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Posts Tagged ‘lies’

Budget 2014 – What deceits lie in this document?

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Putting voters to sleep through the budget

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Looking through the on-line Budget document on Treasury’s website, I happened to notice something… peculiar.

The following page is entitled  Responsibly managing the Government’s finances and is part of Finance Minister Bill English’s summary. As such, it is a political document and not a Treasury report.

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1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances

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Note the five graphs on this page. Notice anything about them?

Any… inconsistencies?

Let me “lump” them together, so they can be better compared;

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1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances - graphs isolated

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Note the starting dates on each graph. They differ in nearly each case;

  1. 2012/13
  2. 2006/07
  3. 2009/2010
  4. 2004
  5. 2004

At first glance, there appears no reason for the difference start-dates of each graph.

That is, until you look at what each graph represents.

Graphs number 2, 4, and five show the previous Labour government in an unfavourable fiscal light.

#2: Shows “Core Crown Revenue” falling from 2006, and “Core Crown Expenses” rising from around the same time.

#4: Shows “Budget Operating Allowances” much higher under Labour – highlighted by the use of red and blue column lines – than National. The 2008 red-bar is erroneous.

#5: Shows “90 Day Interest Rates” higher under Labour than National – again highlighted by the use of red and blue graph lines.

Meanwhile, graphs 1 and 3 show National in a more positive position;

#1: Shows  “Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL)” starting from 2012/13, and reducing. There is no prior context depicted for any previous years. The overall impression is a favourable one to the viewer.

#3: Shows “Net Core Crown Debt” rising from 2009; peaking at 2013/14; and dropping thereafter. Again, there is no prior context depicted for any previous years.

If we replace the mis-leading charts with more accurate representations, the picture is unsurprisingly different. A verticle red line on the right hand, accurate graph, pinpoints where Bill English’s graph (on the left) starts.

1. Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL)

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Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

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The more accurate  version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL), and put’s National’s record in context.

2. Core Crown revenue and expenses

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    Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

 

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The more accurate  version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Core Crown revenue and expenses, and put’s National’s record in context.

This next one is a personal favourite of mine, and National/ACT supporters hate it with a passion.

3. Net core Crown debt

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Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

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The more accurate version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Net core crown debt, and put’s National’s record in context. It also happens to highlight Labour’s track record in reducing the country’s sovereign debt – something that jars with Right Wing historical revisionism that attempts to depict Labour as an incompetent fiscal manager.

4. Budget operating allowances

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1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances - Budget operating allowances corrected version

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

 

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Whilst English’s graph (on the left) has a start point in 2004, it is highly inaccurate. Note the red bar for 2008, showing Labour having a Budget operating allowance of around $7 billion. This is false. As the blue bar on the graph on the right shows, the Budget operating allowance for 2008 was just under $2.5 billion – one third of what English’s chart depicts.

Note: the chart on the right, with the blue bars is taken from Budget 2013 – Bill English’s own document from last year. The correct data (blue graph) is supported by a 2010  Treasury working-paper,  Fiscal Institutions in New Zealand and the Question of a Spending Cap.

Either the red bar for 2008 is an error – or a deliberate attempt to further portray the previous Labour government in a bad light. Considering that three out five graphs appear to have been selectively presented, the possibility that the 2008 red-bar was deliberately fudged cannot be excluded.

5. 90-day interest rates

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Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

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English writes that “Future Budget allowances are set at sustainable levels… [graph inserted] ...which is helping to take pressure off interest rates“.

Actually, the reason that the OCR and 90 Day Rates are currently at a historic low has little to do with “future budget allowances“. The Reserve Bank does not set current OCR/90 Day Bill Rates against “futurebudget allowances.

Indeed, the RBNZ dropped the OCR to 2.5% in April 2009, the following year from recession hitting our economy.

There is next to no reason for English to have included the 90 Day Interest Rate in his Budget document, except to attempt to take credit for historically low interest rates that were the result of a global financial crisis and not because of any actions his government took in 2007/08.

Not unless he, John Key, and the rest of the National caucus were sitting in Board Rooms across Wall Street?

Not unless he, John Key, and the rest of the National Party were in government a full year before the 2008 general election?

And not unless Bill English also wants to also claim responsibility for high interest rates in the 1990s, when the National Party governed under the leadership of Jim Bolger, with finance ministers Ruth Richardson and Bill Birch? When interest rates peaked at over 15% in 1990 and were consistently high throughout the 1990s.

Unsurprisingly, this is one graph that did not find it’s way into Bill English’s 2014 Budget document;

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mortgage interest rates since 1990

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As for Budget 2014 – I suspect it is a document that will soon reveal more hidden surprises for us all.

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References

NZ Treasury: Budget 2014 – 1. Responsibly managing the Government’s finances

NZ Treasury: Operating Balance (2002-2011)

NZ Treasury: Core Crown revenue and expenses (2000-2014)

NZ Treasury: Net core Crown debt (2002-2012)

NZ Treasury: Operating Allowances

NZ Treasury: Fiscal Institutions in New Zealand and the Question of a Spending Cap

Reserve Bank NZ: 90-day rate

Reserve Bank NZ: Mortgage interest rates — since 1990

 


 

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Norm Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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

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Letter to the Editor: When is privacy not privacy?

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

SIS

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When we break the law, the police come calling.

When National does it, they just change the law.

That’s how it’s done in New Zealand, circa 21st Century…

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FROM: "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Thu, 08 May 2014 11:32:27 +1200
TO: Listener  <letters@listener.co.nz>

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The Editor
The Listner


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John Key’s government passed legislation last year which
now legalises GCSB spying on New Zealanders, albeit with a
“warrant” and with Prime Ministerial “over-sight”.
Key says we now have legal protection to protect our
privacy.

Of course, that did not stop the GCSB from breaking the old
law, and spying on eightyeight New Zealanders. That’s
despite the old law being quite specific in it’s
prohibition on domestic spying;

Section 14 of the original Government Communications
Security Bureau Act 2003 was quite specific

“Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor
a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or
take any action for the purpose of intercepting the
communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation
or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a
permanent resident.”

Which made a mockery of John Key’s mis-leading assertion
on  9 April last year;

“In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for
purpose and probably never has been. It was not until this
review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was
known…”

Law-breaking and lies – the hallmark of National’s
behaviour on this issue.

But the supreme irony here?

John Key has allowed the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders or to
receive data on New Zealanders gathered by overseas spy
agencies - thereby circumventing the amended law.

But health-service providers are not allowed to share
information with family members, where necessary, because of
“privacy concerns”.

Monty Python couldn’t have scripted this farce any better.

-Frank Macskasy
[name & phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: Hear more of Ian Fletcher on Morning Report  (audio)

Dominion Post:   Spy boss denies mass surveillance

John Key.co.nz: PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Legislation.co.nz: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003


 

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SIS GCSB John Key spying police_state surveillance

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #3: tax cuts

2 March 2014 2 comments

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john key lying

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3. Tax cuts

Background

19 May 2008

In the bitterly contested lead-up to the 2008 general election, National promised three tax cuts, to be spread over three years.

These were prompted by the nine consecutive Budget surpluses that Labour’s Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, had posted between 2000 and 2008. The public perceived that the government had too much of our money and demanded tax cuts.

Cullen resisted, as his main priority was continuing to pay down billions in debt that Labour had inherited in late 1990s.

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Key  and  National Party strategists heard the insistent  calls for tax cuts, and duly obliged – even though by November 2008, the global financial crisis had plunged the world into a recession, with only Australia and China escaping the worst effects.

In May 2008, Key promised voters tax cuts ‘‘North of $50‘‘.

April 2009

On 1 April 2009, National delivered the first of two rounds of tax cuts (a third round had been scrapped, as by then the recession had blown a hole in the government’s revenue).

This is what the 2009 tax cuts delivered.

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tax-cuts-april-2009

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Anyone earning under $40,000 received nothing. Not even close to “north of $50″.

October 2010

The following year, the second round of tax cuts was implemented,

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Tax rates October 2010

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Susie Nordqvist wrote in the Herald on 20 May 2010,

* Average income household – $24.71c per week better off

* Average wage worker – $15.91c per week better off

* Couple receiving New Zealand superannuation – $10.77c per week better off

* Professional property investor with 25 properties – $288.18c per week worse off

* Couple saving for their first home – $40.38c per week better off

* Domestic purposes beneficiary – $2.45c per week better off

* Minimum wage worker – $6.36c per week better off

* Student – $2.66c per week better off

* Business owner structuring income to claim for Working for Families – $153.03c per week worse off.

As the reader can easily determine, very few in the above group were receiving “north of $50″. When the rise in GST was taken into account, the actual real cut in  taxes for average workers’ and families was reduced even further.

The only tax bracket that received a tax cut “north of $50″ were those earning around $80,000 or more. Such as government ministers. And John Key.

When you factor in the rise in GST from 12.5%  to 15% – even fewer got the much promised “north of $50″, except the wealthiest.

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Key defends tax cuts for wealthy

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Conclusions:

  1. Key had no choice but to cancel the third round of tax cuts (scheduled for 2011), and to reduce the amount on offer. The GFC and recession were biting into our economy so badly, that National was borrowing $450 million a week by the end of 2009. Adding the 2010 tax cuts into the mix eventually left this country with a $60 billion fiscal hole.
  2. Key knew that the tax cuts were unaffordable during the 2008 election campaign. The world was deeply mired in the global financial crisis and recessionary effects were beginning to hit economies around the world. To pursue the promised tax cuts was the height of irresponsibility.
  3. Key bought the election with unaffordable promises.
  4. Our debt will have to be re-paid. (Foreign creditors insist.)

Beware of politicians bearing promises and gifts. We will be the ones paying for it.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict:  Outright Lie, Broken Promise

 

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References

NZ Herald: Cullen – Tax cuts but strict conditions

Trading Economics:  New Zealand Government Debt To GDP

Dominion Post: Nats set for $50 tax cut trump

Otago Daily Times: Key says donate tax cuts to charity

NZ Herald: Budget 2010: What the tax cuts mean for you

NZ herald: Key defends tax cuts for wealthy

Parliament:  Tax System Changes—Impact on Operating Balance

Otago Daily Times: Government now borrowing $450 million a week – claim

Radio NZ:  English confirms national debt set to rise

Previous related blogposts

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

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Vote these traitors out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

24 February 2014 1 comment

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key's credibility takes a hit

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In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

2. Secret Sources

Background

On 4 October 2011, John Key made this astounding statement in the Debating Chamber,

When Standard & Poor’s were giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what they did say was there was about a 30% chance we would be downgraded – that’s what happens when you’re on negative outlook. They did go on to say though, if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely.”

The comment was made under Parliamentary privilege.

Five days later, on 10 October, Key “explained” that the comments had come to him in an email, from an un-named “friend”. He duly released the text,

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When Standard and Poors heard Key’s comment, they were none too pleased.  Standard and Poor’s sovereign rating analyst, Kyran Curry, who attended the Auckland meeting that the “email” referred to, replied,

“In Auckland last month, I might have talked about the importance of the Government maintaining a strong fiscal position in the medium term but I would never have touched on individual parties. It is something we just don’t do. We don’t rate political parties. We rate Governments.”

Key fronted to a media conference and was grilled by journalists,

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His body language, tone of voice, and other minute clues all indicate he was being less than honest. I leave it to the reader to reach their own conclusion how honest Dear Leader was.

In my opinion, John Key lied and the email was subsequently fabricated.

Nearly two and a half years later, and Key is embroiled in yet another “secret sources” mess;

On 12 February, Key disclosed that Winston Peters had met with Kim Dotcom, at his mansion in Coatsville, three times. Peters accused Key of using the GCSB/SIS to spy on him, saying,

“What’s his informant, who is he? … This is is a surveillance matter and I want to know more about it.”

Key responded the same day,

“I heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party, nothing to do with any government agency. The person told me it was three. I was pretty sure they’d be right – because they often are – and guess what, they were.”

On the 13th of February, Key stated,

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it’s got nothing to do with an official agency. From time to time people see things and from time to time people tell me.”

Key added,

“Contrary to what [Peters] might want to believe, I can read. A member of the public, for want of a better term rang me up and said what was the case. I assumed it was right. I said it, it turned out to be right. I didn’t think it was that controversial, to be honest.”

So did a member of the public” phone Key and inform him that Peters had visited Kim Dotcom? Or did Key “read” about it somewhere?

When questioned by the media, Slater told the Herald,

“If the Prime Minister says I’m a source, I guess I must have been.”

Which kind of makes Key’s earlier assertion that he “heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party” a complete lie. As we all know, Slater is closely connecxted to the National Party; his father (John Slater) is an ex-President of the National Party; and Slater is probably a paid up member of the National Party.

Unless it is Slater who is lying (which is equally plausible as he has a reputation  for telling lies)? Otherwise, if Slater is telling the truth, then he has landed Key in it.

One of them is lying.

Take your pick.

Conclusions:

Key had not been forthcoming either on the Standard and Poors “email” or on where he got the tip-off that Winston Peters had visited Kim Dotcom.

What is equally disturbing is that Key is willing to use private information to smear a political opponant. Not since Paula Bennet released information on Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, has a politician willfully invaded another person’s privacy.

Whatever one may think of Winston Peters – and I am no fan of his – Peters deserves his privacy like anyone else.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: Mis-information, (probable) outright lie

 

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References

NZ Parliament: Credit Rating Downgrade—Effect on Economy

TV3: Key accused of lying in Parliament over downgrade

Previous related blogposts

Nick Smith

Politicians never tell fibs

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

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1504434_636268686433547_1633036652_o

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

23 February 2014 1 comment

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I lied  get over it!

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In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

1. The GCSB Bill

Background

Last year, upon revelations that the GCSB had illegally spied on 88 New Zealand citizens, Key  legitamised that law-breaking by passing the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill into law.

The official governmdent narrative was that the GCSB law was badly flawed; vague; and confusing.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known

[...]

The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

[...]

It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

The proposition that the  2003 GCSB Act was “ not fit for purpose and probably never has been” is not supported by reality. In fact, the law was  crystal clear with it’s wording and intent. Section 14 of said Act stated with unambiguous clarity;

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Source: legislation.govt.nz – Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

Conclusions:

  1. John Key wilfully mis-led the country, and in this blogger’s opinion, lied about the effectiveness of the law.
  2. The actual purpose of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill was to legalise the GCSB’s illegal spying activities.
  3. Not only did the Amendment head off potential court action, but it legitamised ongoing spying on all New Zealanders, despite the original intentions of the Act  that this would never happen.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: outright lie.

 

 

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References

NZ Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Newstalk ZB: Govt data casts doubt on PM’s job comments

TV3: Key accused of spreading TPPA ‘mistruths’

NZ Herald: Toby Manhire – Chameleon Key delivers a masterstroke

Fairfax media:  Demystifying the GCSB bill: Spies and lies

Previous related blogposts

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

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

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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Cancelled passports and freedom fighters – what is John Key up to?

20 February 2014 Leave a comment

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milking it

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John Key yesterday ( 10 February) admitted that his government had unilaterally cancelled the passports of  “a small group” of New Zealanders, fighting alongside anti-  al-Assad forces in Syria. According to Key, others have had their passports cancelled so as to prevent them reaching Syria.

Key’s actions raise several questions.

Firstly. Cancelling a New Zealander’s passport essentially renders that person stateless; unable to travel; unable to return home; and liable to arrest. Such a move leaves New Zealanders in an untenable  position.

Secondly, it may also be illegal.

Unilaterally cancelling a New Zealander’s pass, without that person being convicted in a Court of Law, deprives that person of the right to travel. A citizen’s right to travel is a basic human right and up to now, only authoritarian governments have controlled such movements.

John Key has effectively lined up with the likes of North Korea and the former Soviet-bloc, in controlling the movements of New Zealanders who have broken no law, and been convicted of no offence.

Thirdly, John Key justifies his actions by stating,

“They obviously don’t put their hand up and say they’re going to be freedom fighters in Syria when they leave. They present a different set of reasons why they might be leaving the country. We have the capacity to cancel a passport if we believe somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible.”

How patronising of our esteemed Prime Minister that he has taken it upon himself to determine whether or not “somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible“.

Considering that – up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – successive New Zealand governments have not hesitated to committing New Zealand troops into war-zones, it it a bit late in the day for a Prime Minister to be worrying about “somebody  going into a war zone  to fight in a way we don’t think is a sensible step for them”. Tell that to the  18,500 troops killed in World War One; 12,000 killed in World War Two; 33 in the Korean War; 37 in Vietnam, and others since then.

Fourthly, the sheer hypocrisy of Key’s actions and comments defy belief. Not once has he, nor his predecessors, commented on those New Zealanders who have join and actively served on foreign armies.

Such as New Zealanders serving in the Australian Army;

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Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

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Note the comment in the above story,

“The NZ Defence Force, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that it employs a similar “lateral recruitment” process to attract soldiers from around the world. A spokesman said it was “fairly standard practice” for international armies to trade staff…”

And New Zealanders serving in the British Army;

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Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

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The above story also refers to other New Zealanders serving in other armies,

“He is the fifth New Zealand-born soldier to die in action in Afghanistan.

Two were serving with Australian forces, one with US, and one with New Zealand troops.”

Plus New Zealanders joining the Israeli Army;

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Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

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Or the curious case of Tony Resnick, who departed New Zealand under a cloud, and ended up in the Israeli Army.

So there is nothing particularly unusual about New Zealanders taking it upon themselves to enlist in the armies of other nations. Quite a few even end up on battlefields where some are killed

Has John Key ever cancelled their passports?

Is Key  also worried about New Zealanders returning from foreign Army involvement?

“From time to time, we need to track the activities of New Zealanders, we need to be sure of their whereabouts and we certainly need to be clear that if they return to New Zealand, whether they pose a threat to other New Zealanders if they have become radicalised.”

Key has also been reluctant to disclose how many New Zealanders have been affected by this potentially illegal decision. He said “a small group“.

Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, has said in a NZ Herald story that he was aware of only two brothers who had been affected – and the cancellation had not been instigated by the GCSB or SIS,

“According to my sources, their parents are the ones who called up and asked for them to be stopped,” he said, accusing Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

Ali Akil also added,

“John Key has suggested very few people have [gone to Syria], and mentioned they have gone there to fight against the Assad regime which is actually something that we should honour them for, not strip them of their rights for,” he told Morning Report.

He questioned why Mr Key would “criminalise” those who decide to fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is known to have used chemical weapons against civilians.

“The New Zealand Government has actually sent our own New Zealand soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan to liberate them from dictators, or so we were told. Isn’t it ridiculous to now criminalise those who choose to do exactly the same thing in Syria?”

It is rather strange for Key to be harassing freedom fighters who are wanting to topple one of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East, as it was only last year that Key condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against it’s own people. In fact, Key was reportedly critical of the UN Security Council not doing enough;

Key, who made a stinging attack on the Security Council in his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, said the resolution did not go as far as New Zealand would have liked in holding the Assad regime to account.

“But it does do the most important job which is set out a programme for how chemical weapons will be collected up in Syria, destruction of those chemical weapons and hopefully a process for ensuring Syrians are kept safe form weapons that should never be deployed from anybody.”

He stated in no uncertain terms;

“This organisation would not also have been a powerless bystander to the Syrian tragedy for over two years if the lack of agreement among the Security Council’s Permanent Members had not shielded the Assad regime.”

Mr Key called for the Security Council to take strong action by passing against Syria for its use of chemical weapons.

“These are war crimes.”

“War crimes”!?!?

New Zealanders want to fight a regime that has committed war crimes – and Key repays their willingness to oppose this evil by stripping them of their pass ports, and in other cases, actively preventing them from leaving the country?!

Especially when, on 30 August last year, Key himself voiced support for the United Nations using force against the Syrian regime,

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PM won't rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

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He quite clearly said,

“We think that’s the right thing to do but we wouldn’t hold our breath that that would receive the unanimous support that would be required.”

Do I detect the rank, rotting odour of hypocrisy (again) from our Prime Minister?

There is more to this issue than some young men wanting to join a fight to rid the world of a despotic dictator and his bloody regime (and this blogger will not shed a tear with the inevitable demise of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his criminal stooges).

Key obviously has a hidden reason for releasing this information, and I doubt very much if it relates one bit to any so-called concerns for the well-being of these young men.

Key has his own agenda:

1.

It is no coincidence that Key’s press conference and dramatic revelations are taking place during  an election year. I remind the reader of a blogpost I wrote on 30 June, last year;

So what does John Key and his National Ministers do? Do they, make the law more explicit that the GCSB “may not authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”?

No.

Instead National has amended the law – in effect  legalising the illegal “88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003” (source) through a new  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

National is also enacting the new amendment  – under Urgency – which will give the GCSB the right to now spy on a person  who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Remember – there is no Cold War. That ended 24 years ago.

But you wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Key now makes references to other “threats” to New Zealand,

  • There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.” –  John Key, 15 April 2013
  • …covert attempts to acquire New Zealand’s science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems.” - John Key, 15 April 2013
  • This shows New Zealand’s public and private organisations are facing increasing risks of cyber intrusion which could compromise their operations and could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property.” – John Key, 7 May 2013

When asked to be specific about these claims, Key replied,

I cannot tell New Zealanders everything our intelligence agencies are doing, or what the details of their operations are.” (Source)

And as reported, Key was less than forthcoming about other matters relating to the GCSB’s activities,

He refused to say what the support was that the GCSB provided to the Defence Force, police and SIS.
“I’m not going to go into the details of what they do.”

He also refused to say whether information on New Zealanders was passed on to foreign agencies.

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

But he did admit that not one of those 88 New Zealanders spied on by the GCSB has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Not one, as Key admitted,

Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB  .”

It is an old, tried-and-tested, simple plan; spook the public using a variant of a reds-under-the-bed bogey-man “threat”, and watch them run into the ballot booth to tick the ‘National’ box.

It worked in 1981, when Muldoon portrayed the anti-Tour protestors as “commies” and a threat to the “Kiwi way of life”.

2.

Will up-coming Edward Snowden revelations refer to New Zealand, including material that is absolutely damaging to John Key’s government?

And is the so-called threat of New Zealanders being ‘radicalised’  in a Middle East conflict, and returning home to wage an implied “Jihad”, a scare-tactic to justify whatever shonkey or illegal activities that the GCSB/SIS/government has been engaging in?

3.

Is this yet another distraction during election year (see #1 above), with more to come?

Because – and here is the point –  governments very rarely (if ever) disclose what the SIS and GCSB have been up to.

So – what was the motivation of standing up at a media conference, in front of the entire nation, and telling everyone what our security/intelligence agencies have been engaged in?

There is much, much more to this than Key has let on.

And it has bugger all to do with Al Quaeda bogeymen or a bunch of idealistic young men who want a dictator gone.  Remember – this is John Key we’re talking about.

What was it that  Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said about John Key? He accused…

“… Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

It didn’t take long for this immigrant to our country to suss our Prime Minister, did it?

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References

NZ Herald: Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

The Telegraph:  Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

The Jewish Agency for Israel: Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

NZ Herald: At home with the Mossad men

Radio NZ: Govt cancels passports for would-be fighters

Radio NZ: Prime Minister rejects accusations of racism

NZ Herald: We’ll watch returning fighters, says Key

NZ Herald: Kiwi fighters being misinformed, says Syrian

Fairfax media: Key: Syria deal doesn’t go as far as I’d like

NZ Herald: John Key’s scathing attack on UN failings

NZ Herald: PM won’t rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

NZ Radio: Syria action ‘may be outside law’

Previous related blogposts

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

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john-key-george-bush-and-the-bogeyman

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

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= fs =

That was Then, This is Now #19 – A “Decade of Deficits”

27 December 2013 4 comments

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19. decade of deficits

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 December 2013.

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Previous related blogpost

That was Then, This is Now #18

References

Fairfax media: Nats blame Labour for ‘decade of deficits’

TVNZ: Breakfast Show

National: Government Share Offer

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= fs =

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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= fs =

Moral justifications in a moral vacuum cannot be heard

6 August 2013 3 comments

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A recent TVNZ story,

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Spy law legislation passes second reading

Source: TVNZ – Spy law legislation passes second reading

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In the same TVNZ story, note the invocation of Helen Clark’s name by John Key;

“That is just the way things are,” he said. “We live in a global environment where there are real threats, that’s the point we make with the GCSB legislation, it is why Helen Clark passed the legislation in 2003.”

And,

“It is obviously small numbers but there are small numbers of radicalised New Zealanders, who have either gone over into those environments or returned, and I don’t think this is terribly new, I suspect Helen Clark would have signed warrants as well.”

Source: IBID

It’s not that Key is trying to shift blame on to Labour – as he usually does when avoiding responsibility for one of his stuff-ups (see: Taking responsibility, National-style, and National’s disdain for taking responsibility). No, this time he is invoking the credibility and mana of his predecessor to justify his own dubious  actions on the scandals and unpopular legislation swirling around him.

Despite a few trivial errors of judgement, Clark left Parliament with her reputation intact; enhanced; and invited to work for the United Nations.

Contrast that to John Key whose reputation for distortion; fudging the truth – and in my opinion, some outright lies – has left his reputation in tatters.

Channelling his predecessor’s name appears to be  Key’s last card to justify an unwarranted extension of governmental power; the growth of the policed surveillance state; and his involvement in illegal spying on a member of parliament and a journalist.

If that is all he’s got left , then he’s heading for rock bottom.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 August 2013.

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= fs =

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

6 August 2013 3 comments

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Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Source: Dominion Post – Spy bungles start to entangle PM

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“The GCSB’s interpretation of the law was so loose it managed to spy on 88 New Zealanders even though the law specifically stated it was not allowed to do so.”

Nice to see the MSM finally catching up with the blogosphere.

Since the introduction of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill on 8 May 2013, the Prime Minister – with his usual talent for mis-representing the truth and talking absolute bollocks – maintained the fiction that the current law surrounding the GCSB (the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003) was “vague” and “not fit for purpose”,

“In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.

It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.”

Source: johnkey.co.nz – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

This was nothing less than a barefaced lie, designed to deceive the public.

The 2003 GCSB Act was actually crystal clear with it’s wording, and Section 14 of said Act states with unambiguous clarity;

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Source: legislation.govt.nz – Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

For a long time, the mainstream media parroted this fiction (see: The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!! ). Evidently no one in newsrooms had bothered to do a simple check.

Not until Audrey Young wrote a piece acknowledging the clarity of the current GCSB law on 24 June. (see:  Audrey Young on the GCSB)

So it’s refreshing that Tracy Watkins, writing for the Dominion Post on 3 August, has also got it right.

Now all that remains is for a journo to actually ask Key why he bullshitted us in the first place.

What are the chances…?

Andrea – time for utu.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 August 2013.

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= fs =

How deep is Key in this mess?

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Key's office ordered records released

Source: Fairfax Media – Key’s office ordered records released

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It now appears that the Prime Minister’s office was involved  in obtaining Andrea Vance’s phone records.

If it can be shown that Key was directly involved – this government will fall.

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= fs =

Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys

14 June 2013 4 comments

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Cast of Charachters

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Clayton Cosgrove, Labour Spokesperson on State Owned Enterprises

Clayton Cosgrove, MP, Opposition  Labour Spokesperson on State Owned Enterprises

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Don Elder, CEO, Solid Energy, May 2000 – February 2013

Don Elder, CEO, Solid Energy, 2000 – 2013; avid gardener

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Bill English, MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister for Infrastructure,  Ministerial Shareholder of Solid Energy

Bill English, MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister for Infrastructure, Ministerial Shareholder in Solid Energy

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Mark Ford, current chairman of Solid Energy

Mark Ford, current chairman of Solid Energy

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John Palmer, CEO Solid Energy, 2006 -

John Palmer, former Chairman of  Solid Energy, 2006 – 2012

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Simon Power, former MP; former Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, 19 November 2008 – April 2011

Simon Power, former MP; former Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, 19 November 2008 – April 2011

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Tony Ryall, MP, Minister for Health; current Minister for SOEs; Ministerial shareholder in Solid Energy

Tony Ryall, MP, Minister for Health; current Minister for SOEs; Ministerial shareholder in Solid Energy

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Dear Leader, Minister for Funny Hats, Minister for Truth

Dear Leader, Minister for Funny Hats, Minister for Truth

~

The story, thus far

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30 June 2008

Nil dividend paid to government, for year ending 30 June 2008.

Source: 2008 Annual Report

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8 November 2008

General Election

National-led government elected.  John Key becomes  New Zealand’s Prime Minister; Simon Power is Minister for State Owned Enterprises; Bill English becomes Minister for Finance.

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May 2009

“The Government, in its first term, looked at SOE [state owned enterprise] balance sheets and decided many of them could carry more debt… it made a decision to allow Solid Energy to take on more debt,” Mr English said.

Mr English acknowledged that in 2009 he signed a letter to Solid Energy approving a higher debt level.

Source:  Solid Energy was allowed to increase debt

The letter, as follows,

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letter from Simon Power to solid energy may 2009

Source: CCMAU & Treasury

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Thus was set in motion a decision that would have serious consequences four years later; the near collapse of an efficient and highly profitable State Owned Enterprise.

Not only did Minister Power demand higher dividends from Solid Energy, and instructed the SOE to borrow heavily  to achieve that goal, Power also demanded that Solid Energy “release all surplus capital to the shareholder as special dividends“.

In case the reader is wondering that that means, in plain english, National Ministers wanted all spare cash to be handed over to the government.

They were looting SOEs.

Accordingly, Solid Energy’s gearing ratio rose from 13.8% cent in 2009 to 41.7% by 2012. National’s demands had been met (see: Ministers pressured Solid Energy, Parliament told ).

Mission accomplished – the pillaging of Solid Energy (and other SOEs)  had begun.

Note: On 26 February 2013, John Key would try to insist that Solid Energy was “out of control” and was borrowing wildly.

He would say, “the Government was worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans and rosy view of coal prices as far back as 2009 but was unable to order the company to steer a safer course.”

So not only did SOE Minister Simon Power direct Solid Energy to borrow more; pay higher dividends; and hand over all spare cash – but four years later, Key would blame the coal company for the consequences;  it’s inevitable financial melt-down,

The causes of the financial crisis at Solid Energy are the usual suspects in failing businesses – too much debt, unsuccessful investments and no reserves to weather a slump in coal prices.

Prime Minister John Key’s comments yesterday indicated these problems and pointed the finger at an imprudent amount of debt and investments that have not returned any cash yet.

Key said the debt had climbed to $389 million when “typically coal companies do not have a lot of debt on their balance sheets”.

Source: State miner to return to coalface

Powers’ letter also put the lie to National ministers claiming that they were powerless to intervene in Solid Energy’s activities. As Simon Powers’ letter clearly demonstrated, Ministers were  exhibiting a total hands-on control over SOE’s finances, borrowings, investments, and dividend payments.

As Key himself claimed (without evidence) on 25 February 2013,

The government blocked proposals in 2009 from its coal mining company Solid Energy for a billion dollar capital injection to allow it to become “the Petrobras of this country,” Prime Minister John Key says.

National ministers had control alright, no two ways about it.

Power might as well have been sitting in Solid Energy’s Christchurch head office, in the CEO’s chair, with  his fingers in the cash register till.

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30 June 2009

$59.9 million dividend paid to government, for year ending 30 June 2009.

Source: 2009 Annual Report

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30 June 2010

$54 million dividend paid to government, for year ending 30 June 2010.

Solid Energy paid a dividend of $24 million on 30 September 2009. In accordance with the company’s dividend policy, the Board is proposing a dividend of $30 million to be paid by the end of March 2010 bringing total cash dividends paid during the current financial year to $54 million.

Source: Small half year loss for Solid Energy

Source: 2010 Annual Report

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27 August 2010

Treasury Report shoots down Solid Energy National Resource Company’s expansion  proposal

To: Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, Simon Power, Steven Joyce

5. In order for SEL to develop into a NRC, SEL has sought the following:

[...]

• indicative approval for total capital investment (including dividends and cash flow)
of $2-3 billion per annum with cumulative investment of $27 billion…

Source: Treasury Report: Solid Energy National Resource Company Response

Note the figure referred above: $27 billion.  Two and a half years later, Key would refer to that figure.

The question is, does the statement – “SEL [Solid Energy Ltd] has sought the following: indicative approval for total capital investment (including dividends and cash flow) of $2-3 billion per annum with cumulative investment of $27 billionactually state where the $27 billion would be sought from?

Answer: no.

And yet, by 15 March 2013, Key would insist that the Solid Energy chairman, John Palmer, sought $27 billion from the government.

See: Key says Solid Energy papers show $27b plan

John Key’s flexibility with truth is now legendary.

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8 September 2010

Then-SOE Minister Simon Power writes to Solid Energy – states support for developing resources –

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Office of Simon Power
MP for Rangitikei
Minister for Justice
Minister for State Owned Enterprises
Minister of Commerce
Minister Responsibilble for vthe Law Commission
Associate Minister of Finance
Deputy Leader of the House

08 SEP 2010

Mr John Palmer
Chair
Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd
PO Box 1303
CHRISTCHURCH 8140

Dear Mr Palmer

National Resource Company (NRC) Proposal

I would like to thank you and your Chief Executive, Don Elder, for meeting me
on 31 August 2010 to discuss the Government’s response to the Solid Energy
Ltd (Solid Energy) NRC proposal.

Ministers are encouraged by the vision of Solid Energy in developing the NRC
proposal. We also appreciate the efforts of the Solid Energy Board,
management and staff that have gone into preparing  the proposal.

Shareholding Ministers have carefully considered the proposal and at this stage
do not support the development of a single NRC to maximise the value of New
Zealand mineral resources.

Shareholding Mnisters are, however, supportive of Solid Energy developing its
current natural resources, including lignite and unconventional gas. As
discussed with you, we expect that Solid Energy will develop resources on a
project by project basis.

We also expect to be consulted on significant projects, and have the opportunity
to discuss the proposals with you. The proposals should be supported by a
business case and assessed against standard business case investment
criteria.

Yours sincerely

Hon Simon Power
Minister for State Owned Enterprises

cc: Don Elder, Chief Executive Officer, Solid Energy

Source: Letter from Simon Power to John Palmer (NZ Herald website)

Interesting…  The Minister, Simon Power,  was;

A. Supportive of Solid Energy “developing its current natural resources, including lignite and unconventional gas. As discussed with you, we expect that Solid Energy will develop resources on a project by project basis”. No reference whatsoever of the Minister directing Solid Energy not to invest  “developing its current natural resources“.

B. Insisting that he be kept advised  “on significant projects“.  It would be interesting to know if Solid Energy advised National ministers of all projects? Including the ones that have been heavily criticised by Key, English, and Ryall.

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3 June 2011

Key endorses Solid Energy expansion plans

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Prime Minister John Key speaks at the opening of the WHK building in Invercargill.

Prime Minister John Key speaks at the opening of the WHK building in Invercargill.

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“At the moment companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion,” Mr Key said.

[...]

“We know there is lots of resource there and we know they potentially have the capability [to convert lignite to urea or diesel] and so we will see how that progresses, but the briquette plant is a good starting point.”

Source: PM backs mining south’s lignite

Key is stating  with crystal clarity;  “we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion” and “…so we will see how that progresses, but the briquette plant is a good starting point“.

Which would be in stark contrast to Key’s statements nearly two years later, when  on 23 February 2013, he condemns Solid Energy’s “… unsuccessful investments” and  ” and pointed the finger at an imprudent amount of debt and investments that have not returned any cash yet”.

Two days later, on 25 February 2013, Keywould again condemn Solid Energy – this time specifically distancing himself from the SOE’s expansion plans,

The government blocked proposals in 2009 from its coal mining company Solid Energy for a billion dollar capital injection to allow it to become “the Petrobras of this country,” Prime Minister John Key says.

It’s hard to keep up with a Prime Minister like John Key.

You have to wonder what his views will be in three, six, or twelve months time?

Key also said  at his  Invercargill speech,

However, Mr Key said companies were controlled by Government regulations and so there were always environmental obligations that needed to be met.

Which, again, totally contradicts what he said on 26 February 2013,

The Government was worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans and rosy view of coal prices as far back as 2009 but was unable to order the company to steer a safer course, Prime Minister John Key says.

Stories, eh? They’re so hard to keep straight sometimes.

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30 June 2011

$20 million dividend paid to government, for year ending 30 June 2011.

Source: 2011 Annual Report

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9 September 2011

Bill English – Don Elder – Opening new Mataura briquette plant

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Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at MatauraThe first sod has been turned in the construction of Solid Energy’s demonstration briquette plant near Mataura in Southland. This was undertaken on Friday September 9 by local MP, Bill English who is also Deputy-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. (source)

Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at Mataura
The first sod has been turned in the construction of Solid Energy’s demonstration briquette plant near Mataura in Southland. This was undertaken on Friday September 9 by local MP, Bill English who is also Deputy-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. (source)

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The Hon Bill English, MP for Clutha-Southland and Minister of Finance, today marked the official start of work at Solid Energy’s Mataura Briquette Plant, by “turning the first sod” at a small event on site with neighbours, local authorities, and other guests.The $25 million Mataura briquette plant is planned to start production by June 2012. It will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of low-moisture and higher-energy briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine and trucked to the Craig Road site. The plant will use technology developed in the USA by GTL Energy.

Source: Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant

Which demonstrated to anyone (if demonstration was needed) that National was in no doubt about Solid Energy’s expansionary plans.

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4 November 2011

Treasury Scoping study reveals Solid Energy’s financial problems to Government Ministers

Ministers were  officially  made aware of Solid Energy’s severe financial problems. This would not become public knowledge until  two years later,  on  21 February 2013.

See: Treasury Report T2011/2373: Solid Energy New Zealand Scoping Study Report

The Scoping Study is noteworthy on these points,

  1. The considerable  number of redacted items which the reader has no way of knowing what they refer to. They could be sensitive commercial data. Or they could refer to political matters.
  2. In Paragraph 36, the Report states, “The scoping study also recommends that Solid Energy should have no debt at the time of IPO.”
  3. In Paragraph 46, fourth item, the Report states, “Indentified that the company’s free cash flow has been reinvested in the business, particularly the Renewable Energy and New Developments. As a result  dividend payments to the government have been funded by increasing debt.”

In two sentences, Treasury has just confirmed what all the evidence has pointed to; “dividend payments to the government have been funded by increasing debt“.

The very same increased debt demanded by SOE Minister Simon Powers in his letter in May 2009.

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17 February 2012

Bill English – Asset Sales – Proceeds “just a guess”

Finance Minister Bill English is attracting political flak over suggestions that some figures in yesterday’s budget policy statement for the proceeds of share floats of state-owned enterprises were “a guess”.

The Government has long estimated that the sale of up to 49 per cent of five SOEs would collect between $5 billion and $7 billion.

[...]

Mr English said the Treasury “had to pick a number” so they picked the mid-point of the range.

“If we did get $6 billion, that would be a gain of sale [of $800 million] which is just a product of the accounting.

“I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess; it’s just a guess. It’s just to put some numbers in that look like they might be roughly right for forecasting purposes.

Source: English admits his SOE figures just a guess

Well. Now we know why it was “just a guess”.

Because by now, the Treasury scoping study on Solid Energy had revealed to National Ministers that the SOE’s finances were a mess. There was no way English could’ve responded to journalist’s queries without either telling the truth – or outright lying (which they do anyway, but he would’ve been caught out on this particular ‘porky’).

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18 May 2012

Subsidy on bio-diesel canned – Biodiesel New Zealand – Price increase for bio-diesel

National removed it’s subsidy on bio-diesel – which Solid Energy was producing through one of it’s subsidiaries, as part of it’s   expansion plans.

Biodiesel prices in Queenstown are likely to rise after a Government subsidy to develop production of the fuel was scrapped.

The subsidy, worth 42.5 cents a litre, was introduced by the National-led Government in 2008, but was not renewed in this year’s Budget.

The Queenstown Biodiesel Consortium has more than 20 companies running more than 70 commercial vehicles on the fuel.

The consortium’s provider, Allied Petroleum, is supplied by Biodiesel New Zealand, a Solid Energy subsidiary that makes the fuel out of canola seed and used cooking oil, in Christchurch.

Source: Biodiesel loses subsidy, prices to rise

This thoroughly  undermined Solid Energy’s business projections for income and profits, as they could no longer rely on the subsidy to produce bio-diesel on a viable basis.

So not only were National ministers stripping Solid Energy of it’s cash reserves and demanding higher and higher dividends – they were now tying it’s hands and undermining potentially profitable ventures.

A year later, on 22 February 2013, English (as well as Key and Ryall) would be blaming Solid Energy’s financial collapse on, “… a drop in world coal prices, and spen[ding] too much investigating other sources of energy”.

It would be safe to say that undermining a company’s commercial venture, by moving the goal posts half-way through, and changing rules,  is also not particularly helpful.

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23 June 2012

Solid Energy Chairperson, John Palmer resigns

John Palmer is quitting as chairman of state-owned Solid Energy because at the age of 65 he is unwilling to stay on and see it through to partial privatisation.

Mr Palmer, who is also chairman of Air New Zealand, took up a strong public position in calling for the partial privatisation of state-owned companies and he welcomed the government’s plan to sell down stakes in electricity companies and Solid Energy.

Source:  Solid Energy chairman quits over asset sales

Palmer  resigned some 18 months before his contract was due to expire. The question, as always, is,

Was he pushed?

Or did he jump?

Writing on 16 March 2013, Tracey Watkins suggested a Great Big Shove helped Mr Palmer on his merry way,

There is, of course, nothing unusual about SOE chairmen and chief executives being subjected to a lengthy interrogation. But it is rare for committees to offer a platform to SOE bosses who have been manoeuvred out of their jobs by the Government.

See: Solid questions still remain unanswered

I tend to agree with her. This has all the makings of a politically-inspired, fall-quietly-on-your-sword, exit.

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SOE Minister, Tony Ryall comments on Palmer’s resignation – Acknowledges company’s developments

State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall announced Mr Palmer’s departure from Solid Energy on Friday.

“While it is disappointing to lose such a senior director, I wish to recognise Mr Palmer’s commitment to the company since his appointment in 2006, and the developments the company has made under his leadership,” Mr Ryall said.

Source:  IBID

Two months later, Bill English would be announcing that Solid Energy had  “…some fairly substantial issues” and would not be saleable.

Another six months after that, and the sh*t would be hitting the Big Fan. “Fortuitously”, Palmer would have been long-gone by the time English announced that Solid Energy was insolvent and  $389 million in debt.

Palmer would return, however on 14 March 2013,  for an encore performance before the Commerce Select Committee, to answer some hard questions.

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30 June 2012

$ 30 million dividend paid to government, for year ending 30 June 2012.

Source: 2012 Annual Report

Note that two months before English announced that  “Solid Energy faced “a number of commercial issues” and was “rethinking its business”, National ministers were  still taking dividends from Solid Energy.

Did English, Ryall, and Key not read the  2012 Annual Report which listed Solid Energy  posting a Net Profit after Taxation (NPAT) of  a  $40.2 million loss – on Page 2, under bold headlines, “FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE“???

Even though he maintains that “we wouldn’t be planning to float it any time soon”, they were still taking money out of what would prove to be a financially stricken company. This alone indicated that English and Ryall were being financially irresponsible in their role as Ministerial shareholders. As such,  Key was either ignorant of what was happening under his nose, or was irresponsible in not taking action.

Perhaps his adopted affectation as a “typical, non-political kiwi-bloke” who didn’t get his hands dirty with politics; grinned and shrugged off problems; and left matters to his sub-ordinates – had become a dangerous vulnerability for him? (See Tim Selwyn’s blogpost on John Key’s political/management style:  Rudderless Within The Great Game)

Either way, 30 June 2012 is an important date. This is when National Ministers should’ve known that something was seriously amiss.

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21 August 2012

English announces “issues” with Solid Energy

In August 2012, Bill English announced that Solid Energy had  “…some fairly substantial issues” and was not ready for sale.

Solid Energy “certainly isn’t” in shape for a partial sell-down, Finance Minister Bill English says.

English today said Solid Energy faced “a number of commercial issues” and was “rethinking its business”.

“We would only take any of these companies to the market if they are in good shape for investment and Solid Energy right now certainly isn’t. It’s got some fairly substantial issues that they have signalled. Whether it ends up being able to be floated would depend on whether they can get in suitable shape for public investors,” English said.

“We wouldn’t be planning to float it any time soon.

[...]

English said Solid Energy needed to be in “considerably better shape than it is now” before it could be floated.”

Source: English: Solid Energy not ready for sale

Perhaps National Ministers should have keep their fingers out of  Solid Energy’s petty cash box?

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9 September 2012

Coalminers redundancies – $200 million revenue shortfall – first mention of a ‘bailout’

Steven Joyce says Government capital for Solid Energy has not been ruled out.

The minister met with the company’s group manager of coal on Friday to discuss the situation. Mr Joyce says he has not promised a bailout, but if Solid Energy has a good business plan there may be funding options.

“Ministers get approached by state-owned enterprises to invest capital at different times. The thing that they would be interested in would be what’s the reason for doing it and what’s the opportunity.

“There’s a number of things that are up in the air with Solid Energy’s business plan at the moment that they need to work through with the new chair.”

Source: No decision on Spring Creek workers – Solid Energy

If National bailed out Solid Energy, they would  – in effect – simply be returning the dividends and spare cash that Simon Powers demanded way back in May 2009.

It would not be “new” money. It would be giving back what was looted from Solid Energy’s coffers, as National desperately tried to balance the government’s books, and return to surplus by 2014/15.

This entire sad, incompetant, wasteful,  exercise has provided no  benefit to anyone. National Ministers have ended up looking inept, manipulative, deceitful, and grasping. All for what?

The sole outcome has been to damage the reputations of businessmen who were hired for their business acumen (and who had been successful in their own fields), and destroy the name of Solid Energy.

In a bizarre twist, by sending Solid Energy into near-bankruptcy, National successfully delayed the partial privatisation of that SOE. Something that asset-sale opponants would welcome with delight.

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21 February 2013

Solid Energy in crisis – debt revealed to the public

The depth of Solid Energy’s financial woes have been laid bare with the Government confirming the company is in talks with bankers over its debt levels.

[...]

State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said a number of factors had weighed against the company, in particular world coal prices dropping by 40 per cent.

“It is facing very serious financial challenges,” Ryall said.

Ryall declined to say whether Don Elder received a payout on his departure as chief executive on February 4.

Solid Energy’s debt stands at $389 million and its interim result, which is due shortly, will show additional losses.

Earlier this week Prime Minister John Key said it was very unlikely Solid Energy would be sold in the near future.

Source: Solid Energy in debt crisis talks

Time to duck – the poo has hit the fan.

Watch Ministers scurry for cover; invent fictitious tales; and blame anyone/anything they can think of. John Key’s fingers will be moving at supersonic speeds, pointing at others, to apportion blame.

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22 February 2013

English blames Solid Energy management, bonuses, coal price fall, and expansion projects

Mr English said Solid Energy’s woes have two primary causes: it failed to predict – and adjust to – a drop in world coal prices, and spent too much investigating other sources of energy.

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

Source:  No more bonuses at Solid Energy – English

And yet, English and former SOE Minister, Simon Power had actively encouraged Solid Energy to expand. (see comments 8 September 2010 and 3 June 2011)

But if there was a cause for Solid Energy’s financial woes, a $389 million debt most certainly accounted for most of it.

Even the most profitable, efficient, well-managed company will collapse if it is over-geared (borrowed too much) and too much capital is  extracted in dividends (as well as tax).

Therefore, when English blames Solid Energy’s problems on “world coal prices, and spen[ding] too much investigating other sources of energy”; and when Key and Ryall blame Labour; massive debt; bonuses; mis-management; etc – the facts  show otherwise.

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23 February 2013

Key blames too much debt and unsuccessful investments

The causes of the financial crisis at Solid Energy are the usual suspects in failing businesses – too much debt, unsuccessful investments and no reserves to weather a slump in coal prices.

Prime Minister John Key’s comments yesterday indicated these problems and pointed the finger at an imprudent amount of debt and investments that have not returned any cash yet.

Key said the debt had climbed to $389 million when “typically coal companies do not have a lot of debt on their balance sheets”.

Which is  supreme irony – as nineteen days later, a letter will emerge showing that the former SOE minister, Simon Power,  instructed Solid Energy to borrow heavily and pay huge dividends to the National government. National was intent on using Solid Energy as a ‘cash cow’.

Source: State miner to return to coalface

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25 February 2013

Prime Minister discloses Treasury scoping study of Solid Energy

The PM was asked when the government first became aware Solid Energy was accruing big debts, given that such businesses were not normally expected to take on large amounts of debt.

He replied that the government had undertaken a “scoping study” when they were preparing the formulation of the Mixed Ownership Model and that their examination of Solid Energy’s accounts at that time indicated a degree of poor investment, over-valuation of the expected price of coal–which neither the industry nor government agreed with—and related financial problems stemming from this.

Source: PM Press Conference Dominated by Solid Energy Debacle

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Key claims Solid Energy wanted $1 billion cash injection

The government blocked proposals in 2009 from its coal mining company Solid Energy for a billion dollar capital injection to allow it to become “the Petrobras of this country,” Prime Minister John Key says.

Source: Govt blocked grandiose Solid Energy plans in 2009

Key’s claim is later rejected by ex-Chairman, John Palmer.

Documents released by Key – in an attempt to back up his claims – wound up shooting the Prime Minister in his foot. The documents do not show that Solid Energy (or it’s CEO or Board) asked National ministers for anything.  The documents show only that the government was informed that Solid Energy would have to borrow from somewhere.

As usual, Key had been bending facts to suit himself. (And he thought no one would notice?!?!)

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26 February 2013

Ryall confirms Treasury  scoping study

Tony Ryall confirmed that the scoping study was carried out in “late 2011″,

Hon TONY RYALL: The member can repeat whatever he likes. The simple fact of the matter is when Ministers became aware of the issues raised in the scoping study at the end of 2011 we took the appropriate steps to address the issues that were raised. As the member knows, the company now has a new chair and new board, and we are currently dealing with the banks to resolve those issues.

Source: Parliament Hansards – State-owned Enterprises—Commercial Expertise

Despite that Treasury scoping study on 4 November 2011, National was still extracting dividends from Solid Energy, right up to 30 June 2012 ($ 30 million).

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Key blames Labour

He said his support for the project in 2011 came four months before a scoping study revealed the true state of Solid Energy’s financial woes, and the former Labour government needed to take some responsibility for the situation.

“They can’t wash their hands that from 2003 on they were intimately involved when they purchased the land for lignite,” Key said.

Source: Govt forced to defend handling of Solid Energy

2003?

How far back does this man want to go in history as he tries to deflect responsibility for his government’s incompetance? It seems strange, but one gets the distinct feeling that John Key never learned how to take personal responsibility as a child.

Continually blaming others is not the mark of a mature individual. After a while, the public begins to notice.

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Key blames Solid Energy’s expansion plans

Mr Key says his Government was cautious about Solid Energy’s expansion and said it could “take some baby steps”.

Really? Key’s government was “cautious”?

Funny, that’s not how it looked on 8 September 2010, when then-SOE Minister, Simon Power, endorsed Solid Energy’s expansion plans in a letter, stating,

Shareholding Mnisters are, however, supportive of Solid Energy developing its
current natural resources, including lignite and unconventional gas. As
discussed with you, we expect that Solid Energy will develop resources on a
project by project basis.

Or on 3 June 2011, when John Key supported Solid Energy’s expansion, when he gave a speech in Invercargill,

“At the moment companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion.

We know there is lots of resource there and we know they potentially have the capability [to convert lignite to urea or diesel] and so we will see how that progresses, but the briquette plant is a good starting point.”

Or on 9 September 2011, when,

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

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Key blames inability to control Solid Energy

The Government was worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans and rosy view of coal prices as far back as 2009 but was unable to order the company to steer a safer course, Prime Minister John Key says.

[...]

But after getting advice on the company’s plan, Mr Key said his Government rejected it, “but of course under the SOE Act the company had the right to draw down debt and make investments and could do that without reference to the shareholder”.

Source: Govt worried about Solid Energy in 2009

Two things jump out about that statement,

A.  If  National ministers were so “worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans ” – why did they not change the Board of Directors? Or issue a new Ministerial Directive?

After all, Simon Power did just that in a letter dated 8 September 2010 (see above), when he issued an instruction to Solid Energy’s Chairman, John Palmer, not to proceed with a specific expansion plan,

Shareholding Ministers have carefully considered the proposal and at this stage
do not support the development of a single NRC to maximise the value of New
Zealand mineral resources.

B. Why did Tony Ryall acknowledge “Mr Palmer’s commitment to the company since his appointment in 2006, and the developments the company has made under his leadership” on 23 June 2012, when John Palmer stood down as Solid Energy’s chairperson – if  “Government was worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans and rosy view of coal prices as far back as 2009…“?

C.  How can Key state that “the Government was … unable to order the company to steer a safer course” - when legislation states otherwise? As the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (COMU) states,

Most SOEs are subject to ministerial direction in relation to the content of certain aspects of the company’s Statement of Corporate Intent and the level of dividend payable to the Crown. Shareholding Ministers may remove board members by shareholder resolution under the Companies Act 1993. Under the Companies Act 1993, an alternative process may be followed if allowed by the company’s constitution.

Source: COMU: State-Owned Enterprises

As stated above, then-SOE Minister Simon Power did just that: issued a Ministerial Directive.

Of course, “steering the company to a safer course” should have included reducing National Minister’s demands for hefty dividends.

That might have helped.

Either Key is grossly ignorant about SOEs and their ministerial oversight – or once again he’s deliberately misleading the public to suit himself.

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Key Blames Solid Energy

At that point, the company approached his Government seeking a capital injection “in the order of about a billion dollars to turn this company into the [Brazilian state-owned energy company] Petrobras equivalent in New Zealand”, Mr Key said.

Source: IBID

As a 27 August 2010 Treasury report – released on 15 March 2013 – showed,  Key’s claim that Solid Energy approached the government for “a billion dollars to turn this company into the [Brazilian state-owned energy company] Petrobras ” would prove to be false.

As ex Chairman John Palmer was to tell the Select Committee on 14 March,

“Were we talking to the Government about the possibility of capital and receiving that from the Crown? The answer is no.”

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14 March 2013

Former chairman John Palmer  and CEO, Don Elder appear before Commerce Select Committee

Now we start to hear the “other side” of the story – and much of it conflicts with what we’ve been hearing from English, Key, and Ryall.

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National confirms big dividends paid out

For the first time it is publicly acknowledged – Solid Energy has been used as a cash cow by National, to extract big dividends from 2009 onward,

The government concedes the pressure it put on Solid Energy to increase its debt is partly to blame for the company’s financial failures.

The state-owned coal mining company owes $389 million in debt, and is negotiating a rescue package with Treasury and banks.

Government documents reveal that in May 2009, then-State Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power wrote to Solid Energy’s then-chair, John Palmer, saying he was disappointed its profitability and dividends were forecast to drop over the next three years.

At the same time, the government wanted the company to increase its gearing (debt to equity) levels to 40 per cent and its dividends to 65 per cent of operating cash flow.

A ministerial briefing paper shows Solid Energy’s gearing level in March 2009 was 10 per cent, and was forecast to reach 27 per cent in June 2010, while its dividend was 50 per cent.

Parliamentary Library figures show Solid Energy’s gearing leapt from 9.4 per cent in June 2008 to 34.4 per cent in 2010, dropping back to 29.6 per cent in 2011 and jumping again to 41.7 per cent in 2012 as coal prices began to slump.

Finance Minister Bill English admits the government pressure was perhaps too strong.

Source:  Govt pressure on Solid Energy revealed

National had to come clean, as ex-CEO Don Elder appeared before the Commerce Select Committee to explain what went horribly wrong at Solid Energy. National’s ministers knew that the truth was coming out, and had to pre-empt any public disclosures of massive borrowings and payments of dividends,

Mr English says there was a pushback against the debt increase from Solid Energy, which he expected Mr Palmer and former chief executive Don Elder to explain when they fronted a select committee later on Thursday.

Labour leader David Shearer says the documents show ministers had a greater degree of involvement in Solid Energy’s failure than they were publicly letting on.

Source: IBID

Push back against debt“? By now we all understand that English is lying his arse off to Heaven and back. There was no push back.

The only “push” was to increase dividend payments and gearing up to 40%.

The only reason politicians tell such howling lies is because they do not expect people to remember all the facts; to connect the dots; or for an under-resourced media to tell the whole story as a continuous narrative. Politicians expect people to forget; not hear all the facts; or become confused with too much non-contextual facts and testimony from the main players.

That’s how they get away with it; we’re not paying close enough attention.

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Don Elder appears before Commerce Select Committee – Confirmation of Govt wanting Solid Energy to increase debt – endorsed expansion

Firstly,  former Solid Energy chairman, John Palmer,  publicly confirmed that the National Government,

  • wanted Solid Energy to borrow more, and pay higher dividends to government coffers,
  • endorsed Solid Energy’s expansion plans

Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker asked whether the company was in any doubt that the Government wanted them to expand production, increase debt and dividends.

Palmer said it was “self evident” that increased gearing meant increased debt.

The Government was supportive of plans to expand, including into lignite.

Palmer’s comments contradicted Bill English’s comments on 22 February 2013 and John Key’s comments reported on 23 February, 2013, where both politicians lambasted Solid Energy for high debt and expansion plans.

According to Palmer, neither English nor Key were worried about Solid Energy’s expansion programme.

Next,

Palmer said that in late 2011 or early 2012, when it was clear what was going to happen, he spoke to minister Tony Ryall about a $200m revenue hole (twice the annual profits), which would have a dramatic effect on the balance sheet.

Which ties in with Bill English’s announcement on 21 August 2012, that Solid Energy had  “some fairly substantial issues… We wouldn’t be planning to float it any time soon”.

Now we know what he was referring to: Solid Energy was broke. He knew it then, but did not disclose the full nature of Solid Energy’s status until forced  by officials.

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Ex-CEO rejects Key’s assertion of Solid Energy requesting a $1 billion cash injection

“Were we talking to the Government about the possibility of capital and receiving that from the Crown? The answer is no,” Mr Palmer said.

“A specific $1 billion capital injection, I’m reasonably sure we did not ask for it in exactly those terms.”

However he said the company did have discussions with the Crown about potential large investment in lignite processing but it was also talking to potential overseas partners, “because it made no sense to us to think that Crown as the sole shareholder should finance that”.

He also said the company discussed with the Crown a national resource strategy that would have required large investment.

“My recollection is there was no dollars attached to that proposal.”

Source: Solid Energy opposed Government’s debt plan

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Curious case of politicians and executives receiving identical media-coaching

Meanwhile, National’s taxpayer funded media-staff had been busy coaching politicians and company executives;

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Don Elder – Blame,  “Perfect Storm”

This was the perfect storm.”

Source: Palmer: Elder deserves applause

Tony Ryall –  “Perfect Storm” – blames downturn in coal prices – blames wrong investments

“State owned enterprises minister Tony Ryall blames the distressed financial state of Solid Energy on a “perfect storm” of events.

Mr Ryall says a wrong choice of investments, along with a worldwide collapse in coal prices, led to the coal mining company’s current state.”

“A wrong choice in investments, together with the most significant collapse in world coal prices in 2012 led to a perfect storm. The perfect storm has created the situation this company is currently in,” Mr Ryall says.

Source: Ryall blames ‘perfect storm’ for Solid Energy’s crisis

Bill English  – “Perfect Storm”

On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 17 March, English refers – not once, but twice! – to the “perfect storm”,

“That’s right. Look, in retrospect, they would have been better off with lower levels of debt, but as I think Don Elder and John Palmer said at the Select Committee, the board is there to make the decisions about what the actual levels of debt are. Bear in mind, in 2011 their debt had peaked and was declining, and then they got hit by the perfect storm in 2012.”

And a moment later, again,

“…And in 2011 their debt levels were actually declining from that, and then they got hit by the perfect storm…”

Source: TVNZ Q+A

Lotsa ‘stormy weather’ around? I thought we were experiencing a drought.

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15 March 2013

Palmer says  Solid Energy did not want to take on high level of debt suggested by the Treasury

 Prime Minister John Key is facing claims he misled the public after former Solid Energy chairman John Palmer said the company resisted Government pressure to take on more debt – the very thing the Prime Minister said caused the company’s problems.

[...]

Appearing the day after Labour revealed former State-Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power told the company to take on more debt and pay higher dividends, Mr Palmer said the company opposed that request.

The debt levels or gearing suggested by Mr Power and Treasury officials were higher than “we thought was an appropriate level of gearing given the nature of the industry we were involved in”, Mr Palmer said.

Source: Key under fire over Solid Energy claims

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Key claims Solid Energy wanted $27 billion

Prime Minister John Key this morning released documents detailing Solid Energy’s ambitious expansion plans which would have required capital investment of $2-3 billion a year until 2021 or a total of up to $27 billion.

Key released the papers in response to Labour’s claims he misled the public about Solid Energy approaching his Government about a $1 billion investment to become the “Petrobras” of New Zealand, a request he says his Government turned down.

[...]

Key this morning said the documents showed the proposal “absolutely required, as Treasury pointed out, somewhere between two and three billion dollars of Government money”.

Source: Key says Solid Energy papers show $27b plan

Remember the Treasury report, dated 27 August 2010, referred above? Key is saying that the Solid Energy proposals would have required “between two and three billion dollars of Government money”.

Yet the 27 August 2010 Treasury report said nothing of the sort. Solid Energy could have obtained that money from the same commercial sources  it was already borrowing from.

And don’t forget, Solid Energy had already been borrowing significant amounts – pushing it’s ‘gearing‘ (debt to equity ratio) up:

Solid Energy’s gearing ratio [borrowings] was 13.8 per cent in 2009, but that rose to 34.4 per cent in 2010 and 41.7 per cent last year.

Source: Ministers pressured Solid Energy, Parliament told

To this day, Key continues to mis-represent the truth.

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Key – Solid Energy wanted foreign investment and shareholders

“Key this morning said the documents showed the proposal “absolutely required, as Treasury pointed out, somewhere between two and three billion dollars of Government money”.

He said Palmer proposed selling a stake in Solid Energy to an offshore cornerstone investor “and that would involve taking more than 10 per cent of the company and not putting mums and dads first.”.

“I made it quite clear to him that we had campaigned on a mixed ownership model which didn’t involve someone having more than 10 per cent in the company”.

Solid Energy’s proposal “didn’t involve a situation where kiwi mums and dads would be first and so the only way to get that money was through the Government.”

Source: Key says Solid Energy papers show $27b plan

Now this is yet another contradiction from Key. First he tells us that Solid Energy executives wanted $1 billion (or was it $27 billion?) from Government.

But in the next breath – on the same day – he say Solid Energy wanted foreign investors/shareholders to buy 10% stakes in the SOE.

So which was it Dear Leader?! Government funding? Foreign investors/shareholders? Pixies at the bottom of the garden?

One can only conclude that former CEO, John Palmer, was correct, when he rejected any assertions that Solid Energy was looking to borrow money from government,

“I cannot recall that we have ever asked him explicitly for $1 billion dollars.”

Source: Key Must Front Up With $1 Billion Evidence

It was also interesting to note that Key derided Solid Energy’s plans for 10% foreign investors/shareholders blocks by stating that it contravened National’s policy of putting “kiwi mums and dads would be first“.

Which contradicts a statement that John Key made in a speech in 2005, on 4 March, where a private partner was something that National would welcome,

“In respect of Solid Energy, if an opportunity arose to introduce a private sector partner, we would consider that seriously.”

Source: John Key Speech: State Sector Under National

And how does Key reconcile that with other Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) such as Wiri Prison,

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says a contract has been signed allowing the SecureFuture consortium to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the new 960-bed public-private partnership (PPP) prison at Wiri, South Auckland.

The new prison will deliver value for taxpayers and support the Government in reaching the target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.

The 25 year contract is worth approximately $840 million, which is 17 per cent less than if the prison was procured through conventional means, representing a $170 million saving for taxpayers.

Fletcher Construction will build the new facility which will be operated by Serco and maintained by Spotless Facility Services. Construction will begin soon, with the prison set to open in 2015.

“The PPP will allow Corrections to draw on the experience and expertise of SecureFuture’s international partners,” says Mrs Tolley.

Source: Beehive – Contract signed for new PPP prison at Wiri

How many “mums and dads” invested in Wiri Prison?

There are many more PPPs of this nature where “mums and dads” have nil investments, and instead are the sole preserve of corporate investors – many from offshore.

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Palmer denies Solid Energy wanted to borrow $1 billion from government

“Were we talking to the Government about the possibility of capital and receiving that from the Crown? The answer is no,” Mr Palmer said.

“A specific $1 billion capital injection, I’m reasonably sure we did not ask for it in exactly those terms.”

Source: IBID

Palmer is correct. According to the 27 August 2010 Treasury Report (referred to above),  Solid Energy did not ask Government for that money. The money could have been borrowed from any source – just as Solid Energy had already been doing.

This was also confirmed by a spokesperson for Bill English,

“We told them all to improve their performance and that, if they wanted to expand, they had to pay for it off their own balance sheet, rather than asking the cash-strapped taxpayers for money.”

Source: Ministers pressured Solid Energy, Parliament told

So it has becoming apparent that our Dear Leader Key is attempting to re-write recent history to suit his own agenda by shifting the blame elsewhere…

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Key attempts to spin Assumption into “Fact”

“I think it is pretty self explanatory that when you come to the Government with such a very large proposal, we’re the 100% owner, that’s what’s required.”

Source: Details of Solid Energy’s expansion bid released

So let’s get this straight…

(i)  Solid Energy management presented  an expansion plan to National Ministers

(ii) The plan includes figures for said-expansion.

(iii) National Ministers had been encouraging of Solid Energy’s expansion plans (see comments 8 September 2010 and 3 June 2011)

(iv) There was no mention made of where borrowings would be made from – though up till now, Solid Energy had borrowed from private sources, and not the Crown. (See comments 27 August 2010)

(v) And from all that, the Prime Minister suggested that “ it is pretty self explanatory that when you come to the Government with such a very large proposal ” that Solid Energy expected finance from the  Crown?

I have one question: how on Earth did Key manage to amass a personal wealth of $50-$55 million when he  makes up  such fancifuul  “leaps of logic”?!?!

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And the cover-up starts?

The head of the committee that grilled Solid Energy’s former bosses says he is unconvinced a full inquiry is needed.

Opposition MPs are pressuring for a full inquiry into the collapse of the state-owned coalminer, which is now reliant on government support to manage its $389 million debt pile.

Commerce select committee chairman Jonathan Young allowed yesterday’s appearance by former Solid Energy chairman John Palmer and former chief executive Don Elder to run for an hour longer than was originally expected.

Young, the National MP for New Plymouth, said this morning that he believed the committee now had “a very clear picture” of what had happened to Solid Energy, which was hit by falling coal prices, a strong New Zealand dollar and poor investment decisions.

In recent days it has emerged that the Government leaned on the company to take on more debt, after it warned it may pay less dividends.

Young said that “in hindsight we can look back and see if they didn’t have debt they would be in a better situation”.

Despite this, Young said he was yet to be convinced that a full select committee inquiry was needed into the collapse, saying there were “multiple levels of inquiry” already under way, with the company talking to its financiers, and the Government “looking at all of the issues”.

He told TV3′s Firstline: “I am personally yet to be convinced that we are going to uncover anything new or different that wouldn’t be uncovered” anyway.

Source: Solid Energy probe call rejected

“…the National MP for New Plymouth, said this morning that he believed the committee now had “a very clear picture” of what had happened to Solid Energy…”

That statement boggles the mind; drops the jaw to the ground; and is so, so, wrong on many levels. But wholly expected from a National member of Parliament; chairing a Select Committee; stacked with five National MPs out of nine committee members (see: Commerce Select Committee members); supposedly ‘investigating’ wrong-doing/ineptitude by National ministers.

Let’s see… what part of that is wrong? A government investigating itself and coming up with a verdict of nothing-to-see-here-folks-move-along-please? How is Young’s assertion that the Government was “looking at all of the issues” supposed to reassure us?! By what measure of common notions of justice is a  Government  “looking at all of the issues” supposed to be a non-partisan, transparent, and objective investigation into this issue?

It would be like directors of failed companies (many of whom are either in jail or waiting to be tried in Court or sentenced) investigating their own actions and coming up with the same comments as Young made,

“In hindsight we can look back and see if they didn’t have debt they would be in a better situation…”

Directors are “looking at all of the issues”.

“We are  personally yet to be convinced that we are going to uncover anything new or different that wouldn’t be uncovered”

Yeah, right, Mr Young. You can stop putting lipstick on that pig.

Listening to  the main players – especially John Key, Bill English, and Tony Ryall – there are too many conflicting statements to believe that an Inquiry is not needed. National ministers are simply unable to get their stories straight and have contradicted each other (and themselves) on numerous occassions.

Young asserts that the committee now had “a very clear picture” of what had happened.

Bollocks.

The only thing even remotely “clear” about all this is that remains remain to be asked – and answered.

As Tracey Watkins wrote on 16 March 2013,

“But something clearly went seriously wrong if those talks were not enough to stop the collapse of an SOE on an unprecedented scale.

Beneath the flurry of claims and counter claims that is the question which has still not been properly answered.”

See: Solid questions still remain unanswered

Indeed.

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17 March 2013

Bill English – TVNZ Q+A

The following is a transcript from  Corin Dann interviewing Finance Minister (and half shareholder in Solid Energy) on 17 March 2013,

CORIN

All right, if we could move on to Solid Energy. Can you give us an update on where things are at with the banks? When will we know whether the government is going to have to bail out Solid Energy?

BILL

Well, that will be some months yet. There’s discussions going on with the banks now about stabilising Solid Energy. Some of the information around its cash flows is a bit more positive than we might have expected. But we will get a period of two to three months through to the end of June where we can look at all the options for recovering value for the taxpayer in the first place and, secondly, to decide whether there is an on-going viable business in the middle of this-

CORIN

Are you saying it’s making a bit more money than you thought now and that it might be able to get itself out of trouble?

BILL

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. All I’m saying is the cash flow numbers are just a bit more positive than we expected. I mean, if you look back, Solid Energy made some very substantial investments in some of its mines. Some of those worked out, such as in Stockton; some of them didn’t, such as in Spring Creek. But where they have invested, they’ve got capacity for production and for value, and if coal prices are at some kind of reasonable level, then there is a business there.

“All I’m saying is the cash flow numbers are just a bit more positive than we expected. ” – In which case, Mr English, keep your sticky hands of that cash.

I sincerely hope that if National Ministers attempt to gouge SOEs again, that Board Directors resign on masse and publicly disclose political attempts at such interference.

The public is entitled to be reassured that politicians will not use SOEs as “cash cows” simply to balance their books.  Especially after two unaffordable tax cuts – a glorified ‘lolly scramble’ – left a gaping hole in government accounts.

CORIN

Do you want the banks to take some of the heat on this?

BILL

Yes, I think that’s really important. They’ve lent money, and as lenders, they take risks. And if they lend to a company that’s affected by a very sharp downturn in coal prices and then loss of a quarter of their export sales, they’ve got the same risks as banks who leant to resource companies all around the world that have got in trouble.

CORIN

You can see the irony in that, though, because you told them to borrow more.

BILL

Well, and you were talking about it as a revelation. We did a press conference back in 2009 about the need for our SOEs to take on-

And it took Labour to advise the public, Mr English. Bill English, Key, and Ryall were more than happy to keep that 2009 letter from Simon Power under wraps.

That was part of National’s ‘spin’ that the massive borrowings and  debt were a ‘creature’ of Don Elder’s and John Palmer’s making. But as Corin Dann pointed out;

CORIN

But you know that timing is everything with these things, and that was a revelation coming at this time, given your government had tried to distance itself from this issue. You even blamed Labour for it, for what they said in 2007.

BILL

No, I don’t agree with that. In 2009, the government was facing a decade of deficits because of the Labour Party and the recession. And we quite reasonably said that our taxpayer-owned companies should contribute more cash to the coffers. That’s the point of owning them. And Solid Energy had paid barely- had paid almost no dividends for the previous five or six years, and they had very low levels of debt compared to their asset value. So, look, in retrospect-

Here we go again; more blame-gaming,

In 2009, the government was facing a decade of deficits because of the Labour Party and the recession.

English blames the recession?

In which case why did National Ministers extract 163.9 million in dividends from Solid Energy, during the worst recession since the 1920s/30s?

Is this what National calls “prudent fiscal management”?

Notice also that  English lied by  blaming “ a decade of deficits because of the Labour Party” – even though Cullen was posting surpluses from 2002-08 Labour-led period?! And paid down sovereign debt from 33.4% of  GDP to 17.4% GDP? (See previous blofpost:  Bill English – do you remember Colin Morrison?)

This is symptomatic of a National-led government that is desperate to avoid all responsibility.

CORIN

But there was a good reason for that, wasn’t there? Because they were a coal company.

BILL

That’s right. Look, in retrospect, they would have been better off with lower levels of debt, but as I think Don Elder and John Palmer said at the Select Committee, the board is there to make the decisions about what the actual levels of debt are. Bear in mind, in 2011 their debt had peaked and was declining, and then they got hit by the perfect storm in 2012.

Look, in retrospect, they would have been better off with lower levels of debt“…   “In retrospect“?!?! Little wonder that Solid Energy’s board and management resisted National’s demands for higher and higher dividends (as English concedes in his next statement).

That statement – ”Look, in retrospect, they would have been better off with lower levels of debt“  – totally destroys the argument put forward by Key, English, and Ryall that Solid Energy’s debt and subsequent crisis was of it’s own making.

Quite simply, National was desperate for cash to pay for the 2009 and 2010 taxcuts, and were prepared to bleed SOEs dry to get it’s hand on their money. Even if those SOEs had to borrow to do it.

This is ministerial incompetance at best – or outright economic sabotage at worst. (No wonder ACT and Libertarians maintain that politicians can’t run businesses. Correction: National politicians can’t run businesses.)

CORIN

But you were telling all SOEs to raise their debt to a 40% gearing, and Solid Energy told you they were not comfortable with that, and there was a good reason: because they were a volatile coal company. Surely that was too much pressure you were applying to them.

BILL

Well, clearly not, because their debt peaked at under 35%, which was the level the board set, which was lower than what the government was expecting. And in 2011 their debt levels were actually declining from that, and then they got hit by the perfect storm. So, yes, would they have been better off with no debt? Yes, just like lots of businesses and households would be better off with no debt. Then they got hit by these circumstances which may well have put the company into trouble even if it had no debt.

Yes Mr English, Solid Energy did get hit by “a perfect storm”. A storm largely made up of rapacious politicians.

It appears that by not gearing up to the full 40% demanded by National, that Don Elder and John Palmer may have done their best to prevent the collapse of Solid Energy.

CORIN

The issue also, of course, has been around their investments. Now, your government must take some responsibility, surely, for the oversight of what they were investing in. You were the one down in Southland turning the first sod with the lignite plant. You knew what they were up to.

BILL

Well, and it’s yet to be seen just whether that particular investment has on-going potential or not. Clearly, some of them don’t. Some of them may do. That’s what’ll happen over the next two to three months. But what you’ve got to keep in mind here is that under the SOE model, politicians are not there to run the companies. We do not make the investment decisions. The boards make the investment decisions, and the weakness in the model is that there’s no market scrutiny of those board decisions, and that is why the partial sell-down of the electricity companies will help with the monitoring and the performance of those companies.

But what you’ve got to keep in mind here is that under the SOE model, politicians are not there to run the companies. We do not make the investment decisions. ” – Really, Mr English? And yet Simon Power felt he had the ministerial authority to write to Solid Energy demanding higher dividends.

In reality, under the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986, shareholding Ministers can and do issue directives to SOE Boards. So English is being disingenuous when he tries to indicate that Ministers are powerless. They are not powerless,

13.  Powers of shareholding Ministers in respect of new State enterprises
  • (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the rules of any company,—

    • (a) the shareholding Ministers may from time to time, by written notice to the board, direct the board of a company named in Schedule 2 to include in, or omit from, a statement of corporate intent for that company any provision or provisions of a kind referred to in paragraphs (a) to (h) of section 14(2); and

    • (b) the shareholding Ministers may, by written notice to the board, determine the amount of dividend payable by any company named in Schedule 2 in respect of any financial year or years,—

    and any board to whom such a notice is given shall comply with the notice.

    (2) Before giving any notice under this section, the shareholding Ministers shall—

    • (a) have regard to Part 1; and

    • (b) consult the board concerned as to the matters to be referred to in the notice.

    (3) Within 12 sitting days after a notice is given to a board pursuant to this section, the responsible Minister for the company concerned shall lay a copy of the notice before the House of Representatives.

Source: State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986 – Section 13

They have the power.

It’s the responsibility for their stuff-ups that seems to elude them.

CORIN

And are you confident there will be much better decision-making, that these MOM companies, in general, are going to have better board making decisions?

BILL

I think mixed-ownership companies will, but there’s a real challenge for government with the lessons from Solid Energy. When you look ahead, the companies that the government will own all have their challenges – NZ Post with the shrinking postal market, TVNZ and the digital media environment, a coal company if there is still a coal company. And we are going to have to change the way we work with these companies to ensure that we don’t lose taxpayers’ money. Because the taxpayers’ money in these companies doesn’t come out of the sky; it comes from the PAYE and the GST paid by NZ households. And we have a strong responsibility for the stewardship of that money.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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22 March 2013

The NZ Herald reported that “seven years’ worth of documents about Solid Energy have been released by Treasury… It has been released after a number of Official Information Act request centred around how much the Government knew about the financial troubles the state owned coal miner was in“.

Source:  Big Solid Energy document dump from Treasury

[Note: This blogger has viewed only a fraction of documents. There's no telling what other revelations and incriminating evidence is contained therein. Perhaps something to be re-visited on a quiet, wintry evening?]

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25 March 2013

Papers confirm Govt pressure on Solid Energy

A week after English’s attempt to ‘spin’ the collapse of Solid Energy and blame everyone under the sun, Radio NZ reported,

Official papers confirm the Government put pressure on Solid Energy to increase its debt and then appeared later to criticise it for borrowing too heavily as it got into difficulty.

The state-owned coal company is in debt to the tune of $390 million.

The papers released on Friday also show that despite strongly disagreeing with the company’s business plan, the Government left it late to act.

In 2009 the then State-Owned Enterprises Minister, Simon Power, wrote to Solid Energy chair John Palmer recommending the company raise its gearing ratio – a measure of debt – to 40%.

By June 2012, when it was clear the company was in trouble, the ratio had risen to 37% and, according to the Treasury, Solid Energy had taken on significant debt.

It was only at that point, after arguing with the company for three to four years about its business plan, that the Government decided to make changes.

Source: Papers confirm Govt pressure on Solid Energy

By  this time, public attention and media focus had waned. There were other issues and problems to deal with, and National ministers could breath a sigh of relief. They were “off the hook”.

Let us recall that Treasury’s scoping report, released on 4 November 2011, confirmed everyone’s suspicions that National had cash-stripped Solid Energy;

 ”…dividend payments to the government have been funded by increasing debt“.

Source: Treasury Report T2011/2373: Solid Energy New Zealand Scoping Study Report

The ‘up-shot’ of all this?

  • A billion dollar state own enterprise had been milked as a “cash cow” and left to collapse.
  • English, Ryall, Key, et al – off the hook.
  • There would be no ministerial accountability; no resignations; no one held to account.

And for good measure,

  • Blame Labour for everything.

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8 May 2013

Bill English preps public for Solid Energy’s write-off?

In a Radio NZ story (see: English questions viability of Solid Energy), Bill English contradicted his earlier assertion that Solid Energy would not be allowed into receivership,

“We’re not going to keep propping up businesses where we don’t think there’s a long term future. Where we think there there is, we put strong support in. So Kiwirail would be a good example.Where the government’s  already invested around a billion in them in the last 3 or 4 years and they will… all of their,um, surpluses will be reinvested in the business, probably for the next decade. So the taxpayer won’t take anything out of them. But there may be… it’s possible that there’s other businesses, as has been revealed say in the  Solid Energy case where their particular mix may not be viable so we have to look at  whether they can be restructured or whether in the long run there’s a viable proposition there. But at the moment Solid Energy is the only business where that’s in question.”

Listen RNZ interview: Bill English on Morning Report

By questioning the viability of Solid Energy, English is preparing the public for the day when National announces the demise of the company.

Having gutted it of cash and forced it to borrow millions for unsustainable dividends, National is now ready to administer the coup de grâce to finish it off. (If the Nats could eliminate all witnesses to their bare-faced thieving, I bet you they’d be considering it…)

Meanwhile, a week later…

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14 May 2013

$1 billion for KiwiRail

Radio NZ revealed that KiwiRail was receiving government funding to keep operating,

Overall the Government has committed about $1 billion to the effort, and Finance Minister Bill English has said the Government is unlikely to take a dividend for the next decade so KiwiRail can reinvest any profits in the rail service.

Source:  Solid Energy problems pose risk for KiwiRail

See also: Beehive.govt.nz: Next steps in KiwiRail’s Turnaround Plan

How is it that Solid Energy,  a once viable company – earning millions in revenue from overseas exports of coal (admittedly not a very environmentally-friendly product) – may be allowed to go into receivership?

Meanwhile, National is quite happy to keep investing in KiwiRail, which has never generated a profit in modern times. (Though admittedly, KiwiRail is  an environmentally-friendly transport enterprise with a positive future, as we pass the oil peak.)

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A message to businesspeople:

National Ministers are attempting to sheet blame for Solid Energy’s financial crisis to it’s former Chairperson, John Palmer, and CEO, Don Elder.

Key, English, and Ryall  have  resorted to mis-presentation of facts; omission of facts;  exageration; and in some instances, outright lies.

This should serve as a clear warning to businesspeople. Think carefully before accepting managerial or Board positions during a National-led government.

Because if things go wrong – even if caused by political interference – then they will have no hesitation to smear your reputation.  They will hang you out to dry, whether you are at fault or not.

A message to Voters:

National has a reputation as “prudent fiscal managers”.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how they have earned that reputation.

To allow a billion dollar SOE to crash and burn; run into the ground; and now   facing bankruptcy suggests to me that Key, English, Ryall, Brownlee, Joyce, Collins could not run a corner Dairy without getting into financial trouble.

I don’t think these clowns could run a sausage sizzle without losing money by the end of the day.

Perhaps, as a test,  those voters who are disbelieving should keep voting National? Let’s see what other SOE will collapse on their watch, eh?

What the hell. After all, it’s only our property. And tax dollars.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 May 2013.

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References

Solid Energy: Annual Reports Index

Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit – SOE Disclosures

Treasury: SOE/Solid Energy Disclosures

Previous related blogposts

That was Then, This is Now #18 (24 Feb 2013)

National caught out over Solid Energy – changes story on coal prices, debt, and other matters (13 March 2013

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Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

13 June 2013 3 comments

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MMP vote will lead to total review of system

Acknowledgment: MMP vote will lead to total review of system

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The above screen-shot of a NZ Herald story was one of many in 2010 that promised New Zealanders a review of  MMP, if voters endorsed that system in the 2011 general election.

Voters duly chose MMP over other alternatives, voting 57.8% in favour – up from 53.9% in November, 1993 (see:  Referendums in New Zealand).

Accordingly, as per legislation, a Review was triggered;

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s75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

Acknowledgment: Legislation: s 75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

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This was legislation that National – including Minister Judith Collins – passed through the House and enacted  on 20 December 2010.

So for Judith Collins to reject the  implementation  of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations is nothing less than unbelievable.

Especially when she said in the House on 14 May;

Mr Speaker, of course I did not hold the MMP Review. That was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I made it very clear that we need concensus on these matters for any change and there is no concensus for any change.

National has a proven track record of ducking for cover and avoiding responsibility – but even Collins’ assertion that “I did not hold the MMP Review. That was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission” is something that defies understanding.

To repudiate legislation from a previous government is one thing.

But to repudiate a law that she herself voted for?!?! The brazeness of National politicians is beyond belief.

The arrogance of Aaron Gilmore and that of Judith Collins and her fellow National MPs differs in only one respect –  Gilmore was ‘outed’ by copious quantities of liquor in his bloodstream. At least he had an excuse.

If voters needed further evidence at how out-of-touch National is with the rest of the country – it is Judith Collins thumbing her nose at the democratic process; the people who contributed to the Electoral Commission review; and to every New Zealander who believes we live in a democracy.

A few questions for the Minister to consider*,

  1. What was the point in spending taxpayer’s money on this Review, if you had no intention of implementing it’s findings?
  2. Is this the response that New Zealanders can now  expect with any other Review conducted by your so-called ‘government”?
  3. Will you be compensating those people who spent considerable time and money on making submissions to the Review – only to find it a total waste of effort?
  4. Was the motive for rejecting the Commission’s findings based on the electoral needs of your two coalition partners, John-”What Helicopter Ride?”-Banks and Peter-”No Child Poverty Here – Move Along”-Dunne?
  5. What demands or talks have you had with Banks and Dunne on this issue and was dumping the Commission’s recommendations a condition of their continuing coalition support? (I’m not even expecting a straight answer to that question.)
  6. Have you approached Labour and the Greens for a cross-Party conference on implementing the Commission’s findings? If not, why not?
  7. Since you reject the recommendations of the the Electoral Commission, will you be requesting their resignations, as it appears you no longer have any faith in that body?
  8. Why did you vote for the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 if you had no intention of following through with it?
  9. On an Ego  Scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being “I’m as humble as Jesus Christ – and 10 being “I AM F**KING JESUS CHRIST!”, how do you score your humility/arrogance?
  10. Will you resign?

By the way. A message to John Key.

Dear Leader says he would like the Parliamentary Term extended from three to four years…

Let me offer a pointer to that, Mr Prime Minister,

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When Hell Freezes Over

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You want our respect and trust?

Earn it.

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Addendum

A link to this blogpost was emailed to the Minister’s office. Even if Collins doesn’t read this, her staff can have a giggle at her expense;

Date: Thurs, 16 May 2013 10.48am
From: Frank Macskasy fmacskasy@yahoo.com
Subject: MMP Review
To: “judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz” judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz

Kia ora Ms Collins,

Regarding your decision to capitulate to your Party’s self-interest in maintaining the viability of your coalition partners (ACT and Peter Dunne), and not implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission – what is your response to the ten questions I have presented on my blogpost at THE DAILY BLOG; http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/05/16/judith-collins-minister-of-talking-crap/

Any light you can shed on this issue will be appreciated.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 May 2013.

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References

Wikipedia:  Referendums in New Zealand

NZ Herald:  MMP vote will lead to total review of system (23 Nov 2010)

Legislation: s 75 Electoral Referendum Act 2010

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National’s disdain for our credulity

Continued from: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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"There have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems''

“There have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour

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When Dear Leader’s comments regarding “weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems” hit our  TV screens, our entire household’s immediate reaction was to burst out into derisive laughter.

Surely, there is no f*****g way that this idiot could get away with justifying increasing the GCSB’s power’s to spy on us by claiming that foreign spies were engaged in acts of espionage to “acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”?!?!

Aside from the fact that we are a Nuclear Free Nation – enshrined in law – what other “weapons of mass destruction” is he referring to; chemical weapons? Bacteriological weapons? Super-Duper Hyper-Atomic Disintergrating Death Rays?!?!

No wonder  the news-readers on TV1 and TV3 had barely concealed facial expressions  that indicated, “Yeah, we don’t believe this bullshit either – but we’re paid to read you this crap, so go make a cuppa coffee or sandwich or feed the cat or something constructive, ‘cos there’s five more minutes of this masterbatory fantasy…”

If New Zealanders buy into this bovine faecal matter, then we are a nation that is truly thicker than I thought possible. Mind you, it seems that at least eight people outside of the National Nuthouse Brigade who are willing to go along with this outrageous exercise in bullshitry,

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Unbelievable.

Also surprising is that ACT has gone along with this exercise in the growth of State surveillance power.

Isn’t ACT supposedly the Party that advocates smaller government and less intrusion in our lives?

Having the the vast array of electronic gadgetry that the GCSB posesses, with a budget of over $100 million a year (see: Judge who watches the watchers), giving the Bureau even more power to surveil us and intrude into our lives seems a pretty funny way for a supposedly neo-liberal Party to be pushing for smaller government?!

But I guess that kind of inconsistancy is what keeps ACT under 2%, and right-wingers as a source of jokes for comedians.

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http://static.stuff.co.nz/1365553304/568/8531568.jpg

Waihopai Spy Base – soon to be reading your emails; listening in on your phone conversations; and looking out for anything “subversive” in your household – like being a Greenpeace or Forest & Bird member.

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It seems extraordinary that Dear Leader wants to extend the GCSB’s powers, when they are already unable to comply with their current legal obligations.

The Bureau wasn’t even able to supply Key’s “go-fer” girl, Rebecca Kitteridge, with documents she demanded as part of her so-called  ‘investigation’,

But in the report, Ms Kitteridge states that there were “many basic documents that I have been unable to find, and that others at the GCSB have struggled to find for me”.

[...]

But what she says is that she couldn’t find some files, and nor could GCSB staff. Mr Key however says it is wrong to assume files were deliberately withheld.

“What she’s saying is they struggled at times to access information – that will indicate there will be areas of where it was filed incorrectly, or it wasn’t kept on file, or it wasn’t kept at all,” says Mr Key.

“She has access to all of the information that is there. If it’s not there, then obviously she cannot access it. There may be reasons for that – others may want to present a different view, but she’s the person who’s been charged with the responsibility to go in there, has had Crown Law and the full support of the new director behind her.”

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key rejects GSCB cover-up

Key’s gobbledegook explanation doesn’t ring true. He may get away with talking to primary school kids like that, but for the rest of us – he’s talking crap.

And this bit is hilarious,

Mr Key says he appointed Mr Fletcher to improve the day-to-day running of the GCSB to prevent mishaps like this from happening, saying the agency needs “significant bulking up in the management”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Key wants  “significant bulking up in the management”?!

But… but… but… hasn’t National doesn’t spend the last four years cutting the State sector? National has slashed thousands of “back room” and “management” jobs from everywhere from Housing NZ to DoC to the military… but now Key wants to “significant bulking up in the management”?!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; these monkeys in the National “government” haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

Does Key really expect us to buy this horse manure,

Mr Key also rejects claims the Government is planning to change the law to give the GCSB the right to assist police and the Security Intelligence Service in spying on New Zealanders. He says the changes are just a “clarification” of the current law, and the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

He is being a disengenuous dolt when he expects us to swallow the line that the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Of course they change, you grinning fool. That’s what this is all about.

Key uses the excuse that by not extending the GCSB’s powers that somehow that would leave us open to all kinds of threats; terrorism, cyber attacks, alien invasion…

“As prime minister I am simply not willing to do that. To do nothing would be an easy course of action politically, but it would be an irresponsible one.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax media – Sweeping GCSB changes announced

Funnily enough, New Zealand has survived quite nicely without givcing the GCSB powers to spy on us. We already have the Police and SIS with more legal powers of surveillance than most Kiwis realise.

It’s getting rather crowded with the number of State agencies allowed to peek into our private lives.

Key insists that part of the deal with NZ First is that in return for supporting the Bureau’s extension of their powers, that there will be more  “safeguards” and “oversight” of the spy agency,

“I think GCSB should be able to provide agency support for NZ SIS under the right conditions, and with the right oversight.”

Acknowledgement: NZ City – PM denies inconsistency over GCSB woes

Funny…

Up until now, the GCSB has supposedly had plenty of over-sight.

The Prime Minister is responsible for the GCSB. It one of his portfolio’s,

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John Key minister in charge of the GCSB - government communications security bureau

Acknowledgement: Parliament – Current MPs, John Key

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So… How’s that been working out so far?

Continued at: National’s disdain for taking responsibility

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.

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References

NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour (16 April 2013)

Dominion Post: Key sexing up intelligence, says Shearer (16 April 2013)

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The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

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GCSB logo

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The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, has released his report and three problems arise immediatly.

1.

According to a TV3 report,

“While the Government has been cleared of privacy breaches, the report found the law is “unclear” and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, has recommended improving the Act and the “precision” of their paperwork.”

Acknowledgment: TV3 – GCSB cleared of wrongdoing in NZ cases

That comment above was not from Mr Neazor’s report. It was a paraphrase by GCSB Director Ian Fletcher.
The actual report has not been released – National refuses point-blank to make it public.

The TV3 report continued with this,

“There are two recommendations from the Inspector-General, which are for more precise legislation and some improvement in the precision of the GCSB’s paperwork, the latter relating to the recommendations in the GCSB Compliance Review,” says the GCSB Director Ian Fletcher.

Mr Neazor found that there are particular “uncertainties” surrounding meta-data.

“An example of metadata is the information on a telephone bill such as the time and duration of a phone call, but not the content of the conversation or identification of the people using the phone,” Mr Fletcher said.

Acknowledgment: IBID

The NZ Herald reported,

“Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor has cleared the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of illegal spying on New Zealanders.”

The Herald story goes on,

“The Inspector-General formed a view that there have been no breaches, although the law is unclear and the Inspector-General recommends amending it”, GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher said in a statement.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General found that all of the cases were based on serious issues including potential weapons of mass destruction development, people smuggling, foreign espionage in New Zealand and drug smuggling.

Acknowledgment: IBID

From the Dominion Post,

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) “arguably” did not break the law in the cases of 88 Kiwis, the spy agencies watchdog says.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor investigated after an internal review found the foreign spy agency may have have unlawfully spied on New Zealanders.

After the report, the Government moved to change the law to make it legal for the bureau to conduct surveillance on Kiwis on behalf of the police, the Defence Force and the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS).

The bureau has not released Neazor’s findings, instead issuing a statement.

Acknowledgment: Dominion Post – GCSB ‘arguably’ didn’t break law – Neazor

The Dompost report continued with this comment,

“The Inspector-General is of the view that there were arguably no breaches and the law is unclear,” the bureau said.

And this,

Neazor had decided “there had arguably been no breach, noting once again that the law is unclear”.

Acknowledgment: IBID

And TVNZ gave us this,

The Government’s spy agency, the GCSB, has been cleared of illegal surveillance in cases involving 88 New Zealanders.

[...]

“The Inspector-General formed a view that there have been no breaches, although the law is unclear and the Inspector-General recommends amending it,” GCSB Director Ian Fletcher said in a statement.

“There are two recommendations from the Inspector-General, which are for more precise legislation and some improvement in the precision of the GCSB’s paperwork, the latter relating to the recommendations in the GCSB Compliance Review.”

Acknowledgment: GCSB cleared of illegal spying, though law ‘unclear’

The TVNZ report further stated,

Neazor said the interpretation of this kind of information in the GCSB Act is one of the unclear areas that needs defining.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Every comment on Neazor’s report emanates from the GCSB itself.

At no point was there any commentary from Neazor himself, and nor is his report publicly available. The Dominion Post’s statement that “the Inspector-General is of the view…” is not supported by any facts or evidence that I can see.

Effectively, Neazor has been gagged.

Only John Key and GCSB Director Ian Fletcher are issuing statements – a politician and a spy boss hired by the same politician.

The truly frightening thing? The media is not reporting on this curious anomaly.

National will be passing a law increasing the powers of the GCSB, to permit it to spy on New Zealanders. Until now, the law has been crytal clear on this issue; the GCSB is not permitted to spy on New Zealand citizens and residents.

2.

Another curious aspect to this problem? The constant, repeated meme  that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is somehow ‘vague’ and ‘unclear’.

I present to the reader the relevant parts of the GCSB  Act. Judge for yourself how clear or unclear the law is yourself;

Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Furthermore, the Act states in at least two parts, precisely who the GCSB may collect data on;

Part 2
7. Objective of Bureau
  • (1) The objective of the Bureau is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand by providing—

    • (a) foreign intelligence that the Government of New Zealand requires to protect and advance—
      • (i) the security or defence of New Zealand; or
      • (ii) the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or
      • (iii) New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being; and
    • (b) foreign intelligence to meet international obligations and commitments of the Government of New Zealand; and
    • (c) advice, assistance, and protection to departments of State and other instruments of the Executive Government of New Zealand in order to—
      • (i) protect and enhance the security of their communications, information systems, and computer systems; or
      • (ii) protect their environments from electronic or other forms of technical surveillance by foreign organisations or foreign persons.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii), the interests of New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being are relevant only to the extent that they are affected by the actions or intentions of foreign organisations or foreign persons.

Part 3
13. Purpose of Part
  • The purpose of this Part is,—

    • (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and
    • (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.

Three questions arise,

1. Is the Act really as ‘unclear’ and ‘vague’ as Ian Fletcher, John Key, and (supposedly) Paul Neazor claim?

2. Has the media checked the relevant legislation?

3. Is there a concerted, surreptitious  effort to depict the GCSB Act as “deficient”, so as to increase it’s surveillance powers?

I leave the reader to come to his/her own conclusions.

But one thing is abundantly clear; we are not being given the full truth on this issue, and the facts surrounding the law regarding the GCSB, are being fudged.

3.

John Key refuses to release Neazor’s report to the public.

Why?

If the report fully vindicates Key and National, then he would be climbing over dead bodies to get it to the media and public attention.

His decision to keep the report secret implies that it contains details which are critical of National and/or Key’s management of this entire affair.

Let’s not forget a recent report from the Auditor General on Key’s dealings with  Skycity. Key claimed that the Auditor General’s report  “cleared him”;

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Key insists government vindicated

Acknowledgment: MSN News -Key insists government vindicated

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The Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith, though, was quick to challenge Key’s assertion that he had been “vindicated”,

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PM contradicted on SkyCity 'vindication'

Acknowledgment: TV3 – PM contradicted on SkyCity ‘vindication’

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The Prime Minister long ago lost the trust of many New Zealanders. His willingness to bend the truth – and on occassion tell outright lies – means we cannot take anything he says at face value.

If Neazor’s report vindicates National, then Key should have no reason to with-hold it from the public.

The fact that he is keeping it secret suggests that the report contains findings which are  damning of Key, his government, and god knows who else.

There can be no other conclusion.

As for the mainstream media, their lack of deeper probing on this issue is an indictment on the state of investigative journalism (or lack thereof) in the country.

Even something as basic as informing New Zealanders of the content of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 has been lacking. Without this most basic of information, the media is derelict in it’s duty to inform us.

We expect politicians to be lying pricks.

We expect better from our news rooms.

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Previous Related blogpost

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

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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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= fs =

John Key on Aaron Gilmore

From today’s Dominion Post…

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Defiant Gilmore digs in

Acknowledgment: Defiant Gilmore digs in

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John Key’s judgement on Aaron Gilmore,

In the end, to make a contribution, you have to have integrity, and to have integrity there has to be a directness and fullness in your answers.

*cough, cough*

Yes, Dear Leader, “you have to have integrity, and to have integrity there has to be a directness and fullness in your answers.

Indeed.

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= fs =

 

Breakfasts, Brain-fades, and Bullshit

26 April 2013 2 comments

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Key met spy candidate for breakfast

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Acknowledgement: Dominion Post –  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

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The best response amongst the comments posted was this one, in response to a right winger trying to deflect on to Shearer and Norman,

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Key met spy candidate for breakfast - comment by Rodger Red

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post –  IBID

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Brilliant reposte.

’nuff said.

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= fs =

Key: “I’ve left NZ in a better shape than I found it”

18 November 2012 23 comments

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Without a doubt, the following story by the NZ Herald on Key’s latest utterances deserves an Award for Outstanding Bullshitting – with a special mention for Self Delusion.

WARNING:  do not be drinking anything when you read this – not unless you can stop your gagging-reflex from spraying over your monitor and keyboard,

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Full story

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If Dear Leader truly believes that,

Personally, I think if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it.”

… then he is dangerously more out of touch with reality than the rest of us ever imagined.

But because John Key gives no indication of any head trauma or diagnosis for delusional psychosis, the only remaining option is that this was a pathetically weak attempt to shore up his Party’s waning public support.

Almost every poll has National’s voter support dropping. This blogger suspects very strongly that National’s own internal polling reveals a much more dramatic fall in public support – and that John Key’s credibility as an honest politician has taken some serious battering this year.

One poll in July of this year, by Fairfax/Ipsos, had this unflattering picture of Key,

A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women.

The first Fairfax Media/Ipsos political poll shows National has enough support for a third term, 44.9 per cent to Labour’s 32.6 per cent, assuming the current mix of support parties. But it also reveals a growing divide, with many still strongly backing Key, but a growing sense of anger and distrust among others.

Interviewers asked 1000 people to describe Key in as few words as possible. The pollsters said many voters rated him a straight-shooter and good or excellent leader, but a significant number thought he was arrogant, smarmy and out of touch.

Key still has the confidence of an overwhelming majority – 63 per cent saying he had a clear vision for the country, and was a strong and effective leader.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Since that poll, National’s support has dropped to 45% and Key’s personal support has plummeted to 42%, in a One News/ Colmar Brunton poll released on 4 November.

See: National support holds as Labour slips in poll

National is clearly in trouble with the public and Key’s extraordinary statement that  “I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is utterly laughable.

This blogger’s guess is that Key made this statement, off the cuff, and without his tax-payer funded spin doctors crafting a more credible message.

On almost every level, it is a demonstrably false assertion.

Looking at the facts on Planet Earth, rather than on Planet Key, we find the following;

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Unemployment

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When Key took office at the end of 2008, the household labour force survey reported unemployment at 4.6% or 105,000 real people.

See: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The latest household labour force survey released on 8 November this year had unemployment at 7.3% or 175,000 living, breathing people.

See: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter

In other words, there are 75,000 more unemployed people now, than there was four years ago.

This blogger accepts that the Global Financial Crisis has been a major factor for rising unemployment, but three questions still remain to be answered,

  1. Why has National not done anything practical to counter the effects of the GFC, despite having four years to implements job-creation programmes?
  2. Why did National proceed with tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 when the lost tax-revenue could have been used for upskilling; job creation; building new houses to meet our critical housing shortage; etc?
  3. Why does National continue to blame the unemployed for being unemployed, when they – the Nats –  play the GFC Card when ever it suits them, as an excuse?

Report Card: F – Total Fail

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Economic growth

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Retail

Retail Trade  dropped from NZ$18.8 buillion in December 2011 to the current NZ$16.8 billion, in September,

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Sourc:  Reserve Bank of New Zealand

This constitutes a $2 billion drop in retail activity.

By comparison, the drop from December 2010 to September 2011 was less –  NZ$900  million.  (See: Reserve Bank A1 Domestic trade)

Balance of Trade

Our Balance of Trade has definitly worsened since November 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis had begun to impact on our export sector,

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Source: Trading Economics New Zealand Balance of Trade

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In part, this may be due to our high dollar, which makes our exports less profitable – but makes imports (consumer goods, fuel, building materials, plant & equipment, etc) cheaper. However, whilst this may benefit one sector of our economy, it means that we are not paying our way with our trading partners.

Economists are expecting the figures to worsen in the coming months and year,

The annual current account deficit has widened to 4.8 per cent of GDP and economists expect it will keep getting worse, with sharply falling export prices and rising demand for imports.

The current account records the balance of trade between New Zealand and the rest of the world for goods and services, net investment income and net transfers.

ANZ economists said the 4.8 per cent figure was worse than market expectations and given the worsening trade position with lower commodity prices, the deficit was trending closer to the 5 per cent of GDP “danger zone” for international lenders.

The falling value of dairy exports and a drop in spending by tourists after the Rugby World Cup have seen the current account deficit worsen by $600 million to $2.8 billion, seasonally adjusted, for the March quarter.

That takes the annual deficit back up to $9.7 billion for the year to March 31 or 4.8 per cent of GDP according to latest Statistics NZ figures out earlier today. The deficit was equal to 4.2 per cent of GDP in the December year. “

See: Deficit expected to worsen

Wages

Despite JohnKeys perennial promises (see previous blogpost:  John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface), wages have not risen to anywhere near Australia’s levels.

In fact, wage rises in the last four years have not matched those under the previous Labour government, despite Dear Leader’s pledges and claims to the contrary,

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Source: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/NZIncomeSurvey_HOTPJun12qtr.aspx

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As Statistics NZ states in it’s June Quarter report,

In the year to the June 2012 quarter, there was no significant increase in:

  • median weekly income from all sources – up 1.8 percent from $550 to $560
  • median weekly income for those receiving income from wages and salaries – up $6 (0.7 percent) to $806
  • median hourly earnings – up 48 cents (2.4 percent) to $20.86.”

New Zealanders are generally not fools, and many have taken to voting with their feet to where there are better opportunities for jobs, wages, housing, etc…

See also: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 9. Conclusion

Migration

Migration to Australia was one of John Key’s major election platforms in 2008. He was scathing of Labour and the exodus of New Zealanders to Australia,

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.

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One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.  We must cut taxes and grow our economy, and National will have policies to ensure both occur.”  – John Key,  6 September 2008

See: Speech: Environment Policy Launch

I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves. That’s why this Government is focused squarely on improving New Zealand’s economic performance. And to be frank, New Zealand’s economic performance over a number of years has been disappointing. ” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech to Business Breakfast hosted by Cullen Law

The result? Wholly predictable by now,

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Full story

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As the NZ Herald story reported,

The number of New Zealanders moving across the Tasman hit a record 53,000 in the year to February, but the unemployment rate at home and Australia’s new tax breaks that would make millions better off are tipped to lift that number.”

As Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley stated on  TV1 on 3 September,

We can’t afford to bleed the numbers of people we see leaving for Australia. We can’t afford to lose the skills. We’ve got to do something.”

Key’s response,

Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more [mining] to encourage people to stay. It’s been a 40-year problem, and if we want to resolve it, we need to get on top of all of those issues.”

Oh really? “Maybe we want to think about doing a bit more “?! Gosh, Mr Key – you think?

Key’s statement encapsulates one  simple reality; that his  inept “government”  is utterly clueless. Dear Leader does not even know whose responsibility it is to create jobs;

Last year;

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” – John Key, 17 November2011

See: Key and Goff Q&A: Creating jobs

This year;

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

See: Key Notes: Honouring our fallen soldiers

Whenever National does become proactive, it tinkers with labour laws which will ultimately have the effect of driving down wages. This, in turn simply accelerates the flow of Kiwis to Australia and elsewhere.

Export Industry

On the other hand, when exporters cry out for relief from a high Kiwi Dollar that is ruining their trade, National either ignores their plight, or derides any possible remedies.

As president of the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Managing Director of two export companies, Brian Willoughby, said in utter desperation,

I’m concerned that this vitally important discussion is degenerating to the point that it is the guy with the biggest foghorn that is going to get heard the most. The Government had the biggest foghorn.

What is starting to irritate me is, here I am just down the road in Christchurch, representing manufacturers producing $2.6 billion [worth of product]. So why doesn’t someone from the Prime Minister’s department pop along and see me? I am far easier to get in touch with than the guys in Hollywood, and I don’t need any special concessions. The ones I need are the same ones with the dollar that the film industry needs.

But the issue is to develop a more balanced economy.

There are a whole lot of people [in manufacturing] who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and there are a whole lot of redundancies going on that the public never hears about.

The other thing that is poorly understood is that manufacturing jobs support three jobs outside – the courier guy, the guy that cleans the towels, the cafes near the factory. We have the contractors and suppliers – the guy that supplies the nuts and bolts and screws, the guy that does the laser cutting, the guy that does the painting, the guy that does the polishing, the guy that provides the plating service.”

It’s wrong to sit on our hands and say there is nothing that we can do.

We need a proper debate because it is extremely important to the New Zealand economy as a whole, not just to my members. In the long run, exporters ensure that we have a reasonable standard of living. If we can’t sell off-shore with good added value margins, we’ll go broke.

See: Soaring NZ dollar has industries in discussion

The Herald story goes on to reveal that Willoughby’s two Christchurch-based companies together employ twenty people. A year and a half ago, it was thirty.

On 25 October, Reserve Bank Governor, was forced to concede,

Offsetting this, fiscal consolidation is constraining demand growth, and the high New Zealand dollar is undermining export earnings and encouraging substitution toward imported goods and services.”

See: OCR unchanged at 2.5 percent

Our export sector is being damaged by our over-valued dollar (pushed up by speculators); profits are down; and redundancies are occurring.

Meanwhile, John Key smiles and waves and does nothing except make derogatory comments against visiting sports people.

Report Card: E – Verging on Total Fail

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Crime

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One of Key’s oft stated “successes” is that “crime has dropped”.

That may well be. But their may be several factors involved here,

New Zealand’s crime rate has dropped to an all-time low, latest figures reveal.

The annual crime statistics released by the police today showed recorded crime dropped 5.2 per cent on the previous year.

There were 394,522 recorded offences in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, compared with 416,324 the previous year – a decrease of 21,802 offences.

New Zealand’s population increased by 0.7 per cent during the period, resulting in a 5.9 per cent decrease in the number of offences recorded per 10,000 of population.”

And as well,

The largest decrease was in Canterbury, where recorded crime fell by 11.7 per cent.

Following the earthquakes there was a sudden large decrease in recorded theft and property damage offences.

Less serious offences reduced the most.

Although small by value, these offences are large by volume.

This decrease appears to be partly due to the public not wanting to bother us with minor matters when they knew we were dealing with the earthquake,” Mr Rickard said.”

See: NZ crime rate at all-time low – Police

Interesting, eh?

The biggest decrease occurred in the Canterbury region in the same year as the February earthquake that killed 185 people.

Surely Dear Leader is not going to take credit for something that a natural disaster caused?! Of course he will.

This is John Key we’re talking about.

Report Card: none (someone nicked it)

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Conclusion

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As is usual for John Key, his statements often contain loose “facts”; half-truths; and often outright untruths. His claim that “if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it ” is patently false.

On almost every indicator known to humanity, New Zealand is nowhere near “in a better shape than [Key]  found it “. Not unless he is using voodoo socio-economic ‘science’ that the rest of us are not privy to?

Perhaps they originate from Planet Key?

On an end note, I leave the reader with not just the results of my Fact Checking – but this dire warning from economists,

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Source

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Roll on 2014.

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= fs =

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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“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 20 comments

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In politics, there are several ways to discredit your  opponant or critic;

  • Humour

David Lange was the past-master of the one-liner riposte. His classic, “I can smell the uranium on your breath”, is now firmly ingrained in our culture.

  • Attack Reputations

A favourite of Robert Muldoon, who had little reservation in undermining, or even destroying, a person’s reputation if they crossed him.

  • Buy them off

Our best and most experienced journalists gave up their professions to join the Dark Side of politics, and become Press Secretaries and spin doctors for politicians, government departments, SOEs, and corporations.

Some of the most well-known media names from the  ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s now work for employers who do not want the public truthfully informed on certain matters.

  • Deride & Dismiss

If you can successfully paint your critic or political opponant as a “loony”, incompetant, naive, or possessing some  other faulty character-trait, then you may persuade the public not to listen to them.

The  Right deride the Greens as “tree hugging socialists” – and other epithets – when attacking their policies. Even when said policies are clearly delineated and sheer common sense – the derision and dismissive retorts are by now an automatic kneejerk from the Right. No thought required.

  • Off to the Gulag!

Very popular with the old USSR, and still in heavy usage in the last remaining Stalinist regime in North Korea. The Chinese have their own Labour Camps (prisons) for their political prisoners. And even the United States – the Land of the Free – has their own dirty little ‘secret’ at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Probably not feasible for dear little New Zealand… yet.

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National’s tax-payer funded  spin doctors have been working overtime this year on new angles for their Ministerial Masters to use to  dismiss the growing clamour of criticism against their policies, and more increasingly, criticism of John Key’s style of leadership.

With National dropping in the polls and Key’s popularity  not what it once was,  it is fairly obvious that critics are starting to hit home – and the Tory hierarchy is worried.

One response has been the Deride & Dismiss tactic.

Increasingly,  Dear Leader and his ministers have taken to referring to critics and political opponants as “conspiracy theorists” – a jibe designed to make someone appear to be on the fringe of politics; slightly unstable; not thinking rationally; and espousing ideas unsupported by facts.

It’s like suggesting that your opponant or critics believes in fairy tales. And it’s becoming more and more common,

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Mr Key is rejecting all their allegations.

“It went through the normal tendering process, Sky City was the only bidder prepared to look at a deal that didn’t involve government resources. They can run around as much as they like looking for conspiracies but they’re never going to find one”. ” – John Key, MSN News, 19 April, 2012

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But despite the paper, he denied there was any connection between him calling off the business case and SkyCity indicating it was considering extending its centre. “Not despite your wildest conspiracies, no,” he said. ” – Dominion Post, 24 April 2012

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But I would say it’s a really positive thing to do. You can make a difference. And it’s like the convention centre. People want to chase their tails in conspiracies. There is no conspiracy. The conspiracy is we haven’t had a convention centre for decades. We will get 160,000 visitor-nights. They will spend roughly twice as much as everybody else. The Government has got no money to pour into it.” – John Key, The Listener, 23 June 2012

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There is no conspiracy here. There’s a failure by an individual, there’s a cock-up, but there’s not a conspiracy.” [re, GCSB] – John Key, TV3, 29 September 2012

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Yeah the conspiracy theorists won’t like it they’ll be on TV tonight saying ‘yeah you know Dotcom’ and all this sort of carry on but they live in fantasy land.” – John Key, TV3, 1 October 2012

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There’ll always be conspiracy theorists out there but I’m interested in jobs, not people who live in Fantasyland and want to make things up.” – John Key,  Fairfax media, 2 October 2012
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Meanwhile Mr Key is writing off the concerns around Dotcom as “conspiracy theories”.

“I’d caution New Zealanders not to buy into conspiracy theories too much,” he says. ” – John Key, TV3, 4 October 2012

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Even Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald columnist and bearer of the Honorary Captain Key De-Coder Ring, joined in to support National’s spin-dictoring.

The conspiracy allegations against Key are over-egged.” – Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald, 3 October 2011

As these quotes show, Key has been using the “conspiracy” pejorative as often as he can get away with it.

Without indulging in conspiracy theories, one could almost come to the conclusion that “Conspiracy” and “conspiracy theorists” are the magic words in 2012 – as determined by National’s back-room spin doctors. These guys have been racking up serious over-time to create the right things for Key and other National ministers to say.

Anyone criticising Dear Leader is engaging in “conspiracies” and accusations against National are “conspiracy theories”.

Got that?

Good.

Otherwise it’s off to the Gulag for you!

Meanwhile, here is one example of pre-scripted spin being delivered incompetantly, by an incompetant Minister. Listen and weep, for our taxes are paying for this woman’s salary,

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[click on image to link to TV3 video]

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Dear Leader’s Mighty Lie?

14 July 2012 2 comments

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In March of this year, this,

That’s what we are working our way through at the moment. But the intention is for that retail distribution, that opportunity for mums and dads to buy, to be absolutely front of the queue. They’re my number one priority.”

“We’ve made it absolutely crystal clear what our intentions are..If it comes to mum and dad, and they want to buy 1000 shares or whatever…I want to make sure they get their allocation, they’re not scaled and they’re at the front of the queue. “

See:  Key: No referendum on asset sales

And this in June,

You can’t and wouldn’t want to stop them – but the question you have to ask yourself is why would they go and do that?   The question comes down to, why would a foreigner find an investment in Mighty River Power to be far more attractive on the long run than a retail investor sitting in Karori? And there’s no logic that they would. “

See:   Can’t stop asset shares being sold overseas – John Key

Had become this, two days ago,

Mighty River Power shares could be listed on stock exchanges on both sides of the Tasman to boost investment from Australian institutions, making shares more expensive for Kiwi investors…

… The joint lead managers – investment bankers helping Treasury arrange the sales – are understood to be pushing for a dual listing, with Wellington-based NZX as the primary exchange and a secondary listing on Sydney’s ASX.

… However, the Government has repeatedly said it wants to encourage a high level of local ownership, which it expects to be 85 to 90 per cent.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall would not discuss the issue, saying no decision had been made on an Australian listing. “

See: Dual listing may hit Kiwi investors

Aside from the breath-taking deception that National and John Key are about to foist on this country, there is an irony here that in June, John Key was assiduously trying to reassure the punters that Kiwi “mums and dads”  would be first in the queue to purchase shares.

Key even tried to find reasons why those “mum and dad investors”  would not on-sell their shares to foreign investors, saying, “the question comes down to, why would a foreigner find an investment in Mighty River Power to be far more attractive on the long run than a retail investor sitting in Karori”?

Now we learn that the shares may be listed in Australia?

Perhaps Key is targetting “mozzies” and their “aunties” on “The GC”?!

Key is well known for saying one thing to one audience, and something completely different to another.  This time, he will have been well and truly caught out if shares are listed on the Australian stock-exchange, for Australian investors.

What are the odds?

My money is on another Mighty Lie from Dear Leader.

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Another of John Key’s lies – sorry – “Dynamic Situations”

21 June 2012 2 comments

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An  email sent to Dear Leader, last year,

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from:    [email]
to:    john.key@parliament.govt.nz
date:    Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 12:32 AM
subject:Purchase of farmland

Sir,

At a recent public meeting in the Hutt Valley, in answer to a question from
the audience, you responded that purchases of farmland, by overseas buyers,  
would be restricted to ten farms per purchaser.

Can you confirm that this restriction is in place, and when the regulation was
enacted?

Regards,

- Frank Macskasy

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No response (or even acknowledgement)  was ever received from the Prime Ministers office.

The issue arose during a public meeting in Lower Hutt, organised by Hutt Grey Power,  on 24 May last year. People were concerned about the sale of 16 Crafar farms to overseas investors. The audience were most clearly unhappy at the prospect that foreign investiors were buying up vast tracts of our productive land.

Key made reassuring noises and said that his Party were “looking” at putting a limit at the number of farms a foreign investor could buy. He proposed a cap of ten farms. (Though even that  was not well received by the audience.)

In media reports though, he was somewhat less specific,

Prime Minister John Key says the Government would look at changing the law to limit foreign ownership of productive land if there is growing public concern.

However, he says such a change in response to the sale of the Crafar farms would a knee-jerk reaction.”

See:  Law change possible over foreign land buyers – Key

See:  PM: Change to foreign ownership law possible

Nothing ever happened, of course.

This was yet another example of John Key uttering vague reassurances with no intention of following through. And on 20 April, this year, Ministers Williamson and Coleman consented to foreign investor, Shanghai Pengxin, buying all 16 Crafar farms.

See:  Govt’s Crafar China sale decision slammed

No wonder that John Key’s reputation is becoming more tattered with each passing day. After a while, people start remembering these things.

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Money in the Banks (Part #Rua)

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John Banks has dug himself further into a hole by stating yesterday,

If I had have quite specifically and quite easily answered all of those questions upfront, contrary to the legal advice, then I wouldn’t find myself in this situation where people think I’m obfuscating. I shouldn’t have taken that legal advice, I should have answered questions much more straightly.”

See: Banks’ Dotcom call: ‘I’d do it again‘ (1 May 2012)

Banks is using the excuse that he received “legal advice” which advised him not to say anything to the media (1 May),

I could have quite easily answered all of those questions up front, contrary to the legal advice.  I have never had any problem answering questions in a very straight manner…that is why the public will be surprised I took the legal advice literally, not to jeopardise any inquiry.”

See: Banks ‘regrets’ legal advice to stay silent (1 May 2012)

To understand why that excuse is about as flimsy as wet toilet paper in a sewarage pond, one has to look back at the timelime of this scandal.

TV3 broke the story of Banks failing to declare  the source of Sky City’s donation on 5  April.

See:  Banks accused of failing to declare donation (5 April 2012)

At that point there was no knowledge or mention of any other dodgy donations.

Twentytwo days later, TV3 again broke the story that Banks had received donations from web entrepreneur, Kim Dotcom, and had listed them as “anonymous”,

Kim Dotcom is the latest person to have been found to have allegedly donated money anonymously to John Banks.

It is already known that in the race to be super city mayor, Sky City donated $15,000 each to the two front runners.

Len Brown listed Sky City as a donor but Mr Banks did not.

Campbell Live was interested in that because we had heard Kim Dotcom had made a donation three times that size to the John Banks mayoralty campaign.

Campbell Live has even been told Mr Banks was so grateful that he called Dotcom to thank him for it.

An investigation found that like the Sky City donation, the Dotcom donation appears to be listed as anonymous.

The question is why?”

See: Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports (27 April 2012)

That TV3 report is time-stamped on the TV3 news website at 7pm. In a phone call, the following exchange takes place,

Campbell: Did you ever helicopter out there?

Banks: I… don’t remember that. I mean, I had my own helicopter or course – I was flying, myself.

Campbell: Did you ever land it at his house or go out there in a helicopter?

Banks: I don’t recall…

Campbell: You’d remember that – you’d remember that surely if you helicoptered into the Coatsville mansion. You would surely remember that?

Banks: I can’t recall whether I did or not…

Campbell: What, you can’t recall if you flew a helicopter into the Coastville Mansion of Kim Dotcom?

Banks: No, no.

See: Ibid

Now the interesting thing here is that given that phone call, which was aired after 7pm on Friday 27 April – how could John Banks have had time to consult a lawyer for legal advice?

There was no mention of any police investigation until the following day, on Saturday 28 April, when told RadioLIVE,

If and when the police want to come and see me and talk to me, I’m very happy to do so.”

And if, as he claims, he had somehow managed to consult a lawyer prior to John Campbell speaking to him on the phone on Friday 27 April, why did Banks continually state “he could not remember” instead of  “the matter is currently under Police invesigation and I have been advised by legal counsel not to make any public statements at this point”. Or even a simple “no comment”?

Because the reference to so-called “legal advice not to talk publicly” doesn’t surface until Tuesday 1 May – some  four days later. In those four days, Banks keeps insisting that “he can’t remember”, “he can’t recall”.  He makes no reference to this mysterious “legal advice” until four days later.

It is the opinion of this blogger that Banks’  did not have any legal advice when John Campbell first phoned Banks on 27 April.

It is the opinion of this blogger that Banks’ continuing claim that he “could not remember” was a weak attempt at obfuscation  and not based on any manner of  “legal advice”.

Furthermore, one has to question that if John Banks is being truthful and Kim Dotcom is lying – what would be the point of requiring “legal advice”? Legal advice for what?

It should be noted that thus far, not one claim made by Kim Dotcom has been proven to be incorrect or  lie.

On the other hand, despite Banks first claiming that he did not phone Dotcom to thank him for the $50,000 donation – he now admits to  phoning the entrepreneur to thank him for sponsoring  a  fireworks display  in 2010, estimated to cost about $500,000.

See: John Banks dined at mansion, gave advice on Dotcom residency

Interestingly, at first Banks couldn’t recall phoning Dotcom. Now he not only recalls that he did – but remembers the substance of that phone conversation?!

How does that work?

Banks himself admits to lying – on legal advice,

If I had have quite specifically and quite easily answered all of those questions upfront, contrary to the legal advice, then I wouldn’t find myself in this situation where people think I’m obfuscating.”

See: Banks’ Dotcom call: ‘I’d do it again

This blogger has never heard of  “legal advice” that advises a client to deliberately lie. Legal counsel usually advise a firm “no comment”, and say nothing further.

Furthermore,  Banks at first said “his contact with Dotcom was limited to 20 minutes conversation and he had been to Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville only once for dinner“.

See: Banks sought split donation: Dotcom

Since then, Banks has admitted several visits to Dotcom’s Coatsville mansion; possibly two phone calls; and advocating on behalf of the entrepreneur by phoning Minister Maurice Williamson,

One, because he had been particularly generous to New Zealand; two, he was an entrepreneur who came to New Zealand to live in this home and do great things for New Zealand; three, he was a New Zealand resident; and four, I could see no reason a New Zealand resident … shouldn’t be able to buy property here.”

See: Banks: I didn’t lie, I simply forgot

Again, Dotcom’s claims are confirmed – whilst Banks’ story changes almost daily.

I leave the final comment, to the Prime Minister,

If he’s complied with the law, some people might not like it but he’s complied with the law, and you wouldn’t sack a minister for complying with the law of New Zealand.”

See:  previous Blogpost on Pansy Wong, Richard Worth, and Phil Heatley

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References

Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports (27 April 2012)

Police expected to investigate Banks’ campaign donations (28 April 2012)

Banks regrets not being up-front over donations (1 May 2012)

Banks’ Dotcom call: ‘I’d do it again‘ (1 May 2012)

Banks ‘regrets’ legal advice to stay silent (1 May 2012)

John Banks: I briefed Dotcom (2 May 2012)

Banks: I didn’t lie, I simply forgot (2 May 2012)

Previous Blogposts

John Banks – Demented or Slippery as an eel?!

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

Money in the Banks

.Banks: I didn’t lie, I simply forgot

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Isn’t it a crying shame…? (Part #Rua)

26 April 2012 1 comment

… that politicians continue to lie and misrepresent issues, just to push their own perverse agendas,

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Source

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Banks is telling outright lies when he says,

Too often politicians spend up large in the good times, leaving nothing in reserve for when things get tough. We saw this type of spend up occur under the previous Labour Government.” – Ibid

Every time this blogger reads comments like that, reinforces the view that the Right Wing are desperate to re-write history, to paint Labour as as fiscally incompetant.

The truth, though, is completely the opposite: Labour posted surpluses year after year, during it’s administration from 2000 to 2008. This IMF graph is fairly clear how debt dropped from 2000 to 2008 – and rose once National took power in November, 2008,

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The Government Debt in New Zealand was last reported at 31.6 percent of the country´s GDP. From 1985 until 2010, New Zealand's average Government Debt to GDP was 41.50 percent reaching an historical high of 71.60 percent in December of 1986 and a record low of 17.40 percent in December of 2007

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See more here: Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

Under Labour (red), debt dropped.

Under National (blue), debt went up (not helped by two tax cuts in April 2009 and October 2010 we could ill afford).

This is reinforced by another chart, with data sourced from NZ  Treasury, that shows government budgets  under National (in blue) and Labour (in red),

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New Zealand reported a government budget deficit equivalent to 3.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010. Government Budget is an itemized accounting of the payments received by government (taxes and other fees) and the payments made by government (purchases and transfer payments). A budget deficit occurs when an government spends more money than it takes in. The opposite of a budget deficit is a budget surplus.

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In fact, if any government is guilty of massive deficits and borrowing, look no further than this one,

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Full Story

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Full Story

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And just to prove how incompetant National truly is,

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Source

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So much for the ’09 and ’10 tax-cuts being “fiscally neutral”. Rubbish. Those tax cuts were made at a time we could not afford them; were funded by massive borrowings from overseas; and are a dead weight on this country’s finances.

What makes all this even worse is that our Dear Leader, John Key, was warned about the unsustainability of National’s tax cuts programme,

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Full Story

When right wingers try to re-write history, it gives the rest of us the opportunity to set the record straight.  It serves as a valuable opportunity to remind New Zealanders that centre-left governments tend to be fiscally prudent, whilst right wing governments give away money (through tax cuts) that we do not have.

Eventually, the message percolates through to the Great Unwashed. And people like John Banks are caught standing in a rather cold wind, with their trousers down around their ankles.

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