms Lorimer and Ms MacMillan seem more keen to label me as “ignorant” rather than addressing the issues I raised in my blogpost. Does this mean they have no answers to the criticisms I have levelled? They certainly have studiously avoided the questions I put to them;
  • Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?
  • What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?
  • What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?
  • Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?
  • If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Fairly simple, straight-forward questions I would have thought?

Or perhaps they would prefer to discuss their sex-lives, if it’s easier?

Addendum 2

A list of  companies advertising during the Paul Henry Show on 16 July;

Ford (Kia)

Subway

ANZ

Heineken

Placemakers

NIB Health Cover

Harvey Norman

Caredirect (caredirect.co.nz)

Whiskas (catfood)

Southern Cross Health

Masterfoods

Early Settlers (furniture)

Centrum (vitamins)

Future Finance (futurefinance.co.nz)

Skysport

KFC

Bridgestone Tyres

 

Dependent on TV3’s actions to follow, this blogger will be contacting the above advertisers next and posing three very simple questions; do they want to be associated with a TV show that promotes sexist denigration of women? Do they want to risk having their reputations tarnished when this story goes ‘viral’ in the blogosphere and social media? And is this what they are paying their expensive ad-slot times for?

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References

NZ Herald: Bryce Edwards – Does New Zealand have a ‘rape culture’?

Fairfax media: Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower…

Auckland University:  Dr Michelle Emma Dickinson

TV3:  Organic foods study finds significant benefits

Fairfax media:  Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower

NZ Herald: Roast Busters: RadioLive hosts taken off air

Additional

Sciblogs: Science, sexism and the media

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 July 2014.

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Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

24 July 2014 7 comments

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Labour claims Hosking's biased

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I checked the calendar, and it’s not April 1st.

An April Fool’s joke is the first reaction I had when I heard  that someone at  TVNZ had appointed Mike Hosking to be the moderator  for live, televised election-year debates.

I mean – really? Mike Hosking?!?!

The same Mike Hosking who endorsed John Key’s government in January 2013;

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Media - Hosking plugs car and Key - NZ Herald - Mike Hosking - John Key

(Hat-tip, The Standard)

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Hosking was effusive when he endorsed Key last year;

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

The same Mike Hosking who recently vilified Labour Leader, David Cunliffe?!

“Is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad? Is he out to lunch or out of touch? Is David Cunliffe deluded or living in a parallel universe?

What possible explanation can there be that has any level of sense or thought involved that sees him on holiday skiing two months out from an election when he is where he is in the polls. A decision like this speaks to a person who fails to understand the basic principles of leadership.”

The same Mike Hosking who called David Cunliffe a moron?!

If Mike Hosking is the answer – can TVNZ please spell out what the question was?!

Meanwhile, ordinary New Zealanders are leaving comments here, highly critical of TVNZ’s appointment of Hosking as a “moderator”.

However, Fairfax closed off their comments section after this story, with the majority of posts scathing of TVNZ.

The majority  readers of the Fairfax article seem to be unimpressed with Mike Hosking in their (unscientific) poll;

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Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll

(Vote here)

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It is abundantly clear to many people by now that the mainstream media in this country, for the most part, is covertly or overtly supporting the re-election of a John Key-led government. The ongoing de-stabilising campaign against David Cunliffe, complete with non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine and criticising his red scarf, are strong indications of the  mainstream corporate-media’s agenda.

If you, the reader, are as bemused by TVNZ’s bizarre decision to use Hosking as a faux “impartial” moderator, then sign the petition here;

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Petitioning TVNZ to drop Mike Hosking from moderating TV debates

(click on image)

Please do your bit: share the link to the above petition as far and wide as possible!

Meanwhile, this from me, to “The Listener“…

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date:      Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

 .

The editor
The Listener

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Of all the professional broadcasters that TVNZ could have used for the upcoming Leader’s Debates, they chose Mike Hosking?!

The same Mike Hosking who, last year, very publicly and enthusiastically endorsed John Key and his government by saying,

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

By what stretch of the imagination do TVNZ executives think that Hosking is in any way impartial? It would be like asking Maggie Barry or Shane Taurima to do the job.

There are many impartial, talented, and highly respected broadcasters who TVNZ could call upon; Rachel Smalley and Greg Boyd are just two names that spring to mind.

Or, the incomparable Kim Hill, perhaps one of the most respected broadcasters in the country would be ideal. Her credentials for impartiality are impeccable.

But not Mike Hosking. Not when he flies the flag for John Key and the National Party.

We deserve better.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

Remember to share, far and wide!!

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References

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media: Hosking plugs car and Key

Newstalk ZB: Mike’s Editorial: Cunliffe looks like he’s given up

Yahoo Entertainment: Seven Sharp Returns and The Paul Henry Show Debuts

NZ Herald: Liu – $100k not just for wine

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Previous related blogposts

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

Other blogs

Against the Current: Mike Hosking claims he isn’t biased. Yeah, right

Against the Current: Mike Hosking says Bash A Beneficiary Day!

Against the Current:  Mike Hosking asks – What is David Cunliffe hiding

MIKE HOSKING ASKS: WHAT IS DAVID CUNLIFFE HIDING?
YES, MIKE HOSKING IS A MORON
HOW MUCH OF A TOSSER IS MIKE HOSKING?

- See more at: http://nzagainstthecurrent.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/mike-hosking-says-bash-beneficiary-day.html#sthash.4t68qxKz.dpuf

Against the Current: Yes, Mike Hosking is a moron

Against the Current: How much of a tosser is Mike Hosking?

Against the Current: Seven Sharp promotes anti-Gay politician

The Standard:Everything in moderation

Polity: Mike Hosking

The Daily Blog: Dear Seven Sharp – after learning Hosking will be the leaders debate moderator – NO I will not give you the pretence of balance & I refuse to appear on your show

The Daily Blog: UNBREAKING: The list of questions Mike Hosking will use in first TVNZ leader debate

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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An interesting poll from TVNZ. Note some of the VERY left-wing questions!?

24 July 2014 5 comments

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20 September

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July 19 – Yesterday, I received this poll, sent by TVNZ to my email.

What I found very interesting were some of the question relating to issues that have not been discussed – literally – for decades. The question regarding free tertiary education is again an election issue. This is something we can attribute directly to the rise and rise of the Mana-Internet Alliance.

The questions (and answers I gave) are presented here as screen-shots. (Only the final two pages are not included, as they contained some personal responses and details. My preference for which Party I will be endorsing with my Party Vote for will be the subject of an up-coming blogpost.)

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TVNZ on-line survey p1

 

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TVNZ on-line survey p2

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It is a shame that the “anti-smacking” question (above) was put without real reference to what the law actually states. If people actually knew the actual nature of the  repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, they might be more inclined to vote as I did. It is a fallacy that the repeal of Section 59 banned all smacking and is a deliberate distortion promulgated by neo-conservatives and religious right elements in our society.

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TVNZ on-line survey p3

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I responded somewhat “lukewarm” to the question about compulsory Kiwisaver (above). The problem of compensating low-income earners and beneficiaries should be taken into account along with implementing compulsion. Forcing the poor, who might be currently living in garages and unable to afford even the basics, to save for Kiwisaver would be an untenable proposition and a farce.

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TVNZ on-line survey p4

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I voted “strongly disagree” to the proposition that high income earners should not receive superannuation. We have been through this issue before and it was blindingly obvious that high income earners simply hid their money by clever accounting tricks – thereby avoiding cuts to their super.

Targetted superannuation invites the growth of a labyrinth of rules, exemptions, asset-income testing, and an associated invasive  bureaucracy. Better to have Universal Superannuation,  alongside a comprehensive progressive tax rate  that claws back super-payments by slightly higher marginal tax rates.

And the final tranche of questions;

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TVNZ on-line survey p5

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It is interesting to note that questions regarding tax cuts were omitted. I would have liked to have seen what New Zealander’s attitudes toward cutting taxes would have been. Especially if the question was framed as a choice between more tax cuts and less social services.

Now that would really have been a barometer of our nationwide psyche!

Now we just have to await the outcome of this poll…

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References

Wikipedia: Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.

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The Media will respond to Kim Dotcom’s up-coming revelations professionally, impartially, and with all due diligence…

17 July 2014 6 comments

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543440_3738666104816_56663201_n

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On September 15, I’m doing a Town Hall event in Auckland and I invite everyone to come there because that is going to be the day when I’m going to reveal my evidence…..my evidence around the political interference and my evidence that John Key lied.” – Kim Dotcom

It will be the best show in town.

Though the NZ Herald will probably run the story’s angle along the lines of “Mona Dotcom fails to attend event at public hall”…

Patrick Gower will rail on the evils on a resurgent Mana Party actually having a workable budget…

Rachel Smalley will comment on women attending the meeting as a ‘bunch of lardos’…

John Armstrong will demand David Cunliffe resign because he heard from a friend’s neighbour who’s cousin has a hairdresser who overheard a conversation between two strangers (Cameron Slater and Jason Ede) that Cunliffe once wrote a letter in high school to a girl he had a crush on…

Duncan Garner will run a story quoting Bill English that it’s all Labour’s fault…

Mike Hosking will apply more hair gel…

TV1 News will lead the 6PM bulletin with 5 crime stories; 2 court verdicts; a cutesy-animal story; kids doing something amazing – and cute; then the Kim Dotcom story, followed by Key responding that he can’t recall anything…

TV3 will lead with 4 crime stories; 3 court verdicts; a cutesy-animal story; kids doing something cute – and amazing; then the Kim Dotcom story, followed by Key responding that he can’t recall anything, and Patrick Gower standing in the Parliamentary Debating Chamber, looking earnest; and saying “this reflects badly on the OPPOSITION parties”…

Paula Bennett will release a “coincidentally-timed” *shock!*horror!* story that New Zealand’s beneficiaries are secretly all working and actually, we have no real unemployed or solo-mums. Prosecutions to follow.

The Dominion Post will lead with National claiming success for a 99.99% drop in crime, and Paradise on Earth in our time.

Paul Henry, on TV3’s late night slot,  will ask women if they’ve had sex lately. (And if not, would they like to?)

Have I missed anything?

 

 

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References

 

Acknowledgement

The Daily Blog: The September 15th Dotcom vs GCSB Town Hall meeting in Auckland

 


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: Media, The Body Politic Tags: ,

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

11 July 2014 7 comments

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Dirt Unit

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1. To re-cap

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The Donghua Liu Affair hit  the headlines on 18 June, with allegations that David Cunliffe wrote a letter in 2003,  on  behalf of  business migrant, Donghua Liu.

Four days later, on Sunday 22 June, the Herald ran stories alleging  massive donations to the Labour Party by Liu. Tabloid- style stories of  $100,000 paid for a bottle of wine and $15,000 for a book, along with a $50,000-$60,000 dinner party hosted for then Labour minister, Rick Barker, and a donation to a rowing club, raged for several days.

By Wednesday, on 25 June,  the Herald was forced to retract  Liu’s claims. The “new” story was that Liu’s  “donation” was,

“… close to $100,000 and that is my closing comment in my statement…that is how much I believe I have donated in total to Labour and some of their MPs during their last term in Government.”

The so-called Yangtze River boat “dinner for Rick Barker” turned out to be some sort of staff function that Liu had invited the Labour minister to attend.

Only Liu’s donation – of $2,000 – to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, was confirmed.  Considering that any “link” between the NZ Labour Party and Hawkes Bay Rowing Club is tenuous at best (Barker’s daughter was a member of the club), the value of this aspect of the Liu Affair is dubious, to put it mildly.

Cunliffe’s 2003 letter was far from “avocating on Liu’s behalf”. Instead, the 11 April 2003 letter turned out to be a stock-standard inquiry sent to Immigration NZ with the rather banal request ,

“I am aware of the difficulties facing the Business Migration Branch of New Zealand Immigration Services in coping with the overwhelming numbers of applicants that have applied for consideration under these categories and the time taken to verify documents. However it would be very helpful to Mr Liu to be advised of an estimated period of time period [sic] in which he could expect a decision on his case.”

Requesting “an estimated period of time period” seems a stretch to describe it as advocating.

Accordingly, this blogger lodged a formal complaint with the Herald’s editor-in-Chief, and the Office of the Prime Minister.

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2. The NZ Herald – formal complaint & Murphy’s response

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On 28 June, I emailed a formal complaint to Tim Murphy, the Herald’s editor, on how he and his staff  had conducted themselves regarding the Liu Affair;

from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Tim Murphy <Tim.Murphy@nzherald.co.nz>
date: Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM
subject: Formal Complaint to NZ Herald’s stories on Donghua Liu, David Cunliffe, and others
Kia ora Mr Murphy,

Thank you for your response, dated 27 June, which I consider an inadequate response to my earlier email to you

Further to your response to me, you may consider this a formal complaint regarding the nature of your paper’s stories regardiing Donghua Liu, David Cunliffe, and others.

1. On 18 June, your paper published stories relating to a letter written by current Labour MP, David Cunliffe to the Immigration Service, dated 11 April 2003. In several subsequent stories referring to this letter, the Herald omitted any reference to the date on this letter, thereby suggesting to readers that the letter was recently written.

Examples:

Ref: “Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations” – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

Ref: Liu: $100k not just for wine – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11281832

Ref: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276526

Ref: Editorial: Cries of bias will not stop reporting – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539

Ref: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’ – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278520

The consequence of this omission in several Herald stories is that readers who are unaware of all the facts may be led to the impression that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ was a more recent event, and therefore not give due weight to his explanation that he was unaware of an eleven year old letter due to the passage of time and thus not recalling the incident.

Therefore, your reporting of this event, and omitting to refer to the letter as a “2003 letter”, is mis-leading by omission of a salient fact.

2. Donghua Liu claims that he paid $15,000 for a book at a Labour Party fundraising event. Liu has not provided a single item of evidence to back up this claim, and the Labour Party states categorically that no such fundraising event has ever taken place on the date that Liu has given.

That has not prevented the Herald from presenting Liu’s claim as a fact, for example on 21 June, where Jared Savage wrote;

“National declared a $22,000 donation in 2012, but Labour found no records of Liu donations after the Herald revealed that he paid $15,000 for a book at an auction fundraiser in 2007.”

Ref: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’ – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278520

The Herald presented an unsubstantiated claim as fact, thereby mis-representing the truth and giving readers an impression that this claim was verified as true.

This was mis-leading reporting of a salient event.

3. Donghua Liu claims that he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine at a Labour Party fundraising event. Liu has not provided a single item of evidence to back up this claim, and the Labour Party states categorically that no such fundraising event has ever taken place on the date that Liu has given.

That has not prevented the Herald from presenting Liu’s claim as a fact, for example on 22 June, where Bevan Hurley wrote;

“Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.”

Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

This claim was subsequently amended on 25 June, where Jared Savage wrote;

“Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.”

Ref: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

Between 22 June and 25 June, the Herald has presented Liu’s claims regarding paying $100,000 for a bottle of wine as fact.

But Liu’s claims were not only unsubstantiated claims without evidence, but also Liu did not make a formal affidavit which would have given greater legal standing to his claims.

The Herald chose to base their stories on;

1. one man’s claims,
2. a “signed statement” rather than an affidavit,
3. no evidence,
4. no witnesses.

The Herald presented unsubstantiated claims as fact, thereby mis-representing the truth and giving readers an impression that his claims were verified as true.

4. On 22 June, Bevan Hurley wrote in the NZ Herald that the paper had obtained a copy of Donghua Liu’s “signed statement” which made several claims;

“The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.”

Ref: Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

The Herald has not released a verbatim copy of Liu’s “signed statement”, despite making public David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter on 18 June,

Ref: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510

It is manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable that the Herald has not released, in full and verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” as it did with David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

It is unfair because the public have recourse to only one side of the story and access to only one letter, written in 2003, but not the more recent document by Liu.

It is unreasonable, because if the Herald saw fit to quote from Liu’s “signed statement”, then it should publish the entire document, in full and verbatim, so that the public can make their own conclusions on Liu’s claims.

Otherwise, by using only excerpts, the Herald has presented only a restricted version of Liu’s statement.

The lack of full disclosure has led to the Herald presenting mis-information. This was admitted by the paper on 25 June, when Liu changed his story;

Ref: “Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations” – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

On 27 June, a Herald editorial admitted that it had mis-reprtesented facts based on Liu’s claims;

“We regret having reported inflated and conflated dollar figures.”
Ref: Editorial: Cries of bias will not stop reporting – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539

It is unconscionable that the Herald refused to publish either Liu’s original “signed statement” or his subsequent “clarification”.

The role of the media is to present information to the public – not to restrict it’s availability.

There are few reasons why a media outlet might not disclose information;

1. Court suppression orders,
2. Where a victim of a crime, or witness, might be harmed or otherwise impacted,
3. Where children are involved.
4. Where information might be defamatory and actionable.

Liu’s “signed statement” does not fit criterias 1, 2, or 3.

Does it fit criteria #4?

If so, and if the document is defamatory and actionable, is that why the Herald chose not to publish it, verbatim?

Herald editor, Tim Murphy, alluded to this in a Radio NZ interview on 23 June.

Ref: New Zealand Herald stands by its story – http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20140623-0732-new_zealand_herald_stands_by_its_story-048.mp3

If Liu’s “signed statement” could not be used because it contained unsubstantiated claims and statements that were potentially defamatory and actionable – why was the document used at all, as a basis upon which to publish a series of stories?

5. On 18 June, the Herald’s chief political commentator, John Armstrong, wrote a column that was highly condemnatory of David Cunliffe, and called for his resignation.

Ref: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276526

(A) At no time did Armstrong refer to the fact that Cunliffe’s letter to the Immigration Service had been written in 2003. As outlined above, this omission of fact would have mis-lead any reader who was unaware of all facts pertaining to Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

(B) By omitting the fact that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration Service was eleven years old, Armstrong was able to arrive at the unreasonable conclusion;

“Either deliberately or through a lapse of memory, Cunliffe has been economical with the truth.”

This was a clear claim that Cunliffe lied.

(C) Armstrong further wrote;

“Unless Cunliffe can come up with a very good explanation, the answer has to be ‘no’.”

That statement ignores the fact that Cunliffe had already explained that the letter was eleven years old and any reasonable person would have understood that such an event would be difficult to recall.

Armstrong’s column, by itself, would amount to very little except an extreme viewpoint of one individual.

But taken in context with the Herald’s subsequent stories, based primarily on Donghua Liu’s “signed statement”, it becomes apparent that the paper has adopted an unfair and biased stance against David Cunliffe.

6. The Herald’s bias was further apparent in it’s reporting of Donghua Liu’s claims that he spent thousands of dollars on a social event for visiting Labour MP, Rick Barker. As Bervan Hurley wrote on 22 June;

“• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

• That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.”
Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

It has transpired that Liu’s Yangtze river boat social event was a staff party for his employees;

“”I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

“I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to be a dinner he had put on for all his staff.”

Ref: Photograph shows Liu-Labour link – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276071

Regarding Donghua Liu’s $2,000 donation to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club – which has thus far been the only claim by Liu to be substantiated – in what way is a donation from a private individual to a club evidence of wrong-doing by Rick Barker?

This incident and subsequent Herald reporting appears to be an exercise in guilt-by association or guilt-by-innuendo.

There is no evidence or claim by Liu that Barker prompted the migrant businessman to make the donation.

If Liu made the donation to “impress” Mr Barker, how can that be laid at the feet of the then-Labour MP?

Why has the Herald seen fit to spin Liu’s donation to the rowing club as somehow attributable to Rick Barker and the Labour Party?

If Liu’s donation to the rowing club in 2006 was designed to “curry favour” with the then-Labour government, it should be noted that Liu had already been granted residency two years before, in 2004 (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10172715/David-Cunliffe-advocated-for-Donghua-Liu).

This was mis-leading, slanted reporting of a minor event.

7. In conclusion, I maintain the folllowing;

(a) the Herald has relied on the unsubstantiated claims of one man, that he made various donations to the Labour Party. These donations originally amounted to $150,000 on 22 June (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089) but were later wound back to $38,000 on 27 June (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539).

(b) the Herald has relied on a “signed statement”, rather than a legally binding affidavit.

(c) the Herald has had to change it’s story after Liu provided a “clarification” on 27 June.

(d) the Herald has not published either Liu’s original “signed statement” nor the subsequent “clarification”.

(e) the Herald does not appear to have conducted any investigation as to Liu’s motivation for making his “signed statement”, which was signed two days after Maurice Williamson was forced to resign after his involvement with Liu was made public.

(f) Unsubstantiated claims were presented as facts.

(g) the Herald has not apologised for promoting claims of a “$100,000 bottle of wine” or “$15,000 book” – subsequently admitted by Liu to be incorrect.

(h) the Herald has mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation to Liu’s river boat party.

(i) the Herald has mis-represented Liu’s donation to a boating club and unfairly linked it to Rick Barker.

(j) the Herald’s series of stories since 18 June has been biased against David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, and the Labour Party by distorted reporting and by improper emphasis.

(k) Reporting of Liu’s claims has not been factually based nor verified, prior to publication.

(l) The Herald’s stories since 18 June have been harmfully inaccurate, as outlined above.

(m) By not publishing, in full and verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” and subsequent “clarification”, the Herald has not disclosed all essential facts and has suppressed relevant, available facts.

I await your response and your remedies (if any), to the issues I have raised.
Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Mr Murphy replied within the required ten (working) days outlined by the Press Council for such formal matters. His response,

from: Tim Murphy <Tim.Murphy@nzherald.co.nz>
to: “fmacskasy@gmail.com” <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Jul 4, 2014 at 10:45 AM
subject: FW: Formal Complaint to NZ Herald’s stories on Donghua Liu, David Cunliffe, and others
mailed-by: nzherald.co.nz

Dear Mr Macskasy

Thank you for your follow up email below.

1. The date of the letter was prominently publicised at the time we broke the story and indeed we published the letter online. The residency application by Liu was in the mid-2000s and that was referenced numerous times in our coverage. We do not list all dates and facts in all subsequent references.

2. We stand by our report that a book was purchased and expect further ‘evidence’ of this to be made public shortly.

3. It is clear that the $100,000 for a bottle of wine was misreported, and was corrected as soon as further information became available from Liu. We clarified this on all our channels and in the subsequent Herald on Sunday and explained the error in an editorial in the New Zealand Herald.

4. We do not automatically make public documents which we obtain as part of ongoing journalistic inquiries. There are many reasons for this, including the conditions upon which they were obtained from whatever source and the need for us to pursue further matters contained within. While there seems to be an expectation that journalistic inquiry must be ‘open source’ this ignores these conditions and also the competitive nature of news gathering. The Cunliffe letter was obtained under the Official Information Act and was released to all media, so is thus automatically a public document.

5. You seem to have accepted without question MP Rick Barker’s claim he attended only a staff party in China. We do not accept this and expect further details of the hospitality for him and others in China to be revealed in due course.

6. It would be wilfully naïve to assume that the donation to the rowing club associated with an MP, the day after that MP has hosted Liu in the region, is unconnected to that MP. The donation was made and Liu made it with the intent of it being in favour of the MP.

In general, the Herald has been inquiring into Liu since late last year and reporting on his donations and immigration procedures and links with political parties since March. The issues raised regarding donations to Labour did not solely emerge from the signed statement but were established some time prior. The signed statement from Liu was used because it confirmed (albeit with inflated and conflated figures) matters which had already been becoming apparent to our inquiry.

We fully expect further details to come will show the Herald’s earlier reporting to have, as we have known throughout, been accurate and soundly based.

Yours sincerely

Tim Murphy

Editor-in-chief, Herald titles

I do not consider Murphy’s response to be adequate, and accordingly  filed a formal complaint to the Press Council on 5 July. The text of my complaint is substantially the same as my 28 June email to Tim Murphy (see above).

The complaint is based on two  Principles Breached;

1. Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
[...]
4. Comment and Fact

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3. Office of the Prime Minister – OIA Request; PM’s response; and Clarification sought

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On 19 and 26 June, I lodged a formal OIA request with the Office of the Prime Minister;

from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:          John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
date:      Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM
subject: OIA Request – Reminder!

Kia ora Mr Key,

On 19 June – now one week ago – I lodged an OIA request with you and your office.

My request was as follows,

Kia ora Mr Key.

This is a request lodged under the Official Information Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording, relating to any and all activities surrounding the procurement; storage; and planned circumstances of the release of the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003.

This includes a request for all communications relating to the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003, which may have occurred between yourself; any and all staffmembers in your office; any member of the National Party; any blogger; any media person; and any other group or individual who was contacted on this issue.

Information may be emailed to me, or, if the file is too large, I can supply a postal address for hard copies.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

Since then, I have not received any acknowledgement to my lodged application and require you to do so, under the Act.

If I do not receive acknowledgement to my request, I will have no option but to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

I received acknowledgement of my OIA request on 26 June, and a formal response on 3 July, signed by Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson;

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3 july 2014 - wayne eagleson - donghua liu - prime minister's office - OIA request

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I considered Mr Eagleson’s response to my OIA request also to be inadequate. Accordingly, I wrote back;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sarah Boyle <Sarah.Boyle@parliament.govt.nz>
cc: Wayne Eagleson <Wayne.Eagleson@parliament.govt.nz>
date: Sat, Jul 5, 2014 at 11:34 AM
subject: Re: Response to your request of 19 June
Kia ora Ms Boyle,

Thank you for replying promptly to my OIA request on the Donghua Liu Affair and your office’s involvement in the matter.

I find it highly surprising that, according to Mr Eagleson’s letter (dated 3 July), that “no correspondence has been sent or received regarding this matter , and no minutes, notes, reports or otherwise have been produced on the matter”.

It seems unlikely that the Liu Affair has not been mentioned in even one email?

What correspondence was sent to the Prime Minister around 18 June, when he was in the United States?

Surely the Prime Minister’s office was in touch with him when the Liu Affair went public in the NZ Herald around 18 June?

So how can there be no emails, “minutes, notes, reports or otherwise” between the Prime Minister and your office?

Mr Eagleson’s assertion simply does not seem credible.

I await clarification before proceeding with this matter to the Ombudsman’s Office.

Regards,
Frank Macskasy

Further to that email, I wrote a follow-up to Ms Boyle and Mr Eagleson,

…it is my understanding that the Parliamentary system relating to received documents involve date-stamping hard copies of any and all documents received by an MP’s office, before being filed or passed on.

Therefore, you should have a hard copy of David Cunliffe’s letter with a date-stamp imprinted on it.

In which case, why did Mr Eagleson  state “to the best recollection of events a copy of the letter was received by a member of staff from this office on or around 26 May 2014 from the Office of the Minister of Immigration”?

A date stamped hard-copy would be evidence of the date it was received by a staffer, and not have to rely on solely on memory or ” best recollection of events”, as Mr Eagleson wrote.

If the 2003 Cunliffe letter was sent by email, then that document should still be in your system and accordingly still falls within my request to  “provide me with copies of all correspondence”.

Regardless of whether or not the 2003 letter by David Cunliffe was received by electronic means or by hard copy by your Office, it still falls  within my request to  “provide me with copies of all correspondence”.
 
Further from Mr Eagleson,
“I  can confirm that this office on the weekend of 10/11 May was advised about the existence of a letter from David Cunliffe to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) regarding Mr Liu dated 11 April 2003.”
How has Mr Eagleson arrived at the firm date of 10/11 May as to  when the PM’s Office was “advised about the existence of a letter from David Cunliffe to Immigration New Zealand”? The specific date indicates that a record of the receipt of the 2003 letter has been kept.In which case, that record is part of my request, to  ” provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording”.
Mr Eagleson also wrote;
“The Prime Minister would have been advised about the existence of the letter prior to it’s release under the Official Information ACT by INZ.”
That statement infers that the Prime Minister was briefed on this matter.
Which further infers that the briefing took place using notes or a written agenda for a scheduled briefing session or meeting between Mr Eagleson and the Prime Minister.Again, this falls within the scope of my OIA request, to  ” provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording”.
I await further clarification on these points, before proceeding to the Ombudsman’s Office.
Regards,

Frank Macskasy

 

Having spent a brief time working in the Alliance Parliamentary Office in the 1990s, I have an understanding of the protocols of  correspondence  in  MPs’ offices. Therefore, Wayne Eagleson’s 3 July letter makes no sense and is notable more for it’s omissions than facts. Parliamentary staffers simply do not rely on memory as to when correspondence and other documents are received.

It seems that there is yet more to this story than has been made public.

 

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References

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

References sites*

NZ Press Council – Complaints Procedure

EPMU – Journalist Code of Ethics

* Hat-tip – Zetetic

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 July 2014.

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= fs =

The Great Worldwide Treasure Hunt – NZ Herald style…

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The craze/phenomenon  of treasure hunts in major cities around the world has finally reached New Zealand;

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Worldwide treasure hunt for hidden $100 notes comes to Auckland

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The New Zealand Herald has decided on a similar “treasure hunt”, as publicity to re-build it’s somewhat tarnished image and reputation from the last couple of weeks. The editor, Tim Murphy as announced a Herald-style treasure hunt, with prizes secreted around the city.

Solve the clues, and you could win a magnificent prize, courtesy of the Herald… [scroll down]

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Your very own copy of;

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portrait of a prime minister

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Start the hunt early and avoid the rush!

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References

NZ Herald: Worldwide treasure hunt for hidden $100 notes comes to Auckland


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 June 2014.

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= fs =

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council.

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Following the completion of my previous story on the Liu Affair (published next day in The Daily Blog) , I wrote to the Herald editor, Tim Murphy;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Tim Murphy <editor@herald.co.nz>
date: Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 10:34 PM
subject: The Donghua Liu Affair & Consequence

 

Tim Murphy
Editor,
The New Zealand Herald

 

Kia ora Mr Murphy,

After recent revelations, it has become patently obvious and apparent to all that Mr Donghua Liu is no longer a credible witness to any alleged wrong-doing or alleged inappropriate behaviour by David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, or the NZ Labour Party.

Mr Liu has;

1. Failed to provide evidence for his allegations of hefty donations to the Labour Party. The closest he has come has been a $2,000 cheque he gave to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club, on his own volition.

2. Mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation and attendance at a staff party, on a river-boat, in China.

3. Made no verifiable Affidavit, and provided only a “signed statement”.

4. Issued a second statement on 25 June, changing his initial allegations.

5. Offered no evidence for his second, 25 June, “signed statement”.

Since 18 June, when your reporter, Jared Savage, broke this story in a piece entitled “David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid”, the Herald has;

* published unsubstantiated allegations;

* failed to provide subsequent evidence to back up those allegations;

* published stories damaging to the reputations of David Cunliffe and Rick Barker;

* published allegations damaging to the Labour Party (during an election year!);

* published a column calling for David Cunliffe to resign (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order”), based on incomplete information, and omitting a crititical fact, namely that Cunliffe’s letter to NZ Immigration had been written in 2003, and was a legitimate reason why the MP may have forgotten the letter;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim, Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, thereby acting as a gate-keeper/censor of information that the public had a right to see;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim, Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, despite having no hesitation in publishing David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to NZ Immigration (“David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid”)

* made little or no discernible attempt to investigate the background to Liu’s allegations; his motives; and who else might have been involved.

Under your watch, the tenor of stories relating to the Cunliffe-Liu issue has been one-sided and predicated on baseless allegations.

This has been a tabloid-style, highly-emotive, unjustified witch-hunt which collapsed only because Donghua Liu’s story changed and it became apparent he was no longer a credible witness.

The Liu Affair has seriously damaged your paper’s reputation and also further eroded public confidence in the ability of the Fourth Estate to report fairly, accurately, and without bias.

Accordingly, I submitthat it behoves you to put this matter right. I therefore call upon you;

1. The NZ Herald should immediately publish a full page apology on the front page of your paper.

2. It may also be appropriate for you to re-consider your position and decide whether your role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

3. On 18 June, in a highly biased, unreasonable column, John Armstrong called for David Cullen’s resignation, (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order”). I submit that Mr Armstrong’s own position as a senior Herald staffer is no longer tenable and must take his own advice and resign.

These three steps are the basis upon which the New Zealand Herald can regain it’s reputation that has been severely dented since 18 June.

Regards,

- Frank Macskasy

 

Note: this letter will be made public on “The Daily Blog”, and subsequently, on “Frankly Speaking” (my own personal blog). Any response you care to make will also be disclosed and made public.

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Tim Murphy duly responded the following day;

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from: Tim Murphy <Tim.Murphy@nzherald.co.nz>
to: “fmacskasy@gmail.com” <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 7:57 AM
subject: FW: The Donghua Liu Affair & Consequence
mailed-by: nzherald.co.nz
Dear Frank Macskasy

 

Thank you for your email below and your public complaint against the Herald.

Many of your opinions below are dealt with by today’s Herald editorial, which I attach: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539

As to your comments about John Armstrong – his opinion was responding to the revelation of evidence that a party leader had done what he had one day earlier denied doing. It was an entirely valid column. It did, of course, (consistent with the gentle approach you have taken below in regard to both John and my roles), suggest it may be in order for David Cunliffe to resign, rather than demand his resignation.

On the signed statement: There seems to be an unusual expectation being aired that inquiry journalism has now become a field in which all documents obtained are made public – a kind of open source investigative process. This, while superficially seductive, cannot always be the case in the pursuit of serious and ongoing journalistic investigations relying on confidences and respecting sourcing and legal sensitivities. Where officially available documents like David Cunliffe’s letter hurrying up the Immigration Service on behalf of Donghua Liu are released to us and to others it is obvious that they can be published in raw form.

We have, as the editorial points out, published stories inconvenient to both the National and Labour parties over the Donghua Liu donations and grants of residency and citizenship. And yes, in an election year! It is even more important at this time that issues of public interest are covered fully.

We are continuing to investigate the payments from Donghua Liu and the circumstances of his various migration approvals.

Thank you again for the email and we have no worries about your note or this response being published on your outlet of choice.

Yours sincerely

 

Tim Murphy

Editor-in-chief, Herald titles

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I was not satisfied with Mr Murphy’s response, and responded with a formal complaint;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Tim Murphy <Tim.Murphy@nzherald.co.nz>
date: Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM
subject: Formal Complaint to NZ Herald’s stories on Donghua Liu, David Cunliffe, and others
Kia ora Mr Murphy,

Thank you for your response, dated 27 June, which I consider an inadequate response to my earlier email to you

Further to your response to me, you may consider this a formal complaint regarding the nature of your paper’s stories regardiing Donghua Liu, David Cunliffe, and others.

1. On 18 June, your paper published stories relating to a letter written by current Labour MP, David Cunliffe to the Immigration Service, dated 11 April 2003. In several subsequent stories referring to this letter, the Herald omitted any reference to the date on this letter, thereby suggesting to readers that the letter was recently written.

Examples:

Ref: “Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations” – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

Ref: Liu: $100k not just for wine – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11281832

Ref: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276526

Ref: Editorial: Cries of bias will not stop reporting – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539

Ref: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’ – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278520

The consequence of this omission in several Herald stories is that readers who are unaware of all the facts may be led to the impression that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ was a more recent event, and therefore not give due weight to his explanation that he was unaware of an eleven year old letter due to the passage of time and thus not recalling the incident.

Therefore, your reporting of this event, and omitting to refer to the letter as a “2003 letter”, is mis-leading by omission of a salient fact.

2. Donghua Liu claims that he paid $15,000 for a book at a Labour Party fundraising event. Liu has not provided a single item of evidence to back up this claim, and the Labour Party states categorically that no such fundraising event has ever taken place on the date that Liu has given.

That has not prevented the Herald from presenting Liu’s claim as a fact, for example on 21 June, where Jared Savage wrote;

“National declared a $22,000 donation in 2012, but Labour found no records of Liu donations after the Herald revealed that he paid $15,000 for a book at an auction fundraiser in 2007.”

Ref: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’ – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278520

The Herald presented an unsubstantiated claim as fact, thereby mis-representing the truth and giving readers an impression that this claim was verified as true.

This was mis-leading reporting of a salient event.

3. Donghua Liu claims that he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine at a Labour Party fundraising event. Liu has not provided a single item of evidence to back up this claim, and the Labour Party states categorically that no such fundraising event has ever taken place on the date that Liu has given.

That has not prevented the Herald from presenting Liu’s claim as a fact, for example on 22 June, where Bevan Hurley wrote;

“Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.”

Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

This claim was subsequently amended on 25 June, where Jared Savage wrote;

“Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.”

Ref: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

Between 22 June and 25 June, the Herald has presented Liu’s claims regarding paying $100,000 for a bottle of wine as fact.

But Liu’s claims were not only unsubstantiated claims without evidence, but also Liu did not make a formal affidavit which would have given greater legal standing to his claims.

The Herald chose to base their stories on;

1. one man’s claims,
2. a “signed statement” rather than an affidavit,
3. no evidence,
4. no witnesses.

The Herald presented unsubstantiated claims as fact, thereby mis-representing the truth and giving readers an impression that his claims were verified as true.

4. On 22 June, Bevan Hurley wrote in the NZ Herald that the paper had obtained a copy of Donghua Liu’s “signed statement” which made several claims;

“The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.”

Ref: Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

The Herald has not released a verbatim copy of Liu’s “signed statement”, despite making public David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter on 18 June,

Ref: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510

It is manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable that the Herald has not released, in full and verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” as it did with David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

It is unfair because the public have recourse to only one side of the story and access to only one letter, written in 2003, but not the more recent document by Liu.

It is unreasonable, because if the Herald saw fit to quote from Liu’s “signed statement”, then it should publish the entire document, in full and verbatim, so that the public can make their own conclusions on Liu’s claims.

Otherwise, by using only excerpts, the Herald has presented only a restricted version of Liu’s statement.

The lack of full disclosure has led to the Herald presenting mis-information. This was admitted by the paper on 25 June, when Liu changed his story;

Ref: “Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations” – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11281460

On 27 June, a Herald editorial admitted that it had mis-reprtesented facts based on Liu’s claims;

“We regret having reported inflated and conflated dollar figures.”
Ref: Editorial: Cries of bias will not stop reporting – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539

It is unconscionable that the Herald refused to publish either Liu’s original “signed statement” or his subsequent “clarification”.

The role of the media is to present information to the public – not to restrict it’s availability.

There are few reasons why a media outlet might not disclose information;

1. Court suppression orders,
2. Where a victim of a crime, or witness, might be harmed or otherwise impacted,
3. Where children are involved.
4. Where information might be defamatory and actionable.

Liu’s “signed statement” does not fit criterias 1, 2, or 3.

Does it fit criteria #4?

If so, and if the document is defamatory and actionable, is that why the Herald chose not to publish it, verbatim?

Herald editor, Tim Murphy, alluded to this in a Radio NZ interview on 23 June.

Ref: New Zealand Herald stands by its story – http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20140623-0732-new_zealand_herald_stands_by_its_story-048.mp3

If Liu’s “signed statement” could not be used because it contained unsubstantiated claims and statements that were potentially defamatory and actionable – why was the document used at all, as a basis upon which to publish a series of stories?

5. On 18 June, the Herald’s chief political commentator, John Armstrong, wrote a column that was highly condemnatory of David Cunliffe, and called for his resignation.

Ref: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276526

(A) At no time did Armstrong refer to the fact that Cunliffe’s letter to the Immigration Service had been written in 2003. As outlined above, this omission of fact would have mis-lead any reader who was unaware of all facts pertaining to Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

(B) By omitting the fact that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration Service was eleven years old, Armstrong was able to arrive at the unreasonable conclusion;

“Either deliberately or through a lapse of memory, Cunliffe has been economical with the truth.”

This was a clear claim that Cunliffe lied.

(C) Armstrong further wrote;

“Unless Cunliffe can come up with a very good explanation, the answer has to be ‘no’.”

That statement ignores the fact that Cunliffe had already explained that the letter was eleven years old and any reasonable person would have understood that such an event would be difficult to recall.

Armstrong’s column, by itself, would amount to very little except an extreme viewpoint of one individual.

But taken in context with the Herald’s subsequent stories, based primarily on Donghua Liu’s “signed statement”, it becomes apparent that the paper has adopted an unfair and biased stance against David Cunliffe.

6. The Herald’s bias was further apparent in it’s reporting of Donghua Liu’s claims that he spent thousands of dollars on a social event for visiting Labour MP, Rick Barker. As Bervan Hurley wrote on 22 June;

“• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

• That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.”
Ref: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089

It has transpired that Liu’s Yangtze river boat social event was a staff party for his employees;

“”I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

“I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to be a dinner he had put on for all his staff.”

Ref: Photograph shows Liu-Labour link – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276071

Regarding Donghua Liu’s $2,000 donation to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club – which has thus far been the only claim by Liu to be substantiated – in what way is a donation from a private individual to a club evidence of wrong-doing by Rick Barker?

This incident and subsequent Herald reporting appears to be an exercise in guilt-by association or guilt-by-innuendo.

There is no evidence or claim by Liu that Barker prompted the migrant businessman to make the donation.

If Liu made the donation to “impress” Mr Barker, how can that be laid at the feet of the then-Labour MP?

Why has the Herald seen fit to spin Liu’s donation to the rowing club as somehow attributable to Rick Barker and the Labour Party?

If Liu’s donation to the rowing club in 2006 was designed to “curry favour” with the then-Labour government, it should be noted that Liu had already been granted residency two years before, in 2004 (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10172715/David-Cunliffe-advocated-for-Donghua-Liu).

This was mis-leading, slanted reporting of a minor event.

7. In conclusion, I maintain the folllowing;

(a) the Herald has relied on the unsubstantiated claims of one man, that he made various donations to the Labour Party. These donations originally amounted to $150,000 on 22 June (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279089) but were later wound back to $38,000 on 27 June (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11282539).

(b) the Herald has relied on a “signed statement”, rather than a legally binding affidavit.

(c) the Herald has had to change it’s story after Liu provided a “clarification” on 27 June.

(d) the Herald has not published either Liu’s original “signed statement” nor the subsequent “clarification”.

(e) the Herald does not appear to have conducted any investigation as to Liu’s motivation for making his “signed statement”, which was signed two days after Maurice Williamson was forced to resign after his involvement with Liu was made public.

(f) Unsubstantiated claims were presented as facts.

(g) the Herald has not apologised for promoting claims of a “$100,000 bottle of wine” or “$15,000 book” – subsequently admitted by Liu to be incorrect.

(h) the Herald has mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation to Liu’s river boat party.

(i) the Herald has mis-represented Liu’s donation to a boating club and unfairly linked it to Rick Barker.

(j) the Herald’s series of stories since 18 June has been biased against David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, and the Labour Party by distorted reporting and by improper emphasis.

(k) Reporting of Liu’s claims has not been factually based nor verified, prior to publication.

(l) The Herald’s stories since 18 June have been harmfully inaccurate, as outlined above.

(m) By not publishing, in full and verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” and subsequent “clarification”, the Herald has not disclosed all essential facts and has suppressed relevant, available facts.

I await your response and your remedies (if any), to the issues I have raised.
Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

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Next step, the NZ Press Council.

Note: Anyone wishing to follow suit with a formal complaint need not write a ‘novel’-length piece like I have. A formal complaint can be a few paragraphs, focusing on simply one or two points.

Information on how to proceed is given below, under “Reference sites”.

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Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu timeline – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

Other blogs

The Standard: Take action against the Herald’s lies

References sites*

NZ Press Council – Complaints Procedure

EPMU – Journalist Code of Ethics

* Hat-tip – Zetetic

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 June 2014.

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= fs =

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

28 June 2014 5 comments

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Dirt Unit

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Preface

The style of political journalism is an important issue as increasing political resources go into controlling news and there are fewer news media resources  available to cut through the spin. Such a situation plays into the hands of the Croby/Textor political manipulators. Their aim is not to create interested, intelligent and engaged citizens, because that is not in their clients’ short-term interests. Their job is easier if the public is ‘sick’ of politics, ‘bored’ by the election and not thinking hard about the issues – and not challenged by a strong, independent  media. Vote winning can then be the science of winning people over via vague feelings of self-interest, indignation, fear or jealousy.” – Nicky Hager, p262,  “The Hollow Men

 

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Timeline

11 April 2003:  David Cunliffe writes to Immigration NZ, on behalf on his constituent, Donghua Liu;

“I have been approached by my constituent Donghua Lui [sic] who is concerned at the time it is taking to process his Investment Category application.

Mr Liu’s [sic] application was accepted for processing by the Business Migration Branch on 13 August 2002.

Mr Lui [sic] wishes to set up a joint venture including Well Lee Ltd, Equus Hawk o8 ltd and Tan Long Property Development Co Ltd who will export large quantities of agricultural and horticultural products to China.

It is hope that products from the company will be available to the market in July 2003.

I am aware of the difficulties facing the Business Migration Branch of New Zealand Immigration Services in coping with the overwhelming numbers of applicants that have applied for consideration under these categories and the time taken to verify documents. However it would be very helpful to Mr Liu to be advised of an estimated period of time period [sic] in which he could expect a decision on his case.

Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.

Yours sincerely

David Cunliffe
MP for New Lynn”

2004: Donghua Liu granted permanent residency by then-immigration minister Damien O’Connor, against  official advice.

2006: Donghua Liu claims that he;

…visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay… having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.

(The claim is made eight years later.)

3 June 2007: Donghua Liu claims that he  supposedly won  a $15,000 signed book at a Labour Party fundraising auction.

In the same year, he also claims to have paid “close to $100,000” for four bottles of wine ['Cold Duck'? - Blogger] at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser.

(These claims are made seven years later, and the Labour Party says it cannot find any record of the alleged donations/payments. The date, 3 June 2007, is contained in a NZ Herald story, on 22 June 2014.)

Liu also claims;

That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China.

(This claim, also, is made seven years later.)

2010: Donghua Liu given NZ citizenship, by Immigration Minister Nathan Guy,  against official advice, and after lobbying by Maurice Williamson, then Minister for Building and Construction, and John Banks, then Mayor of Auckland. Maurice Williamson performs the citizenship ceremony the day after it is granted, in his electorate offices.

2 September 2011: The first stage of a proposed $70 million hotel project is opened by Donghua Liu, with Prime Minister John Key attending;

The project, which is the brainchild of Remuera businessman Donghua Liu, will involve the development of open spaces, high-value residential apartments, education facilities and a new five-star hotel.

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Opening of Boulevard hotel project - john Key - Donghua Liu.

Opening of Boulevard hotel project - john Key - Donghua Liu - (2)jpg

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“My vision is to create buildings and open spaces that fit with Newmarket’s already proud heritage and community and help promote New Zealand tourism to visitors from China and elsewhere,” Mr Liu, a New Zealand resident since 2004, said today.

2012: A business, owned by Donghua Liu, donates $22,000 to the National party.

April, 2013: Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse meets  with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu (which the Herald will report on 7 May 2014).

13 March 2014: John Key denies anything “untoward” in Donghua Liu receiving a ministerial waiver (from Guy Nathan) to become a NZ Citizen, which was followed later by a $22,000 donation to the National Party;

“I just don’t accept the proposition there’s anything untoward there.”

Key said a minister advocating a person for citizenship was “not at all unusual”.

Liu was a substantial investor in New Zealand and “lots of people get ministerial waivers”.

14 March: Donghua Liu arrested and charged with domestic violence assault on two women.

22 March: NZ Herald reports that Donghua Lui’s $70 million four-star hotel project has failed to materialise;

Liu also told Chinese media at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that his plans for the $70 million redevelopment of the former Carlton Bowling Club site was unlikely to go beyond the design stage unless the Government cut the $10 million threshold.

“Like many developers throughout the construction, our group is constrained by a lack of access to capital. An improvement to business migrant rules would allow the group to source the equity capital it needs from overseas, particularly from China,” Liu told a Chinese newspaper at the launch.

“Without that improvement, it is likely that stages two and three will be stalled indefinitely.”

The same Herald article refers to right-wing commentator; National Party apparatchik, and professional lobbyist, Matthew Hooton, being hired by Donghua Liu, to change business migration laws in this country;

Liu hired consultancy group Exceltium, run by political consultant Matthew Hooton, to lobby the Government over the business immigration rules.

1 May: National Minister, Maurice Williamson forced to resign after attempts by him to influence a police investigation into Donghua Liu’s alleged assault case, becomes public knowledge.

3 May: Donghua Liu signs statement claiming donations amounting to $150,000 were made to the Labour Party, which the NZ Herald will report on 22 June.

7 May: NZ Herald reports;

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has confirmed that he met with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, and heard his requests for a change in immigration policy. 

Mr Woodhouse said Mr Liu – who was involved in National MP Maurice Williamson’s resignation – lobbied him in April or May at the businessman’s Newmarket hotel.

The minister said Mr Liu lobbied him to change the rules of the business migrant scheme.

“We traversed a range of … issues about how the investor category could be improved, and I took on board those issues.”

Mr Liu was seeking a new immigration category in which non-English speakers could pay less than the $10 million threshold.

May 8*: Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is questioned in the House and by media about his meetings and any National Party association with Donghua Liu. Mr Woodhouse requests information on the file to see if there is anything relevant that he needs to know about.

The Herald [also] requests Liu’s residency file under the Official Information Act (OIA)

May 9*: In response to file review, Mr Woodhouse is verbally advised – among other things – of the existence of two Parliamentary advocacy letters regarding Donghua Liu, one from Mr Cunliffe and another from the office of Chris Carter.

Weekend of 10-11 May*: Mr Woodhouse informs Prime Minister John Key’s Office of the existence of the letters.

Week 12-16 May*: Mr Woodhouse’s office receives hard copy of letters.

Mid-late May*: Mr Woodhouse’s office provides copy of letters to the Prime Minister’s office.

16 June*: The Herald run story on Labour donations and connections. The Herald’s OIA request is declined on privacy grounds. The Herald puts in a refined OIA request for MP representations for Donghua Liu to Immigration NZ.

17 June: David Cunliffe denies ever having advocated for Donghua Liu.

18 June*: Immigration NZ release Mr Cunliffe’s 2003 Donghua Liu letter to the Herald

19 June: John Key says he had previously known about the 2003 letter;

“Can’t exactly recall, I think it was a few weeks ago.”

A Radio NZ report quoted Deputy PM, Bill English;

19 June morning:

But hours later on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme on Thursday, Bill English had a different story, saying no one in Government knew about it until Wednesday. “As I understand it, it’s a response to an OIA (Official Information Act request) to the Immigration Service and we wouldn’t know a lot about what’s on their files,” he said.

19 June afternoon:

However in the afternoon, Mr English told reporters the letter had been sent to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse some time ago as part of information he received from the Immigration Service after Mr Williamson’s resignation.

“For a number of weeks there were questions in the House about Mr Donghua Liu and you would expect a competent minister to get together the relevant information.”

June 19*:

• 2pm Mr Woodhouse denies telling Mr Key about the letters

• 3pm Mr Woodhouse says officials from his office briefed Mr Key’s office on the letters.

• 7pm Mr Woodhouse’s office says the minister himself told Mr Key’s office about the letters and his office also gave copies of the letters to Mr Key’s office.

19 June: Shane Jones denies he is the source of  revelations regarding David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu.

19 June: Key confirms he knows more about the revelations;

“I’ve heard the rumours and in the end we’ll see what actually comes out but I’ll be very very amazed if the amount is $15,000.”

Asked if it was hundreds of thousands of dollars, Key said: “We’ll see … that’s for the Labour Party to make clear to the New Zealand public.”

20 June: Blogger lodges formal OIA request to John Key, Bill English, and Michael Woodhouse;

This is a request lodged under the Official Information Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording, relating to any and all activities surrounding the procurement; storage; and planned circumstances of the release of the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003.

This includes a request for all communications relating to the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003, which may have occurred between yourself; any and all staffmembers in your office; any member of the National Party; any blogger; any media person; and any other group or individual who was contacted on this issue.

Information may be emailed to me, or, if the file is too large, I can supply a postal address for hard copies.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

21 June: Donghua Liu claims that  he has donated money “equally to Governments of both colours”.

22 June: NZ Herald publishes claim that Donghua Liu has contributed $150,000 to Labour Party. The claim is made in a signed statement by Liu. The Herald report states that Liu paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine;

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

However, a Radio NZ report on the same day states that the money was paid for four bottles;

General secretary of the Labour Party Tim Barnett said the newspaper told him it was $100,000 for four bottles, not one, but even so, he does not have record of such a transaction.

23 June:

7.32am: NZ Herald editor, Tim Murphy, interviewed in Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“, and says that the Herald received a copy of Donghua Liu’s  3 May signed statement “on Saturday”. Murphy confirms that the document was a statement, not an affidavit. Murphy refuses to say how the Herald acquired the statement.

11.05am: Mike Williams, past-President of Labour Party,  states on Radio NZ’s “Nine To Noon” politics panel, that he is  not aware of any donation from Donghua Liu, nor any fund-raising event of Liu’s description, on the date Liu asserts.

“This, this,  supposedly happened on my watch.  And I’ve got a lot of problems with that. I think if anyone had paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine, I would know about it.”

Williams says that he and Party General Secretary, Mike Smith, were assiduous in record keeping and a donation of that magnitude could not be over-looked.

Williams also referred to Liu claiming that he donated “equally to Governments of both colours“, and suggested that if that was correct, that National had failed to properly report and account for $130,000 in donations.

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Questions

1.

If, as Mr Liu claims, he donated $150,000 to the Labour Party in 2007, why has no one come forward to confirm this event? $150,000 is a large sum of money and very difficult to forget. Even John Key, with the best of his brain-fades, could not help but recall such an event.

2.

Mr Liu has signed only a statement, not an affidavit. There is a great deal of difference between the two forms of documents. A signed statement has very  little legal standing.

But a signed and witnessed affidavit is a legal document, as outlined in Section 197 of the Evidence Act 2006, to whit;

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197 Solicitor may take affidavit or declaration

  • (1) It is lawful for any solicitor of the High Court to take the affidavit or declaration of any person in relation to any criminal proceedings that are certified in accordance with this section to be pending in any overseas court.

    (2) An affidavit or declaration referred to in subsection (1) must be intituled In the matter of section 197 of the Evidence Act 2006, and a declaration referred to in subsection (1) may be expressed to be made under the provisions of this section.

    (3) No affidavit or declaration referred to in subsection (1) may be taken unless the solicitor taking it has received a written certificate—

    • (a) from the overseas court that the affidavit or declaration is required for the purpose of criminal proceedings pending in the court; or

    • (b) from an overseas representative of the country in which the overseas court exercises jurisdiction that he or she believes the affidavit or declaration to be required for the purpose of criminal proceedings pending in the overseas court.

    (4) A certificate for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) may be given by any Judge or judicial officer of the overseas court, or by any Registrar or other officer of that court.

    (5) If a certificate is given under subsection (3)(b), the jurat or attestation of the affidavit or declaration must state the name and official designation of the overseas representative on whose certificate the affidavit or declaration has been taken.

    (6) In this section—

    affidavit means any affidavit or affirmation made before a solicitor of the High Court

    declaration means any written statement declared by the maker of the statement to be true in the presence of a solicitor of the High Court.

    Compare: 1908 No 56 s 48F(1)–(6)

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Making a false declaration under the Act, is covered under Section 198;

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198 False affidavit or declaration

  • (1) Every affidavit or declaration taken under section 197 is deemed to have been made in a judicial proceeding within the meaning of the Crimes Act 1961, and any person who falsely makes an affidavit or declaration of that kind is guilty of perjury or of making a false declaration accordingly.

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Which infers that the signed statement which Liu made, and which the Herald claims to have in it’s possession, does not have the same weight as an affidavit.

If it can be proven that Liu was lying, he will suffer no legal consequences.

It may explain why Liu refuses, point blank, to swear an affidavit. Why has Liu not made an actual affidavit?

3.

On 19 June, Bill English, John Key, and Michael Woodhouse, offered varying accounts when and how long, they had been in possession of the 2003 letter between Cunliffe and Immigration NZ.

It was not until some hours later that they amended their public statements.

Can they explain their discrepancies in the varying times they gave?

4.

On 21 June,  Donghua Liu claimed that  he has donated moneyequally to Governments of both colours“.

But according to him, he gave $150,000 to Labour, and only $22,000 to National. That is not “equally to Governments of both colours” by any measure or definition. He (supposedly) gave $128,000 more to Labour than to National.

Can he explain that discrepancy in his statement?

5.

On 22 June, NZ Herald journalist, Bevan Hurley, wrote that Liu paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine;

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

However, this was contradicted by a  Radio NZ report on the same day, stating that the money was paid for four bottles;

General secretary of the Labour Party Tim Barnett said the newspaper [NZ Herald]  told him it was $100,000 for four bottles, not one, but even so, he does not have record of such a transaction.

Can Hurley, or any other person working for the Herald, explain that discrepancy?

6.

If, as a 22 March NZ Herald story stated, that Donghua Lui’s $70 million four-star hotel project has failed to materialise, what action has this government taken on what appears to have been a breech of the business migration visa conditions (?)  of Liu’s residency and subsequent citizenship?

What guarantee can there be, that migrants given residency and citizenship, under the Investor Plus (Investor 1 Category), and Investor (Investor 2 Category), who promise to undertake specific developments,  will carry out their obligations?

What sanctions and remedies are available, should migrants given residency and citizenship, under the Investor Plus (Investor 1 Category), and Investor (Investor 2 Category), who promise to undertake specific developments, fail to do so?

7.

On 22 June 2014, Labour Party president, Moira Coatsworth categorically stated;

No-one has provided any documentary evidence to us that contradicts our records.

We continue to call on Donghua Liu and any third parties who might have information about these allegations, including the Prime Minister, to place what they know into the public domain or to refer to the regulators.

We have had no approaches from the Electoral Commission or any regulatory agency. We have always cooperated with regulators, and will always do so when required.

The same Herald story reveals that the Herald refuses to provide a copy of Liu’s signed statement to the Labour Party, which Coatsworth says,

“We consider this to be a denial of natural justice.”

7a. Why has the Herald refused to provide a copy of Liu’s signed statement to the Labour Party?

7b. Why has Liu refused to provide evidence of a $150,000 payment/donation to the Labour Party?

7c. How was Liu’s alleged payment made? Cheque? Bank transfer? A suitcase stuffed full of money? (Even a cash payment could be proven by showing when and where a withdrawal of that amount was made.)

7d. Can Liu provide witnesses to the event?

7e. Why has the Herald not made the statement public?

8.

Liu claims he signed a statement on 3 May 2014, to the effect that he “donated” $150,000 to the Labour Party.

8a. Why did he feel the need to make such a statement?

8b. Did someone else prompt or request for him to make such a state?

8c. Why did Liu not offer a copy to the Labour Party?

8d. Who else has a copy of the statement?

9.

9a. Who else knew about the 2003 letter, before it was published by the Herald?

9b. Was the Herald ‘tipped of’ about the letter before it lodged it’s OIA request?

9c. What was the involvement of John Key, Bill English, Michael Woodhouse, and Key’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, in this affair?

9d. What active role did  Mathew Hooton have, in this affair?

9e. What active role did  the head of Key’s media team, Jason Ede, have in this affair?

10.

How does Liu reconcile his claims for the date of the Labour Party fundraiser being held on 3 June 2007 (as reported in a NZ Herald story, on 22 June 2014) when the Labour Party can find no record of any such event occurring on that day?

11.

Will the Police proceed in their prosecution of Donghua Liu?

Or will charges for assaulting two women be dropped “for lack of evidence”?

12.

And perhaps the last question – the most important question – why hasn’t the media been asking these questions?

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Conclusions

  • Donations via Electoral Commission

If New Zealanders cannot stomach state funding for political parties, and the elimination of private donors to parties, then the next best thing – Plan ‘B’ – is that all donations,  or fund-raising over a certain amount ($1,000? $5,000?), be channelled through the Electoral Commission. The Commission would duly record each donation and donor’s details, and pass it on to the relevant party.

This might not be the solution to the problem of unrecorded donations, but it might  be a helpful tool. It would certainly give the Commission an opportunity to make immediate, further enquiries relating to a specific donation. Eg; a fund-raising dinner at Antoinette’s in 2010, which raised $105,000 from twentyone donors, but which was recorded only as a ‘lump sum’ donation from the restaurant – without naming all twentyone people who gave money.

This might offer an additional measure of transparency to the donations system.

Any party avoiding the system would do so at it’s peril, eventually being found out.

  • Cancel Investor Visa (Investors 1 & 2 Category)

It is perhaps time for the Investor Visa (Investors 1 & 2 Category) to be reviewed, and dumped.

The system appears to be open to rorting, with a residency-for-donations system in place that has been exploited by National (and Labour?).

But it is not just that Donghua Liu gave $22,000 to National, and was subsequently  granted citizenship.

We have also seen the case of Susan Chou, of Oravida Ltd, whose company  donated $200,000 in two amounts in 2010, and $156,600 to the National Party in three lots, throughout 2011 (31 May, 22 November,  and 30 November). A month later, on 27 January 2012,  National Government ministers approved Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase sixteen Crafar farms in receivership.

Oravida, as many will recall, was the dairy company at the center of a recent scandal involving Minister Judith Collins and her husband, David Tung. Tung also happens to be a company director of Oravida.

If this is not corruption, then it certainly has the perception of it.

Whether Labour has also exploited the business migration scheme is unknown. Liu’s claims may be real – or an utter fabrication and part of a very cunning smear campaign against Labour, during an election that promises to be close-run.

The only way to eliminate any possibility of inappropriate activities such as citizenship-for-donations, and other favours-for-donations, is to dump the business migration scheme once and for all.

It is simply too open to abuse.

  • Extreme caution  with relations with business people

If the Oravida scandal;  Kim Dotcom saga, and Donghua Liu mystery have shown anything, it is that ministers of the crown should exercise extreme caution when dealing with members of the business community. Especially businesspeople from cultures where “gifting” for political patronage is considered the norm.

After the wounds inflicted on Judith Collins and David Cunliffe, and the destruction of John Banks’ and Taito Phillip Fields‘ political careers, it would be a very, very foolish Member of Parliament or Minister of the Crown, to try his/her luck with secret dealings.

We are simply too small a country.

  • The C.R.E.E.P.** Team

It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that the Donghua Liu Affair has been a carefully orchestrated dirty trick, designed to smear the leader of the Labour Party, David Cunliffe.

It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that it was not orchestrated by anyone within the Labour Party, such as the ABC faction. Their careers would be gone by breakfast if it could be shown that any of them were responsible, in part, or whole.

It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that this smear campaign was orchestrated deep within the National Party, and that at least two well known National Party apparatchiks were involved.

It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that Donghua Liu was persuaded to participate in this scheme around early May, when he signed his statement. It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that he was offered, in return, that charges against him for assaulting two women, would either be dropped, or “no evidence presented” at the Court case.

It is my sincerest, honestly-held  belief, that this smear campaign was designed as ‘utu’ for the forced resignation of Maurice Williamson. Donghua Liu signed his statement two days after Williamson’s resignation.

Therein lies the clue: Donghua Liu signed his statement two days after Williamson’s resignation. Because Williamson’s resignation left some very, very angry people who could barely wait to exact revenge.

It is my prediction that the truth will come out very quickly on this issue, and it will destroy National’s chances to win this election – much like “Corngate” nearly  destroyed Labour’s chances to win the 2002 general election.

This will end John Key’s career.

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* Timeline info  taken from NZ Herald story, Woodhouse ‘clarifies’ story on Cunliffe’s Liu letter. Hat-tip, Martyn Bradbury, from blogpost, Cunliffe can’t remember an 11 year old letter and has to resign but Woodhouse can’t remember a 6 week old letter he told Prime Minister about and isn’t resigning?

** CREEP – Committee to RE Elect the Prime minister (See: Watergate)

 


References

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Fairfax media: David Cunliffe advocated for Donghua Liu

NZ Herald: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Fairfax media: Key – ‘Nothing untoward’ in citizenship waiver

NZ Herald: Businessman in citizenship row up on violence charges

Radio NZ: Labour has no record of reported Liu donation

NZ Herald: Labour Party hits back at donation claims

Otago Daily Times: Losing patience with politicians

NZ Herald: Citizenship, then $22k for Nats

Scoop Auckland:Share PM to open first stage of Donghua Liu’s $70m Newmarket redevelopment project

NZ Herald: Weeds choke $70m dream

TV3: Maurice Williamson resigns as minister

NZ Herald: Labour Party hits back at donation claims

NZ Herald: MP confirms meeting with Donghua Liu

TV1 News: Cunliffe – ‘I did not tell a lie’ about Liu

Radio NZ: Cunliffe accuses Govt of smear campaign

NZ Herald: Woodhouse ‘clarifies’ story on Cunliffe’s Liu letter

Radio NZ: PM and deputy at odds over Cunliffe letter

TV3: Shane Jones denies he is Cunliffe source

Fairfax media: David Cunliffe digs in amid rumours, poll woe

NZ Herald: Businessman ‘donated to Governments of both colours’

Immigration NZ:  Migrant Investment categories

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Radio NZ: Morning Report – New Zealand Herald stands by its story

Radio NZ: Nine To Noon politics panel

Legislation:  Evidence Act 2006

Radio NZ: Labour dismisses Liu donation claims

Immigration NZ:  Migrant Investment categories

TV3:  Key not talking about fundraising dinner

Interest.co.nz: Govt Ministers rubber stamp Overseas Investment Office approval of Shanghai Pengxin’s Crafar farms bid

Previous related blogposts

National’s fund-raising at Antoine’s – was GST paid?

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Other blogposts

The Standard: The middle of Queens birthday weekend? Yeah right!

The Daily Blog: Cunliffe can’t remember an 11 year old letter and has to resign but Woodhouse can’t remember a 6 week old letter he told Prime Minister about and isn’t resigning?

 


 

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Lorde wants you to vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 June 2014.

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= fs =

‘Tricky’ media…

25 June 2014 4 comments

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NZ Herald - if you think, the bolsheviks win

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In case anyone finds it hard to believe that some in  the msm (mainstream media) are politically partisan, the screen-shot below – of a recent NZ Herald story – should help  dispel such doubts;

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NZ Herald - Key on Liu-Labour link - More to come - David Cunliffe

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Notice the two disparate images.

On the left, Key’s image portrays him as smiling and obviously confident and relaxed.His authority is not under threat.

The image on the right, depicting David Cunliffe, shows him scowling; mouth open in mid-retort; obviously in a defensive and angry position. His leadership authority is shown to be in question in that image.  (Hence the old expression, “if you become angry, you have lost the argument“.)

It is a subtle piece of visual propaganda; one is calm, poised, confident. The other is emotional, upset, obviously responding to an attack.

So this is supposedly  an example of an impartial, non-partisan media?

And journos wonder why a large sector of  society view them with disdain and suspicion?

If the Reader’s Digest  Most Trusted Professions for 2013 is any indication, journalists need to work on their integrity;

1. Paramedics
2. Firefighters
3. Rescue volunteers
4. Nurses
5. Pilots
6. Doctors
7. Pharmacists
8. Veterinarians
9. Police
10. Armed Forces personnel
11. Scientists
12. Teachers
13. Childcare workers
14. Dentists
15. Farmers
16. Bus/train/tram drivers
17. Flight attendants
18. Architects
19. Chefs
20. Electricians
21. Miners
22. Computer technicians
23. Postal workers
24. Hairdressers
25. Builders
26. Plumbers
27. Mechanics
28. Accountants
29. Truck drivers
30. Waiters
31. Bankers
32. Charity collectors
33. Shop assistants
34. Clergy (all religions)
35. Cleaners
36. Personal trainers
37. Lawyers
38. Taxi drivers
39. Financial planners
40. CEOs
41. Call centre staff
42. Airport baggage handlers
43. Journalists
44. Real estate agents
45. Insurance salespeople
46. Politicians
47. Sex workers
48. Car salespeople
49. Door-to-door salespeople
50. Telemarketers

Lumped in with politicians, car salespeople, etc, is not a desirable place, one would think.

This will be a dirty election as the Right (National and ACT) with their media allies (NZ Herald, NBR, and rantback radio hosts) pull out the stops to destroy a resurgent Left. Those who hold power will not give it up easily.

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Rich people paying rich people to tell the news

 

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References

NZ Herald:  Key on Liu-Labour link: More to come

Reader’s Digest: New Zealand’s Most Trusted Professions 2013


 

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john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 June 2014.

 

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand…

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Today’s (9 June 2014)  editorial in the ‘Dominion Post was an interesting take on the John Banks Affair and National’s cynical exploitation of MMP’s “coat tailing” provision;

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Stuff.co.nz

Editorial: Discredited flaw still being exploited

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

Every electoral system has flaws which politicians exploit. The coat-tailing provision of MMP is now utterly discredited, but it survives because it serves powerful political interests – especially the National Party’s. The clause should be abolished, but no National-led government will do so.

Labour promises to quickly abolish the clause, which allows a party with just one electorate seat to avoid the 5 per cent parliamentary threshold, if it gains power. There is already a paradox here. Labour might have to rely on the votes of the Mana-Internet Party to do so. But Mana-Internet will get into Parliament only via the coat-tailing clause. Nobody believes it will get 5 per cent of the vote.

The case for abolishing coat-tailing is overwhelming, and was made by the Electoral Commission in 2012. That inquiry grew out of John Key’s promise to “kick the tyres” of MMP, but his government ignored the recommendations. The reason is quite simple: coat-tailing helps the National Party. The Government’s refusal to take any notice of the inquiry was naked realpolitik and a supremely cynical act.

National’s coat-tailing deals with ACT in Epsom have left an especially sour taste in voters’ mouths. Key’s “tea-party” with the-then ACT leader John Banks before the 2011 election was widely recognised as a stunt.

The politicians invited the media to their meeting and then shut them out of the coffee-house while they had their “secret” and entirely meaningless chat. It added insult to injury that Key complained to the police after a journalist taped their conversation.

National and ACT had done similar self-serving deals in Epsom before, and showed just how unfair coat-tailing can be. In the 2008 election ACT got 3.65 per cent of the vote but won five seats in the House thanks to coat-tailing. New Zealand First, by contrast, got slightly more than 4 per cent of the vote but no seats in the House, because it won no electorate. This was mad, but highly convenient to the two right-wing parties.

Coat-tailing, in fact, has kept the dying and discredited ACT party alive. It delivered John Banks a seat in the House, and this week Banks stood disgraced when found guilty in the High Court of knowingly filing a false electoral return. Key, whose self-serving deal with Banks has hurt his own credibility, has even persisted in defending Banks’ “honesty” since the verdict. Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere.

Hard-nosed strategists such as Internet Party leader Laila Harre argue that this is “taking back MMP”, as though this kind of thing was a blow for people power instead of the cynical politicking that it really is.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, no matter what power-hungry politicians might think. The Government should abolish the coat-tailing clause, along with its associated overhang provision, and drop the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent. However, it won’t happen while National is in power.

– The Dominion Post

.

Note the highlighted sentence; ” Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere“.

That statement demanded a response…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:11:45 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

 

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The editor
Dominion Post

.

Your editorial on National's exploitation of MMP's
'coat-tailing' provision was insightful until this jarring
statement ruined it;

"Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry
coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira's
electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere." (9 June)

What "tawdry coat-tailing deal" might that be?

Because every indication is that not only will Labour refuse
to engage in any deal-making, but  MPs Chris Hipkins, Kelvin
Davis, Stuart Nash, et al, have been vociferously attacking
the Internet-Mana Party on social media. If any such "deal"
exists, someone forgot to tell those Labour MPs.

However, if even Labour and Mana-Internet came to an
Epsom-like arrangement - so what?

Those are the rules that this government has decreed and
must be played. Anyone playing by some other mythical
"principled" rules will sit saint-like on the Opposition
benches whilst National gerrymanders the system.

Suggesting otherwise creates an unlevel playing field that
benefits one, at the expense of others, and is untenable.

If it's good enough for National to arrange deals in Epsom,
Ohariu, and soon with the Conservative Party, then it should
be good enough for everyone.

No one takes a knife to a gunfight unless they are dead-set
on losing.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Discredited flaw still being exploited

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

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Foot In Mouth

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When I first read  Patrick Gower’s comments on Twitter;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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– I was gobsmacked.

For a moment I considered that his account had been hacked and hijacked by ACT-On-Campus agitators.

Then I read several further “tweets” from the TV3  journalist;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)

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This was not the work of a “hacker”.

More like a hack.

Note Gower’s comments,

1.

“Lalia Harré – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP Same goes for your pals Hone, Dotcom, Minto and Sykes.”

I trust that Gower will not be surprised if Ms Harré declines any further interviews  with him? After all, Laila’s compassion would not allow her to make poor Patrick “feel sick“.

2.

“No I’m not OK with it. It’s not OK. Rorting MMP is not OK.”

 

No, Patrick. A strategic alliance between two political parties is not a “rort”.  It is making full use of the rules of MMP – as this current government has itself endorsed and used on at least two occasions.

Secondly, it is not a “rort” because the strategic co-operation is out in the public domain, for all to see. Including the voters of Te Tai Tokerau.

It is up to voters to determine if it is a rort or not.

I would add that this strategic co-operation was done more openly; more transparently than the *nudge,nudge, wink, wink* “cuppa tea” meeting between John Key and John Banks, in an Epsom coffee shop, on 11 November 2011. And far more open  and upfront that the sham candidacy of National Party candidate, Katrina Shanks, in Ohariu in the 2011 Election.

Was the Alliance – set up in 1991  between the NewLabour Party, Mana Motuhake, Greens, and Democratic Party (a fifth party, the Liberals, joined later)  – also a “rort”?

Or was it a what it was – a strategic alliance of small parties to adapt to the rules of the then-electoral system of First Past the Post?

The rules of MMP were not decided by Lalia Harré, Hone Harawira, Kim Dotcom, John Minto, or Annette Sykes. They can only use what they have been given.

3.

“I want coat-tailing to go. I want politicians to stop rorting MMP.”

Fine. But I really think you should take that up with John Key and Judith Collins.

They are the ones who decided to keep the “coat talking” provisions.

They are the ones who rejected the recommendations of the Electoral Commission to eliminate the “coat tailing” rule and reduce the threshold for Parties from 5% to 4%. But they refused. Why?  Because the “coat-tailing” rule suited them very nicely.

When a governing party decides to preserve a provision in an electoral system because it increases their chances of winning more seats, or gaining seats for prospective allies – that is a “rort”.

It is also known as gerrymandering.

Blaming two tiny political parties who, between them have one seat in Parliament, and are using the MMP system as it has been presented to them – is just too asinine to take seriously.

Gower shows himself to be the  village idiot, with an over-inflated sense of self-worth, is he does not understand this simple truism.

4.

“I fight those deals too.”

“Lets fight these deals together.”

Really?

And here I was, thinking that you were a political journalist reporting the news – not making it or judging it.

Aren’t you supposed to present the facts to us, and leave the evaluation to us, Joe and Jane Public?

Or are we too thick to be able to form our own opinions without journalists now telling us what and how to think?!

If you want to do a Campbell Live or Paul Henry style of story-telling – get your own show, Mr Gower. Then we can keep the differentiation between real reporting and advocacy journalism.

5.

“Nobody in politics will – all are too greedy for power.”

Really?!

Funny thing about that, Mr Gower –  all those “greedy for power” were elected to office by us, the People. If you have a problem with that – take it up with the voters who put those politicians into office. I’d like to see Patrick Gower make a tweet, for example;

“Voters of Epsom – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP Same goes for your pals, the voters in Ohariu.”

I could see your employers having ‘kittens‘ if you tried to slag off tens of thousands of potential viewers with such a shotgun-style delivery of abusive criticism, eh?

What really annoys me about such a cynical state that “Nobody in politics will – all are too greedy for power” is that it is patently untrue. It is a generalisation based on nothing except your own personal experiences and cynical outlook on life.

Because, really, what is the alternative?

Democracy is be the worst form of political system – except all the others, as some famous bloke said a while ago.

By your cynicism you are simply perpetuating the feeling of alienation that pervades our society and helping to further voter disengagement rather than doing anything positive to improve the system.

Maybe I’m missing something here?

Perhaps trying to increase disengagement – especially with parties on the Left – is your real agenda?

6.

“It is about standards. Somebody has to hold the line”

I guess it’s easier to maintain “standards” and “hold the line” when it’s two small parties, with one MP between them – rather than the governing party in power, with fiftynine MPs, and the full force of the State behind them?

That’s the ‘trick’, Paddy, start small, on the little guy. And if you can beat him up, move on to the next little guy. But whatever you do – don’t take on the Big Boys, Paddy. Because you know they’ll kick your flabby arse from one end of this country to the other.

7.

“@RusselNorman Yes. But now it is time for the Greens to show some backbone and rule out working with the Mana-Dotcom rort. Why won’t you?”

Ah, and here we have it – the nub of it all.

This is not about “rorting” MMP. Or keeping “standards“. Or “holding the line“. Or any other lofty ideals.

Nah.

This is about keeping a Labour-Green-Mana-Internet Party(-NZ First?) coalition government from taking power post September 20th.

Because if the Greens (and Labour) were foolish enough to follow  Gower’s suggestion – that would effectively lock out any chance of a new government forming, thereby throwing out Key and his cronies.

Bear in mind that when National did their dirty deal in Epsom with John Banks – Gower did not call on Key “ to show some backbone and rule out working with the Mana-Dotcom rort”.  (If he did, I must have missed it.)

That is what this is all about. All this self-righteous, indignant chest-thumping – to keep National in power and prevent a left-wing government taking office.

How else does one explain the volume of hysteria associated with two tiny political parties that barely register 2% (collectively!) in the polls?

Answer? Because it threatens the established system and those who maintain it and profit by it.

Gower has seriously damaged any credibility he might have had.

By his own words, he has disclosed his agenda.

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References

Twitter: Patrick Gower


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 June 2014.

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= fs =

 

 

 

 

Review: TV3’s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

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TV3 - The-Nation - poverty - inequality

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In the last three years I have been truly outraged and sickened only twice when watching a current affairs/documentary programme. The first was Bryan Bruce’s “Inside Child Poverty“, broadcast back on 22 November 2011.

Bryan presented the viewer with a country of increasing child poverty, disease, low-quality housing; and growing inequality that few of us (except hardcore ACT and National supporters) would have believed possible in a wealthy country like New Zealand. Especially a country which once prided itself on egalitarianism, fairness, and looking after those less fortunate than the privileged Middle Classes.

The second time was just recent – watching TV3’s current affairs programme,  The Nation, on 24 May. The one word that came to mind as I watched the episode was: revulsion. Not revulsion at the fact that our once proud egalitarian nation is now one of the most unequal on the face of this planet – but revulsion at the injection of humour in interviews; panel discussion, and levity between the hosts, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower.

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Hosts for TV3's "The Nation", Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

Hosts for TV3’s “The Nation”, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

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I am not even referring to Patrick Gower “interviewing” Ben Uffindell, editor of the satirical blogsite, The Citizen. Though one certainly has to question why this segment was deemed worthy of insertion? What was the point of suggesting that children living in poverty – many of whom go to school without food (or  are given “food” that is of dubious nutritional value); no shoes; no rain coats; or lacking other items which Middle Class families take for granted – would find it funny to be given ice cream or a South American animal?

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TV3 - The Nation - Ben Uffindell

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I recall a legend of someone else trying to “make light” of the plight of the poor. That person suggested cake, in lieu of ice cream.

The highly talented Mr Uffindell has never been  invited to comment on other pressing issues and problems confronting our country. So why start with inequality and associated problems with child poverty? A question I posed to The Nation, via Twitter;

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TV3 - The Nation - inequality -  Twitter feed 24 May 2014

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So why is levity suddenly the order-of-the-day when poverty and inequality is under the media microscope?

Because we are “just laughing at ourselves” some might say?

No. We are not “laughing at ourselves”. We are laughing at the thought  of children, living in  poverty, being given free ice cream and llamas.

We are not “laughing at ourselves”.  We are laughing at children and families living in poverty – at their expense.

That is the difference.

Funnily enough, there was certainly no humour on  The Nation (10 may) when ACT’s Jamie Whyte proposed a  flat tax policy. Where was the mirth? The satirical hilarity? Where was the wink-wink-nudge-nudge repartee between The Nation’s hosts?

Any humour must have been lost amongst the rustling sound of $100 bills been eagerly counted…

TV3 - The Nation - Torben Akel

Bill English stated in the above video,

“Income inequality has not got worse. In fact we’re one of two developed countries where the OECD has recently as yesterday have said it’s stable since 1994. And in fact in the last few years there’s some indications it’s fallen slightly.”

Torben Akel asked for evidence to back up English’s claims;

“What we got was a page lifted from a new OECD report with a graph showing income inequality here in 2010 was less than it was in the mid nineties.”

So the “new” OECD report was based on  data, taken in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and resulting Recession?! Data that was four years old?!

Akel continued with this – and here is the relevant bit;

“As for what had happened in the last few years, we were directed to the Ministry of Social Development’s household incomes report, released last July. And specifically, this graph, which shows why the Beehive [is] so sure our income gap isn’t growing.”

A cover of the Report flashed on our television screens;

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TV3 - The Nation - inequality -  household incomes in New Zealand - Bryan Perry

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The document above is Bryan Perry’s Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2011. It used data from Treasury to assess child poverty in this country;

“To calculate disposable income Statistics New Zealand uses the Treasury’s tax-benefit microsimulation model (Taxwell1) to estimate tax liabilities for individuals and benefit units. The resulting personal disposable incomes are summed to give disposable household income. Disposable household income is sometimes referred to as net income or after-tax cash income.”

- p25

“The Treasury has also developed a set of weights for use with its HES-based tax-benefit microsimulation model, Taxwell. The Taxwell weights include the number of beneficiaries as one of the key benchmarks, in accordance with Treasury’s primary use for the HES in the Taxwell model. Treasury’s Taxwell weights therefore provide a better estimate, for example, of the number of children in beneficiary families, although to achieve this there has been a trade-off with achieving other benchmarks…”

-p33

“We know that the estimates using Statistics New Zealand’s weights consistently under-estimate the number of beneficiaries compared with the administrative data. Generally, the estimates using the Treasury’s Taxwell weights are closer to the administrative data, but the sampling error from the HES can still lead to either or both weighting regimes under- or over-estimating the population numbers. “

-p128

The relevance of all this?

As reported back in February, Treasury had under-estimated the level of children living in poverty, as Bernard Hickey wrote on the 28th,

“Treasury and Statistics said in a joint statement they had double counted accommodation supplements in estimates of household disposable income between 2009 and 2012, which meant incomes were over-estimated by NZ$1.2 billion and the number of children in families earning less than 50% of the median income was under-estimated by 25,000.”

For those who want to read the actual Media Statement from Treasury,  can be found here: Media Statement: Data error prompts process improvements. Refer to the table headed “Miscalculation – Scale – Key statistics affected”.

Bryan Perry’s revised report can be found here: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2012 Revised Tables and Figures
27 February 2014. In it, he states,

“The revised trend-line figure is 32.9 compared with 32.7 [Gini Co-efficient] before the corrections. The trend line is still flat.”

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TV3 - The Nation - inequality -GINI inequality 1992 - 2012 - Bryan Perry

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(The Gini Co-efficient measures inequality, with the higher the value, the lower the equality in income.)

The”trend line” may still be “flat”, but I submit to the reader that for a family on low income; paying exorbitant rent; in a cold, damp house, with very little food in the pantry and fridge – it matters very little.

What does matter is that since 1984, before the Neo-Liberal “revolution”, the Gini Coefficient was only 28.

It is now 37.7.

We are going in the wrong direction.

So not only are National’s claims not backed up by evidence; not only has data been found to be incorrect; but also Torben Akel and The Nation’s research team missed the obvious; inequality has worsened since 1984.

Falling home ownership rates are another indicator which confirm increasing inequality in this country (and throughout the rest of the world).

The Nation’s comedic episode continued with this exchange between hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, and panellists, author Max Rashbrooke, and right-wing commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton;

Lisa Owen: “Let’s change to a lighter note. The Civilian Party. Let’s be clear. That was a bit of fun. It was tongue in cheek, if anyone’s confused about that out there. Do we need this in an election year. Do we need some humour?”

Max Rashbrooke: “Oh I think, absolutely. I mean it’s great to see Ben do his thing with the Civilian [Party].

If there’s a problem though, it’s that some of his policies which he puts out as satire, are actually quite close to reality. I mean he talks about we should tax the poor, more. Well actually, if you add up income tax and gst, people on low incomes are paying pretty much the same proportion of their income in tax as people at the top half. If you added capital gains into that story, the poor are probably paying a bigger chunk of their income than the rich are.”

Patrick Gower: “And, and, I, I agree with you there. Because llamas, in my opinion have been dodging tax for years and years, and until someone moves on that loophole, um…”

[general hilarity ensues]

Then Matthew Hooton had to go spoil it all by getting All Serious again, and witter on about Paradise in Scandinavia with more of his skewed ‘spin’ on those country’s taxation system.

Yup. Poverty and rising inequality. A laugh a minute.

What next on The Nation – point and laugh at people with disabilities?

“Jolly good fun”!

Postscript

TVNZ’s Q+A on  25 May also had Ben Uffindell as a guest. As usual, his wit was on form. The big, big difference between Q+A and The Nation? On the former, he satirised and poked fun at politicians. On the latter, the targets for laughter were children in poverty.

Draw your own conclusions.

 

 

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References

TV3: Inside Child Poverty

TV3: Child poverty doco ‘apolitical’ – filmmaker

TV3: Party calls for free ice-cream and llamas

Twitter: Frank Macskasy/The Nation

TV3: ACT leader steals thunder in minor party debate

TV3: New Zealand’s record on inequality

Ministry of Social Development: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2011

Hive News: Inequality data error revealed

NZ Treasury: Media Statement: Data error prompts process improvements

Ministry of Social Development: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2012 Revised Tables and Figures
27 February 2014

Wikipedia: Gini Coefficient

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census – Trend of lower home ownership continues

TV3: Panel – Patrick Gower, Max Rashbrooke and Matthew Hooton

Other blogs

The Standard: Snapshot of a nation: inequality

 

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 May 2014.

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= fs =

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 23 May 2014  -

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- Brent Edwards -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

Youth unemployment has decreased since the last election but that still leaves 75 thousand young people in New Zealand who are not doing any kind of work, training or education.

 

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014 ( 17′  5″ )

  • Budget 2014, Paid Parental Leave, Free medical care for Under 13s
  • Income inequality & child poverty
  • Youth unemployment (NEETs)
  • wage growth, jobs
  • external deficit, exports, China, dairy industry, tourism
  • housing, capital gains tax
  • government surplus, research and science, innovation
  • health spending, education spending, superannuation spending
  • superannuation age of eligibility, Bill English
  • tax cuts

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: It must be beneficiary-bashing day in Christchurch today

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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It must be Bene-bashing Day in the Garden City today…

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To clean up our streets, sex workers must go

.

Specifically, Yardley wrote,

“In fact, most street walkers are really sticking it to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit.”

To which I replied with this observation,

.

FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Thu, 15 May 2014 08:44:35 +1200
TO:      "The Press" <letters@press.co.nz>

 

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The editor
"The Press"


.
Mike Yardley's diatribe against sex-workers,along with a
swipe at social welfare, reads more like a Destiny Church
sermon than any credible piece of journalism. (13 May)

His claim that "most street walkers are really sticking it
to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit" is not
sustained by any facts or figures. He simply throws it into
the argument without any factual context.

How many are "most street walkers" - 51%? 52%? 53? etc?

And how does he know? Are there any MSD/WINZ figures he has
accessed? Or has he surveyed every single sex-workers in
Christchurch?

Or, more likely, is he simply relying on cliches and
stereotypes without any reference to facts?

I don't know what Mike Yardley had in mind when he wrote his
piece, but it certainly wasn't journalism.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

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It seems that employing the tactic of suggesting benefit-fraud is now a useful tool to validate any  argument? Is this the welfare version of Godwin’s Law?

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References

The Press:  To clean up our streets, sex workers must go

Wikipedia: Godwin’s Law


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Know your Tory fellow travellers and ideologues: John Bishop, Taxpayers Union, and the NZ Herald

25 April 2014 4 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

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On 19 March, I reported on the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union”. With one exception, every single member of the Taxpayers Union Board was a current (or recent) card-carrying member or supporter of the National and/or ACT parties.

Recently, one of the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union” – John Bishop – had a letter-to-the-editor published in Wellington’s Dominion Post;

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John Bishop_taxpayers Union_21 march 2014_dominion post

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Bishop’s ideological rant on performance pay for teachers is stock-standard ACT policy – a Party he was closely associated with between April 2000 and August 2002, as a Constituency Services Manager  for the ACT Parliamentary Office. His role was described as  “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events” – whatever that might mean.

The job was most likely funded through Parliamentary Services. (One hopes that he delivered “value for money”?)

Bishop’s ideological and Party links are nowhere better illustrated than the recent (and on-going) scandal over Judith Collins and the “Oravida stop-over dinner”. When the “Taxpayers Union” finally caved in to pressure to comment on Collins’ trip to China, Bishop wrote with a fair dollop of sophistry;

Being involved in political activity makes it tempting to comment on each and every movement in the political dimension. Early on, the Taxpayers’ Union decided that it would focus on instances of waste and extravagance in central and local government spending, and on cases where spending had clearly not achieved its purpose.

Hence we criticised Tony Marriott of the Christchurch City Council for charging a visit to Hooters’ Bar to his council funded credit card. And we decried Transpower for spending over a million dollars on a swept up cafeteria in its building for staff when there are plenty of cafes within easy walking distance. 

We also decided that, generally speaking, we would not go after what politicians’ poor performance, bad decisions, and questionable judgements unless there were circumstances to justify our intervention. Much of that is partisan debate and we were simply not going to get involved in every public issue, particularly when there were plenty of others making the same points as we would make.

Yes, that makes us look selective in our criticism, but we have taken on Peter Dunne over the cost of passports, and Len Brown over Auckland’s debt burden. We were also quick to point out that Hekia Parata’s inquiry into the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust asked questions about the wrong body, but we have stood back from the row over Judith Collin’s trip to China. 

In the first matter large sums of public money are involved and the misuse of funds is alleged. In the second, the cost of the Collins trip is not large, and her “crime” is not about the misuse of money. It may be a fine distinction, particularly for those who wish to attack us for existing at all, but it is a real one.

Contributors to our blog pages and tip line are constantly urging us to get involved in issues, whether it’s the funding of programmes promoting recreation and sport, the operation of the ACC scheme, the worth of the defence forces, or whatever else is on their minds.  We would love to be able to question policy matters, and to test whether a wide range of policies actually deliver on their objectives and represent value for taxpayers’ money.

It’s early days.  We only launched in October and we are still reliant to a large degree on volunteer time. Because of that we’re focused on exposing instances of clearly bad, mad and wasted spending – until we have built up our resources to do more.  Our record shows that we’re not favouring one party or another. For example, our exposé of the DOC IT cost blowout is precisely why we were established.

Waste and poor spending are our targets, not people and or partisanship.”

Bishop says that “the cost of the Collins trip is not large”.

According to media reports, Judith Collins’ junket to China cost taxpayers $36,000.

Contrast that to Mojo Mathers’ trip to Masterton, to participate in a radio station’s programme for people with disabilities. Cost to taxpayers – an estimated $550, according a NZ Herald story.

Jordan Williams, from the “Taxpayers Union” was scathing on Ms Mathers’ trip;

It’s amazing that she has so little to do with her time to actually travel to a community radio that probably has as many listeners as you can count on your hand.  The only silver lining is that the time spent travelling to go on the station in the middle of nowhere is less time spent dreaming up new ways to spend tax payers money.”

So according to the “Taxpayers Union”,  $36,000 “is not large” – but $550 was worthy of the scorn and wrath of the same, self-proclaimed “champions of the taxpayer”?

Is this what Bishop meant when he asserted; “waste and poor spending are our targets, not people and or partisanship”?

There is little doubt that Bishop and his fellow Board members in the “Taxpayers Union” are little more than a front organisation for the National/ACT parties.

For the media to constantly refer to this group for commentary on issues – on the pretext that the “Taxpayers Union” is some kind of  credible, non-partisan, neutral source – is ludicrous and deceiving the public.

Going further, by not explaining and disclosing the “Taxpayers Union’s” ties to National and ACT, the media reinforces suspicions or perceptions that it has become a captured tool; a mouthpiece for the Key government.

It is time that the mainstream media reconsidered it’s policy to seek comment from the “Taxpayers Union” on any and all issues.  The “Taxpayers Union” has demonstrated by it’s highly politicised membership and it’s failure at  any measure of non-partisanship, that it cannot be trusted to deliver unbiased commentary.

This group is simply no longer credible.

When journalists fail to report the “Union’s” close links to National and ACT, the media is complicit in this dishonest charade.

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References

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

ACT Party: Confidence and Supply Agreement with ACT New Zealand

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

Taxpayers Union: John Bishop on Judith Collins

TVNZ: Judith Collins faces third week of questioning over Chinese trip

NZ Herald: Green MP’s 800km taxpayer-funded trip questioned

Previous Related Blogposts

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Other Blogs

The Dim Post: Slightly more thoughts on the Taxpayers’ Union

The Daily Blog – Chris Trotter: Dispelling The Negatives: Judith Collins refuses to cry over spilt milk

 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2014.

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“The Nation” – a review

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First off the block for the ‘Battle of the Current Affairs Shows’ is TV3’s The Nation.

The current affairs show has been revamped with a different format and new hosts, Patrick Gower and Simon Shepherd. There is also a political panel, with familiar faces Bill Ralston, Josie Pagani, and Jordan Williams, frontperson for the latest right-winger ‘ginger’ group, The so-called Taxpayer’s Union.

So, how was the first episode?

Not the best, really. It is as if all the experience built up over the last few years have gone out the window, and there were a few irritating “clunkers”.

The main discordance – Patrick Gower. The man is talented, knowledgeable, and (should) know his craft.

But he needs to learn to Shut The F**k Up. Posing question to his guest also means waiting for an answer – not leaping in before the interviewee has even has a chance to complete his/her first sentence. Gower’s non-stop interuption of Cunliffe meant the viewer couldn’t get any idea of what the Labour Leader was trying to get at.

Message to Gower: do you want to know why David Cunliffe shouldn’t be outlining his coalition preferences on your programme?

Answer: Because he wouldn’t be able to articulate it properly without you over-talking him. We’d never get an answer because we’d be hearing your voice instead of his, and any message he’d  try to express would be lost in your strident voice continually interupting him.

Next week, Gower will be interviewing John Key. Now, as much as I’m no fan of Dear Leader, I think I’d rather hear him speak than Gower. So learn to pose the question and draw breath whilst your guest responds.

On a vastly more positive note, contrast Simon Shepherd’s interview with Jamie Whyte. This was a measured, professional, almost laid-back style of interview reminiscent of past, by-gone years where the guest’s responses were the central theme of  an interview – not the interviewer’s ego.

Simon’s strength lay in his soft-spoken, unexcited style of questioning Whyte (who, I think benefited from Simon’s style). There was definite ‘steel’ reinforcing his  laid-back approach. The ‘softly, softly’ approach – and it worked.  I was reminded of the BBC’s Hard Talk host, Stephen Sackur.

More of Simon, please.

The panel was a direct rip from TV1’s Q+A, with practically the same characters re-cycycled.

If TV3 is going to pinch another channel’s idea – can we at least have some fresh commentators? There must be more than half a dozen political pundits that TV3 can call on?

Next, the whole “Next Week’s News” seemed a bit of a farce. Not content with a TV current affairs programme being “across” a story (god, I hate that term) – now they’re going one step further and trying to predict stories? It is almost as if  The Nation is trying to set the news/current affairs agenda – an uncomfortable step for a news/current affairs programme to take.

Oh well, at least they’re not making up Tweets.

Lastly; what gives with the near all-male line-up of hosts, reporter, and panellists?!  Does TV3 have no talented women journalists? And what happened to Rachel Smalley, who really grew into the role?

All up, I rate this 6/10.

Can do – should do – much better.

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Other blogposts

The Daily Blog:  The Patrick Gower Hour of Power

Polity: Heads, talking

The Standard: A tale of two journalists

Whoar: review:..the nation:..the far-right come out to play..

 

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TV3 journo shows his true colours?

3 March 2014 7 comments

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Patrick Gower and Nick Smith

 

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From an interview in the NZ Herald,

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4. How often do you drink with politicians?

Hardly ever. I think those days of journos drinking with the politicians are long gone. Either that or the politicians don’t want a bar of me – so it’s probably a bit of both actually…

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Really, Patrick? You look very chummy with National MP, Nick Smith. Is that you “keeping a professional distance” from politicians?

Which may explain Gower’s botched attempt to interview Labour leader David Cunliffe on The Nation on 1/2 March.

Gower may need to excuse himself from further political interviews with Party leaders as his impartiality is now in severe question.

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References

TV3: David Cunliffe admits mistake in attack on PM’s wealth

NZ Herald: Twelve Questions with Patrick Gower

Related Blogposts

“The Nation” – a review

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What a gutless wanker you are, Paul Henry…!

27 February 2014 6 comments

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paul henry matt mccarten tv3 26 february 2014

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Our household watched the Paul Henry Show on Thursday night (26 February). Henry’s guest was Matt McCarten – freshly appointed as David Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff.

McCarten’s reputation was such that there was intense media interest in the appointment, and quite rightly so. Matt McCarten is a shrewd, experienced, clever political activist, tactician, and (when necessary) butt-kicker.

Henry put questions to Matt McCarten. Matt McCarten answered each and every one very well. Watch the interview here.

What followed the conclusion of the interview absolutely astounded and disgusted us. After Henry had thanked McCarten for appearing on his show, and the link to the  Wellington studio was closed, Henry turned to another camera and read out this statement,

“Matt McCarten who once said “I can’t escape the feeling that he” – meaning David Cunliffe – “has the same phoniness as the Republican  US presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. His every nuance and action seems calculated.” You be the judge. We’ll watch and see him change.”

What a vile, cowardly thing to do; to read out an editorial statement  after closing the interview, and not saying it straight to McCarten’s face. It was a shocking, shabby,  way to treat a guest on his show.

Gutless.

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References

TV3: The Paul Henry Show – 26 Feb 2014?

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Get ya boots on and vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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John Banks and Winston Peters, Apples and Oranges

25 February 2014 Leave a comment

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If ever the media – especially journalist wonder why the public view them with disdain and minimal trust – they need only look at their behaviour when it comes to undignified media “scrums” around public figures.

The recent melee in Parliament’s halls, as journos tried to elicit a response from NZ First leader, Winston Peters, regarding his visit to Kim Dotcom’s mansion – was a less than edifying spectacle,

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Video - PM accused of spying on Peters

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Evidently, the Press Gallery were a bit “miffed” at Peters’ curt responses to them and refused point blank to answer their questions. So in response to Peters’ lack of response, NZ Herald reporter,  Audrey Young, wrote a “revenge piece” for her paper,

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Audrey Young - Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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A “revenge piece” being something a journo will put together to present the subject under discussion in a less-than-positive light. That’ll teach him/her/them not to co-operate with the Fourth Estate!

Apparently really, really annoyed, Young  wrote,

“We don’t recall Peters suggesting John Banks’ visits were a private matter.”

This was echoed by “Claire” (Claire Trevett?),

“Do you think John Banks didn’t need to tell us whether he had gone out there or not, or whether his privacy was breached when Dotcom said he had been out there?”

Ok, let’s get one thing straight here; Winston Peters is not being accused of accepting donations from Kim Dotcom, nor attempting to hide said donations in a falsified electoral return.

If indeed that is what “Claire” and Audrey Young are suggesting, then let’s have it out in the open. Make the allegations and ask the questions.

But comparing John Banks’ dodgy “hide-the-cheques” shell-game is in no way comparable to a politician meeting a citizen (or permanent resident, in this case). That is not journalism – that is just downright immaturity on a school-yard level. It is pettiness.

It certainly ain’t journalism.

Disclaimer: I am not a NZ first supporter. Never have been, and most likely, I never will be.

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References

TV1: Winston Peters: Spies watched me meet Dotcom

NZ Herald: Audrey Young: Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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election 2014

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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The trivialisation of the News and consequences

8 February 2014 4 comments

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Foot In Mouth

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Patrick Gower recently wrote on the TV3 website,

“The Labour Party has been putting voters wrong about its baby bonus.

Labour has been deliberately misleading, and in my view dishonest by omission.

On Monday night I told 3 News viewers that under Labour’s $60 a week baby bonus policy, families would get $3120 a year for their baby’s first year.

A simple calculation you might think, of $60 mutiplied by 52 weeks, given David Cunliffe announced in his State of the Nation speech: “That’s why today, I am announcing that for 59,000 families with new-born babies, they will all receive a Best Start payment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life.

Now most normal people would think that means “all” those parents will get the payment “for the first year of their child’s life”.

But it wasn’t true – not that you would know that from Cunliffe’s speech, media stand-up, the MPs who were there to “help” and all the glossy material handed out to us.

Because buried in the material was a website link that takes you to a more detailed explanation policy.

And on page six of that policy document, in paragraph 3, it revealed the payment would commence at the “end of the household’s time of using Paid Parental Leave, ie. after 26 weeks in most cases.”

So translated, in most cases, the $60 a week payment is not for the first year, but for the second six months.”

Gower then went on with this eye-brow raising bit,

“Most journalists, like our office, only had time to find this overnight on Monday.”

So. Gower was obviously miffed. He had reported Cunliffe’s speech – and got it embarrassingly wrong.

So, it was all Cunliffe’s fault, right?

Well, yes. Partially.

But Three News team and especially Patrick Gower also need to take a measure of responsibility for incorrectly reporting this story. In fact, Gower is the one who took time to ask the wrong questions, when interviewing Cunliffe on 27 January,

@ 7:05

Gower: [voice over] And no controls on how the money is spent!

To Cunliffe: Some parents will just end up spending this on themselves on alcohol and cigarettes, though [unintelligible]?

Now aside from the obvious;  what the hell kind of question was that?!?! Why did Gower automatically assume that, with an extra $60 a week, parents would spend it on “alcohol and cigarettes” ?

Does Gower have friends and family who regularly spend up large on “alcohol and cigarettes“?

Is there excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption in Gower’s own home, and he believes it to be the norm for other Kiwi households?!

No?

Then why assume the worst for other households, some of which could be his friends, family members, work colleagues, neighbours, etc.

It beggars belief that, when a government transfers funds, that journos automatically assume that it will be spent on vices.

I hope Gower asked the same question of Gerry Brownlee when it was revealed that former National Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley,was  one of several Government appointees being paid $1,000 (per day!) to “monitor” the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera). Was that money spent on alcohol and cigarettes by the CERA Review Panel? (Who knows – maybe it was.)

Perhaps if Gower had not been so lazy as to resort to  posing such a vapid and inane question, and instead spent an extra hour or so researching the  the matter more in-depth – by simply checking the website links he referred to in his opinion piece! –  he and TV3 would not have been embarrassed at mis-reporting Labour’s sloppy policy release. (And by the gods, it was sloppy!)

After all, Cunliffe’s speech was released at 1pm on the day,  giving Gower and his production team, five hours before the 6PM News Bulletin that evening. What was Gower doing during all that time? Having a fag down at the local pub?

So please, Patrick – don’t get all toey, mate. Writing pissy little “opinion pieces” does not excuse  your sloppiness.

Maybe next time, try a little less of the sensationalising, moralistic “booze’n’baccy” questions, and do your job properly with real analysis.

Blaming others because you chose to trivialise a major news story with a superficial, cliched question is your responsibility.

Just as David Cunliffe’s  right-royal screw-up with Labour’s “Best Start” policy launch was his.

Any questions? (Make them good.)

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References

Dominion Post: Govt spent $500,000 on boozy functions

The Press: Jenny Shipley on Cera review panel

TV3: Opinion: Labour dishonest on ‘baby bonus

TV3 News: January 27 6PM Bulletin

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

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National out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2014.

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NZ Herald – self censors?

7 February 2014 2 comments

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In a curious twist to the old problem of the media sensationalising some stories, the New Zealand Herald this year took upon itself the decision  not to  report protests at Waitangi;

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NZ Herald - protest free (2)

Both images above courtesy of The Daily Blog.

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One has to ask if it is the role of the media to be self-censoring stories of events occurring in this country? If central government issued an edict banning the Herald (or other media) from covering a political protest – the media would be furious. There would be editorials up and down the country, insisting that the media was obligated to report the news, and not hold back because something might may people “uncomfortable”.

If the Herald wanted to place a small protest or scuffle or shouted abuse into context, the item could easily be placed on page 6, as a small “side-bar” news item.That would be appropriate context.

Not reporting the news raises the spectre of self-censorship. But more important – what else is the NZ Herald withholding from the public? What else have editors, managers, Board Directors, etc, decided that we should not see?

Are we children, to be spared the hurt of something that might possibly upset us?!

Interestingly, the Herald had no hesitation in reporting this non-story about the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, at the Waitangi Marae;

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Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

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Interesting – there was no scuffle according to the Governor-General. He even tweeted as such earlier in the day,

“My being jostled at Waitangi is news to me. I’m enjoying the scenery, the people and the day so far! Visiting HMNZS Wellington tonight.”

But that did not stop the Herald from using the mis-leading headline,

Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

 

Even as the Governor-General was tweeting that it never occurred, it  didn’t stop the Herald from quoting Dear Leader, who jumped into the fictional story with undue haste, without first checking the facts;

Having a few protesters or radicals effectively jostling the Governor-General is undignified, it’s unwarranted and, frankly, outright wrong.

Most people go to Waitangi to have a great time but there are one or two people that go to cause trouble and use the media to advance their own causes and their own issues.”

So there we have it. The Herald is only too happy to publish  a story focused on an fictional event that never took place, complete with an utterly misleading headline.

But not so keen to report real events and the background to what is motivating protesters.

A bit of a double standard there, NZ Herald.

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References

NZ Herald: Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

Waikato Times: PM’s comments called overblown

Twitter:

Previous related blogpost

Dear Leader – shoots from the lip. Again

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: Dear NZ Herald – a protest free newspaper is an abdication of responsibility

 

 

 

 

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Dear Leader – shoots from the lip. Again.

4 February 2014 4 comments

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Once again, Dear Leader has passed judgement on an issue;

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Jeers for Governor-General at Waitangi

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At 3.33pm, The NZ Herald reported Key as saying,

Having a few protesters or radicals effectively jostling the Governor-General is undignified, it’s unwarranted and, frankly, outright wrong.”

That’s despite  Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, stating via Twitter that he had not been jostled. Note the time;

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Source: Twitter – Governor General of NZ

Hat Tip: The Daily Blog: Will msm grill Key over misleading Waitangi comments the way they did Cunliffe’s Best Start?

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Finally, by late afternoon, Key was forced to admit that his condemnation was  based on incorrect information;

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PM backs away from Waitangi comments

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The damage, though,  was done and many New Zealanders will have heard only the words “Waitangi”, “Governor General”; “jostled”; and “protestors” and reaffirmed their preconceived prejudices.

Racists and other right-wing nutjobs will be feasting on the carcass of this media-beat-up and Key’s ill-considered, rush-to-judgement. But then, the media love Waitangi Day for the headline-generating stories and advertising it sells, and for politicians – it’s Election Year.

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References

The Daily Blog: Will msm grill Key over misleading Waitangi comments the way they did Cunliffe’s Best Start?

Radio NZ: Jeers for Governor-General at Waitangi

NZ Herald: Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

Radio NZ: PM backs away from Waitangi comments

Twitter – Governor General of NZ

Additional

Fairfax media: PM’s comments called overblown

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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