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Posts Tagged ‘John Banks’

The Boundless Arrogance of the Right

21 June 2014 4 comments

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John Key - That's all folks

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As at 5pm on Friday, 13 June, John Banks resigned from Parliament.

In retrospect… As per usual, those on the Right appear unable to accept that they too must uphold the laws of the land.

Michelle Boag (Fmr National Party president)

The verdict in the John Banks trial will send a “chill up the spine” of every political candidate, says former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Boag, who was an adviser to Banks during the failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign, said although Banks had been found guilty, he had done just the same as “every political candidate who has put in a donation form”.

Don Brash (Fmr Reserve Bank Governor; Fmr National Party leader; Fmr ACT Party leader)

“So the court has found John Banks guilty. Three observations. First, I have known John Banks for 30 years and have not found him to be anything other than an honest man. Second, it is a huge tragedy for a man who has overcome great personal difficulties; served with distinction as a Member of Parliament, as a Minister, and as the mayor of Auckland; and helped to raise three Russian orphans.

But third, when I contrast what John Banks was found by the court to have done with what Helen Clark’s Labour Party did in 2005 – without the slightest attempt by the Police to call her to account – the offence of which he has been found guilty is utterly trivial.

In 2005, the Labour Party spent Parliamentary funding to the extent of more than three-quarters of a million dollars on explicit electioneering, despite having been warned against doing so by both the Auditor General and the Chief Electoral Officer just weeks before the election. Yes, they eventually repaid that money, but only under strong protest. And of course by that the time the election was won.

And what they could not undo, and were never held to account for, was grossly overspending the legal limit on spending in that election. The Police, in a disgracefully biased decision, decided not to prosecute, despite the Labour Party’s own auditors finding that the Party had unambiguously breached the legal spending limit if spending on their infamous “pledge card” was election spending. And did anybody who saw that “pledge card” think it was NOT part of Labour’s election campaign?

Whatever John Banks did in trying to raise money to finance his mayoral campaign in 2010 did not affect the outcome of that election. By contrast, Labour’s illegal behaviour almost certainly did affect the result of the 2005 election.”

Gerry Brownlee (Leader of the House, National Minister)

 “As I understand it he is not convicted and therefore can stay in parliament and exercise his vote.”

Found guilty – but “not convicted”. Ethics 101, according to Gerry Brownlee.

Ironically, Kim Dotcom has not been found guilty of any crime in New Zealand and yet the Nats wants him extradited to the United States. As in, potentially goneburger to a US jail.

David Farrar (Blogger, National Party apparatchik)

“…Banks was wrong to break the law, but Labour’s law breaches in 2005 were much more significant and did have an impact on the election result.”

Based on Farrar’s bizarro-world “logic”, burglars should not be prosecuted because home invasion robberies “were much more significant and did have an impact” on home-owners?!

John Key (Fmr money trader, current Prime Minister)

“It’s not for me to critique the ruling by Justice Wylie it would be quite inappropriate of me to do that…but if you ask me at a personal level whether my experience of John Banks is an honest person then the answer is yes.”

John Key (again)

“In the end, Mr Banks may appeal, I don’t know the details of that but in my experience of dealing with him over the period of time that he’s been both the leader of the Act Party and in Parliament and in my previous dealings with him, I’ve always found him to be very honest.”

So honest that he (a) was tried in a Court of law, (b) was found guilty, and (c) has resigned.

Is this what Key meant when he said on 17 November 2008;

“I expect high standards from my ministers. If they don’t meet the standards I set, then obviously I will take action if necessary.”

John Key (and again)

First Key said he was not in a position to offer any advice to Banks;

“It’s not for me to offer a view on that. In the end he is the leader of another political party.  I can’t offer him advice any more than I could offer David Cunliffe advice on whether he should resign.”

Then he decided to give advice – to David Cunliffe;

Asked about Cunliffe’s claims that the Government was being propped up by a “corrupt” politician, Key said Cunliffe should rule out working with the Internet Party.

“I’m not going to be lectured by David Cunliffe. If he was the man of principle he says he is, he’d be ruling out the Internet Party and Kim Dotcom who’s before the court and is a convicted fraudster, but he’s not going to do that. Most people will see it for what it is, which is politics.”

Point of interest; John Key appears to be out-of-the-loop and several months behind-the times. John Banks was not the  “leader of another political party“. The current leader of ACT is Jamie Whyte.

Kerre McIvor (Right-wing NZ Herald columnist)

“…Graham McCready, the convicted tax fraudster and the man who brought the private prosecution against Banks after the police declined to lay charges, is an odd creature.

The charms of Kim Dotcom have never been apparent to me and they didn’t become any more obvious in this case.”

Richard Prebble (Fmr Labour and ACT Party MP)

Act Party campaign director Richard Prebble, said the verdict was in conflict with the attitude towards campaign donations that he’d encountered during his years in parliament.

“I’ve looked at MPs’ declarations – which are only for $20,000 – and a third of MPs, under this ruling, should be out of parliament. I’ve seen declarations that are total fictions.”

Prebble said the loose approach to the rules revealed “the nonsense of the thing”. He said when he started his career in local body politics, he wasn’t required to fill in electoral donation forms, “and I’m not sure why you have to now.

“It’s just part of the political correctness of New Zealand, and all we do is catch people out with paperwork.”

Prebble said while the nominal reason for requiring electoral donation returns might be to prevent the impression of undue influence by political funders, “the real reason is to intimidate people to stop them giving money to your political opponents.

So Prebble has “seen declarations that are total fictions” – but done nothing about them?! Is this how a former ACT Leader and MP upholds the law? By turning a blind eye to it being broken? Very civic minded, I don’t think.

As for the electoral law on donation returns being “ just part of the political correctness of New Zealand, and all we do is catch people out with paperwork” – so some laws exist  merely to  inconvenience us? Perhaps quite a few others who are currently “guests of Her Majesty” thought along the same lines.

John Thompson (ACT Party president )

“We believe that he can carry on in doing his constituency work … It would be more pleasant if there was a different verdict, yes.”

Well… yes. I’m sure it would be more pleasant. So would world peace and an end to hunger, disease, pollution…

However, let’s work with what we’ve got, eh, John?

My thoughts (as a Left wing blogger)

Those on the Right of the political spectrum probably believe that Banks’ actions were minor. They  point the finger at alleged wrongdoing by Labour or other parties on the Left. They may even believe that the trial and guilty verdict was unnecessary.

Meanwhile, on the Left, the belief (unsurprisingly) is diametrically opposite;  the crime of electoral fraud is not minor; pointing to alleged wrongdoing by Left-wing parties  is a vain attempt at deflection to distract public attention; and the guilty verdict was necessary.

Everyone has missed the point.

The trial was very much necessary. (The verdict was, I submit, secondary.)

Either the law on Electoral Returns is a law to be enforced, or it should be repealed and left up to individual parties and candidates to make voluntary disclosures.  But it cannot be left to stand and be observed in a half-hearted, cavalier fashion.

Otherwise, every member of Parliament runs the risk of being prosecuted by the Police or a well-motivated member of the public, sometime in the future. In other words, this was a “wake up call” to every elected representative, whether in a local body or Parliament.

It will be a very, very foolish politician – whether from the Left or Right – who takes a punt at fudging their Electoral Return from now on.

Because, in the final analysis, no Right or Left wing party activist, supporter, voter, or blogger, wants one of their own to be dragged through the Courts, embarrassing themselves and their Party. Whether Left or Right, we want our own people to be ‘squeaky clean’.

The wake-up call has been sounded for both sides of the political spectrum.

Let’s hope it was heard..

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References

Fairfax media: F*** off, says under-pressure Banks

Facebook: Don Brash

TVNZ News: John Banks could be thrown political lifeline

Kiwiblog: Brash on Banks

ODT: Banks gets to stay in Parliament

NZ Herald: Top ministers in Key’s Cabinet focused on economy

NZ Herald: Shame sticks to both sides of this episode

Fairfax media: PM ducks Banks questions

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The John Banks guilty verdict

Other blogs

Gordon Campbell on the John Banks verdict


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2014.

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

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

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

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Stuff.co.nz

Editorial: Discredited flaw still being exploited

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Dominion Post

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

That statement demanded a response…

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

 

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The editor
Dominion Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Discredited flaw still being exploited

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Graham McCready to John Banks – an Open Letter

This has to be the most compassionate thing I’ve read in a long, long time…

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TO John Banks Copy the Rest of New Zealand

Dear John,

I can understand the situation you find yourself in having been in the same situation myself.

From this personal experience I can tell you that you are at serious risk of receiving a jail term of about 18-months.

His Honour has given you the opportunity to qualify for Home Detention.
The term is likely to be about six months.
He is NOT going to consider a discharge without conviction.
That is a delusional fantasy.
If David Jones QC continues to suggest the possibility my advice is to sack him and file a complaint with the Law Society on the basis of gross incompetence.

See my attached missive on the process.
If you get home detention your overseas travel will suffer minimal disruption.
Any jail term of one year or more and the Inter Islander Ferry may be about your limit.

How then do you ensure you stay out of jail?

Accept responsibility for your actions.

Immediately as part of acceptance resign from Parliament.

Do not dance on the head of a pin before the Probation Officer on the difference between “Found Guilty of an Indictable Criminal Offence” and “A Conviction being entered”.

On Monday YOU contact the Probation Service.
Do not let your clown of a lawyer do it or wait for a Probation Officer to phone you.

COOPERATE with them. BE VERY HUMBLE

Tell them you have royally screwed up and that you are unconditionally guilty.

Do a press conference and make an unreserved apology to the People of New Zealand for your conduct.
Back that up by a huge donation to low decile schools.
Do not say which ones or how much.
That will not get you off but it will be spiritually uplifting

Tell them you will not be appealing the verdict.

DO NOT ATTACK OTHER PERSONS INVOLVED IN THE CASE.

Assure the Probation Officer that you will comply with all instructions and conditions of Home Detention no matter how tedious. And they will be tedious.

Treat the Probation Officer with respect.
Do not make racial or serious remarks.
You may find your Probation Officer is a young female Criminology Grad less than half you age.

The Probation Service will need to approve your apartment for Home Detention.
From my experience it is probably not suitable.
The reason is that a Probation Officer or Security Guard cannot walk up to the front door 24-hours a day because of the building security.
Tomorrow rent a VERY MODEST house with walk up to the front door.
Talk to the Probation Service about this.

Finally welcome to the Human Race.
We are not bad people who will become good, just human beings who do good and bad things at various times of our lives.

This too will pass.

Wishing you all the health, happiness and success I enjoy for myself one day at a time.

Kindest Regards

Graham Mc Cready

 

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[Re-printed verbatim.]

[Acknowledgement: Penny Bright]

Well said, Graham.

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A little warning regarding Charter Schools…

 

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we're trialling an ideological approach

 

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The thing about Charter Schools – which was one of John Bank’s “legacies”  before he ended up in Court cleaning his ears – is that teaching staff do not have to be registered. Despite official advice from the Ministry of Education, which stated,

“The overall potential for a negative impact on students’ education from teachers who do not meet the minimum standards for the profession is high,” the statement said. “Teacher registration is one of the most influential levers in raising teacher quality across the profession in both state and private schools.”

Amidst fears of people with unknown histories; dubious qualifications; and other unknown unpleasantries, ending up in Charter School classrooms, our Dear Leader John Key seemed… relaxed by it all;

“But I don’t think we should be hung up by any one particular angle. There will always be a push back by the teachers union that will be fearful of that, but as I say if you look at the history of New Zealand schools we have had plenty of people who have been teaching our youngsters who haven’t been registered qualified teachers. If those partnership schools don’t succeed the Government will be just as quick to close them down as we have been to establish them.”

Key has said he would not be bothered if his children were taught by unregistered teachers. Not bloody likely – Key’s offspring were taught in the most expensive private schools money could buy. No chance of Key’s offspring rubbing shoulders with middle class kids in State schools or working class kids in Charter Schools – the Key Clan could afford The Best.

So what of Charter schools?  Despite the mealy-mouthed reassurances from the likes of Key, Parata, and Banks – a simple reality remains; they will be employing unregistered teachers. Which leaves us with a situation like this, as reported by Radio NZ on 27 May;

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Pupil praised, teacher deregistered

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Coming soon to a Charter School near you: a teacher who has been sacked from his job and de-registered. But there is nothing to stop this man from being -re-hired  by a Charter School.

Nothing.

  1. Un-registered, he is no longer listed with the Teacher’s Council. (Unless the Council maintains a separate Black List of de-registered teachers and is readily available to education institutions?)
  2. He has not been charged or found guilty of any offence, according to the story above – so any Charter School conducting a police background check will come up with nothing.
  3. The man’s identity has not been released, so even a simple Google search will come up with nothing.
  4. All he needs to do is remove the last school he worked at (from which he was sacked), and he effectively has a “clean” C.V.

The policy of allowing unregistered teachers is a ticking time-bomb, and this blogger can already see tomorrow’s headlines; “Unregistered teacher at XYZ Charter School molests pupils“.

There will be the usual ‘noises’ of “improving procedures and protocols” being made. But without registration, the pupils of Charter Schools will be vulnerable to predator-“teachers” who fancy a 12 year old boy or girlfriend.

In effect, Parata and Banks – with the blessing of Dear Leader – have handed paedophiles their next victims on a tax-payer funded plate.

As usual, it is the most vulnerable in our society who will be paying for National/ACT’s shonkey, ideologically-half-baked policies.

We have been warned.

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References

Fairfax media: Ministry advised against unregistered charter teachers

TVNZ News: Key – Don’t worry about unqualified teachers

NZ Herald: Ministers’ kids skip big classes

Radio NZ:  Pupil praised, teacher deregistered

Previous related blogposts

Privatisation of our schools?!

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

From around the world

Salon: Education reform’s central myths

allthingslearning: Can a teacher “create” LEARNing THAT LASTS?

BBC: Academies told they can hire unqualified teachers

New Statesman: The American revolution in English schools

Huffington Post: In Support of the Whole Child

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: Charter schools are bad schools

Local Bodies: NZ Charter Schools Defined

The Standard: Incoherent education policy

The Standard: Robber’s charter

The Daily Blog: Does it get any more rich than this?

 


 

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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

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National, on Law and Order

 

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National hoarding staying strong on crime

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Back in 2008 and 2011, National was very, very BIG on the usual “law and order”, thrashing the issue in a way that only right-wing/conservative political parties can, when in high-gear, election-mode. One of their 2011 election billboards (see above) specifically pointed to National’s “strong on crime” stance.

On 27 May 2007, John Key said,

“I want to make one thing clear. I don’t make excuses for criminal behaviour because I believe every individual is responsible for their actions and must be held accountable for them.”

Key added,

“Don’t just think, though, that the responsibility for rejecting criminal behaviour falls solely on the police. Ordinary New Zealanders, politicians and government agencies have an important role to play…

Unfortunately, most of National’s media-driven focus appears to be on the more visible forms of crime involving violence, or ‘populist’ issues such as “boy racers“, car-crushing, and welfare fraud.

You are more likely to be on National’s ‘hit list’ for demonstrating “tough on crime” if you commit “crimes against a person“, rather than  law-breaking by business; the financially successful;  or coalition-partner politicians.  An example is National’s pre-occupation with welfare fraud;

“Welfare fraud of any kind is unacceptable.  It takes money away from the people who need it and undermines confidence in our welfare system.” –  John Key

Welfare “fraud” is worth an estimated $23 million – but pales in  comparison against tax fraud of $7.4 billion;

Dr Lisa Marriott, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, is investigating the differences in prosecution outcomes for the two offences, both of which, she says, involve money, are premeditated and have the same victims—the Government and society.

“One is not giving what you should and the other is taking what you shouldn’t.”

Her analysis of court data on the most serious offending from 2008–2011 shows that 22 percent of people found guilty of tax offences received a custodial sentence while 60 percent of benefit fraudsters were imprisoned.

National’s rhetoric and track  record appears to be less enthusiastic to up-hold the law when it come to the Well Off, rather than Working-class Offenders.

Recent examples further highlight National’s soft-on-crime approach to commercial and politically-motivated offences.

Strike 1. John Banks

Perhaps the most notorious and public of National’s selective approach to enforcing law and order – their refusal to prosecute then-ACT-leader, John Banks, for allegedly making false electoral returns after the 2010 mayoral election in Auckland.

The revelations that followed Grant Robertson’s accusations in Parliament led to a media-storm and police investigation where John  Banks was formally questioned by Police in a three-hour long interview.

In July 2012, Police decided not to prosecute John Banks citing “lack of evidence”, and a strange reference to a “stature of limitations”, to lay charges.

John Key’s response?

In refusing to read the police report, Key said,

“I haven’t read that police report and I’m not going to because I don’t need to … It’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is, the law doesn’t work.”

In a further feat of sophistry and mental gymnastics, Key added,

“The test is whether they enjoy my confidence, and if a minister tells me, ‘This is my position and this is what I’ve done’, I accept their word in good faith unless it’s proven otherwise.”

On 16 October 2013,  retired accountant, Graham McCready, launched a private prosecution against  John Banks   and  the matter headed to Court. Subsequently, Crown Law took over the prosecution case.

After prevarications and failings by the Police, the Prime Minister, Crown Law, and the “establishment” in general, it took one lone citizen to start the wheels of justice rolling.

Evidently allegations of corruption by a senior politician did not merit this government’s attention. Especially when the Prime Minister “accepts their word in good faith”.

Strike 2. Easter Trading

Despite the law being quite explicit, each year various retail outlets flout the law by trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Gardening centres seem to be one of the worst recidivist offenders, despite the fact that out of four days in Easter they need only be closed on one: Good Friday.

With repeat, pre-planned, determined offending, the fine of $1,000 appears to be a “business cost” that retailers will wear, in their pursuit for profit.

Imagine if a burglar or car-converter not only planned repeat offending, but advertised it on nationwide media, and expected only a small fine if caught?!

This year, it appears that in some areas the risk of a fine was not even present;

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NZ Herald - Wanaka Easter traders knew inspectors would be absent

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Southland Times - Wanaka Easter traders escape prosecution

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TV3 - PM favours Easter trading law change

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NewstalkZB - Wanaka businesses escape Easter trading laws action

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Dear Leader’s response? Does John Key demand to know why labour inspectors were not doing their job? Does he demand to know who “tipped” off Wanaka traders? Does he reassert that the law will be upheld until such time as it is changed in Parliament?

No, he does not say any of those things.

Key demonstrates his “tough on crime” response by blaming the law itself;

“The problem you’ve got is it’s always been a conscience vote and it’s been a combination of the unions asserting its influence on probably the left of politics and joined by those who have strong religious beliefs. In my view, the law doesn’t work very well and it should be overhauled.”

On MSN News, Key stated;

“There’s only one way to resolve it and that’s not to encourage people to break the law but build a parliamentary majority for change.”

That is indeed correct. Turning a blind eye on illegal activity not only throws the law into disrepute – but makes Parliament itself irrelevant. It suggests that the governing Party can determine what the law is, without proper Parliamentary oversight. In some parts of the world, this is known as a One Party state.

A previous National Party Prime Minister – Robert Muldoon – did precisely this, after winning the 1975 General Election. He advised employers to cease making deductions for the compulsory superannuation fund before Parliament had had the chance to repeal the law.

If National wants to repeal or amend the Holidays Act, it should do so honestly and present it’s case to Parliament.  Let there be open public debate so that the public can present it’s submissions to Parliament.

But it is too gutless to do so, and has taken the easier option; ignoring the law altogether.

Who was responsible for directing labour inspectors not to visit Wanaka?

Did it have ministerial approval?

And why isn’t the government investigating who issued the directive?

By ignoring this issue, National is law-making by law-breaking.

Strike 3. Worksafe

Without doubt, according to Worksafe NZ, the three deadliest occupations in this country are agriculture (112 fatalities, 2008-13) , construction (61), and forestry (35). Manufacturing and Transport/Postal/Warehousing came fourth-equal at 25 fatalities from 2008 to 2013. (If it hadn’t been for the Pike River disaster in 2010, which killed 29 men, mining would be one of the safest occupations.)

Added to the grim death toll are the hundreds of work-related injuries in the forestry sector.

Worksafe NZ has been tasked with improving our appalling safety record when it comes to deaths and injuries.  As outlined on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website;

The Government has established WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe NZ), a stand-alone Crown agent with its own governance board, as part of its reform of the New Zealand workplace health and safety system.

WorkSafe NZ began on 16 December 2013 when the health and safety functions of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment transferred to the new agency.

The creation of a stand-alone health and safety regulatory agency was a key recommendation of both the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.

WorkSafe NZ signals a new era. With a single-minded focus on workplace health and safety issues, the agency provides a single point of accountability and seeks to play a leadership role in improving New Zealand’s health and safety performance.

Worksafe NZ’s role ranges from “providing guidance and information on workplace health and safety to duty holders and to the community” to  “monitoring and enforcing compliance with the primary workplace health and safety legislation“.  A full description of their functions is given on their website.

As Worksafe NZ’s own website chart clearly shows, the number of workplace deaths in the forestry industry has been steadily increasing since 2007;

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Worksafe NZ - Summary of fatalities 2007-2013

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So even as forestry deaths and injuries have been steadily rising, OSH/Worksafe NZ prosecutions have not kept pace, as the data shows;

Number of Initiated Prosecutions in Forestry

(2009 to 2013)

 

Year* Forestry
2009 4
2010 3
2011 2
2012 4
2013 4
Total 17

Source: WorkSafe NZ (emailed)

*Based on the prosecution initiated date. (No figures readily available for 2008).

A Radio NZ, Nine to Noon  interview on 24 April, which included   forestry-worker widow, Maryanne Butler-Finlay; CTU President, Helen Kelly; and  Worksafe NZ General Manager of Health and Safety Operations, Ona de Rooy yielded some interesting insights.

Helen Kelly accused Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges of slowing progress of the passing of the Health and Safety Bill, and actively interfering and restricting the terms of a Worksafe NZ review of safety practices in the forestry industry. She said,

“We know the minister has restricted right down what they’re allowed to look at. They’re not looking at fatigue. They’re not looking at weather. They’re not looking at hours of work. Simon Bridges has said, ‘no, wait for the review’.”

Bridges response on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, on 28 April, did nothing to allay fears that he was  taking the side of forestry operators and doing everything within his power to stymie reform of the industry, and resist implementation of a stricter safety regime.

When Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson pressed Bridges on  when the Health and Safety Reform Bill would be passed into law, his response was derisory and dismissive,

“We can’t simply, ah,  because Helen Kelly sez so, do something in two days.

...  But I don’t think it’s a position where we can simply snap our fingers and change  systemic, ah, ah, deep  problems overnight. Indeed it would be entirely wrong for us to do that.”

Yet, National was quite capable of changing industrial laws in precisely two days when it came to the so-called “Hobbit Law”. That’s when Warner Bros snapped their corporate fingers.

The Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill/Act ( aka “The Hobbit Law”) was introduced, passed, and enacted by National  on 29 October 2010. It was passed in just 48 hours.

There is no reason on Earth why this government could not re-regulate the forestry industry and pass the Health and Safety Reform Bill within a week, if it chose to do so. National simply chooses not to do so, and the lack of prosecutions – despite rising number of deaths – indicates that this government has other interests in mind than workplace safety and the lives of New Zealand workers.

There is big money to be made from forestry. On 13 January 2013, Statistics NZ reported;

In 2012 we exported $4.5 billion of forestry products, compared with $1.9 billion in 1992. They continue to be our third-largest goods export, after dairy and meat.

More specifically germane to the issue of safety in the forestry industry, as Statistics NZ reported;

The value of log exports more than tripled between 1992 and 2012 – from $443 million to $1.6 billion. Since 2008, the value has grown sharply – increasing 22 percent a year on average.

“This rise was due mainly to the volume of log exports tripling. Prices have increased by a smaller 16 percent,” Mr Pike said.

The increased export of logs to China has been a major contributor to the greater value of our log exports. In 1992 we sold only $59 million worth of logs to China. This was up to slightly more than $1 billion by 2012, making China our top market for logs – surpassing both Korea and Japan.

“New Zealand is now the third-largest exporter of logs in the world, after Russia and the United States. In 2012 we supplied 8 percent of the total value of the world’s export logs,” Mr Pike said.

It could be argued that this government is desperate for economic growth of any kind, at any cost.   The growing  export of a raw commodity such as unprocessed, non-value-added, logs is better than no growth at all.

By refusing to regulate the industry – or at least insist on prosecuting malfeasant employers – shows a willingness by this government to tolerate some casualties along the way. Thirtyfive deaths is “collateral damage” in National’s obsessive determination to beat the recession; create economic growth; and balance the books by 2014/15.

There is much at stake if National fails.  The National Party’s (unearned)  reputation for  “sound economic management” would be seriously damaged if the economy failed to ‘fire’ at a time when the global economy  appears to be emerging from the recent global financial crisis recession.

Which is why, it seems, that Simon Bridges is luke-warm at re-regulating the forestry industry or even passing a piece of safety legislation that would probably prevent many more deaths.

So why is Worksafe NZ  not prosecuting employers whose staff are being killed in our forests?

As with the secret instructions issued to labour inspectors not to visit law-breaking Wanaka retailers over Easter – has someone from a Minister’s office quietly whispered into the ears of Worksafe NZ to adopt and maintain a “softly, softly” approach to forestry contractors?

On 22 April, General manager of health and safety operations at Worksafe NZ, Ona De Rooy, said,

“WorkSafe NZ is focused on trying to prevent harm occurring by working with the industry and workers to improve safety and reduce the rate of serious incidents,”

Which is fine. But Worksafe NZ is also tasked with prosecuting employers who break basic safety rules. Once prevention has failed, prosecution must follow – or else where is the sanction for those who willfully break the law?

Has the word been issued from On High, not to apply the law to employers in the timber industry?

The reason would be abundantly simple: prosecuting  would be bad for business.

Out.

It has been said that in matters of business (subsidies, tax-breaks, or special “deals” for Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, China Southern Airlines, SkyCity, charter schools, etc), National adopts a “flexible” and pragmatic approach.

The same, it seems, can be said of their approach to law and order issues. When it comes to enforcing the law, this government can be… flexible.


“I want to make one thing clear. I don’t make excuses for criminal behaviour because I believe every individual is responsible for their actions and must be held accountable for them.” - John Key, 27 May 2007

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References

John Key:  National – Tough on Crime

NZ Herald: National, Act to get tough on violent crime

NZ Herald: Editorial – Car crushing an undignified stunt

National Party: Law and Order – Building a safer New Zealand

Fairfax media: Another welfare shake-up likely, Bennett says

National Party: Making Welfare Work

Victoria University: Courts more lenient on white collar criminals

TV3: Banks accused of failing to declare donation

Fairfax media: PM refuses to sack John Banks

TV3: PM won’t read John Banks police report

NZ Herald: PM reaffirms support for John Banks

Radio NZ:  John Banks resigns as minister

NZ Herald: Crown Law to take over John Banks prosecution

MoBIE/Dept of Labour: Shop opening hours

NZ Herald: Wanaka Easter traders knew inspectors would be absent

Southland Times: Wanaka Easter traders escape prosecution

TV3: PM favours Easter trading law change

Newstalk ZB: Wanaka businesses escape Easter trading laws action

Radio NZ: PM favours Easter trading change

MSN News: Easter trading laws should go: Key

Worksafe NZ: Summary of fatalities 2007-2013

Worksafe NZ: Forestry statistics 2008-2013

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: Establishment of WorkSafe New Zealand

Radio NZ: High rate of deaths in the forestry industry (audio)

Radio NZ: Minister of Labour responds to criticism (audio)

Parliament: Health and Safety Reform Bill

Fairfax media: Controversial Hobbit law passes

Statistics NZ: Logs to China drive our forestry export growth

NZCity: CTU takes forestry companies to court

Previous related blogposts

Nats ‘Get Tough on Crime’ – NZ First alleges theft of favourite policy!

The law as a plaything

John Banks – escaping justice

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

Easter Trading – A “victimless crime”?

Why Garden Centres LOVE public holidays!

Purchasing “justice” on the New Zealand open market

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


 

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National dance to corporate interests

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 April 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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Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill…

19 February 2014 Leave a comment

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Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

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The good news: Tariana Turia’s Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed the first Reading in Parliament and is headed to a Select Committee where the public can make submissions.

Fantastic news!

This is another step in the elimination of this ghastly, toxic product from our society.

The not-so-good news: our spineless Prime Minister wants to put the Bill “on hold”, until a court case between the Australian government and tobacco giant,  Philip Morris, is settled in an Australian court. He said,

“I don’t really see the point in us finally passing the legislation until we see exactly what happens in the Australian court case. We have a slightly different system, but there might just be some learnings and if there are learnings out of that, it would be sensible to potentially incorporate those in either our legislation or avoid some significant costs.”

Aside from the question whether or not “Learnings” is a real word, one hopes that our corporate-cultured, money-trading, deal-broking, multi-millionaire Prime Minister is not getting ‘cold feet’ on this issue.

Too many people are dying for John Key to succumb to pressure from  big tobacco.

The bad news is that only one man voted against this Bill – John “Nothing-to-fear-nothing-to-hide” Banks”.  In explanation, he said,

“No one dislikes smoking more than me”. But he was against the state seizing property rights without compensation.

Banks added.

“It’s an interesting exercise in futility. If the government was serious it would double the price of tobacco over the next five years… all we’re doing is introducing a bill so we feel good.”

So saving peoples’ lives by doing everything possible to slowly eliminate this destructive product … is an “exercise in futility”?

Funny thing…

He was only too happy to front on the steps of Parliament on 30 July 2013, supporting the banning of testing synthetic “highs” on animals;

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http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing. I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”
…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.
… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.
…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues, don’t test them on animals at all!”

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What a strange, twisted mind that opposes a simple plain packaging on a product that kills 4,300 to 4,600 people per year – whilst demanding at the same time that animals are saved from the horrors of drug-testing.

When did the lives of people become less important than the lives of animals, or the “rights” of multi-national corporations to market   addictive, toxic  products?

It’s a shame John Banks doesn’t care for his fellow human beings as much as he does for bunnies, puppies, and Big Tobacco.

As for John Key – grow a spine, mate.

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References

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smoking

Previous related blogpost

Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014

16 February 2014 1 comment

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 14 February 2014  -

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- Chris Bramwell -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

Legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products passed its first reading in Parliament this week with almost unanimous support.

Listen to John Banks’ prioritising the right of Big Tobacco company’s “intellectual property rights” over the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014 ( 16′ 07″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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John on John…

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john banks to stand trial

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He has had a long and distinguished career in central and local government, and I believe him to be a thoroughly honest guy.” – John Key, 4 December 2013

Source: Banks `thoroughly honest guy’, Key says

An endorsement from John Key – who himself has been caught out on numerous occassions beings “loose” with the truth – is hardly something to put on your CV.

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Bring in the clowns…

This has to be seen to be believed. I was trying to figure out who was the bigger clown – Banks or Craig.

Then I realised a simple truth…

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Banks and Craig(click on image)

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They’re both clowns.

The Right must be very proud?!

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References

TV3: In-fighting kicks off among National’s partners

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Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

3 August 2013 5 comments

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Continued from: Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part tahi)

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30 July - rally - protest - animal testing - party pills - Peter Dunne - Parliament - synthetic cannabis - Psychoactive Substances Bill

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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NZ, Wellington, 30 July – Thousands of animal rights campaigners,  animal lovers, and other people who oppose testing party drugs and synthetic cannabis on animals protested against the Psychoactive Substances Bill on Tuesday 30 July.

TV3’s news crew filming the protesters;

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I don’t want to die for someone to get high” – a good point. And one that National ministers and Peter Dunne seem unwilling to address;

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Ok, this is right off the Cuteness Scale factor;

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(But animal testing on these party pills is still wrong, regardless of cuteness or not.)

The legalise-cannabis lobby were represented by this gentleman;

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legalise cannabis

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It has been said that real cannabis is actually safer (in adults) than the synthetic stuff. Plus it’s been  “consumer-tested” for hundreds (thousands) of years. So wouldn’t it make more sense to de-criminalise the natural stuff and ban the synthetic variety?

Or is that too much common sense for politicians to handle?

About half an hour later, the procession moved off,

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The procession, at the northern end of Wellington’s Cuba Mall – on the right;

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… and on the left, waiting to set off across Dixon Street;

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And the marchers – four-legged as well as two – were off;

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After a brisk march through Wellington’s CBD, the rally ended up in Parliament’s grounds beneath the stature of Richard Seddon;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Rally Organiser and HUHA founder, Carolyn Press-McKenzie, addressed the rally, surrounded by MPs and media crews;

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Epsom MP, John Banks, was the first MP to address the rally;

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http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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In a somewhat fervant speech, Banks said,

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing.  I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”

…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and  animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the  testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.

… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take  them, because there’s hundreds that want  to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.

…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues,  don’t test them on animals at all!”

He looked pleased at the crowd’s response, obviously enjoying the cheers to his speech. (He probably hasn’t received such cheers and applause since he sat down to  a nice cuppa tea with the Prime Minister, in November 2011.)

Green MP, Mojo Mathers, was next to address the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“I am angry! I am angry that animals are going  to have to suffer.  I am angry that animals are going to have to die, for the sake of  a legal high. I am angry because the government has not been listening! The government is ignoring public opinion! It ignoring your conscience.  Because the the general public has a conscience! The general public cares. The general public does not want to see animals suffering in  this way!
The government has ignored the hundreds of people who have put in a huge amount of time and energy to provide detailed information [and] submissions on the Bill, on the issue of animal testing. And what happened? The Select Committee said “no we won’t hear you”! That was wrong! The information these people have in their submissions is directly relevant to the issues of the Bill. Because what that information showed was that there are alternatives to animal testing. And that we care about our young people. We can’t use these alternatives [background noise]  for safety.
The Government ignored the 64,000 people who signed the petition in one month.And this government voted against my amendment that would have ruled out these awful tests. That is apalling and I am angry about that. I am angry that the government covered it’s ears and hands over it’s eyes and refused to look at the evidence of alternative tests and refused to rule out animal. testing of party pills.”

Mojo said,

And we have to keep up the pressure!”

And I intend to keep up the pressure in Parliament. The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is another opportunity to keep up the pressure and I will be asking for Party Pill testing on animals to be ruled out of this Bill.”

She added,

“What you have done here by coming out en masse today is that you’ve shown this government that you  are not going to forget this issue.”

Mojo’s speech received an enthisiatic  response from protesters and organisers alike;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway, also took an opportunity to speak to the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“I sat on the Health Committee when we considered to the Psychoactive Substances Bill. And I want to tell you about how the National Party completely refused to listen to any of the discussion around animal welfare.
When we received all the submissions; we received all those hundreds of submissions saying that people wanted to come to the Select Commitee and talk about animal welfare and wanted to make your voices heard and make the animal’s voices heard, in front of us, the people who are making the decisions about the Bill…
…The Select Committee had to eventually to  have a vote about whether or not we would hear those submissions. And the vote actually  went five/five. There’s five National Party members on the Select Committee. They voted against hearing your submissions.
The other five members are  from Labour, The Greens, and New Zealand First and we voted in favour of hearing your submissions.”

Ian Lees Galloway said that the motion to hear submissions was lost, in favour of the status quo. He said,

“That was a decision  by the National Party and I think it’s a real shame [cheering drowned out speaker] that the National Party is not interested in giving you your democratic right to be heard by Parliament. We have a wonderful transparent system in New Zealand where everybody has the right to be heard about whatever piece of legislation we are putting through Parliament. And you had your democratic right taken away from you by the National Party.
So I want you to know that the Labour Party voted in favour of Mojo’s amendement. We did not want to see animal testing… for party pills. And I agree with Mojo’s recommendation to you, which is that we have the Animal Welfare Bill coming up next. That is the opportunity to have your voice heard again. Make sure the National Party understands that you want to be heard about this and that you want to get in  front of the Select Committee that is considering the Animal Welfare Bill, because you have a democratic right to be heard and Labour will  support you all the way on that.”

Inexplicably, as  Carolyn Press-McKenzie pointed out,  no National Ministers, nor Peter Dunne, appeared to present their case to the rally. Perhaps their courage deserted them on this day.

Never mind, I’m sure that there will be many in Mr Dunne’s elecorate who, next year at election time, will be only too happy to attend public meetings and ask Mr Dunne a few pertinent questions.

Politicians can run and hide – but eventually they have to surface, to seek our votes again.

We can wait, Mr Dunne, Mr Key, et al.

Expect us.

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Near the conclusion of the rally, Ms Press-McKenzie handed new evidence for alternative testing to John Banks, and asked him to present it to the Prime Minister.

Banks accepted the documents and acknowledged that the submission would be passed on to John Key.

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Grumpy cat is not happy. Politicians would do well not to annoy Grumpy cat;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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One hopes that National listens to public concerns on this issue. Because it seems that their Focus Group polling is not delivering the message that, generally,  the public are disgusted with the notion of testing synthetic highs on animals, so that a small minority  can enjoy a moment of chemically-induced pleasure.

There is more than a hint of disquiet on this issue – for many it is quite obscene.

So never mind the morality of this issue – evidently morality doesn’t factor with National MPs.

Let’s talk votes then. How many votes can possibly be in this issue for the Nats?

Bugger all, I suspect.

It could be said that National “gone soft on drugs and animal welfare”.  How will that play out with animal lovers at the next election, I wonder?

Not very well, I think.

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"Emo", the bunny

“Emo”, the bunny

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2013.

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

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 or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part tahi)

3 August 2013 2 comments

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30 July - rally - protest - animal testing - party pills - Peter Dunne - Parliament - synthetic cannabis - Psychoactive Substances Bill

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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NZ, Wellington, 30 July – Thousands of animal rights campaigners,  animal lovers, and other people who oppose testing party drugs and synthetic cannabis on animals protested against the Psychoactive Substances Bill on Tuesday 30 July.

The weather was beautiful – warm, sunny, and an almost cloudless sky. Aside from a wintery nip in shadowed areas, it was like a fine spring or summer day. Proof, perhaps, that the deity of your choice is a keen animal lover.

In Wellington,around 500 people assembled at Cuba Mall’s landmark bucket fountain;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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They were armed with placards expressing their views, and with determined certainty that animal testing was morally, ethically, and humanly just plain wrong;

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When animals can’t speak for themselves, their human companions must – and do – speak for them;

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There was a consistent message through the placards and people’s comments; if you want to take party pills and synthetic cannabis, accept responsibility for their dangerous properties – but don’t test them on animals. Our pleasure is not to be had at the sake of innocent creatures;

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Indeed, their lives are in our hands – which in itself says a lot about ourselves that we have such power of life and death over other species;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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This placard asks a very good question;

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TV3’s film crew interviewing some of the protesters;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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As a side note, there was good coverage by both TV1 and TV3 News on the nationwide rallies. Indeed, the reporting was better and fairer than the anti-spy Bill rallies held on Saturday 27 July.

More of our furry companions at the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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These were ordinary New Zealanders expressing their opposition to animal testing – not “politically-motivated” activists. Something that National ministers should take into consideration when looking at this Bill;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“We want our voices heard” – but is National listening? Or has their arrogance made them deaf to the concerns of New Zealanders?

National should remember – these people vote;

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Can any National Minister answer this question;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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The next placard shames the government. Hopefully though, the protester meant “Don’t Vote [for National]“. Not voting at all is not resistance – it is surrender;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Engaged in street theatre. Note “Cosmic” in the background. “Cosmic”  is a known retailer of party pills/synthetic cannabis;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Just before mid-day today (31 July), I phoned Mark Carswell, owner of the “Cosmic”-chain, to ask his views on the animal-rights rallies held around the country.

When asked to comment, Mark’s responded;

“I’ve been way on holiday mate, so I’ve  just sat down on my desk again and I’m just getting…I’m just actually  finding out what’s going on, but at this  stage I’ve no comment.”

Let’s hope Mark finds out what is going on soon.

People like this lady will be very keen to know Mark’s position on this  problem;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013-15.jpg

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And the lives of animals like these will be at risk;

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SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) were visibly present at the rally;

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SAFE Executive Director, Hans Kriek,has said,

It is obvious to most of us that torturing animals to death for the sake of unnecessary recreational drugs is completely unethical.

Animals should not suffer just because drug manufacturers want to get rich by getting people high.

There are plenty of non-animal tests available that can determine the safety of party drugs, so leaving the door open to (possibly cheaper) animal testing methods is deplorable.

It is hard to believe that animal tests could provide reliable results anyway. Testing a psychoactive drug on a rat or dog for a few weeks or even months is hardly going to prove that it is safe for a human who may take the drug for many years.

How many people will suffer brain damage in the future in the mistaken belief that the drugs they use are safe because they have been tested on animals?

Source: Kapiti Independent – Hans Kriek Writes

The following image, showing Key holding a cute kitten, is a well-known image on the ‘net. This protester has created a whole new meaning to it;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Sometimes, political photo-ops can end up in  unforeseen situations. I’d say this one has bitten our Smile & Wave Prime Minister on his $50 million dollar backside.

Continued at: Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2013.

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

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 or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Beware of unstable government!

27 June 2013 3 comments

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John Key - Peter Dunne - John Banks

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In case anyone has missed it, Dear Leader and his Ministers have been consistantly spreading the message,  warning us about the potential perils of a Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) coalition government.

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Only National can provide a strong stable Government that keeps debt down and delivers on jobs. The alternative is big spending, big borrowing, and huge uncertainty.  Any way you look at it – a Labour-led Government would owe our future.” – Steven Joyce, 22 November 2011

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If anyone thinks Labour and the Greens are going to deliver stable government, they’d better think again.” – John Key, 19 July 2012

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The sharemarket value of Contact Energy, Trust Power and Infratil shares alone fell by more than NZ$300 million yesterday afternoon. That value was taken out of the pockets of hard-working KiwiSavers, the New Zealand Super Fund and small shareholders across New Zealand. If Labour and the Greens could do that in just a few hours, imagine what they would do if they ever got near being in government.” – Steven Joyce, 19 April 2013

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There is not going to be a difference between centre left and centre right; it’s going to be a Labour government dominated by the Greens.

This would be the issue of 2014 and voters needed to be aware of the differences.

All of those differences between Labour and the Greens will need to be reconciled by Election Day.

If there is to be no Transmission Gully if a Labour/Green’s Government gets in then we need to understand that; they won’t be able to fudge that.” – John Key, May, 2013

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Normally, elections are fought between the centre left and the centre right. That is not what’s going to take place next year. David Shearer has cut his cloth and it is wrapped around Russel Norman … that now becomes an election between the centre right and the far left.” – John Key, 28 May 2013

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Well, we’ve seen “unstability” since November 2011.

One of National’s coalition Ministers was investigated by the Police for electoral fraud, and is now before the courts facing a private prosecution, charged with filing a false electoral return.

Another coalition Minister has just resigned his portfolios after allegations that he leaked document(s) to a journalist.

And National’s other coalition partner, the  Maori Party, seems unsure how many co-leaders it has;

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Three co-leaders of the Maori Party

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I think from now on, Key and his ministerial cronies may lie low a bit and keep comments of “unstable government” to themselves.

Instability? We’re seeing it now, in spades.

This blogger is picking an early general election – this year.

After that, this country can settle down to a coalition government of stability. One that doesn’t include Key, Banks, Dunne, et al.

About bloody time.

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The Nationalmobile

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References

National.co.nz:  Labour plus Greens equals billions more debt (22 November 2011 )

Dominion Post:  Key’s game is ripping into Greens (19 July 2012)

Interest.co.nz:  National’s Steven Joyce dismisses Labour-Greens power policy as ‘bumper sticker politics at its most destructive’ (19 April 2013)

FW:  Key fires warning shot over ‘green-dominated’ labour (May, 2013)

ODT: And so it begins (28 May 2013)

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= fs =

John Banks; a sexist pig as well as soon-to-be-ex-MP

This requires no further commentary,

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Well, except this. Banks witters on about our kids needing a “world class education”.

It’s a shame he never learned simple lessons to do with common courtesy.

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= fs =

Brain fades and balls ups

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John Banks - John Key - David Shearer

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On 20 March, Key made this curious remark, regarding Shearer’s stuff-up over his undeclared New York bank account,

“You don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say (you’ve made) a mistake but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – IRD knew of Shearer account, but not Parliament

There are two points of interest regarding that remark,

1. “…but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Not true.

As Vernon Small wrote in the Dominion Post on 21 March,

He was right to front-foot it by doing the rounds of the press gallery to disclose his blunder and face the music. It would have played must worse if he had left it until the next register of pecuniary interests was published.

Acknowledgement:  Fairfax media – Shearer’s bank blunder threatens chances

Yet again this is another prime  example of Key willfully mis-representing facts to suit his own purpose. His ability to “bend the truth” is unparalled by any other Prime Minister, whether Labour or National.

Shearer actually fronted to journalists and made a candid admission of his stuff-up.

When is the last time Key or Banks did the same?

2. You don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say (you’ve made) a mistake…”

Why should Labour (or any other Party) cut any slack” for the National-led government?

Did National “cut any slack” for Labour when Helen Clark was Prime Minister? No, the Nats were relentless in their disparagement of Labour. In fact, they were often quite brutal,

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Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

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National launches its Food in Schools programme

Acknowledgement: Scoop – National launches its Food in Schools programme

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(Note: National never proceeded with it’s “Food in Schools” programme, and the policy was quietly dropped soon after they were elected into power in November 2008. see:  Govt guarded on free school meals)

And this little ‘beauty’ in abusing Labour, in this January 2008 speech by John Key,

” Under Helen Clark and Labour, our country has become a story of lost opportunities. 

Despite inheriting the tail wind of a strong global economy, Helen Clark has failed to use that momentum to make significant improvement in areas of real importance to New Zealanders.  She has squandered your economic inheritance by failing to build stronger foundations for the future. 

Tomorrow, Helen Clark will tell us what she thinks about the state of our nation.  In all likelihood, she’ll remind us how good she thinks we’ve got it, how grateful she thinks we should be to Labour, and why we need her for another three years. 

Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister.  Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like:

  • Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
  • Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
  • Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
  • Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
  • Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
  • Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
  • Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
  • Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
  • Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Those are the questions on which this election will be fought. 

Helen Clark thinks she can hoodwink Kiwi voters into giving her another three years to answer these questions.  Well, I say she’s had nine years, she’s had her chance and she’s wasted it. The truth is that as time has gone on, Labour has concentrated more and more on its own survival and less and less on the issues that matter to the people who put them there.”

Acknowledgement: National Party – 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

So when Key whinges about the Labour Party not cutting him “any slack”, Key might consider that he gave as well as he got when he was in Opposition.

That is the role of Opposition – to criticise, challenge, and question. The alternative would be a quick trip down the road to join the club of authoritarian regimes.

By the way… how is John Key’s list of criticisms that he levelled against the Labour Government on 29 January 2008,

  • Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
  • Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
  • Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
  • Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
  • Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
  • Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
  • Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
  • Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
  • Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Except for interest rates (which is not controlled by governments – which Dear Leader should have known), none of John Key’s  list above has improved in any measurable manner.

He’s probably forgotten it by now.

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Disclosure

This blogger is not a member of the Labour Party, nor has any preference in who leads that Party.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 March 2013.

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But will he remember this helicopter flight in one year’s time?

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John Banks, alighting from a RNZAF NH90 helicopter, to his way to Parekura Horomia’s tangi,

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john banks at funeral

Acknowledgment: TV3 – PM arrives on eve of funeral

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The unmitigated audacity of John Key and John Banks

19 March 2013 13 comments

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This is how a politician  owns up to a mistake,

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Shearer makes no excuse for forgetting bank account

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Then there are politicians who continually blames others or claim to “forget”, when it’s obvious they are lying.

John Key’s talent for blaming others for his own stuff-ups is fast becoming becoming legendary,

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http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/national-and-john-key-blames.png?w=595

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Key’s habitual finger-pointing currently extends to blaming Solid Energy’s debt crisis on it’s  Board; management; coal prices; global financial crisis, and uncle Tom Cobbly. He takes  no responsibility for his own Ministers demanding higher debt gearing levels  and dividend payouts which helped plunge Solid Energy into a financial hole,

He’s [John Key]  blaming the previous Labour Government, including former state owned enterprises minister Trevor Mallard who encouraged the company to expand in 2007, and citing a Cabinet paper supporting that stance.

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

Acknowledgement: TV3

It was put to the PM that Solid Energy seemed to have been working with a “pretty high-risk” strategy. He responded by saying that all of these things were operational matters — he added that “if National’s to blame, then so’s Labour”. He said that the management and the board are responsible for the balance-sheet.

Acknowledgement: Scoop.co.nz

Board at fault for Solid Energy debt, not Govt – Key

Mr Key denied the Government was responsible for the company’s woes, despite encouraging the board to take on debt in 2009 and expecting it to pay a dividend.

Acknowledgement: TV3

They made some investments in core assets and those didn’t work out either, and the coal price collapsed.

Acknowledgement: MSN News

So everyone was to blame for Solid Energy’s collapse – except National which has been in power for four years and bled the company dry with demands for high dividends.

Then there are times in politics that politicians make utterances that are breath-taking in unmitigated audacity,

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Shearer makes no excuse for forgetting bank account Banks comments

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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This is one such instance – John Banks,  whose memory was so “bad” that he forgot his close relationship with a rather large German multi-millionaire; a helicopter flight to one of the biggest mansions in New Zealand; and who forgot $50,000  cheques for  donations for his electoral campaign.

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John Banks says he never lied about internet billionaire Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation to his 2010 mayoral campaign but says he erred in not answering questions about the affair more openly.

But Mr Banks denied misleading the public about the donations and events around them, including a helicopter ride to Dotcom’s mansion which he has said he cannot remember.

“I didn’t lie. There’s no reason to believe that I lied. I simply couldn’t recall.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald

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For someone with “nothing to hide” ACT leader and former Auckland mayor John Banks is doing an awfully good job of creating the impression there are some things he would rather keep to himself.

He has refused to confirm he solicited a donation from internet billionaire Kim Dotcom for his 2010 mayoral campaign and refused to confirm he asked that the $50,000 donation be split into two $25,000 payments.

He has also said he does not remember who donated money to his mayoral campaign, does not remember discussing money with Dotcom and his staff and, till yesterday, could not remember flying to Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion in Dotcom’s helicopter.

Either Mr Banks is suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer’s or he thinks honest answers to the questions raised by the revelation that Dotcom was an undisclosed donor to his campaign will reflect poorly on him.

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Editorial: Bad memory or poor judgment?

John Key and John Banks are now attempting to compare David Shearer’s omission for declaring his New York-based bank account.

Key said,

“People make mistakes. I make mistakes and when I do, I try and tell people I’ve made them. It’s just that you don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say you’ve made a mistake, but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Key weighs in on Shearer’s $50,000 ‘oversight’

And John “I-can’t-recall” Banks added his own 2 cents worth,

“Shearer is on record as saying those who suffer from a memory lapse aren’t fit to hold office.  Shearer’s hypocrisy is staggering.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

Except for one thing – and here’s the rub:

David Shearer himself disclosed and admitted his own mistake,

“Frankly I was horrified that I’d overlooked it and I moved straight away to correct it. When I myself found that (bank account) error I made the move to correct it, I didn’t wait for anybody else to find it.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

It is one thing to stuff up; come clean; apologise; and not try to blame others.

It is entirely another matter when one continually blames others for his mistakes or has such problems recalling events that they become a laughing stock.

Perhaps Mr Key and Mr Banks should take a lesson from David Shearer’s book;  own your mistakes; don’t blame others; and don’t make facile excuses.

It’s not politicians who make mistakes, that the public loathes. It’s when they try to avoid responsibility for their errors.

Especially when Key and Banks demand responsibility from the rest of us,

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Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

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= fs =

Penny Bright Goes To Parliament

2 February 2013 14 comments

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Goldfish Banks

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Wellington, NZ, 31 January 2012 – Activist and Mayoral candidate, Penny Bright went to Parliament, to attend to unfinished business.

MP for Epsom, John Banks may have escaped prosecution for not properly declaring campaign donations in the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign (see previous related blogpost: John Banks – escaping justice (Part Toru), et al), by a legal technicality –  but self-declared anti-corruption campaigner, Penny Bright has other ideas.

Ms Bright is one of several people engaged in citizens’ actions to bring John Banks to justice. Another person, Graham McCready, a retired accountant, has launched a private prosecution against Banks (see:  Judge calls Banks to court over donations).

On 31 January, Ms Bright arrived on the grounds of Parliament.  She was scheduled to appear before Parliament’s  Justice and Electoral Committee at 11.15am. (See copy of submission here:  Justice and Electoral Committee Local Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) – Submission by Penny Bright)

Ms Bright had spare time and wanted to make her cause more widely known to the public. She set about preparing to raise banners, in front of the statue of the former, late, Premier Richard John Seddon.

Her activities came to the almost immediate attention of a Parliamentary security guard,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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There was discussion between the guard and Ms Bright,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Ms Bright  explained her intentions to  the Guard. Ms Bright then related her conversation with the Guard to this blogger that if she went ahead with her “mini-protest”, she could (would?)  be trespassed from Parliament’s grounds for 24 hours – thereby threatening her scheduled appearance before the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

I found this to be utterly extraordinary. Ms Bright had done nothing illegal. It was inconceivable that a single woman by herself could pose a “clear and present”  danger to the Western hegemonic military-industrial complex.

I attempted to elicit an answer from the Guard on this issue, but he became reluctant to state the position clearly, on record, regarding Ms Bright’s rights to hold a peaceful protest on Parliament’s grounds.  The Guard moved away and Ms Bright packed up her gear,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Ms Bright quietly said to me,

We can come back later.

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At the Select Committee hearing, the Committee chairperson, Tim Macindoe, welcomed Ms Bright and reminded her of New Zealand’s defamation laws.

Supported by local body Wellington  activist Maria Van Der Meel, from  Wellington loves Manners Mall , Ms Bright stated her case,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Ms Bright advised the Select Committee that under current rules, copies of  financial electorate returns (donations, expenditure, etc) were not available to the public except by viewing the documents at the local  Electoral office where they are stored (in this case, Auckland). The rules dictate that citizens may take notes from the returns – but are not allowed to photocopy, photographe, scan, or take any other form of facsimile copy.

Some members of Parliament sitting around the table seemed unaware of this fact. [Blogger's Note: When I tried to obtain a copy of  John Banks' 2010 mayoral-campaign electoral returns, my request was turned down. I would have to travel to Auckland; physically visit the Office during opening hours; and view the hard-copy. I could take notes, but otherwise not record them electronically. This seems an untenable situation in a suppodsedly otherwise open democracy. - Frank]  Committee member Jackie Blue questioned if returns could not be requested under the Official Information Act.

Ms Bright explained that Graham McCready has taken a private prosecution out against John Banks and that his case requires Banks’  electoral returns as evidence for his case. The Police were able to able to obtain a copy for their investigation into John Banks’ returns – and questioned why this was denied to members of the public?

Ms Bright stated that the finding of the Police that John Banks could effectively delegate the compiling of his candidate’s election expenses and donations, and sign this ‘declaration’ without first personally double-checking this information for accuracy – defied belief.

Ms Bright produced a copy of her signed declaration as a fellow 2010 Auckland Council Mayoral candidate, and asked if any members of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, (who would have had to sign similar candidate’s declaration), had delegated the responsibility for the accuracy of this information to someone else?

Ms Bright stated that, in her considered opinion, all electoral returns should be scanned and made publicly available online.

On a related issue, Ms Bright was critical of the fact that some candidates [Blogger's note: this has been amended and names removed] claimed to be independents – yet were members of political parties. She questioned how candidates could be deemed “independent” whilst openly members of political parties.

To which  Tim Macindoe responded that whilst he might stand as a candidate in a local body election, he would not necessarily be representing the National Party, and nor would he  require or request an endosement.

Ms Bright responded that not everyone in the community might be aware of a candidate’s Party affiliations and using the “independent” label could be mis-leading. She said her personal philosophy was “presume nothing”.

Ms Bright raised the issue that New Zealand is internationally well-regarded and  first-equal with Denmark and Finland for a lack of corruption in New Zealand (see:  Corruption Perceptions Index 2012). She said that recent events in this country suggested that we no longer merited our standing in the international community for top ranking in lack of corruption.

However, Ms Bright pointed out a number of areas where New Zealand lacked a domestic legislative framework for genuine transparency,

  • lobbying – there currently being no ‘Register of Lobbyists’, or ‘Code of Conduct for Lobbyists’,
  • and  ‘State Capture’ – where vested interests gained influence at  ‘policy’ level,  prior to  legislation being passed.

On the issue of  civil servants and political figures leaving the public service and entering the private sector (eg;  consultancy-work)  – Ms Bright denounced the practice of the  “revolving door”, and  recommended a “quarantine period”.

A policy of  ‘post-separation employment’ could deny  sensitive information from being used for personal gain.

It was also pointed out that, at Local Government level,  there was no mandatory requirement for a ‘Register of Interests’ for elected representatives (unlike central government MPs).

Ms Bright also criticised  some local bodies for not  revealing  details of consultants and contactors they used. Ms Bright said this constituted a lack of transparency and said she had a right to know who was being paid from the public purse, ie;   the names of consultants and private contractors; scope; terms, and value of these contracts (see:  Call for end to council secrecy, Super-city plan for mortgagee sales).

The committee had been discussing, with previous submitters,  the nature of donations to candidates standing for local bodies. The committee asked Ms Bright where she stood on the issue.

Ms Bright took a minute or so to consider the question.

She replied,

I don’t believe in anonymous donations. Anonymous means we don’t know what’s going on and if anyone is in someone’s pocket.”

Committee member, NZ First MP, Denis O’Rourke, asked,

Do you believe all donations should be recorded?”

Ms Bright replied that $10 or $20 donations need not have their donors publicly recorded, but that a threshold should be established,

Maybe set at $500?”

She pointed out that both John Banks and Len Brown had recorded some donations as “anonymous”.

Committee member, Katrina Shanks asked whether this would affect people donating to causes and shouldn’t they be allowed to do so as of right?

Ms Bright replied that this issue could be difficult.  It might be seen that there  was a difference between privacy and private donations to a cause and transparency for funding candidates in public elections.

After fifteen minutes, the Chair thanked Ms Bright for her submission and presentation to the Committee. Ms Bright thanked the committee, and she and Ms Van Der Meel left the Committee Room.

The two women returned to Parliament’s forecourt and proceed to unfurl  the banners that  Ms Bright had wanted to use  earlier in the day.

A passing member of the public (woman in white dress) voiced her support for their cause and consented to being photographed with the pair,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking  blogfmacskasy.wordpress.comPenny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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And then to the Supreme Court in Lambton Quay, where Ms Bright “flew the flag” against the theft/sale of the people’s assets,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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The banners caught the attention of the tail-end of the  “Super Sevens” parade that was moving through Lambton Quay at the same time. One of the security guards took Ms Bright’s banners in good humour,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Penny Bright - 31 March 2013 - Parliament - Select Committee - John Banks - Donations scandal

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Whether or not one agrees with Ms Bright’s beliefs and philosophy –  no one can deny her dedication to causes she feels strongly about. By anyone’s definition, two protest actions and an appearance at a Select Committee is undeniably dedication.

[Amended: 3 February 2013]

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References

Penny Bright’s Submission

Parliament: Justice and Electoral Select Committee members

Additional contributed material

Penny Bright

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

* Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
* Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
* At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
*  Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Nick Smith

22 January 2013 10 comments

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Parties say Smith doesn't deserve to be minister

Source

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Whether or not Nick Smith “returns” to a Ministerial post is, in my mind, a distraction.

1. With ministers like corrupt liar, John Banks, in cabinet, Nick Smith could be viewed as a “breath of fresh air”.

2. This entire government is rotten to the core and is driving this country backward with short-term, ineffectual, rightwing policies. “Boot camps”, anyone?

3. After four years, are we any better off?

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Previous related blogpost

Regret at dumping compulsory super – only 37 years too late

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

National ditches environmental policies

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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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From the Pot-Kettle-Black files: John Banks (1997)

12 November 2012 3 comments

Retrieved from my files, this little item from the Otago Daily Times in March 1997,

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I wonder what Bolger might have to say to Mr Banks now? Perhaps they could arrange a chat over a cuppa tea in a cafe in Epsom…

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John “I can’t recall” Banks, on MMP…

5 November 2012 10 comments

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The Electoral Commission’s final report on reviewing the MMP electoral system was tabled today in Parliament.

The four main changes to the system are,

  • Lowering the party threshold from 5% to 4%
  • Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold, which allows other MPs to enter Parliament on the “coat-tails” of a candidate who have won an Electorate Seat
  • Abolishing the provision for overhang seats
  • That Parliament consider fixing the percentage ratio of electorate to seats at 60:40

This blogger supported the first two options (neutral on the last two). Not because ACT could have gained extra MPs if Banks had won just a few thousand more Party List votes – but because the electorate seat threshold was being openly rorted by John Key and John Banks.

It is that rule which benefits small Parties – which while not crossing  the 5% (or 4%) threshold – can still gain extra MPs in Parliament. Because  an Electorate win gives that Party a “dispensation” from the 5%/4% Threshold.

The entire country witnessed the farce of the infamous  “cuppa tea” meeting, last year,  between Banks and Key at the Urban Cafe, in Epsom,

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It was an unedifying spectacle and public disquiet over the workings of MMP  threatened the very existence of proportional representation in New Zealand.

However, National-cum-ACT MP, John Banks, appears to have taken exception to the Electoral Commission’s  second option;  abolishing the one electorate seat threshold. Indeed, he was a very, very unhappy chappy.

Banks was reported today saying,

Voting systems benefit from infrequent change. Voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with.”

See: MMP review recommends lower party threshold

That’s interesting.

Banks is worried that making changes to an electoral system, despite over-whelming support through public submissions, somehow threatens public  “confidence in the electoral system “?!

That is a very noble sentiment.

In which case, one wonders how ACT could support the repeal of  “31 redundant acts of parliament and 206 unnecessary regulations“?!

See: ACT Policies – Economy

One would think that changing the law 31 times and removing 206 pieces of regulation might threaten public  “confidence in the Parliamentary law-making system “?!

Or, implement the following radical policies, from ACT’s on-line manifesto,

• Push the next government to reduce wasteful spending.  In 2005, Labour was spending 29 per cent of the national income.  Today, the same figure is 35 per cent.  ACT would push the next government to return spending to the level it was at in 2005 by repealing the “election bribe” spending of the past two elections with a view toward getting the top personal tax rate down to 25% and the company tax rate to 12.5%;

• Push the next government to lock in lower taxes by passing ACT’s Spending Cap Bill into law.  The Bill would require government spending to increase only by the level of inflation and population growth.  By reducing government spending and taxes, it would increase the rewards for wealth creation;
• Push the next government to pass ACT’s Regulatory Standards Bill.  The Bill would test all new regulations for unnecessary red tape, making it easier to do business;
• Sell state assets such as power generation companies; the overwhelming evidence is that such valuable assets produce more wealth when managed privately;
• Allow more mining when the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs.

See: Ibid

It’s paradoxical that ACT supports a complete radical make-over of our social, legal, and economic systems – and thinks nothing of it.

But when the  Electoral Commission wants to implement a few changes to MMP,  old Banksie is suddenly worried that “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with“??’

But even stranger is this report, from AUT University’s publication, “Te Waha Nui”, last year,

But Banks himself would rather the MMP meal ticket be scrapped completely.

I favour the STV system (Single Transferable Vote),” Banks says.

He declined to explain what elements of the MMP system he disliked, or why he felt STV was a more attractive option. “

See: John Banks backs STV over MMP

So John Banks thinks making four amendments to MMP will damage voter “confidence in the electoral system” . But changing from MMP to STV – two radically different electoral systems – is perfectly ok?

Cutting to the chase.

This has nothing to do with damaging voter “confidence in the electoral system“.

We all know this.

John Banks’ only concerns in this matter is John Banks. Or more to the point, getting John Banks back into Parliament in 2012, preferably with a couple of extra ACT cronies.

Banks knows that the “coat tailing” effect of the Electoral Threshold  is the reason for Epsom voters to support him. Vote for Banks and as long as ACT’s Party Vote is over 1.2%, you get two ACT MPs for the price of one.

But take away the Electorate threshold and the “coat tail” effect, and voting for Banks gets you – one ACT MP; John Banks. Unless ACT reaches the new 4% Party threashold (about as likely as me spontaneously combusting), ACT get’s no extra MPs.

In which case there is no point in any more cosy “arrangements”  between ACT and National, and Epsom voters will simply drop back to their default-setting to voting for their own National Party candidate.

Banks would have to win Epsom on his own ‘merits’. *cough, cough*

Fat chance.

Epsomites have had a gutsful of this mendacious, memory-challenged, clown, and want to see the back of him as much as the rest of the country.

We all know that Banks is utterly self-serving when it comes to politics.

Does he have to keep proving it to us with bare-faced lies about “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with “?”

We know he’s lying.

Stop reminding us.

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Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on MMP (13 December 2011)

John Banks: condition deteriorating (14 August 2012)

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Charter Schools – John Key’s re-assurances

2 November 2012 19 comments

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1. The Prime Minister’s ‘committments’

Three months ago, Dear Leader gave assurances that National would dump Charter Schools if they failed to “work”.  He said,

If they don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly – if they do work then it will be great for the children involved.” – source

Key then added,

If you look at the US where they are the most prevalent – there are about 5,500. Not all of them are successful but many of them are.” – Ibid

Those two statements are unfortunate for two reasons;

2. The Prime Minister’s ‘credibility’

Without beating about the bush and indulging in ‘niceties‘, John Key’s credibility is shot to hell.

As detailed in  previous blogposts and elsewhere on other blogs and in the MSM, John Key has not always told the truth, nor fulfilled his committments.

Past pledges and promises have been broken. Promises such as,

There are also instances where statements made by Key which have stretched our credulity,

More here.

And often indulges in flatout bullshit such as this little gem  on the public ownership of natural resources,

… So if you accept that viewpoint, then I think you have to accept that elements like water and wind and the sun and air and fire and all these things, and the sea, along with natural resources like oil and gas, are there for the national interest of everyone. They’re there for the benefit of all New Zealanders, not one particular group over another. “

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

Politicians have a poor reputation when it comes to telling the truth. In the case of our current Prime Minister, in this blogger’s opinion, he has made bending the truth; with-holding information; and outright lying into a whole new artform.

No wonder there is a joke floating around cyberspace, on Facebook, blogs, and elsewhere,

Q: How can to tell John Key is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

Which probably explains why politicians are viewed with such disdain; League Tables that really count!

3. The Prime Minister’s ‘truthfulness’

Key said,

If you look at the US where they are the most prevalent – there are about 5,500. Not all of them are successful but many of them are.”

As usual, Dear Leader’s comments can never be taken at face value.

The truth is that a Stanford University CREDO analysis of Charter Schools in the US revealed the disturbing fact that only 17% of American charter schools did better than non-charter schools.

See: Stanford University: Charter School Performance in 16 States (USA)

The rest achieved same, or worse results,

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Source: Wikipedia Charter Schools (based on CREDO study)

So who will trust John Key on this issue?

Who will trust Key’s committment when he says “if they [Charter Schools ] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly” – when he doesn’t even give us accurate information about the efficacy of Charter Schools?

Telling us that “not all of them are successful but many of them are” – is disingenuous. It is a deliberate ploy to mislead the public.

And proves yet again – if evidence was needed – that this man is the most untruthful Prime Minister we have had since —?

4. Furthermore…

John Key assures us, hand-on-heart, that “if they [Charter Schools ] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly“…

Which is all very nice (if he can be taken at his word, which is doubtful), but how will he know if Charter Schools “don’t work “?

Actually, we won’t know.

National intends to remove Charter Schools from all public scrutiny and will be exempt from Official Information Act requests. All information regarding Charter Schools will be kept secret by National,

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Full story

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To put it mildly, this is an extraordinary state of affairs. A radical new experiment in education will not be open to public scrutiny. According to John Banks, the architect of this crazy programme,

DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING A NEW ZEALAND MODEL OF CHARTER SCHOOL

[...]

Ombudsmen Act and Official Information Act (OIA)

These acts would not apply to Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua because they are not Crown Entities. This is the same case for private schools.

This will help to ensure Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are not susceptible to costly and vexatious requests. The contract will specify the information that must be provided to government, and this will be subject to the OIA.”

Source:  Office of the Associate Minister of Education (Hon John Banks) – Developing and Implementing a New Zealand Mode of Charter School

It’s interesting that a politician with the lowest reputation for honesty and openess in this country’s history – John Banks – has decided that Charter Schools will be exempt from OIA requests and Ombudsman oversight.

Banks’ attempted to justify this paranoid secrecy by suggesting that Charter Schools would be “susceptible to costly and vexatious requests“.

Laughable…

Extraordinary…

Worrying…

And scandalous.

5. Summing up…

So what do we have here?

  1. The  Prime Minister promises that  “if they [charter schools] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly “.
  2. Key assured the public that ” not all of them are successful but many of them are ” – ignoring the truth that only 17% of Charter schools in the US have been deemed “better” by a Stanford University CREDO study.
  3. There will be no public oversight of Charter schools.
  4. The Minister in charge of Charter Schools, John Banks, justified the removal of public oversight and secrecy on the flimsiest of excuses.
  5. The public will have to rely on the National Party for accurate and impartial reporting of Charter Schools progress. (Imagine Key’s reaction had Labour proposed such a thing! Imagine the cries of “nanny state” and “Helengrad”?!))
  6. Neither John Banks nor John Key are held in high regard in many parts of New Zealand society. Key is known for breaking promises; abandoning committments; and mis-representing the truth. John Banks was engaged in dishonest activities surrounding his mayoral campaign donations; lied about his activities; claimed “forgetfulness”; and was investigated by the police. He was not prosecuted – but only because his actions went beyond a statute of limitations. (Banks still refuses to publicly release a record of his police interview, despite his assertion of “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”.)

This blogger finds nothing reassuring in the utterances of John Key and John Banks.

An incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government has no option but to close down this dodgy programme, or at the very least, incorporate these schools into the state system.

Otherwise, Charter schools are a ‘time-bomb’ waiting to go off.

Does Shearer really, really want such a  legacy from John Banks?

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Previous related blogposts

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Rua)

Sources

TV3: Key defends charter schools trial

Otago Daily Times: PM vows charter schools out the door if they fail

NZ Herald: Charter schools escape scrutiny

Radio NZ: Charter school group wants to register unqualified teachers

Additional

Many oppose proposed charter school

Charter schools: They’re not better for our kids

Other Blogs

Seemorerocks:  One video exposes Key, GCSB’s & Banks’ Dotcom lies

Not PC: John Key lies [updated]

Infonews:  National’s growing list of broken promises

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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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Spy VS Politician

29 September 2012 23 comments

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You have reached the office of Planet Key. All our agents are busy undermining your rights and selling your assets. Goodbye.” – Kim Dotcom on Twitter, 24 September 2012

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1. Firstly, some relevant background;

A. Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ)

What is OFCANZ? 
OFCANZ is the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand. It was established on 1 July 2008 to combat serious organised crime. 
 
Is OFCANZ part of New Zealand Police? 
OFCANZ is a discrete agency that is hosted within New Zealand Police. It takes a whole-of-government approach, working with information and resources from a range of agencies.
 
Is the Serious Fraud Office part of OFCANZ? 
No. The Serious Fraud Office investigates serious and complex fraud, especially commercial fraud.  OFCANZ will concentrate on fraud that relates to organised crime. The two agencies will continue to collaborate where appropriate as sometimes these two types of financial crime can overlap.
 
Who will do OFCANZ work? 
Staff for operational activities will be drawn from OFCANZ, Police and other agencies through secondments and taskforces. 
 
How will OFCANZ work be prioritised and assigned? 
OFCANZ activity is ultimately the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police; the Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)
Once the Commissioner tasks OFCANZ to work on the focus areas, the intelligence process will identify targets within those focus areas. Taskforces will operate against the targets, and use a variety of methods to investigate and disrupt the targets’ activities.

Source: OFCANZ

B. Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)

When the GCSB was established in 1977, oversight in the sense of both operational supervision and policy guidance, in addition to a general overview of the Bureau’s management was provided by a Committee of Controlling Officials (CCO) chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department. In December 1983 the existence of this Committee was published in the Directory of Official Information. In 1989 the CCO was disestablished and the responsibility for oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau was assumed by the new Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC).

Source: GCSB – Oversight

Points A and B explain the connection between the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ).

OFCANZ was  in charge of the Dotcom case and subsequent raid on the Coatsville Mansion.

‘Oversight and policy guidance‘ of the GCSB is the responsibility of ODESC,

“The Police Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC).”

ODESC is chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

C. Key’s letter To Judge Paul Neazor

Prime Minister

17 September 2012

Hon Paul Neazor CNZM, QC
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Dear Inspector-General,

KIM DOTCOM AND ORS V ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS ISSUE

As I have been briefed today by the Director of GCSB, and as I understand you have now been made aware, the GCSB has discovered that it acted unlawfully in intercepting the communications of certain individuals connected with the above case, apparently acting in the erroneous belief that they were foreign persons when in fact they held New Zealand residency status.

I would be grateful if you would undertake without delay an inquiry into the circumstances of this matter and provide me with a report which identifies:

The facts of the case;

An assessment ofthe circumstances including any errors by the Bureau and its officers; and

Any measures which you consider necessary in order to prevent a recurrence.

I look forward to receiving your report as soon as possible.

Yoursrs sincerely
Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister

D. To which Judge Neazor replied with this report,  ten days later,

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
THE HON D.P. NEAZOR CNZM

27 September 2012

The Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Building
WELLINGTON

Dear Prime Minister

KIM DOTCOM AND OTHERS v ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS

This report relates to your request on 17 September that I should enquire into action by the GCSB affecting Kim Dotcom and others including making an assessment of errors. The Bureau has reported to you that there appears to have been a breach of statutory restrictions applicable to the collection work of the GCSB.

Background:

Kim Dotcom is in dispute with United States authorities about the accumulation of sums of money, the gathering of which may have given rise to allegations of criminal activity in the United States which the authorities there wish to pursue. That pursuit may well involve an attempt by Court proceedings to extradite Kim Dotcom and others to the United States, involving questions of discovery of documents and arrest of persons, Kim Dotcom and others.

New Zealand Police involvement in the event:

A specialist group of New Zealand Police Officers has been involved in assisting the United States authorities and investigating a couple of related New Zealand matters. As part of the New Zealand Police assistance, communications passed between the Police group and GCSB. Those communications were related to a proposal to arrest Kim Dotcom and associated persons. lt was believed by Police Officers that these persons could present potential danger to officers and others involved if the attempted arrest was made. With that belief it was important for the Police to know what action Dotcom and associated people might plan to take and where; i.e. they sought intelligence about possible events. The documents show that information was collected about Dotcom and his associates by the Bureau (largely about their movements or possible movements at relevant times) and passed on to the Police. In my view, considered on its own, the passing on as such could have been lawful but the collection in the circumstances was not. The documents I have seen which record the events do not disclose any interest or inquiry by GCSB about the facts or events of Dotcom’s disputed activity; just where he might be and who might be with him.

Involvement of the GCSB Mechanism:

Like other countries, New Zealand has Government agencies whose task is, covertly if necessary, to collect and report on information which is relevant to security. information is obtained by various appropriate techniques which it is unnecessary to set out. The relevant New Zealand agencies are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. Only the latter is involved in this event. The mandate of each agency is set out in an Act of Parliament which is designed to control the range of the agency’s enquiry and how it works, Each agency’s work is not at large; it is limited by its controlling Act.

GCSB Gathering and Retaining Information and Dealing with Crime: For present purposes GCSB has the specific functions of gathering foreign intelligence, in accordance with the foreign intelligence requirements of the Government of New Zealand:

(i) by intercepting communications under the authority of the GCSB Act 2003;

(ii) by collecting information in any other lawful manner.

Another of the Bureau’s functions is to provide advice and assistance to any public authority in New Zealand on any matter that is relevant to the functions of the public authority or other entity and to a purpose specified in the Act e.g. to pursue the GCSB’s objective of the provision of foreign intelligence that the Government in New Zealand requires, to protect the safety of any person, and in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime. The Bureau has other specified functions, but these are what is presently relevant.

The Bureau is specifically empowered to retain any intercepted communication if its content relates to the Bureaus’ objective or functions.

lt may for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime in New Zealand or in any other country, retain information that comes into its possession and may communicate that information to members of the New Zealand Police. Hence my view that passing information to the Police could be lawful.

Foreign Element:

This is the significant factor in the present case.

The Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only. That theme runs through the whole Act. All of the provisions authorising collection of intelligence and communications are related to what is “foreign” – “foreign inte//igence” (s.7 (i) (a) and (b)), (s.8 (i) (a)) “foreign communications” (s.8) and prohibition against targeting domestic communications (ss. 13, 14, 16 and 19).

A descriptive process is used in the GCSB Act. Examples are-

“foreign communications means communications that contain, or may reasonably be expected to contain, foreign intelligence”.

“foreign intelligence means information about the capabilities, intentions, or activities of a foreign organisation or a foreign person “.

”foreign person means an individual who is neither a New Zealand Citizen nor a permanent resident…”.

“permanent resident means a person who is, or who is deemed to be, the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act 2009. “

The first inquiry as to whether a person is to be regarded as “foreign” under this Act is related to citizenship or permanent residence. lf the person concerned does not have one of those statuses, he or she is foreign for the purpose of the GCSB Act and his or her communications are not protected. If the person is a citizen of New Zealand or a permanent resident his or her communications are protected. People in the permanent residence category were originally described in the GCSB Act as the holder of a residence permit but are now described by a concept called a “residence class visa”.

The Immigration material I have seen in respect of Dotcom shows that he was granted a residence visa offshore under the Immigration Act 1987, Investor Plus category, in November 2010. At that point in time he did not meet the deinition of ‘permanent residence’ under the GCSB Act as it then was.

However, before he arrived in New Zealand the new Immigration Act 2009 came into force on 29 November 2010 and deemed him to hold a residence class visa from that point in time. He met the definition of ‘permanent resident’ for the purposes of the GCSB Act accordingly.

Although Dotcom’s status is subject to monetary and residential conditions for a period of three years short of actually being deported l\/lr Dotcom retains his immigration residence status and remains a permanent resident for the purposes of the GCSB Act.

It was on my understanding not recognised that Dotcom as the holder of a resident visa under a particular category provided for by the Immigration Act was therefore a ‘permanent resident’ (and thus a protected person) under the GCSB Act.

Potential for confusion:

Dotcom is not on my understanding a New Zealand citizen – he is Finnish or German. He is however one of a category of people who is treated in New Zealand as if he ought to have protection against collection of his information. This result has come about by reference to and application of the Immigration Act. That he (and others) has protection of their communications under the GCSB Act is simply an effect of what has happened under the Immigration Act, so long as the relevant words apply to him.

As this matter went along what was discovered in the case of Dotcom and associated people was that resident status had been obtained on their behalf under the Immigration Act 1987 and carried forward under the later 2009 Act. It was understood incorrectly by the GCSB that a further step in the immigration process would have to be taken before Dotcom and associates had protection against interception of communications.

Leaving aside possible confusion arising from the effect of the permit to be in New Zealand Dotcom and party had, the application made by the Police to GCSB was a proper one: the request was made on the basis that the information sought was foreign intelligence contributing to the function of the New Zealand Police and supporting the prevention or detection of crime. The GCSB acting on it was proper.

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.

Complete avoidance of a recurrence will only come about if the system is such that those requesting assistance from the Bureau about non citizens check with Immigration the immigration status of people who may become targets to be sure of what their immigration status in fact is (not may be) in terms of the GCSB Act definitions and tell the Bureau what they have ascertained. It is important to realise that what the GCSB may do is governed finally by the GCSB Act, not the Immigration Act. Because the law allows the covert collection of information about only some people in New Zealand, the events demonstrate that it is important to be sure at all times of the proposed target’s legal status in the country.

Summary:

- In my view the only issue of illegality arises in this matter from confusion in this instance between the case of a person transferring funds and the general category of residents .

- The GCSB is controlled by its governing Act in what it may do. That Act makes it clear that the Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only, but that includes the function of assisting the Police by gathering foreign intelligence for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime.

- A foreign person for the purpose of the GCSB Act is someone who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor (now) the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act.

- People who hold a residence class visa under the Immigration Act have protection against the collection of information under the GCSB Act even if they are not classified as a citizen.

- In this case it was recognised that Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was classed as the holder of a residence class visa in a particular category but it was not apparent to the Police or GCSB that he thereby fell into a protected category. Because he should have been regarded as in such a category, collection was not allowed under the GCSB Act and in that way illegal.

- Collection had in fact stopped before it was recognised that he did fall within a protected category..

- The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.

Recommendation to prevent recurrence:

16. Since occasions for the Police to seek assistance from GCSB in matters of safety or security will assuredly arise again under the GCSB Act as it stands, what is needed is assurance available to GCSB that the subject of the information sought is not protected by the terms of the GCSB Act, i.e.

that the person concerned is not a New Zealand citizen, that he or she is not a permanent resident and is not the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act. There will need to be alertness that:

(i) the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling;

(ii) since the relevant wording of either Act may change it would be useful for the applicant for assistance to advise what factors as to status they rely on, and what words in the GCSB Act they rely on for their application.

Yours sincerely
D P Nealzor
Inspector-General

(Source: Scoop.co.nz)

2. Three Subsequent Questions;

A. Evidence given under oath by Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, head of the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand

It has been established that,

Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison told the High Court at Auckland yesterday that Mr Wormald had said in evidence on August 9 there was no surveillance of Dotcom undertaken by anyone other than New Zealand police to his knowledge.

However, the GCSB were engaged by police to monitor Dotcom for at least a month before his arrest in January and attended a meeting with police and Crown Law before the raids. “

See: Dotcom’s lawyers question police statements

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Source

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During the exchange between QC Paul Davison and Detective Inspector  Wormald, in the video clip above, the latter stated,

DAVISON: was there any other surveillance being undertaken here in New Zealand, to your knowledge?

WORMALD: No there wasn’t.”

Detective Inspector  Wormald,  head of  the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ),  and planner and over-seer of the Coatsville mansion raid,   would have been privy to all matters relating to the Dotcom Case, and would most certainly have known the source of  ‘intelligence’ – the GCSB.

See: Raid planner continues Dotcom evidence

GCSB agents even attended a December meeting about the raid.

(See:  Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government)

It is inconceivable that Detective Inspector  Wormald had no idea where information was coming from. (Because quite simply, if he didn’t know – wouldn’t he have asked, to ensure the information was valid?)

As outlined above, Detective Inspector  Wormald is head of OFCANZ, which is linked to ODESC, which has  oversight and policy guidance of the GCSB.

Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison said,

There are very grave and significant implications arising from this recent discovery. We had evidence from an officer on oath and we have some other material which makes it look to be inconsistent with that.”

No wonder Mr Davison was concerned.

Which means that Detective Inspector  Wormald perjured  himself whilst in the Witness Stand.

Which raises the first question: How much of the Dotcom case is similarly ‘tainted’, and have police officers perjured or hidden any other evidence?

B. Oversight of GCSB

The Prime Minister has stated that he was overseas at the time  GCSB requested a Ministerial Certificate from Bill English to block  information about the Bureau’s involvement in the Dotcom case (to cover up their actions from Court and media scrutiny).

The certificate was signed by Deputy PM Bill English,  acting Prime Minister, whilst John Key was overseas. The certificate was requested by the GCSB after Mr Dotcom’s lawyer requested from Crown Law all information relating to the case that was intercepted by the GCSB and provided to police.

However, the GCSB monitoring of  Dotcom took place from 16 December 2011 to 20 Jan 2012.

See: Memorandum for Directions Hearing (para 12)

Key was definitely in the country – in part –  whilst the GCSB was spying on Dotcom. (See: Prime Minister John Key’s Address in Reply Debate – 21st December, 2011)

At some point between 21 December and 27 January, Key holidayed in Hawaii. (See:  John Key Video Journal No.50)

On 27 January 2012, Key attended the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting and  joint meeting of senior Cabinet Ministers. (See: PM to visit Australia with Ministers)

Second question: Was surveillance of Dotcom discussed at any meeting around that time period by the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? If not, why not? Considering that ODESC is responsible for “oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau, if the Dotcom cases and cross-organisational liaison did not merit discussion – what then,  is ODESC overseeing?

C. Reason for GCSB involvement

The last question, and perhaps one that has only briefly been touched upon: why did the  Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) feel the need to request assistance from the GCSB in the first place?

According to documents, the rationale given was that the GCSB monitored Kim Dotcom’s communications  for the purposes of establishing his location for the impending raid,

“The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

It seems incredible that NZ Police are unable to keep track of suspects they are surveilling without requesting assistance from a spy organisation such as the GCSB (or SIS?). It beggars belief that Police required surveillance assistance when,

  • Dotcom and his entourage lived in one of the biggest mansions in Auckland
  • Dotcom drove bright, flashy, very expensive cars
  • Dotcom was quite a big bloke himself and would’ve stuck out like an Afro-American at a White Supremacists tea-party
  • Dotcom made no effort to evade authorities
  • The raid was executed at 6.47am in the morning – more than likely that the occupants of the Coatsville mansion were still indoors – if not still in bed.

There appears to be no rational reason for a spy agency to have been involved – at least not for the stated purpose  of “where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time“.

It was pretty bloody obvious where Kim Dotcom; his wife; his employees; and probably the family pets were, on that early morning on 20 January 2012,

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If the NZ Police are unable to locate and keep track of  a businessman who makes no effort to conceal himself; where no efforts are being made to evade anyone (indeed, he probably wasn’t even aware of being under surveillance);  then that raises serious concerns at the ability of the New Zealand police force.

Third question:  Why was the GCSB involved?

None of these questions are answered – nor even raised – in Judge Neazor’s report on this matter. In fact, reading his four page report offers very little insights as to how and why this incident came about. Neazor confirms that,

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

So there we have it: “confusion“.

Neazor’s “report” is so poor in facts and explanations that a further wider ranging investigation is warranted. In fact, his “report” cries out for further inquiries to be made.

What the public have been given is superficial, meaningless, pap.

Key’s apology is pointless if questions remain unanswered and suspicions abound that  Neazor’s report is essentially  a “white wash”. As Key himself said,

I’ve asked the Bureau [GCSB]  about why they failed  at that point to identify  the problem. I’m not entirely sure I’ve had a completely satisfactory answer…”

See: PM apologises to Kim Dotcom

Indeed, Prime Minister.

The public is also ” not entirely sure we’ve had a completely satisfactory answer “.

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Other Blogs

The Standard: What does Key have to gain by lying?

Tumeke: Was our new Governor-General involved in authorizing illegal spying of Kim Dotcom?

Tumeke: 4 Kim Dotcom questions: How could the GCSB miss a half million dollar fireworks display?

Tumeke: Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Tumeke: No one believes you John Key – The GCSB knew spying on Dotcom was illegal

Gordon Campbell: On the failures of the Neazor report

Past Prime-Ministerial-I-Don’t-Knows

NZ Herald: Key admits mistake over shares (23 Sept 2008)

Fairfax Media: PM signed papers relating to BMWs (22 February 2011)

NZ Herald: Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster (9 April 2011)

TV3: PM’s credit downgrade claim under fire (10 October 2011)

TV3: Who knew what about Kim Dotcom (2 May 2012)

Fairfax Media: Master of Keyvasive action (18 September 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Additional

Time: WATCH: The Hollywood-Style Police Raid on Kim Dotcom’s Mansion (9 August 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on illegal spying on Dotcom (24 Sept 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Kim Dotcom hints at suing Govt (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Dotcom case makes world headlines (25 Sept 2012)

Radio NZ: Minister stonewalls over police Dotcom evidence (26 Sept 2012)

Parliamentary Hansards: Questions for Oral Answer (26 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on the back foot as Opposition leaders twist knife (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: PM apologises to Dotcom over ‘basic errors‘ (27 Sept 2012)

Scoop.co.nz:  Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Greens ask police to investigate GCSB (28 Sept 2012)

TV3: No need for GCSB inquiry – Key (28 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Police had queried if spying was illegal (29 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government (29 Sept 2012)

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