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A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

27 March 2014 3 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

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Further to an earlier blogpost where I emailed Jordan Williams, at the Taxpayers Union, regarding Judith Collins’ taxpayer-funded trip to China, where she visited a milk importer (Oravida) of which  her husband is the sole Director…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

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Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Mr Williams, from the so-called Taxpayers Union, responded on the same day;

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National puppet organisation

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Several commentators on my previous blogpost suggested that blogs are a part of the media (or “new media”) and that Mr Williams should, accordingly, be responding to my query as if the NZ Herald had contacted him for a comment.

I took note of the suggestions and wrote back to Mr Williams,

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Re: Judith Collins
DATE:     Sun, 16 Mar 2014 12:37:51 +1300
TO:      "Jordan Williams" <jordan@taxpayers.org.nz>
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Kia ora Jordan!

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query, and in
such a timely fashion. That was greatly appreciated.

Regarding your point on the Mojo Mathers issue; I understand
that you stated you did not initiate contact with the
Herald, and that you responded to their query.

As you may be aware, I blog on various issues, including
covering public activities such as Select Committee
hearings; protests; etc. 

I am therefore part of the so-called "new media" of citizen
journalists/bloggers, as your colleague, Cameron Slater also
maintains.

Accordingly, I seek a response from you, on behalf of the
Taxpayers Union, on  National MP and Minister, Judith
Collins'  recent taxpayer-funded trip to China.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign  affairs
or trade. Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for
Ethnic  Affairs; Minister of Justice; and  Minister for ACC.

Considering that none of her portfolios relate to foreign 
affairs or trade, was this trip necessary? What purpose did
it serve, and for who?

What is the Taxpayers Union's response on the
perceived/actual conflict of interest posed by her visit to
Orivida - a  Chinese company of which her husband is a
Director?

Does the Taxpayers Union view Collins' trip as little more
than a tax-payer funded  'junket'?

Does the Taxpayers Union consider the $36,000 spent by
Collins on this trip "value for money"?

I look forward to the Taxpayers Union's statement on this
issue.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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As at 11.59PM, on 18 March, I have received no further correspondence from Mr Williams, nor from any other representative of the Taxpayers Union. Not even a simple acknowledgement of having received my 16 March email.

It is interesting to note the circumstances surrounding this issue.

I emailed the Taxpayers Union because it had commented – and roundly condemned – Mojo Mathers’ flight from Christchurch to Masterton, to attend a radio interview on the issue of disabilities.

On 2 March, Jordan Williams made this statement on the resulting furore surrounding his remarks on Ms Mathers’ travel;

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This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers’ Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers’ Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday’s call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I’ve made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. Seehttp://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers’_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

Jordan Williams.

Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams
Author

Note Mr Williams’ statement;

Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare

Aside from a handful  of press releases aimed at National Minister, Steven Joyce, most of the Taxpayers Unions public comments seemed to target Auckland mayor Len Brown; government departments (whilst not mentioning their Ministers); and strangely, the Labour Party – which is not even in government.

The Taxpayers Union has not commented on Judith Collins’ trip to China, despite there being glaring questions which demand to be asked. Questions such as why a Minister of Justice/Ethnic Affairs/ACC felt the need to spend $36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a junket overseas.

Mr Williams has not deigned to respond to my queries with a comment.

Yet, he was only too happy to launch into a savage excoriation of Green MP, Mojo Mathers, for spending an estimated $500 to speak on an issue that was actually her portfolio – and which, because of her disability, is  a matter she is intimately familiar to speak on.

One can only assume that Mr Williams does not wish to be drawn into this issue.  The reason is quite apparent.

Jordan Williams is closely connected to the likes of David Farrar, Cameron Slater, and Simon Lusk – all of whom are hard-Right National/ACT supporters and apparatchiks.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, is one of the  Board members of the Taxpayers Union. His ‘bio‘, however, mentions nothing about his close links to the National Party,

“David is a well known political blogger and commentator. David also owns and manages the specialist polling agency Curia Market Research and has an active involvement in Internet issues. He is an experienced political campaigner and former parliamentary staffer.

“I helped form the New Zealand Taxpayers Union because I believe that New Zealand needs a lobby group to stand up for the rights of taxpayers and ratepayers, and fight against those who treat them as a never ending source of funds”.”

David Farrar’s Disclosure Statement on Kiwiblog;

“Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party. I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months.”

Other Board Members are;

John Bishop; businessman; columnist for the right-leaning NBR; and authored a “puff piece” on National’s Deputy Leader, Bill English; Constituency Services Manager,  ACT Parliamentary Office, April 2000 – August 2002, “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events”.

Gabrielle O’Brien; businesswoman; National Party office holder, 2000-2009.

Jordan McCluskey; University student; member of the Young Nationals.

Jono (Jonathan) Brown; Administrator/Accounts Clerk at the Apostolic Equippers [Church] Wellington, which, amongst other conservative policies,  opposed the marriage equality Bill.

None of this is mentioned even in passing on the Taxpayers Union ‘Who We Are‘ page.

By now, it should be patently obvious that the Taxpayers Union is little more than a thinly-disguised, right-wing, front organisation for the National Party.

In which case, it would be “counter-productive” of the Taxpayers Union to be criticising Judith Collins’ trip to China. It would be a case of  attacking one of their own.

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References

Taxpayers Union:  A question of value for taxpayer money

TV1: Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Fairfax Media: Anti-MMP plan leaked

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Kiwiblog: Disclosure Statement

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

LinkedIn: Gabrielle O’Brien

LinkedIn: Jordan McCluskey

LinkedIn: Jonathan ["Jono"] Brown

Newswire.co.nz:  ‘Not up to church to dictate on gay marriage’

See Also

NZ Herald:  John Drinnan – High-risk PR strategy flies

Sciblogs: Jesus heals — but not cancer! [Equippers Church]

Previous related blogposts

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

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 7 March 2014

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 7 March 2014  -

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- Demelza Leslie -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

After being officially appointed as the new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte is now being heralded as the saviour of the party that’s struggling to even register in political polls.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 7 March 2014 ( 16′  37″ )

  • ACT,
  • Jamie Whyte,
  • RMA,
  • Three Strikes Law,
  • Epsom,
  • John Banks

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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And this is why we call them Right Wing Nut Jobs…

7 March 2014 1 comment

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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From the Xtremely Looney Files

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Right wing nuttiness knows no bounds.  Public utterance by Garth McVicar, Colin Craig,  and recently from ACT’s new leader, Jamie Whyte, are just too good for any self-respecting (or otherwise) blogger to pass up.

From the laughable, on the chemtrail conspiracy theory,

Our party has no formal position on chemtrails. I am aware of the theory that chemicals are being released at high altitude for some nefarious purpose, but don’t know whether there is any truth in this or not.” – Colin Craig, December 2012

… and more snorts of  laughter on the conspiracy theory that the moonlandings were a hoax,

I don’t have a belief or a non-belief in these things. I just don’t know. I have no idea, mate. That’s what we’re told. I’m sort of inclined to believe it. But at the end of the day I haven’t looked into it. There are very serious people that question these things. I don’t have to have an opinion on these things, I don’t have time to look into it.” – Colin Craig, 4 December 2013

… to the offensive,

Why should, say, a 70-year-old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”- Colin Craig, 9 May 2012

… to nasty, ignorant, religion-inspired judgementalism,

The marriage institution being a relationship between a man and a woman predates government. It is not the job of government to start re-defining marriage… New Zealand has had enough social engineering; it’s time to bring government back to core services”  – Colin Craig, 11 May 2012

I think most people recognise that there are other influences such as upbringing, such as events in life. For homosexuals, they are statistically far more likely to have suffered child abuses as a child… It certainly can make a difference in someone’s choices in life, there’s no question about that in my mind.” – Colin Craig,  4 August 2012

Yes, we are discriminating between relationships. We are saying that marriage between a man and a woman is recognised. We are saying that a relationship between a man and a man, for example, goes down the path of a civil union.” – Colin Craig, 23 January 2013

… to this very strange exchange on TV3,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied. – Colin Craig, 27 July 2012

Something you want to tell us, Colin?!

Meanwhile, new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte took a walk on the Very Wild Side on incestuous relationships,

I don’t think the state should intervene in consensual adult sex or marriage, but there are two very important elements here – consensual and adult.  I wonder who does believe the state should intervene in consensual adult acts?  I find it very distasteful I don’t know why anybody would do it but it’s a question of principle about whether or not people ought to interfere with actions that do no harm to third parties just because they personally wouldn’t do it.

The probability of having some problem with the children is greater when the mother is over the age of 35 but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that anyone over the age of 35 shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.” – Jamie Whyte, 26 February 2014

Mind you, this is the character who referred to the minimum wage as “cruel”,

“ …those businesses which don’t directly lay off workers will be discouraged from employing more, or replacing those who leave voluntarily in future. The best thing that low skilled workers can do is get work experience. It’s hard to think of a crueller policy than passing a law that bans the people most in need of work experience from getting any.” – Jamie Whyte, 25 February 2014

-  because as we all know, paying someone $1 an hour is not *cruel*.

… and has no problem in abolishing health and safety regulations to protect workers,

I do believe that the regulatory framework around labour and health and safety in New Zealand should be liberalised, and I think there’ll be many advantages to workers in liberalising them.  I’m not sure that we’re going to campaign hard on that, but I certainly believe that.” - Jamie Whyte, 3 February 2014

- because 29 men killed at Pike River Mine, and dozens killed in the foresty industry,  is not a sufficient sacrifice on the alter of Libertarianist ideology.

… and plucking bizarre beliefs out of thin air (on the marriage equality Bill),

The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal [sic] effect on crime at all levels .” – Garth McVicar, 20 January 2012

If you look at the court stats, most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids .” – Garth McVicar, 21 January 2012

Although that  rationale  seems more than a bit odd. If “most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids” – having two  fathers  should all but eliminate crime!?!

That would be a Good Thing, right?

But that’s prejudice for you. It collapses very quickly under a groaning weight of  blind prejudice and weak foundations based on irrational ‘logic’.

On a positive note, even society’s fringe elements can count  on Parliamentary representation.

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References

Fairfax: Craig focusing on ‘upside’ of media

NBR:  Colin Craig not sure man walked on moon

Otago Daily Times: NZ women ‘most promiscuous in the world’

NZ Herald:  Homosexuality a personal choice, says Conservative Party leader

Dominion Post: Colin Craig: Gay marriage is ‘social engineering’

NZ Herald:  Act Leader Jamie Whyte stands by incest comments

Scoop Media: National bows to minimum wage myths

NZ Herald: Society right to discriminate – Craig

The Ruminator: Mr Ryght: An interview with ACT leader: Jamie Whyte

Newstalk ZB: Don Brash surprised by ACT’s new direction

Fairfax: Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

NZ Herald: McVicar stands by claim over gay bill

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Colin Craig Conservative Party

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 3 March 2014

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 3 March 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (22′ 38″ )

  • ACT, ACT’s conference, Jamie Whyte,
  • Labour Party, 2014 election, Matt McCarten,
  • David Cunliffe, secret trust,
  • Tony Ryall, health portfolio,
  • Labour candidate-selection,
  • Paid Parental Leave,
  • John Key-Helen Clark

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Letter to the Editor: A great business opportunity, courtesy of ACT

2 March 2014 7 comments

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

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This item in the NZ Herald caught my eye today,

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Act wants Resource Management Act dumped

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Which led me to a few thoughts on the issue,

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sun, 02 Mar 2014 10:16:00 +1300
TO:     "The NZ Herald" letters@herald.co.nz 

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The Editor
NZ HERALD
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ACT's new leader, Jamie Whyte, wants to dump the Resource
Management Act (RMA). He claims that,

"There are far too many powers currently being given to
various times of groups and bureaucrats around the country
to interfere with people and the use of their property."

Excellent idea! I can hardly wait to implement a few
start-up businesses;

* a full scale brothel/strip club on Paretai Drive, complete
with ten metre tall neon signage of naked women,

* a series of fifty story apartment blocks throughout Epsom,
Herne Bay, Remuera, etc, which will look cheap and nasty,
but will offer low-cost one-bedroom flats for low-income
families desperate for accomodation as the government sells
of state housing,

* a tallow factory on the North Shore,

* and a tyre-disposal plant - complete with furnace to burn
shredded runner - next to Mr Whyte's residence.

For far too long, the RMA has prevented setting up factories
and controversial businesses, in the leafy subsurbs of
middle class and affluent New  Zealand.

Mr Whyte will do away with all that.

About time, eh?

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

NZ Herald: Act wants Resource Management Act dumped

Hat-Tip

Edmond Slackbladder

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 February 2014

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 24 February 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 58″ )

  • TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll, Roy Morgan poll
  • Election campaigns
  • David Parker
  • Labour Party, NZ Power, “Best Start”, Auckland Rail Loop early start
  • Russell Norman, Kim Dotcom
  • David Cunliffe
  • Shane Taurima, TVNZ
  • Winston Peters
  • Greens, David Hay, Leaders’ Debates
  • ACT, Richard Prebble, Jamie Whyte, flat tax
  • Conservative Party, Colin Craig
  • and an early election in September?

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Kiwiblog – still happily fomenting mischief…

18 February 2014 Leave a comment

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kiwiblog and Green Party

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Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…

Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,

“I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]

David Farrar  then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)

Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.

My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing  David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor  wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?

Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.

When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright  lies;

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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- then that speaks well for  his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present  a story biased according to his  own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)

On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,

“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”

This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)

David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection  is even more direct, transparent,  and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.

In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.

So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar  offered up this explanation,

“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”

Indeed.

The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,

"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate
decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this
committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party.

Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of
our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which
candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the
election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun.
Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list.

[...]

We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on
our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators,
bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given
this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and
list-ranking processes..."

One part of that statement leaps out at me;  “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”

What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.

If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.

David Farrar concluded by stating,

“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked "draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”

David Farrar may insist that he will not  “print anything I believe to be untrue”.

But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.

If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.

Perhaps Mr Farrar  should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.

Yup, it must be election year…

[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]

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References

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)

Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)

Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)

Previous related blogpost

2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)

Act proclaims new leader!?

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 10 February 2014

10 February 2014 Leave a comment

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 10 February 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (22′ 58″ )

  • John Key’s meeting with Tony Abbott
  • CER,  Aussie supermarkets boycotting NZ-made goods
  • migration to Australia
  • low wages, minimum wage
  • National Party, Keith Holyoake
  • paid parental leave, Working for Families, Colin Espiner
  • Waitangi Day, Foreshore & Seabed, deep sea oil drilling, Nga Puhi
  • MMP, “coat tailing”, Epsom, Conservative Party, ACT
  • Len Brown, Auckland rail link

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 3 February 2014

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 3 February 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 19′ 46″  )

  • The latest TV3 poll says the gap between National and Labour/Green is too close to call.
  • ACT party elect a new leader and a new candidate for Epsom.

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Act proclaims new leader!?

2 February 2014 17 comments

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ACT Party elects new leader

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Congratulations ACT Party Board -you’ve just made yourselves un-electable.

Someone who – according to Martyn Bradbury and Audrey Young – wants to de-regulate and remove all safety laws in this country should not be standing in the Epsom seat. He should be standing as a candidate in the West Coast-Tasman Electorate. Then he can explain to West Coasters – especially 29 families – why mining should be made even more dangerous than it is now.

As a side note, ACT’s committment to democracy is best out-lined by the manner in which not only the leader of the Party was determined, but also ACT’s candidate for Epsom. Neither positions were chosen democratically by ballotting ACT Party members.

Instead, the roles were determined solely by ACT’s Board. Party members (if it has any remaining) had no say in the selection process.

I’m guessing that would be the future for New Zealand under an Act government; the country run by an un-elected Board. In common parlance, this is known as an oligarchy.

As for the third, unsuccesful contender, John Boscawen, whilst one can feel a measure of sympathy for him, the manner in which ACT chose Jamie Whyte and David Seymour should come as no surprise. After all, ACT does reflect the more brutish, selfish, side of  politics. Run by a Board, ACT follows the  corporate model.

And the corporate world, with a few exceptions is rather brutish and selfish.

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References

ACT NZ: ACT Leadership and Epsom Candidacy

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

NZ Herald: Jamie Whyte elected Act leader

TV3: ACT choices huge risk for party

Other blogs

The Daily Blog:  So the saviour of ACT is a man who argues for abolition of all labour laws and removal of all health and safety regulations?

The Daily Blog: Meet The New Boss … Does Act’s Jamie Whyte represent change or continuity?

Whoar:..some of the thoughts/beliefs of the new president of the act party..jamie whyte..

The Pundit: John Key’s horrible weekend

The Pundit: ACT tilts at windmills, but don’t forget other minors

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National Part 2014 elections

.Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Latest Roy Morgan Poll: next govt too close to call?

15 December 2013 12 comments

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polls_ist2_141437_arrow_graph_down_rev_2249_704752_poll_xlarge

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The latest Roy Morgan Poll has a dead tie between National and a Labour-Green coalition. Both are currently polling at 45%.

The actual Party figures are as follows;

National-led bloc,

National – 45%

Maori Party* – 1.5%

ACT* – 0%

United Future*** – 0%

Translated into National-led Seats:  54 (N) + 1 UF = 55

Labour-led bloc,

Labour – 30.5%

Greens – 14.5%

Mana*** – 1%

Translated into Labour-led Seats: 37 (L) + 18 (G) + 1 = 56

Wild cards,

Conservative Party** – 2% (nil seats)

NZ First – 5% (6 seats)

Number of respondents who refused to name a Party: 4%.

Assuming that,

  1. The Conservatives win no seats nor cross the 5% threshold;
  2. Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira retain their electorate seats but do not win any more, nor increase their Party vote;
  3. ACT loses Epsom and does not cross the 5% threshold;
  4. and the Maori Party lose all three seats;

That leaves NZ First as the “King Maker”. And if, as this blogger suspects, Peters may decide to coalesce with National,  that would create  a repeat of the 1996 Election.

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nz-first-national-coalition-11-12-96

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That coalition deal ended in disaster for Peters And nearly destroyed his Party.

However, things are not quite so simple. Check out the Roy Morgan graph below. Specifically, focus on polling leading up to the 2011 election. Notice how as both Parties campaign, National’s support drops whilst Labour’s rises (1)?

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Roy Morgan 11 december 2013

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In between elections, Opposition parties support falls away. In comparison to nightly media coverage for government ministers and policies, Opposition Parties do not gain similar coverage of their policies. Parties like Labour and the Greens are severely restricted to five-second soundbites.

It was only when Labour and the Greens announced the NZ Power policy on 18 April this year that the Labour and Green Parties rose in the polls (2).

Next year’s election should be no different; Opposition Parties support will rise as their  policies are put before the public, whilst Government support will fall as voters consider alternatives.

This blogger still predicts that we are on course for a change in government next year and we will be looking at a Labour-Green-Mana Coalition government.

Additional to that, I predict;

  1. ACT will not win any seats in Parliament and will eventually suffer the same fate as the Alliance Party,
  2. Peter Dunne will retain his seat by the barest margin. It will be his last term in Parliament,
  3. Paula Bennett will lose her seat but return on the Party List,
  4. National will fare badly in Christchurch’s electorates,
  5. The Conservative Party will not win any seats, electorate or List,
  6. The Maori Party will lose all three current electorate seats, back to Labour,
  7. John Key will resign as National’s leader and the following leadership power-struggle between Judith Collins, Steven Joyce, and Bill English will be brutal. Collins will win, with Cameron Slater throwing nasty dirt at Joyce and English,
  8. If NZ First coalesces with National, expect one or two of it’s MPs to defect or resign from Parliament,
  9. A new Labour-led coalition will govern for three terms, minimum,
  10. Collins will be ousted after a dismal showing by National in 2017, and the Party will pull back to a more moderate, centrist position.It will reassert it’s pledge not to sell any further state assets.

Really, politics is more entertaining than any “reality” show on TV.

And as always, Roy Morgan is the only poll that calls cellphones as well as landlines.

* Not expected to survive the 2014 election.

** Not currently represented in Parliament

*** Electorate-based Party only

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 December 2013.

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References

Roy Morgan Poll – 11 December 2013

Previous related blogposts

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

Mr Morgan phoned

Another good poll for a LabourGreen government

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones…

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

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Suggested candidates for new ACT leader

14 December 2013 5 comments

With the impending demise of  John Banks as ACT’s leader – the third in two years – it is time for this blogger to add his helpful suggestions for a new Party leader.

In purely alphabetical order…

Hilary Calvert

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calvert

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My pick for ACT’s new leader is Hilary Calvert.

She is an accomplished business woman who even put her eyes to work

As a Southerner she would  make her region top priority as it slides further down the economic scale. Top priority would be selling the entire Otago Region to investors from Beijing and Harvard University. Menfolk would be employed in the region’s  fruit orchards at market rates for pay (60 cents an hour) and womenfolk… well, there are always vacancies at  La Maison in Dunedin.

As for children, there are plenty of chimneys needing cleaning in this southernmost of cities. It does get rather cold Down South in winter time.

Other leading contenders are,

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Ayn Rand

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The original Libertarian. Poster-person for the New Right. Original thinker. Articulate. Literate. Also dead.

But this hasn’t been an impediment to ACT in the past, as several of their previous leaders failed to exhibit usual human life-signs.

Whether dead or alive, let the Market decide ACT’s leadership.

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Cameron Slater

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slater

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Tenacious. Nasty. Unyielding. Afraid of no force on Earth (and reputed to have “dirt” on God). Would bring whole new meaning to the term “gutter politics”. Totally unafraid to go for the jugular and dispatch political foes before breakfast – and that’s just his own ACT colleagues.

The Speaker of the House may have to re-visit Parliamentary rules when Slater insists on machine-gunning the entire Green caucus. Does “free speech” extend to mass murder?

On the plus side, at last Parliament will have fair representation for some of  society’s minority groups who thus far have been sadly under-represented; narcissists, sociopaths, misogynists, and other social misfits.

May have to go solely for the Party vote as Slater’s candidacy may be a step (or giant leap) too far for the gentile folk of Epsom.

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Supreme Dalek

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Dalek sec

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(See entry for Cameron Slater)

Currently a fictional character – but ACT’s contract-scientists are working on it. Expect an announcement soon.

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Hannah Tamaki

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Co-leader of Destiny Church. She is definitely a “lateral thinker”. When challenged on an episode of TV3′s “The Vote” that many  New Zealanders were too poor to afford heating for their homes, she advocated that families “cuddle together” under blankets to stay warm.

With cool thinking like this, she’d be a natural for ACT.

Her tendency to lead ACT’s caucus into  prayer meetings might be seen as a distraction by some – but might bring ACT and the Conservative Party closer together. (Would they worship the same deity though?) But considering that ACT is currently polling near-zero, the Party needs every bit of help it can get – even the supernatural variety.

Where does ACT stand on burnt offerings?

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The Three Stooges

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the three stooges

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Appropriate.

But would having three co-leaders be a step too far for a Party that eschews political correctness?

And would even the Three Stooges be able to bring some light-hearted mirth to a Party that exhibits all the fun of a crematorium at peak-time?

As always, the Market will decide.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 December 2013.

 

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 9 December 2013

10 December 2013 Leave a comment

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 9 December 2013 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 25′ 53″  )

This week:

  • The political ramifications of Nelson Mandela’s death and the NZ delegation travelling to South Africa,
  • the Green Party’s new policy for the Meridian share float,
  • and leadership changes within New Zealand’s smaller political parties.

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“Freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered”

10 August 2013 1 comment

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Firstly, let me point out and remind my readers (if any needed reminding), that I do not support ACT, nor it’s simplistic (and failed) neo-liberal market policies, nor it’s hardline policies toward those surviving on social welfare (many of whom are victims of said neo-liberalism’s failings).

Ok. Sorted.

Having got that preamble out of the way, I would like to extend a mighty big kudos to ACT on Campus who have come out opposing both  the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – both of which are currently before Parliament.

In an article on Scoop Media today, Vice President Guy McCallum voiced these words of wisdom,

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Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

Source: Scoop Media – Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

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To requote Guy McCallum,

“It’s a well-meant offer, but neither he, nor John Key, nor the Labour Party (which launched this mess in the first place) can guarantee that the next person with keys to the Cabinet will be so just. They can’t guarantee that those at the top won’t give in to the obvious, inevitable temptations that come with this power – the power to watch you without you knowing and without having to tell you why.

It is incumbent upon all of our political leaders to oppose these bills. Not just because they will lead to the most obvious of places – state tyranny – but because politicians should be standing up to anyone who claims that such immoral and perverted powers are necessary.”

And backed up by ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood ,

“We believe that the bills are an unnecessary expansion of state power. While Labour’s original legislation does need improving, people must be mindful that freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered.”

Both gentlemen are 100% spot on, and I believe that this is the grave mistake which many others on the Right have missed. The Right may support these two Bills – but only because “their man” is in power.

The Right may not be so happy if a left-wing Party comes to power and starts spying on them.

Mr McCallum and Mr Warwood understand this perfectly.

It’s a great shame that the wrong ACT members are in Parliament. We need more wisdom like this, rather than John Banks, who can stand up for the rights of animals (see previous blogpost:  Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs – part tahi) – but not for the rights of New Zealanders not to be spied on.

I have lived through the Muldoon years; the Lange years; the Bolger/Shipley years; the Clark years; and now through Key’s administration.

During that time I have seen the slow creep of State power increasing. Each time, the government of the day – and I point to both Labour and National on this score – has promised “just a little bit further to invade your privacy, but no more”.

But there is always “a little bit more”.  Each government seems to find the need for a bit more State power and more surveillance and a consequential loss of our privacy.

Which is why, when I appeared before the Parliamentary Intelligence Select Committee on 5 July, I directed my comments at David Shearer and Russell Norman.

I said to both men that State power has grown with each passing decade, and each time we were promised that our privacy would be protected and State intrusion minimised. I told them that the political pledges in the 1970s, to protect our privacy, as the then new Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 was being passed, were now worthless.

I told them that this must stop.

I told them in another few years, I’d be back, arguing against even more State surveillance and police powers being  demanded from Parliament.

And I asked them a simple question;

“When did it come to  pass that we went from the State having to justify  a new police or spy law – to citizens like me having to appear before a Select Committee to justify why I should be allowed to maintain my privacy? When did that happen?”

I then said to both men that should they come to power post-2014, that Parliament not only needed to review the entire spy apparatus in this country – but that it was time to wind back the clock. It was time to cut back on surveillance and extreme search powers, and to return privacy and civil rights to New Zealanders.

There is simply no justification for these powers. We do not have homegrown “terrorists”. Nor people building “weapons of mass destruction” in their basements.  So I certainly do not believe one word that escapes John Key’s mouth. Let’s be honest here; his ability to tell lies is now a joke amongst most of the public. We know he’s bullshitting us. And he probaby knows that we know.

But we’re polite and we play our little game of politeness.

But not this time. Not with something as critical as this to the our way of life.

Because unless we do, in another five or ten years, there will be yet  another addition to State surveillance,  State control, and Police powers.

And another five years later, more laws.

And five years after that…

Until, finally, in the name of “state security” and phantom bogeymen, we find ourselves living in a country that is alien to anything that young men and women died fighting for, 70-plus years ago.

When the liberal left and the liberal right find a commonality, it is no longer a political-partisan  matter. It is one that affects us all. Even those who naively assert that they have “nothing to hide”.

So I say to the members of Act on Campus – keep up the fight. It is possibly one of the most important you will ever face.

And I say to Mr Shearer and the Green co-leaders; don’t let us down.

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 August 2013.

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See also

The Daily Blog: It bloody well is not an imaginary problem when our government spies on our journalists!

The Critic: Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

The Pundit: Who’s to blame for the abuse on Andrea Vance?

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Message to ACT…

11 July 2013 2 comments

… is expanding the powers of the GCSB to monitor, and store data on every man, woman, and child in this country what you meant about “getting the state out of our lives” and “smaller government”?!

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

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

25 February 2013 8 comments

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we're trialling an ideological approach

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

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

Not. A. Word.

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

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ACT - Education policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACT - Principles policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Data reveals drop in manufacturing, building jobs

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

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

Perhaps someone from ACT can explain it to us?

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Previous related blogposts

Privatisation of our schools?! (13 Dec 2011)

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

Q+A – 5 August 2012 (5 Aug 2012)

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

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

Other Blogs

Imperator Fish: Did You Vote For Charter Schools?

Sources

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

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

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

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

References

ACT Policies: Economy

ACT Policies: State Owned Assets

ACT policies: Spending Cap

ACT Policies: Education

ACT Policies: Principals

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

24 February 2013 3 comments

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national-needs-act-hide

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

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

But, nah.

I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

That ACT is a Rich White Man’s Party?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACT 2013 conference_rodney hide_gibbs farms_hates unions

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

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

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

ACT is a Party that supports free enterprise and business.

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

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

TV3′s journalists are highly effective at their profession.

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

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

Anyone would think that ACT is hostile to free enterprise.

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Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event

22 February 2013 5 comments

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rich men_taxes_one percent_1%

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

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

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ACT Annual Conference 2013

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ACT Annual Conference 2013

IBID

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

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

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

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

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gibbs' private art collection

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

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

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

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

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Key defends $100m asset selldown cost

Source

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References

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

ACT 2013 Annual Conference

NBR: Alan Gibbs

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Still someone else’s country

10 February 2013 6 comments

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someone-elses-country

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Wellington, Newtown, 9 February 2013 – As the issue of state asset sales and other New Right policies are on National’s impending  agenda, the Newtown-branch of the Mana Party considered it worthwhile taking the time to look back at recent history. The events of today are firmly rooted in the past.

The New Right had taken power in Britain with the election of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, and in the United States, with the election of Ronald Reagan in November 1980. Our turn came in July 1984, with the snap election called by an inebriated Rob Muldoon. (Intoxication on power and alcohol – not a very healthy mix.)

The Labour government that was swept to power (see: New Zealand general election, 1984) was not the Labour Party that people thought they were voting for. In total secrecy, Labour had been captured by a cabal of fanatical neo-liberal reformers. It was a government firmly under the control of  what we know today, as the ACT Party.

Twenty nine years later…

Mana’s Newtown Branch decided to hold a public screening of Alister Barry’s hard-hitting, insightful, 1996 documentary, “Someone elses’s country“. The story told within that hour-and-a-half documentary is as valid today as it was three decades ago. (In fact, watch “Someone elses’s country” and then watch Bryan Bruce’s 2011 documentary, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand” – and the linkages of the radical transformation of our country is all but complete.)

Prior to the screening, the audience was welcomed by Mana Newtown organisor, Ariana, who gave a brief rundown of the content and it’s impact on our society,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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Many in the audience were young people who either had not been born in the 1980s, or were too young to remember the calamitous events that were unfolding. To these people, the events we now understand as Rogernomics and Ruthenasia would have been like the 1951 Waterfront Lockout dispute that rocked the nation.

Following Ariana, a brief introduction to the film was made by sitting Wellington Councillor, Bryan Pepperell,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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Pepperell said,

It’s getting into it’s final stages where the agenda to actually get democracy out of the way of business is actually  now reaching a high-point.There’s an awful lot of window-dressing and democracy in New Zealand context has become that,  substantially window dressing…”

He then  shared with the audience when his first disquiet over the election of the Lange Government came to him,

When David Lange actually said on national television – and I remember the day when I sat and I watched it and I thought I can’t believe what I’m hearing – ‘from now on business is going to make the major decisions’. And that was actually a fairly startling thing as far as I was concerned… unfortunately poor old David probably got quite into something that was bigger than him, and here we are today with the consequences of those early decisions.  And of course the National Party is utterly committed to helping it’s friends further the direction that we started in.”

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The introduction completed, the screening began,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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For many of us who lived through the period, memories of the time came flooding back. In some instances, several people in the audience even recognisedthemselves – with much younger faces – in stills and video footage of protest actions.

It is also worth recalling that despite calls from throughout the country,  TVNZ’s Board rejected calls for widespread broadcasting claiming it it “too political”.

“Too political”?!?!

Of course it was bloody political!

It was so damn political that TVNZ’s boardmembers would have  soiled their panties at the thought of upsetting their Ministerial masters in the Beehive.

As the doco’s producer, Alister Barry , said in November 2009,

It was no accident that Someone Else’s Country wasn’t screened on TVNZ when it was completed in 1996.

It wasn’t that the Business Roundtable needed to actually tell the TV programmers not to screen it. Television executives knew perfectly well where their salaries came from and that TVNZ was being readied for sale.

Fourteen or fifteen minutes of every television hour – the very limit of viewers’ tolerance – was filled with messages carefully and expensively constructed to reach into their fears and appetites. Clutches of advertisements urged New Zealanders to “buy”, to think and feel like frustrated consumers. Airing a documentary which led viewers to think of themselves less as consumers and more as citizens capable of taking political action was not in the interests of the big corporations controlling the advertising dollar.”

See: Someone Else’s Screen

It was not until 2003 that TVNZ finally mustered the courage to air  “Someone elses’s country” – on a Sunday afternoon. Hardly peak viewing time.

Barry also had this pointed insight to make,

It had been anticipated by New Zealand’s New Right revolutionaries, that by the early 2000s our values would have changed and we would have come to think like them, accepting poverty and extreme wealth as both normal and necessary. To pursue personal advantage and to care less about our neighbours. But studies show that in fact our values haven’t changed much from those of our parents and grandparents.
 
What is happening though, is that we are forgetting how things used to be and who changed them. Even as the human and environmental costs of the neoliberal experiment increase, we are finding it harder and harder to imagine how things could be better.

I hope you will find this film a useful antidote to forgetfulness.”

See: IBID

Which is what this country so desperately needs – an antidote to the collective amnesia which so many of our countrymen and woman so often succumb to.

As this blogger noted above; imagine the disquiet and anger that would result if  “Someone elses’s country” was broadcast at prime-time, on a major tv channel – and then followed by Bryan Bruce’s, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand“…

Addendum 1

The neo-liberal agenda continues. National plans to partially-privatise three power companies; a mining company; and Air New Zealand (which was privatised once before on 17 April 1989).

National is implementing a privatised form of education via “Charter Schools”.

And the economy is to be further “de-regulated”  and made the rights of foreign corporations extended.

Addendum 2

In a society run along neo-liberal lines, it becomes dangerous to upsets one’s masters investors,

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Hollywood gets heavy over Hobbit

Full story

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And shame upon shame to Jackson and his mates for aiding and abetting Hollywood’s Heavies.

What are they hiding?

*

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Additional Info

Mana Party

Mana Party – Feed the Kids

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

Anti asset sale rally – this Wednesday 13 February

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frank kitts park no to asset sales 13 feb

Source

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= fs =

John Banks, ACT, and miscellaneous laws

15 December 2012 8 comments

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mad ACT tea party

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ACT is very, very BIG on law and order.

In fact, they often refer themselves as the “law and order” Party.

Their website is unequivocal about ACT’s hard-line, no-compromise, approach to Law and Order,

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ACT - law and order

Source

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ACT even refers to the  “broken windows” concept; attacking crime at the beginning when “criminal activity is significantly less likely to escalate when caught and punished early “.

ACT even has a “One Law for All” policy,

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ACT -  one law for all

Source

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Their “One Law for All” refers to Maori – but one assumes that ACT intends this policy to apply equally, to all people living in this country.

Right?

Well… maybe not,

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Banks seeks Dotcom court excuse

Full story

 

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One law for all, huh? That apparently demands a Tui.

However, Banks’ lawyer, QC David Jones stated that,

‘‘Mr Banks will comply with any lawful direction of the court to attend the court as required.’’

Well, that’s jolly big of him.

This case will be a test; are our elected representatives – especially those in positions of ministerial power – bound by the same laws that the rest of us mere mortals are?

After all, “criminal activity is significantly less likely to escalate when caught and punished early “.

Let’s wait, watch, and find out…

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= fs =

Crony Watch!

18 November 2012 22 comments

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Cronywatch*…

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

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

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

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

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

And now for some cronies…

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Catherine Isaac

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Catherine Isaac

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Catherine Isaac,

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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

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

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Belinda Milnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Appointments to Families Commission

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

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

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Richard Long

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

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

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

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Katherine Rich (#2)

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Frank  Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking

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

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

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

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

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:   Lobbyist appointment no conflict: Key

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

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

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Other blogs

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

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_______________________________________

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Roger Sowry

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

Party positions held:

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

Government appointments:

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

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_______________________________________

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Wyatt Creech

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Judy Kirk

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Jim McLay

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Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Penny Webster

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Party Positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Brian Neeson

Ravi Musuku

Ken Shirley

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

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

Brian Neeson

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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

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

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

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

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

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Ravi Musuku

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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Ken Shirley

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

Statement on Maori:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.(Acknowledgement: David M. and Tumeke)

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Wayne Mapp

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Wayne Mapp (L) and John Key (R)

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

Party positions held:

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

Government appointments:

  • New Zealand  Law Commission

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

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

(Acknowledgement: David M.)

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Kerry Prendergast

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

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

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Sir Wira Gardiner

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Full Story

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Party Positions held:

Government appointments:

1. Background

2. Background

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Stephen McElrea

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Party Positions held:

Government Appointments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***Update***

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

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

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

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

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

This is the result of  government cronyism.

Source:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air

Additional

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

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Catherine Isaac

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An announcement was made on 1 February that ACT  member;  former ACT Party List candidate, and former ACT Party President, Catherine Isaac,  had been appointed to oversee the introduction of the government’s Charter  Schools programme in South Auckland and Christchurch. Ms Isaacs has no formal experience in the education field.

John Banks defended Isaac’s appointment was stating that she has sat of a School Board of Trustees for six years.

In which case, if I sat on a District Health board for a similar period of  time, would that qualify me to carry out  thoracic open-heart surgery? Well, I guess that would be one way to “train” our doctors on the cheap and get rid of that pesky, expensive Med School in Dunedin.

Party Positions held:

Government Appointments:

It seems abundantly obvious that Isaac’s appointment is to ensure that ACT’s Charter School policy is implemented without usual critical oversight, and to further ensure that results are presented in a “positive light” to the public.

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Katherine Rich (#1)

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

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The National-led Government is defending its appointment of the Food and Grocery Council chief executive to a board which will set up a new health promotion agency.

Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

The move has outraged advocacy group Alcohol Action. Spokesperson Doug Sellman says Ms Rich has been one of the most vociferous defenders of the alcohol industry.

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

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

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

The Labour Party agrees the appointment of Katherine Rich is too much a conflict of interest.” – Source, Radio NZ

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The Radio NZ report does raise an important question regarding her appointment to  the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

ALAC was an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of New Zealand’s considerable alcohol related (some say fueled) problems.

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

Whilst working for the Food and Grocery Council, Ms Rich was a firm advocate of liberal laws surrounding marketting and retailing of alcohol,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Zealand has a $4 billion-plus problem with alcohol abuse (BERL report) and Katherine Rich dismissed attempts to address this crisis as “classic nanny state thinking“?

It is worthwhile reflecting that since liquor laws were de-regulated in the mid 1980s (as part of the wave of Rogernomics “reforms”), that 25 years later things have gotten steadily worse.

Party positions held:

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Mervyn English

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Full Story

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Though the State Services Commissioner  did find that they were satisfied with English’s appointment, one has to question why  the position was not publicly advertised, as is common practice?

Even if the SSC is satisfied of no inappropriateness, this brings up a valid point; how can we differentiate between blatant political appointees and those made on merit, if the entire system is brought into disrepute? Public perception is growing that this government is stacking various organisation Boards with party apparatchiks – and judging by recent events, that perception is not misplaced.

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_______________________________________

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Jenny Shipley

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Party Positions held:

  • National Party MP 1987 – 2002
  • Various ministerial portfolios
  • Prime Minister 1997 – 1999

Government appointments:

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_______________________________________

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Carried on at Frankly Speaking: Crony Watch

* Carrying on, where the National Business Review left of, in November 2008. (Which, by sheer coincidence, is when National took power.)

 

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= fs =

Heather Roy – head down the mine shaft?

5 November 2012 12 comments

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Both TVNZ’s “Q+A” and TV3′s “The Nation” today (4 November) carried interviews with Bernie Monk, regarding  the upcoming royal commission of inquiry report, due for release at 3.45pm this coming  Monday (5 November).

See: Pike River families to get first look at report

The Q+A interview was especially interesting, as the programme followed up with  panellists from the Left, Right, and a Political Scientist. In this case, the panellists were ex-ACT MP, Heather Roy; political pundit, Jon Johansson;  and ex-Labour Party President, Mike Williams.

The issue quickly shifted to the de-regulation of the mining industry, and the gutting of the Mines Inspectorate. All of which happened under the neo-liberal “reforms” of the Bolger-led government in the early 1990s.

As the Dept of Labour website stated (in a belated attempt to justify de-regulation, but which actually turned into a damning indictment of National in the early 1990s) regarding the backdrop to de-regulation,

The HSE Act 1992 and the Department’s role.

45. In broad terms, the HSE Act replaced heavily prescriptive standards (telling duty holders precisely what measures to take in a particular situation) with a performance-based approach, primarily by imposing general duties (sometimes referred to as goal setting regulation) such as to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety, leaving it to the discretion of the duty holder how they achieve that standard. This approach was coupled with greater use of performance standards that specify the outcome of the health and safety improvement or the desired level of performance but leave the concrete measures to achieve this end open for the duty holder to adapt to varying local circumstances. There was also a focus on systemsbased standards. These identify a particular process, or series of steps, to be followed in the pursuit of safety, and may include the use of formal health and safety management systems.

46. New Zealand embraced the Robens philosophy of self-regulation somewhat belatedly, but with particular enthusiasm and in the context of a political environment that was strongly supportive of deregulation. Indeed, in various forms, deregulation (and reducing the regulatory burden on industry more broadly) was strongly endorsed by the Labour Government that came into power in 1984 and by the National Government that succeeded it in 1990. The HSE Act was a product of this deregulatory environment and in its initial version was stripped of some of the key measures recommended by Robens, not least tripartism, worker participation and an independent executive. It was regarded, so we were told, as a ‘necessary evil’ at a time when the predominant public policy goal was to enhance business competitiveness…

[...]

50. Put differently, whereas under the previous legislation, inspectors had been expected to go into workplaces and direct duty holders as to what safety measures they should introduce (the expectation being that the inspector rather than the employer would take the initiative) under the HSE Act employers bear primary responsibility for health and safety while providing information and support, particularly when it comes to establishing and developing health and safety systems and processes and takes enforcement action where the employer fails to meet the practicability standard.”

See: Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited

The up-shot of  the above report is that instead of actively policing mines and their safety standards, it was all left to individual companies to address. Instead of being “prescriptive” as the DoL laments, individual companies were to adopt a “a performance-based approach” and to “to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety, leaving it to the discretion of the duty holder how they achieve that standard“.

Well, we know how that turned out.

29 men paid dearly for the liberalisation of safety regulations, in one of the most dangerous fields of  work on this planet.

The current state of our mines inspectorate is now so bad that even state-owned coal-mining company, Solid Energy publicly expressed it’s dis-satisfaction and called for the process to be handed over to Queensland for safety oversight,

Solid Energy has called for New Zealand’s mines’ inspectorate to be run out of Queensland, saying the lack of resource at the Department of Labour was partly to blame for the Pike River tragedy.

The state-owned power company is hoping to be the new owner of Pike River Coal, and said the best option to ensure the mine’s safety is to align New Zealand’s framework with that of Queensland.

“We are suggesting Queensland because we believe it is at the forefront of safety in Australia,” said chief executive Dr Don Elder.

“The industry needs research capability to look at the best advances overseas and evaluate how those might be applied locally.”

[...]

However, Elder said because New Zealand mining is a small industry, it would be too expensive to provide all of those services, so the most sustainable option is to contract inspectorate and support services to Australia.”

See: Solid Energy wants Australia to run mines inspectorate

So what was ex-ACT MP, Heather Roy’s, response in the discussion, that followed the interview with Bernie Monk, who lost in son in the Pike River Mine disaster?

Her response, to put it mildly, was eye-opening and jaw-dropping. In what should have been a crystal-clear message to worshippers of  Neo Liberalism, that de-regulation does not always work as intended, she managed to totally ignore the lessons of the Pike River tragedy and deflected the conversation elsewhere,

HEATHER ROY:  Well, in part, but I think Bernie was right when he said the New Zealand public haven’t forgotten about Pike River mine. Things like the Royal Commission are gonna highlight that. The real thing, the tragedy for the families is always going to be ongoing for them. The thing is what lessons can we learn from this, and Mike was outlining some of the things that he thinks should be done. This might be a bit of a watershed for OSH, and that would probably be a good thing in the mining sector. Another thing that needs to be examined is New Zealand’s environmental policies. Should this have been an open cast mine? Should it have been closed? All of those things need to be discussed, not just for Pike River mine, but across the board.

[...]

HEATHER ROY:  I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though. What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point- “

Source: TVNZ Q+A The panel

I’ve usually found Heather Roy to be the most rational of the right-wing nutjobs that pass for ACT MPs and supporters. She voices views – even if one disagreed with them – with a measure of coherency and logic that elicited a thoughtful response, rather than a gritting of teeth.

On this occassion, I gritted my teeth.

Right wingers make a fetish of demanding a high degree of personal responsibility from us, the Great Unwashed Masses.

See: ACT – Principles

But right wing political parties rarely (actually, never) take responsibility for their own actions.

It is fairly clear to everyone by now that the de-regulation of the mines inspectorates in the early ’90s was a grave mistake. 29 graves, to be precise.

So for Heather Roy to try to shift the blame onto OSH, when legislative “reforms” specifically stated that mines safety had devolved to individual companies, and was no longer the “prescriptive”  responsibility of the State is more than a little disingenous – it’s downright dishonest and insulting to all New Zealanders.

How can Roy say with a straight face, “I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though. What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point” – is beyond comprehension.

One can only assume she is relying on collective brainfade as to what National did in the early 1990s, and public lack of knowledge on this issue,  to try to get away with such bullshit.

How else does one explain her incredible statements,

I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though.” – What else would one blame, when we went from seven mines inspectors in 1992 to 1, currently? When prescriptive safety regulations were replaced with companies taking voluntary “‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety“?

What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. ” – It’s a bit too late for accountability after people have been killed in a disaster that need never have happened had stringent safety regulations not been removed.

Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. ” – It is a bad thing when de-regulation results in injury or death, that was wholly preventable.

Perhaps Ms Roy would approve of de-regulating road safety rules? Would she endorse removing the speed limit, for example?

It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point” – At this point I had ground my teeth to nothing.  This comment contradicted her previous statement, “Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing“.

How can we ensure that “checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists ” – when no regulation exists requiring “checks and balances“?!?!

Nothing Roy has said made any sense, and her assertions defy common sense understanding.

For an educated, articulate woman, she has allowed her natural intelligence to be clouded by the braindead dogma of neo-liberalism, which demands de-regulation and “small government” at any cost.

But there is always a cost.

Just ask 29 families on the West Coast.

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Other blogs

Tumeke: The myth of over-regulation and the delusion of self-regulation

The Standard: Two faced John Key on Pike River

Additional

Q+A: Transcript of Bernie Monk interview

Ministry of Labour: A Guide to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

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Another bare-faced lie from the ACT Party

10 October 2012 1 comment

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From the ACT Party website,

When Labour abolished the youth minimum wage in 2008, youth unemployment soared.  A study by the former Department of Labour found that abolishing the youth wage resulted in a loss of up to 9000 jobs.  Removing the youth minimum wage priced young people out of the market.

See:  Re-establishment of Youth Minimum Wage A Win For ACT

What nonsense. The rise in youth unemployment post-2008 was due to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

In February 2009, the DoL (former Department of Labour)  website reported,

Unemployment has risen across the OECD

9. Statistics New Zealand reports that New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the tenth
equal lowest of the 27 OECD nations with comparable data. The Netherlands and
Norway have the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7%, with South Korea,
Switzerland and Austria also below 4%. The OECD average unemployment rate
was 6.5%, up from 6.0% when the September 2008 quarter HLFS was released.

10. New Zealand has so far not been affected as much by the global financial crisis as
some other countries. Furthermore, it is in a relatively better position due to a
strong starting point, fiscal stimulus and large decreases in interest rates. In the
United States, the unemployment rate has risen from 4.8% in February 2008 to
7.2% in December 2008, a 15-year high. Unemployment has increased in other
developed nations, particularly Ireland (to 8.2% in December 2008, from 4.7% a
year earlier) and Spain (to 14.4% in December 2008, from 8.7% a year earlier).

[abridged]

15. Youth are often the most at risk during a recession and their unemployment rate is
expected to rise further over the next year. This can be attributed to them having
low levels of experience, but also because those aged 15-24 years old are two to
three times more likely to be unemployed in general. In the early 1990s recession,
the unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds rose from 13.3% in early 1990 to
19.5% in early 1992.”

Source: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The DoL website also stated that “Maori and Pacific workers are also expected to be affected by the downturn. These groups have a greater proportion of youth relative to Europeans and also tend to be disproportionally employed in low-skilled and semi-skilled occupations, which are often more affected in a recession“.

Does ACT have a policy advocating a lower wage rate for Maori and Pacific islanders, based on their ethnicity?

After all, if one can discrimiminate on age – why not race?

It is dishonest to lay fault with a previous government’s policy when facts point to a completely different cause and effect scenario.

ACT should learn to be a bit bit honest with the facts rather than re-writing history, Orwellian-style, to suit some confused ideology.

But then again, this is John Banks’ Party. ’nuff said.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

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

30 September 2012 18 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Is John Banks causing ACT’s demise?

Victorian England“?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Ibid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Banks – escaping justice (Part Toru)

17 September 2012 10 comments

Continued from: John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

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A link to the blogpost, John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua) was emailed to John Banks earlier today (14 September).

Unexpectedly, this blogger has received a response from John Banks’ office,

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Date: Friday, 14 September 2012 3:12 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “‘fmacskasy@yahoo.com’” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.

Dear Frank

On behalf of the Hon John Banks Leader of ACT and MP for Epsom thank you for your email of 14 September 2012 regarding the recent release of Official Information relating to the investigation into Mr Banks’ 2010  return of donations and expenses for the election of the mayor of Auckland.

Mr Banks has asked me to respond as follows.

In our system of government the Police independently decide if there is a case to answer and if charges are laid under the law.

Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true.

There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established.   Therefore no charges were laid.  The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law.

As far as Mr Banks is concerned the matter is closed. 

Regards

Chris

Christopher J. W. Diack

Chief of Staff & Legal Advisor

Office of Hon. John Banks, CNZM, QSO

Minister for Regulatory Reform | Minister for Small Business | Associate Minister of Commerce

Associate Minister of Education | MP for Epsom | Leader ACT New Zealand.

11.21 Bowen House

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

DDI +64 4 817 6970 | FAX +64 4 817 6523 | Mobile +64 21 800 901

christopher.diack@parliament.govt.nz

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Astounding.

Actually receiving a response…

We must be living in an Age of Miracles…

Reply emailed to Mr Diack this evening (15 September),

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Date:  Saturday, 15 September 2012 8:43 PM
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: John Banks.
To: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>

Kia ora, Chris,Thank you for responding to me letter, and with promptness. Your courtesy in this area is to your credit considering that most National ministers no longer bother to reply to correspondence from the public.In response to your email dated 14 September, I would like to pose several questions that you and Minister Banks may be able to assist with, and clarify.1. Can you confirm that Minister Banks has declined to give permission for his Statement to the Police, to be released to the public?2. Can you or Minister Banks explain why he refuses to make public his Statement when he has consistantly adopted a personal position that he had “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”?3. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How do you reconcile that assertion when Minister Banks requested  that Kim Dotcom split his  $50,000 donation in two equal parts of $25,000 each, so as to be recorded as anonymous donations? 4. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How can that be true when,  Minister  Banks’ own lawyer,  Gregory Towers, stated to Police investigators that Minister Banks instructed  him on 8 February,  “… that as much as [he, John Banks] wished to publicly support Kim that may backfire on Kim if it became known about the election support” – and yet on 27 April, nearly three months later, Minister Banks told TV3 News, “Well, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t seen the forms now for a couple of years, so I don’t know who gave me money, I can’t remember now”.5. Are you or Minister Banks aware that, on 2 May,  ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson, where he stated that splitting  the $50,000 donation was, “…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.… He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers”. Was Mr Simmons correct in that initial statement?

6. Mr Banks’ mayoral campaign  received three additional “anonymous” $25,000 donations for his mayoral campaigns.  Who were those donations from? Were they one $75,000 donation from one individual/organisation? Were receipts issued for those donations? Did the Police investigate the source of those donations? What, if anything, was the outcome of scrutiny into those three $25,000 donations?

7. You stated in your email to me that  ” The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law.  ”  How do you reconcile that proposition with Police statements that they are unable to prosecute because the matter falls outside a statute of limitations on laying prosecutions? Do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?

8. You further stated in your email to me that “There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established. ” How do you reconcile that statement with a claim by Ms Mackey, who challenged claims that  Mr Banks signed the Electoral Form without reading it and insisted,  “But John Banks did read the document.” And do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?

9. Is Minister Banks in a habit of signing documents he has not read?

10. Is it correct that Minister  Banks incited Kim Dotcom to break the Electoral law on reporting donations by advising him to hide the $50,000 donation: “I want to help you Kim and I can help you more effectively if no-one knows about this donation.”?

11. Are you or Minister Banks aware that Skycity received a receipt from Bank’s Campaign Treasurer for their $15,000 donation and that donation was later listed as ‘anonymous’? How can a donation that was acknowledged by way of a written  receipt be considered as “anonymous”? What is the definition of “anonymous” when the identity of the donor is known?

12. Why did Minister Banks continue to insist to media and public alike, that  he had no memory of any of these matters – and yet evidence and statements by others proved that he had full knowledge of donations made; the identity of donors; that he advised donors how to ensure that donations were recorded as “anonymous”; and that Minister Banks had sought prior  legal advice how to evade provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001?

13. Will Minister Banks offer his resignation to the Prime Minister and step down from all ministerial roles? 

 
I look forward to answers to these questions and matters raised therein.
 
Thank you for your time.
 
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Mr Diack’s response, received this morning (17 September),

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Date: Sunday, 16 September 2012 6:26 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: ‘Frank Macskasy’ <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.

Dear Frank

 

Please refer to my earlier email.

 

Regards

Chris

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Unfortunately, Chris Diack’s previous email does not answer any of the thirteen questions put to John Banks. (In fact, this blogger is aware that Mr Diack’s response  has been sent to other citizens, who have emailed his office expressing concerns on this issue.)

This is unacceptable and I wonder how Messrs Diack and Banks can reconcile their evasiveness with the latters constant mantra, “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”.

John Banks seems to be hiding a great deal and his continuing warrant to serve as a Minister of the Crown is based solely on the desperation of his patron, John Key, to preserve his one seat majority in Parliament.  This is the sordid, shabby, self-serving situation that John Key lambasted Prime Minister Helen Clark, over the Winston Peters-Owen Glenn donations affair,

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“  Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 4:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party

John Key MP
National Party Leader

27 August 2008

Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.

“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.

“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.

“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.

“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.

“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.

“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.

“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”.

Source: Scoop.co.nz – Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

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Same situation.

Same desperation to to hang on.

Same standards.

It is even more laughable that John Key states that he has not read the Police file on this case; is not going to read the Police report; and is satisfied that he has taken John Banks at his word,

Shane: This isn’t about the issue being you. All I want to know is having read the police report, whether you believe Mr Banks when he said -

John: I haven’t read that police report, and I’m not going to because I don’t need to. I rely, as any prime minister would, that I enjoy the confidence -

Shane: Why wouldn’t you read the police report?

John: Because it’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is the law doesn’t work. What I can tell you is this is a politically motivated attempt by the Labour Party to get at the government. Fair enough. That’s called politics.

Shane: So you believe him even though others say he was lying?

John: No, what I’m saying to you is accept his word. I accept that the law is very ambiguous, and I accept that the Labour Party are using this as a politically motivated attempt to get to the government. Because they’re not going after – This is a guy that lost the mayoral election. They didn’t try and test this out after he lost. They didn’t test it out for every other candidate. They’re not testing it out around the country. And, by the way, when they changed the central government law around donations, they didn’t bother to do it for local government. But today they care about it, and that’s because it’s politically motivated.

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

His “word”?

What “word”?!

Throughout this shameful affair, the public has seen John Banks obfuscating; forgetting; lying; and blaming everyone else for his own actions.

For John Key to buy into the “blame-everyone-else-game” (Labour, the law, etc) shows how bankrupt National’s Standards really are.

National and ACT demand a high standard of personal responsibility from everyone else. They are the Parties built on the mantra of  Taking Personal Responsibility. It is the height of hypocrisy that neither Banks nor his handler  are prepared to Take Personal Responsibility they expect from everyone else,

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

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

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Whilst the poor are beaten about their heads  with messages of  Taking Personal Responsibility, dishonest politicians who escape prosecution on technicalities and the patronage of the Prime Minister, laugh and thumb their noses at the law.

No wonder that John Key has stated that if National loses at an election that he would step down as Party leader,

He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative“.”

See: Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

I would add that Key’s credibility is shot to hell and he could never again launch a critical attack on a Labour government minister who has been shown to be engaged in lies and wrongdoing.  The word “hypocrite” would echo through the Debating Chamber every time Key stood to criticise someone.

If, reading this, you feel a sense of frustration and outrage that our elected representatives can behave in such a reprehensible manner – rest assured, you are quite normal and your “moral compass” is set as it should be.

If, however, you are an ACT or National supporter, and  you see nothing wrong with  Banks’ and Key’s behaviour – rest assured, this new standard of political cronyism will be used by future  governments when it suits their purposes.

No doubt then we’ll hear some serious braying and moral chest-thumping from National/ACT supporters?

Oh, how I’ll look forward to that day.

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Relared blogpost

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

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