Archive

Posts Tagged ‘National’

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

17 March 2014 4 comments

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Key not talking about fundraising dinner

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On TV3′s The Nation, Key steadfastly refused to make public  the names of donors to various fund-raising events (or pay back) at Antoine’s restaurant in Parnell, Auckland.

Instead of using a Trust, where the names of donors are kept hidden, in this case Antoine’s Restaurant – whose owner is a well-known National Party supporter, Tony Astle – was the “bag man” who took the money; banked it; and then passed it on to the National Party as a donation. These donations were recorded with the Electoral Commission for 2010*and 2011*.

However – and here’s an interesting questing question that few (if any) have asked; was GST paid  by Mr Astle on any of the monies ($60,000 and $105,000) received in payment for the meals?

A donation made directly to a political Party does not incur GST. But  Inland Revenue (IRD) is quite clear of what constitutes a donation;

A donation is an unconditional gift only if the giver receives nothing in return.

But these monies were received from people attending the dinner and who paid for their meals accordingly. They received a ‘goods’ and ‘service’ in return for payment.

It is no longer an “unconditional gift”.

So those meals should have incurred GST.

(What Mr Astle then does with those monies, excluding GST,  is his business, and he subsequently gifted it to the National Party as a donation.)

Accordingly, I have made an inquiry with Inland Revenue on this matter;

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Inland Revenue - Te Tari Taake.

Information about a business

Business or trade name: Antoine’s Restaurant
Business IRD/GST number: Not provided
Address – business: Street: 333 Parnell Road
Suburb, city or town: Parnell, Auckland
Phone number: (09) 379 8756
Mobile number: Not provided
Description of the business: restaurant
Provide your detailed information:

Kia ora Mr Taxman, It has recently been revealed in the media that Antoine’s Restaurant in Parnell, Auckland, hosted a series of fund-raising dinners on behalf of the National Party.

One dinner event, in 2010, was attended by 21 people, where each person paid $5,000 to participate in the meal. The restaurant collected $105,000 from attendees.

Another event, in 2010, a sum of $60,000 was paid to the restaurant for a similar event. Considering that the monies paid was for a meal; paid to Antoine’s directly; this appears to have been a good and service provided to paying members of the public.

Was GST paid on these transactions?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

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You’ve successfully submitted your information.

Your information was received on Sunday, 9 March 2014 2:24:30 PM NZDT. This form is now completed.

Your reference number is: 208194.

It remains to be seen if Mr Astle paid GST on payments received for those meals. If 21 people paid $5,000 each, that comes to $105,000.

GST on that sum (in 2010), at 12.5%, would have amounted to $13,125.

Yet, the Donations Return for 2010 clearly shows that the full amount of $105,000 was transferred from Antoine’s/Astle to the National Party. No deduction has been made for GST.

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* Interesting Note:

The 2011 Party Donations Return for National also includes two payment by Oravida;

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Antoines Oravida donations 2011

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This is the same Oravida that National Minister, Judith Collins, recently visited in China – and of which her husband is a Director. Other donors on this Return also have links to Oravida.

The 2010 National_Party_donations Return also included a donation by one, Susan Chou, who is also connected to Oravida,

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Susan Chou donation 2010

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When it comes to ‘tricky’ – National excels with undisputed mastery of Big Time Tricky.

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References

TV3: Key not talking about fundraising dinner

NBR:  Key under fire for Antoine’s donations

Electoral Commission:  New Zealand National Party donations 2011.pdf

Electoral Commission: National_Party_donations_2010.pdf

IRD: Business income tax

TVNZ:  Judith Collins defiant amid claims of conflict of interest

Previous related blogposts

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

Other blogs

No Right Turn:  “Out of the blue”

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John Key - merril lynch

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 March 2014.

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If this isn’t corrupt – what the f**k is?!

7 August 2013 3 comments

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Peters slams National's house buy

Source: Fairfax media – Peters slams National’s house buy

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The National Government selling a  state-owned property to itself?!

This is the kind of practice  that is best synonymous with Third World or ex Soviet republics, where corruption is rampant.

Now we are witnessing  corruption by National ministers, Party officials, and their equally culpable apparatchiks.

Who would have thought that we would see this kind of thing here in New Zealand? And how do National Party members and supporters justify this kind of corrupt behaviour?

Perhaps it is time for Transparency International – the global corruption monitoring organisation – to reconsider our rating.

A message to Mr Peters;

Post the 2014 election, if you hold the balance of power, will you align yourself with a self-serving, discredited Party that has no compunction to act corruptly?

Will you cosy up to a Party that has engaged in unpopular legislation; ignoring public opinion; attacked critics; extended State surveillance power; and is now stealing public property for their own purposes?

Do you want yourself and your Party associated with this kind of corruption?

You have some deep thinking to do after next year’s election.  Choose wisely.

 

 

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Booze-ups, brain-fades, and bullying

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Apology over MP's flare-up in restaurant

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Apology over MP’s flare-up in restaurant

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Hmmm, another brain-fade from a National MP?

As if a bit of booze-fuelled bullying wasn’t enough, Mr Gilmore seems to have been afflicted with the Key Brainfade Syndrome. If I was the Diplomatic Protection Squad, I’d be checking the water-jugs in National’s caucus room. There must be  something in their water-suppy.

I shared my views with Fairfax’s The Press, in Christchurch,

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     The Press <letters@press.co.nz>
date:     Thu, May 2, 2013 at 12:21 PM
subject:     Letter to The Editor

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The Editor
THE PRESS
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Aaron Gilmore’s booze-fueled bullying and subsequent brainfade at a Hanmer Springs hotel  is typical  National’s attitude  toward working people.

It’s not surprising Gilmore acted so atrociously – National’s culture of anti-worker disdain has been evident since 2008.

Current plans to undermine collective agreements by allowing employers to negotiate in bad faith, then walk away, is pure National policy. Returning to youth rates (which only displaces older workers) is another example.

None of this will increase wages, or create new jobs, as John Key promised;

“We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key,  8 February 2011

As Bill English admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, National welcomes falling wages;

Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.” – 10 April 2011

Gilmore may’ve apologised for his crude behaviour, but National continues to bully and  abuse workers through it’s pro Big Business policies. Time for  Key to apologise and abandon it’s rightwing agenda.

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-Frank Macskasy

(phone number & address supplied)

Note to Mr Gilmore:  don’t ever call yourself a “man of the people”.

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Additional

Facebook: Helen Kelly – Discussion Thread

References

TVNZ: Q+A – Guyon Espiner interviews Bill English – transcript

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

25 April 2013 12 comments

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Continued from:  Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Once upon a time, at the bottom of the world, there was a small country that prided itself on being a fair, open, and uncorrupted society.

I’m no longer sure about the last bit.

Last year, Transparency International ranked New Zealand as the #1 least corrupt nation on Earth. We ranked above Denmark (#2), Finland (#3), Sweden  (#4), Singapore (#5),  and  Norway (#6).

I’m no longer certain we deserve that top ranking, either.

The further that the Sky City/Convention Centre and Crafar farm deals are  scrutinised – the stronger the odour of something unpleasant fills our nostrils.

To recap, let’s start with the Crafar farms deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

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Tahi: Crafar Farms/Shanghai Pengxin/National Government

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The timetime of the Crafar deal runs something like this,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd to buy Crafar Farms.

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

At least, that is the version for public consumption.

Recent revelations indicate that much more was taking place behind the scenes. If we take that timeline and add the revelations that have come out in the last few months, the picture takes on a murkiness and a hint on something decidedly shady,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

2 December 2009: KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED registered. (Then changes to ORAVIE LIMITED, 20 December 2010. Then changes to ORAVIDA LTD, 20 January 2011. Then changes to ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED, 13 May 2011. ) Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi.  (Source)

11 June 2010:  National Party receives $50,000.00 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

30 July 2010:  National Party receives $150,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

18 November 2010: MILK NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION LIMITED* registered. Directors: Terry Lee and Jiang Zhaobai. (Source)

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd  to buy Crafar Farms.

31 May 2011: National Party receives $100,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

22 July 2011:  ORAVIDA LTD registered. Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi. (Source)

27 July 2011:  ORAVIDA PROPERTY LTD changes name to  KIWI DAIRY INDUSTRY LTD.  Shareholder: Deyi Shi (Source)

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

22 November 2011: National Party receives $50,0000 donation from Citi Financial Group. Shareholders: Yan Yang and Qiang Wei. (Source) (Source)

22 November 2011: National Party receives $1,600 from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

26 November 2011:  NZ General Election

30 November 2011: National Party receives further $55,000 donation  from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

*   “Milk New Zealand Holding Limited”  is the official applicant and purchaser of the 16 Crafar farms. It is supposedly a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin,

” Applicant

3. The Applicant is Milk New Zealand Holding Limited (“the Applicant”), a Hong Kong incorporated company which is an overseas person under the Act.

4. The Applicant will register as an overseas company under the New Zealand Companies Act 1993 prior to acquiring the Investment. The Applicant does not have any current interests in New Zealand as at the date of this Application.1

1 The 99% ultimate owner of the Applicant, Zhaobai Jiang, has a [redacted]% interest in a company ([redacted*])that has applied for consent to acquire development land at [redacted] . No decision has yet been made on this application.” – Source

(*Note: Despite OIO redacting the second company, this blogger has  found that it is actually “NATURE PURE LIMITED“.  Terry Lee and Zhaobai Jiang are both listed as Directors.)

Despite numerous company name changes; newly registered companies; and a lengthy trail of shareholders, the one link that does stand out between Shanghai Pengxin and financial donations to the National Party is Terry Lee.

Mr Lee, along with Deyi Shi and  Xing Hong, registered KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED on 2 December 2009, which, after several name changes, ended up as ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED  on 13 May 2011. Xing Hong was also a one time Director of ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

Deyi Shi is still a current Director of both  ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

On 22 and 30 November, 2011, the National Government received donations totalling $56,600 from Oravida NZ Ltd.

A further $300,000 was donated to National by Auckland businesswoman, Susan Chou, who, through her husband Zhaowu Shen, had a connection with Jack Chen and NZ Natural Dairy Ltd – the first unsuccessful attempt by Chinese investors to gain control of the Crafar farms.

Two months later, on 27 January 2012, National approved the sale of 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Milk New Zealand Holding Limited.

Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions from the facts presented.

Continued at:   Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

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Sources & References

OIO:  Decision required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005: Milk New Zealand
Holding Limited

CAFCA:  December 2010 decisions

NZ Companies Office

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000

Acknowledgements

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: Chinese cash flows to Nats

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: China link to Nats’ $200,000

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First blogged 28 April 2012

When is ‘Nanny State’ not a ‘Nanny State’?

6 April 2013 4 comments

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… when National does it.

From one day ago,

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Young people banned from sunbeds

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Young people banned from sunbeds

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But when the previous Labour government attempted to improve the health of our children, National condemned it as,

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'Nanny state' fears on health bill

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – ‘Nanny state’ fears on health bill

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When the previous Labour government tried to conserve energy use, National condemned it as,

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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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Evidently it’s ok for National to pass laws controlling a legal (if somewhat unhealthy and dangerous) activity. The Nats are attempting to ban a group of young people from engaging in activity that  older New Zealanders are still allowed to do.

But not for the previous Labour government when they wanted to replace unhealthy food with healthy food in school cafetarias/tuck shops.

In fact, when National took office in November 2008, they reversed the healthy foods policy in schools,

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Schools' healthy food rule scrapped

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Schools’ healthy food rule scrapped

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According to Ms Tolley – National’s Education Minister at the time – it was “up to parents and students to make decisions about healthy food”.

The Nats couldn’t wait to allow fatty, sugary, salty, artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing, garbage back into schools for our young children to consume. And shorten their life-spans by several decades, no doubt.

That was ok. No “nanny state” here, folks – junk food was given the Big Tory Tick.

But not sun beds.

Apparently, Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew and her National colleague, MP Paul Hutchison, don’t mind putting on a “Nanny” frock and instructing under-18s that cooking themselves with UV radiation has been banned by Big Government.

I wonder if when this Bill comes before the House for it’s three readings, that Labour and Green  MPs sitting opposite Ms Goodhew and Mr Hutchison will be quieting chanting…

“Nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… “

Gowan. Do it.

You know you want to.

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Two polls, two governments

21 March 2013 6 comments

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polls_ist2_141437_arrow_graph_down_rev_2249_704752_poll_xlarge

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Two  polls out recently give completely different outcomes if an election had been held over the last week or so.

One, the Roy Morgan poll would result in a change of government – whilst the Herald Digi Poll would (without overhangs) allow National to almost govern on it’s own. The results,

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Roy Morgan Poll

Herald Digi-poll

National

43.5% (-4%)

48.5% (+1%)

Labour

32.5% (+2%)

36.4% (+4.4%)

Greens

13.5% (+1%)

9% (-1.7%)

NZ First

5% (+2%)

2.5% (-3%)

ACT

0.5% (n/c)

0.1% (-0.1%)

Mana

0.0% (-0.5%)

0.5% (+0.2%)

Maori Party

2% (-0.5%)

1.1% (-0.4%)

United Future

0.5% (n/c)

0.0% (-0.3%)

Conservative Party

2% (n/c)

1.3% (-0.1%)

Undecideds/Wouldn’t Say

5%

11%

(n/c = No Change)

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Two polls, two outcomes, two governments. So which is more accurate?

In a previous blogpost (see:  Three recent polls), a comparison was made between Roy Morgan, Colmar Brunton, and Ipson Poll. Of the three, Roy Morgan was closest to actual election day results in 2011.

So let’s compare Roy Morgan; the DigiPoll, and Election Day results,

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Roy Morgan

24 Nov 2011

Digi Poll

25 Nov 2011

2011

Election results

Closest Polling result

Right bloc:

National

49.5%

50.9%

47.31%

Roy Morgan

Maori Party

1%

0.4%

1.43%

Roy Morgan

ACT NZ

1.5%

1.08%

1.07%

Digi Poll

United Future

0.5%

0.0%

0.6%

Roy Morgan

Left bloc:

Labour

23.5%

28%

27.48%

Digi Poll

Greens

14.5%

11.8%

11.06%

Digi Poll

Mana Party

0.5%

0.3%

1.08%

Roy Morgan
Other:

NZ First

6.5%

5.2%

6.59%

Roy Morgan

Conservative Party

n/r

1.3%

2.65%

Digi Poll

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Roy Morgan was slightly more accurate than the Heral Digi Poll.

Interestingly, Roy Morgan seems to be the most accurate pollster when it comes to National, beating Herald DigiPoll, Colmar Brunton, and Ipsos.

Equally important to  Roy Morgan’s polling for preferred Party, is  polling for Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction for the government of the day – in this case, National.

Roy Morgan asks respondants,

“Generally speaking, do you feel that things in New Zealand are heading in the right direction or would you say things are seriously heading in the wrong direction?”

The results seem to back up National’s fall in preferred Party stats,

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New Zealand Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating (Government of John Key): Interviewing Dates
 

Jan 30-Feb 12,

2012

(post election)

Jan 2-13,

2013

Jan 14-27,

2013

Jan 28-Feb 10,

2013

Feb 11-24,

2013

Feb 25-Mar 10,
2013

Right direction

57%

53.5%

57%

55%

54%

51.5%

Wrong direction

30 %

33.5%

30.5%

30.5%

32.5%

37.5%

Roy Morgan GCR#

127

120

126.5

124.5

121.5

114

Can’t say

13%

13%

12.5%

14.5%

13.5%

11%

TOTAL

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

#Roy Morgan GCR = Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating (The Roy Morgan GCR is 100 plus the difference between the percentage of New Zealanders who say the country is “heading in the right direction” and the percentage who say the country is “seriously heading in the wrong direction”).

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Acknowledgement: Roy Morgan Poll

Soon after the 2011 election, National rated highly with respondants, with 57% approval. Since then, except for a ‘blip’ at the beginning of the year, National’s approval rating has dropped from 57% to 51.5%.

Conversely, those expressing a view that National was headed in the wrong direction, rose from 30% soon after the 2011 election to 37.5%.

Those who Couldn’t/Wouldn’t say have dropped from 13% to 11% – meaning that people’s views on National are  firming up – and becoming more pissed off.

Once Mighty River Power is part-privatised, expect to see National’s support  plummet even further.

As this blogger has been predicting consistently; we will see a change of government in 2014 (if not earlier).

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Previous related blogpost

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

Three recent polls

References

Final poll: Nats win looks certain, Winston over 5% (25 Nov 2011)

Roy Morgan Poll  (18 March 2013)

Labour rises at expense of allies  (21 March 2013)

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How to sabotage the asset sales…

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Something I blogged on 25 June 2012, and now more appropriate than ever…

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On last weekends’ (23/24 June 2012) “The Nation“,  the issue of asset sales was discussed with   NZ First leader, Winston Peters; Green Party MP, Gareth Hughes; and Labour MP, Clayton Cosgrove,

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Source

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Whilst all three parties are staunchly opposed to state asset sales, NZ First leader, Winston Peters went one step further,  promising that his Party would buy back the assets.

Gareth Hughes and Clayton Cosgrove were luke-warm on the idea, quite rightly stating that there were simply too many variables involved in committing to a buy-back two and a half years out from the next election. (And Peters never followed through on his election pledge in 1996 to buy back NZ Forestry – “to hand back the envelope”, as he put it -  after National had privatised it.) There was simply no way of knowing what state National would leave the economy.

Considering National’s tragically incompetant economic mismanagement thus far, the outlook for New Zealand is not good. We can look forward to more of the usual,

  • More migration to Australia
  • More low growth
  • More high unemployment
  • More deficits
  • More skewed taxation/investment policies
  • Still more deficits
  • More cuts to state services
  • And did I mention more deficits?

By 2014, National will have frittered away most (if not all) of the proceeds from the sale of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

In such an environment, it is difficult to sound plausible when promising to buy back multi-billion dollar corporations.

Not to be thwarted, Peters replied to a question by Rachel Smalley, stating adamantly,

The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back  those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less.

Bold words.

It remains to be seen if Peters will carry out that threat – especially if a number of his shareholders are retired Kiwi superannuitants?

When further questioned by Rachel Smalley, Peters offered specific  ideas how a buy-back might be funded,

Why can’t we borrow from the super fund, for example? And pay that back over time?  And why can’t we borrow from Kiwisaver  for example, and pay that back over time…”

The answer is that governments are sovereign and can make whatever laws they deem fit. That includes buying back assets at market value; at original sale price; or simple expropriation without  compensation. (The latter would probably be unacceptable to 99% of New Zealanders and would play havoc with our economy.)

Peters is correct; funding per se is not an issue. In fact, money could be borrowed from any number of sources, including overseas lenders. The gains from all five SOEs – especially the power companies – would outweigh the cost of any borrowings.

Eg,

  1. Cost of borrowing from overseas: 2% interest
  2. Returns from SOEs: 17%
  3. Profit to NZ: 15%

We make on the deal.

The question is, can an incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government accomplish such a plan?

Should such a  radical policy be presented to the public at an election, the National Party would go into Warp Drive with a mass  panic-attack.

But it’s not National that would be panicked.

It would be National going hard-out to panic the public.

National’s scare-campaign would promise the voters economic collapse;  investors deserting the country; a crashed share-market; cows drying up; a plague of locusts; the Waikato River turning to blood; hordes of zombie-dead rising up…

And as we all know, most low-information voters are highly susceptible to such fear-campaigns. The result would be predictable:

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But let’s try that again…

A more plausible scenario would have the leadership of Labour, NZ First, the Greens, and Mana, meeting at a secluded retreat for a high-level,  cross-party strategy conference.

At the conclusion of said conference, the Leaders emerge, with an “understanding”, of recognising each others’ differing policies,

  1. Winston Peters presents a plan to the public, promoting NZF policy to buy-back  the five SOEs. As per his  original proposals, all shares will be repurchased at original offer-price.
  2. The  Mana Party  buy-in  to NZ First’s plan and pledge their support.
  3. Labour and the Greens release the joint-Party declaration stating that  whilst they do not pledge support to NZ First/Mana’s proposal – neither do they discount it. At this point, say Labour and the Greens, all options are on the table.

That scenario creates considerable  uncertainty and anxiety  in the minds of potential share-purchasers. Whilst they know that they will be recompensed in any buy-back scheme – they are effectively stymied in on-selling the shares for gain. Because no new investor  in their right mind would want to buy  shares that (a) probably no one else will want to buy and (b) once the buy-back begins, they would lose out.

Eg; Peter buys 1,000 shares at original offer price of $2 per share. Cost to Peter: $2,000.

Peter then on-sells shares to Paul at $2.50 per share.  Cost to Paul: $2,500. Profit to Peter: $500.

Paul then cannot on-sell his shares – no one else is buying. Once elected, a new centre-left government implements a buy back of shares at original offer-price @ $2 per share. Price paid to Paul: $2,000. Loss to Paul: $500.

Such a strategy is high-stakes politics at it’s riskiest.   Even if Labour and the Greens do not commit to a specific buy-back plan, and “left their options open” -  would the public wear it?

The certainty in any such grand strategy is that the asset sale would be effectively sabotaged. No individual or corporate buyer would want to become involved in this kind of uncertainty.

Of less certainty is how the public would perceive  a situation (even if Labour and the Greens remained staunchly adamant that they were not committed to any buy-back plan) of political Parties engaging in such a deliberate  scheme of de-stabilisation of a current government’s policies.

The asset sales programme would most likely fail, for sure.

But at what cost? Labour and the centre-left losing the next election?

We may well end up winning the war to save our SOEs – but end up a casualty of the battle.

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Related Blog posts

Peter Dunne says

Campaign: Flood the Beehive!

Additional

Asset sales remain unpopular for NZers

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Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part toru)

17 February 2013 3 comments

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SOEs

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Continued from:

 

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

 

NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – At this point, there was some light entertainment – firstly from this chap,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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“John Key” – first tried to convince the crowd that he’s really a “nice guy”.  The response from the crowd was anything but ‘understanding’.

“John Key” then sang his now-famous version of the New Zealand anthem, which he said was now “partially privatised” – so minus every third or fourth word. Thwe song made bugger-all sense – much like asset sales themselves.

The anthem was missing the last line, which he said, had been “sold in it’s entirety, including the word ‘New Zealand’.

After “John Key” was ‘helped’ off the stage with accompanying boos and cat-calls, Energy campaigner, Molly Melhuish took the microphone.

Ms Melhuish spoke for Greypower. Like Geoff Bertram, she is also deeply knowledgeable about all facets of the energy industry, including pricing systems used for residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

As always, listeners leave a talk by Ms Melhuish with a greater knowledge and insights into the electricity industry in our country,

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Ms Melhuish first explained a bit of the background of the  “Keep our Assets” campaign,

“… Greypower was essentially asked to front this campaign, and we said at the first strategic meeting of the ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign that we wanted to co-front it with the youth, so we found a youth group, it was the University Students Association.

Because we believe this campaign is about those older people. Surprisingly many of our members were involved in building those assets. We said they’re ours, we want to keep them.

But we speak to our grand-children and our grand-children recognise… they just don’t want them sold. So the Greypower group board as a group, supported this ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign, all seven zones.

There are a small number of individuals in our meetings who really believed John Key when he said ‘we have to sell the assets so we can  re-pay the debts’. Geoff [Bertram] told you how wrong that is, but people are conservative,  want to be safe, and many, or most of the people who still say ‘we have to sell the asssets’ do so because they believed [John Key]. John Key is a show pony, he’s… telling the story told to him by others. He’s  a used car salesman. Would you buy a used car off that guy? I wouldn’t.”

“…Just yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Mana Tawa… The very very first question I asked was ‘Why can’t we have solar power on our houses? Our family in the U.K., you know, they got money to put photo-voltaics [on our roofs] and they were able to pay it off on our power bills. She said, ‘Why can’t we have that?”

We could, but we have to vote for it.

We won’t under this administration.

Another one  said, when I bought my place in a retuirement village in Porirua, we were promised lower bills. We are now paying more for our little retirement village than I paid for a four bedroom house.

So you get a captive consumer and they  can hike power bills not twice, but four times!

Greypower now has a policy that says energy leglislation must say [that] all household energy and especially electricity must be provided in a manner that’s fair, sustainable, efficient, and reliable. That was the law in 2001- Labour changed the law to make that. [But] National government took away “fair and sustainable” [from legislation]. That is wrong.

What to do about it? Change the government!

The only way you will get a change is to change the government! Vote for it! Peter Love told you that  in the first speech; vote for change. Greypower sez vote for change. That’s your job – We Greypower can support it but it is your job to vote for change.”

And she’s right. The only way we can effect change is by the ballot in the Voting Booth. Deciding not to vote because of some half-arsed cliche about “all politicians being the same”  is defeatist garbage. It is  craven surrender to forces who welcome people giving away their vote because vested interests have persuaded you that “change is not possible”.

Change is possible. But not when cynicism guides your decisions.

Molly Melhuish was followed by Aotearoa Not For Sale activist, Frances, who spoke of her own ‘journey’ to  set aside her apathy and become active. Despite English being a second language from Frances, her words were truly inspiring. A million New Zealanders like her, and no government would dare risk selling our treasures,

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Frances first described the desperate conditions that afflict the poor or unemployed in other countries, where social welfare services barely exist, or not at all. She referred to the shame of someone loosing their job, and killing themselves and their entire family by mass-suicide – because the provisions that we often take for granted (or that right-wingers complain about), do not exist in their society.

“…I saw this country as a country so beautiful and with a humanity and the government with a heart [?] to looking after the poor and the under-privileged and  the vulnerable groups. But throught the years I don’t know what has happened, I was too busy looking after kids, young children, and being someone who didn’t speak very good english. I sort of stayed low and keeped quiet and don’t want to say much about nothing against   government. Although I do complain a lot at home if I say something, I see the government doesn’t do something nice to people.

But then I accidently walked through a public meeting … beginning of last  year and then that was about state asset sale. And I was so shocked about what ‘s going to happen. And I thought, well,  for the last 15 years my shower time from … ten minutes down to three minutes, because we need to have a budget for our power because the power bill kept going up.And then I cut my hair short so I don’t have to spend so much time [in the shower]. So all these things, and  I decided maybe this year I will not harass my kids to have a showers if they don’t want to because it’s just getting more and more expensive.

There might be more stinky people around the city.

And hey, we are from middle income family, and during the winter time we fight often … argue with my husband about whether we should have the heater on. And I just never thought  will  come to this day!

And now they’re going to privatise these companies and  sell to all those rich, only going to benefit the very rich few. Especially some foreign companies. And I was like,  that’s not right, I can’t afford to pay even higher bills.”

And I thought, what happened? … From me not paying attention to politics. I actually don’t like politics. I  want to just appreciate art and literature, but then from me not doing anything for so many years, what has this country become? Because a lot of people are like like me, they don’t like politics. They don’t want to take action; “I often give them moral support, I’ll  give you some  dollars, but you do the work. You go against the government.”

But then this time I realised what example I was setting for my children…

… But I feel great because I work with so many dedicated people and so many beautiful people, and  selfless. And they are wonderful. We are all trying to make this country a better place for us, for others,  for our children.

And for middle income like us, we struggle, and I just hate to think how the low income, how the  beneficiary actually survive. And this government keep taking things away from the general  public, from the  weaker and from the vulnerable group. …

… Being a housewife, what can I do? I go out to collect signatures because that’s  easy thing for me to do. It takes a lot and time and a lot of effort, but I’m glad I can make  contribution. And I feel everybody here can make contribution…

… And being at home I can teach my kids, say, well don’t believe everything you heard from the media. And don’t just listen to what people say, you watch what they do. Especially our Prime Minister.

Frances finished with these thoughts,

“We can all make a difference… I saw so many people on the street. Some  are angry but most  of them are so depressed because they think government will never listen, and they think what we are doing going to be  in vain, just not going to change anything.  And I say to them, I say, if you don’t make any noise for this, what do you think government are going do to us next?

I want to set  example to my children to say, if you really believe, and you have to believe, you can make a difference, you can change something. You just take actions and do whatever you can….

… But  we have to still have to pressure the government, we want our referendum now, not later!

… One day when my kids ask me ‘mum have you done anything to protect us from being attacked by our government’ then I can say, I have done something. And I hope we can all say that, say  we have done something to protect you from bad government policies.”

Amen to that, Frances.

Frances struggled at times with the English language  – but the message she gave was as clear and meaningful as words could possibly convey.

This blogger found her to be truly inspirational.

As clouds darkened the evening sky, and the southerly ‘breeze’ gave a ‘bite’ to the assembled crowd, there was final entertainment from Steve and  John,

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And finally, a rousing applause given to Richard, who shouldered much of the responsibility in organising the event,

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Meanwhile, further down the waterfront, others were more comfortable with their boutique beers and frothy lattes,

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Want to help?

Make a donation (any size) to: BNZ, 02-0560-0158770-00

Volunteer by contacting: saynotoassetsales@gmail.com

Go to: any of the Relevant orgs listed below.

Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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= fs =

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

17 February 2013 5 comments

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SOEs

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Continued from:

 

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part tahi)

 

NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – The first speaker was Peter Love; Te Atiawa, and Board Member of the Wellington Tenths Trust,

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Peter Love spoke of having to buy a bottle of water from the dairy – and yet Maori were castigated for trying to assert their own water rights. Holding up a plastic bottle of water, he said it’s not about “Maori owning the water”,

We have to make sure you don’t have to go into a dairy to buy this!

He spoke of countries such as China sending their workers into Pacific Island nations to build infra-structure and buildings for the locals, but for a price.  Peter Love spoke of powerful interests  seeking valuable resources  such as the fish in Cook Islands territorial waters.

He said asset sales would be a magnet for overseas investors,

They’re after our assets!”

Which is why“, he said, “we’re all here this evening challenging the government.”

Peter Love finished with a humorous touch,

My wife said, ‘hullo – don’t get arrested Peter...”

He encouraged the crowd,

“…Don’t forget, keep it up. Sign the petition against it. And we may have to call you again to go to Parliament.”

The next speaker was Peter Love’s mokopuna (grandchild), Kaira Ranginui-Love, of Te Atiawa, who spoke directly to the many young people in the crowd,

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Ms Ranginui-Love spoke with deep passion about her feelings for this country, and how others wanted a piece of our paradise,

I love Aotearoa! I don’t know about you but I absolutely love this country. I believe Aotearoa is Heaven on Earth…

… For many of you, Aotearoa has been a home for you and your families since the time of the settlers, and for others.”
 
“… But regardless of how we all got here and what we’re all doing here, I think we can all agree  what connects us is our love for Aotearoa.”

“We are very lucky to live here. We have the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the lands,  and all that dwell therein. So we must look after our country, and be the caretakers, for now and for the future generations to come. We need to be wary that we don’t allow our country to be exploited by those in a position of power. The National government, the National Party, they have an immoral agenda based on monetary gain only…”

“…Is this government listening to our views?”

“I think this govermnment blatantly  ignores it’s people and what they want. What we all want. No thought has gone into the rippling effect that this will have on our futures.”

“…We’ll have no say, and we’ll  have no rights. This referendum will help to stop the government from making a terrible mistake. Remember, everybody wants a slice of our country, our paradise. So it is time to stand up. It is time to fight for this generation and the generations to come….”

“…The time to act is now, before it’s too late.”

Next, the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown – a veteran campaigner against the privatisation of Wellington’s former “Capital Power” company in the 1990s – spoke of her thoughts on selling strategic assets that belong to the people,

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Mayor Wade-Brown welcomed people to the rally and acknowledged the hard work by organisors to set up the rally,

Let’s give the organisors a big round of applause!”

This week there’ve been a number of really important issues raised that resonate with all of us; leadership; jobs; a fair go; and a clean environment; public ownership of strategic assets. Those aren’t alternatives to each other, they go hand in hand.”

The Mayor spoke of Deborah Littman visiting Wellington and talking to Council (see: Mayor pushes to give hundreds a pay increase ) about how a living wage has in helped  many aspects of society in Vancouver and London, by raising incomes,

Low pay doesn’t help the local economy; low pay doesn’t educational failure, and low pay doesn’t help poor health. So the living wage is an idea to inspire us, it’s a journey, not an overnight transformation… … a living wage is good for the local economy.”

Mr Wade Brown referred to a Greenpeace economic report which outlined ambitious ideas for new jobs, new prosperity, and a clean economy. She outlined Greenpeace’s ideas for how huge wealth could be created for New Zealand by building an economy based on 100% renewable energy,  energy efficiency, and sustainable transport.

The mayor went on to describe one of her earliest actions soon after being elected to the City Council in 1994,

I voted in one of the earliest political decisions when I was elected on Council against the sale of Capital Power. And now the energy retail and lines businesses have been split up and sold and sold again  and it’s really impossible to assess what they would  be worth now.

But it could’ve been a huge help to the capital city as a basis for a smart grid, for electricity demand management, and for more manageble bills for people on low incomes. So I understand your concerns about selling of power generation companies.

More successfully, Wellington City Council voted against the sale of our Airport shares. Although one third does not give us control. But it does keep us in the loop and it gives us a considerable dividend that keeps your rates down.

And in the ’90s there were really truly mutterings -  I saw Cr Stephanie Cook here earlier and she’ll back this up – there were muttering about selling of our council social housing. It never did get to a vote, thank goodness... “

Social housing for vulnerable tenants was a social partnership, she said.

Mayor Wade-Brown then described Wellington’s water supply and categorically stated,

The basic public infrastructure should remain in public ownership and the charging policies and the conservation policies should be set democratically.”

She took a good natured ‘dig’ at Peter Love with the remark,

And I would like to add that you don’t need to buy in bottles because there are free water fountains along the waterfront.

Ms Wade-Brown told the audience that Council, in partnership with local Iwi, was bringing back alienated land to return to the Town Belt.

The Mayor added,

So local government faces the same financial pressures as households do, as you do,  as business does, and as central government does. But we’re not going to face those pressures by selling of our strategic assets. We won’t sell social housing, we won’t sell water infrastructure, we won’t sell the reserves that make this capital city so special.”

The mayor implored people to sign the petition – but not ten times,

It doesn’t help to sign it ten times, ok guys? If you’ve signed it, you’ve signed it…
… And tonight people are tweeting, blogging, using Youtube, and everything else to have your say. And that’s my main message; stand up and have your say, in the capital city!

Kia kaha.”

Next up – perhaps the country’s sanest, most common-sense economist – Ganesh Nana, rose to tell it from an economist’s  perspective.

Perhaps surprisingly, he wasn’t tied up and thrown into the harbour. Economists in the last thirty years have had a bad rep – perhaps only second to certain policians.

But Ganesh Nana is a rare breed of economist. He sees through the neo-liberal fantasy world of ideology and tells us that the dogma of the New Right simply does not work as ‘the label on the can’ promised,

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Ganesh Nana started by saying,

I’m an economist, ok, so I promise not to say anything about ‘The Phoenix’ or anything about cats…”

That elicited a laugh from the crowd and then he launched straight into the issue of asset sales and started by asking,

You might ask why would you at all be interested in hearing from an economist, and I ask the same thing; “why is anybody  interested in hearing from an economist given whate total mess we’ve made of the economy to date, but never mind… You guys should really be asking for an apology from the economists given the mess we’ve made...”

“… But I will apologise on my own behalf for not not actually shouting out a lot louder evertime we’ve made a wrong turn. So today here I am shouting out just a bit louder for making a wrong turn yet again.”

The audience warmed quickly to Ganesh Nana’s self-deprecating comments and clapped at his remarks. Only a lone heckler, yelling out comments he must’ve thought were very hilariously witty (mistakenly),  stood apart from the crowd.

Ganesh Nana continued,

From a business perspective; a business person’s perspective;  this is a very, very, very,  simple problem facing us, or a simple question; why would you sell an asset?

I ask you that question and from my own academic perspective or background, when faced with that question  I go to a dictionary and look up the definition of an asset.

It’s really quite simple… … you’ll find some words around something that is valuable and of use. And then I started to think as a business person or as an ordinary person why would I get rid of something that is valuable and of  use?”

He then asked,

“…These assets that the Crown have, [that] the government on our behalf, [as] taxpayers, are holding. Do they continue to be valuable and useful?

And if so why are we getting rid of them?”

… From a business perspective the only reason I’d get of an asset is if it suddenly became a liability.

That is, it required a lot of upkeep and it wasn’t paying it’s way, so it wasn’t really an asset. And then, yes,  you get rid of it fast.

But is anybody seriously trying to tell me that those electricity generation stations, and all the infra-structure around it,  is something that we, as a nation, ‘ain’t gonna’ need for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years?

Because if the answer to that is ‘yes’, then let’s get rid of it, because we don’t need it. But if we do need them, we need to hold onto them. It’s really quite that simple.”

Ganesh Nana was also adamant that not all economists follow the neo-liberal, monetarist line,

“…People who think that businesses or economists totally agree with getting rid of assets or following the market path, and there are lots of other reasons we could go into which are far too technical to go into tonight, about following the market and about how government shouldn’t be involved in assets; and shouldn’t be involved in the economy – those are smokescreens.

There are quite surprisingly some economists, myself included, who don’t follow that [ideology], and actually go back to the textbook… If it’s an asset, and it’s going to earn something over the future, you hold onto it for dear life. Because that’s what your future relies on!”

Ganesh Nana’s speech was well-received by the crowd. One could sense  that it was a relief for many who were listening,  that not all economists were wide-eyed free-marketeers demanding the dismantling of the State.

Ganesh Nana was followed by Geoff Bertram, Senior Economics lecturer at  Wellington’s Victoria University, and one who had been closely studying the energy sector. Mr Bertram understands the mechanisms by which our energy companies are valued and re-valued – and his simple explanations quickly reveal these valuations as clever, malevolent, rorts.

The same rorts used to drive up power prices on an almost annual basis,

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Now, the government’s aiming to sell off nearly half of some state-owned companies worth about ten billion [dollars], so it’s hoping to get a bit about under half… perhaps $4.5 billion from the sales from anybody prepared to buy the shares that they’re going to issue.

I’m going to talk tonight really about the motivation  that might lie behind those sales, and I personally think it boils down to two things.

The first is the desire of  the Treasury to get the money and run before certain things become very apparent about the way that electricity prices have been set over the last two decades.

And the second reason I think is to close off policy options that might remain open to future governments if the assets remain in full public ownership. Because while the assets are in full public ownership, it is possible to change the way they are managed and change the way that  electricity is supplied…”

Geoff Bertram then made an explosive accusation against the government which, if true, revealed a shocking reason why National is so hell-bent on privatisation of certain state assets,

“… It’s my view that probably the  most important political consequence of the part-privatisation of SOEs is to place private investors in those enterprises  and thereby immunise them against possible future policy that might reduce their value.

And since  I think an important part of an improved government policy would indeed reduce their value, I am opposed to the asset sales…

…The companies have a very high valuation. The reason why they have a very high valuation  is that they have successfully participated in a long-running rort to extract cash from residential electricity consumers by the inexorable driving up of prices of electricity.

That rort, has been possible, because government policy has allowed and has indeed supported the emergeance of a cartel of five, large, vertically-integrated, generator-retailers – three of whom are SOEs  – which have been able to operate without any effective regulation, at the expense of  consumers who were too vulnerable to protect their interests against price hikes.

And if you looked at the tracks of electricity prices over the last 20, 30 years you will have noticed that large industry has protected itself very successfully; commercial electricity buyers have done fine; residential who are the dis-organised, unrepresented, undefended, captive group of customers have seen their prices go up in real terms 100% since 1986.

And the main consequence of the electricity reforms has indeed been that doubling of the cost of electricity to ordinary  households. 

That’s a major cause of energy poverty; it’s been an important part in the growing  inequality of income and wealth in this country; and it’s something that a socially responsible government would,  in my view,  be taking serious action to reverse.”

The audience broke into heavy applause as the implications of Geoff Bertram’s comments sank in.

It is simply extraordinary that none of the media present at the rally that day has reported Geoff Bertram’s amazing – and disturbing – analysis of the energy sector and electricity pricing in New Zealand. Is what he’s saying boring?! Too complicated?! Risking opening a can of worms?!

This should be a prime-time story on TV3′s “Campbell Live” and Radio New Zealand.

Geoff Bertram continued,

“Just to put that doubling of the residential price in context. New Zealand’s pretty much on it’s own in the OECD and if you look at  the figures for other countries around the OECD, from 1986 to the present, the price of electricity to residential consumers  in OECD Europe, in Australia, and in the United Kingdom, is still the same as it was in 1986. In the United States, Japan, and France, prices are down 25% , compared to where they were in 1986, in real terms.  In South Korea they’re down 50%, compared to where they were in 1986.

New Zealand is the only only OECD country that has gone out there and driven up electricity prices 50%. We’re also pretty much the only country that doesn’t have a regulator in place, and where government doesn’t have any particular social policy relating to the pricing of essential services to the public.”

Geoff Bertram then explained what he called “the re-valuation game”, as it applied to electricity pricing in New Zealand,

And here’s how it works.

You take a bunch of assets with a given value, and you look at the existing price, to consumers of the product, and you say “well look, we can get the price up”; so you project  that higher price; you capitalise that; and then if you can get the price up the asset will be worth more; so then you re-value the asset; and then you go and use the higher value of the asset to justify raising the prices, and then you repeat.

And this is the circular process which has been going on in New Zealand now, in electricity, for more than a decade. It is completely legal under New Zealand law.

It is not illegal to profiteer or  to gauge captive customers in this country. [In] very few countries is that true.

And it’s consistant with New Zealand’s generally accepted accounting practice which basically tells you that there’s a rotteness at the core of accounting practices in this country.”

Geoff Betram further described how the ECNZ had sold power stations to the newly formed Mighty River Power, in 1999, at a considerable mark-up. In effect  government sold these power stations to itself and in the process pocketed a huge profit. To pay for those power stations, prices were raised, forcing captive residential consumers to pay more and more for their electricity. He added that we have been,

“…living under a government which for two decades has  become effectively  a corporate predator, in this sector, where once it used to be a social provider.

The applause that followed that statement was louder than before. People were ‘getting’ what Geoff Bertram was telling them. He continued,

Here’s the problem. Electricity was once an essential service provided to households at the lowest price, consistent with covering the industry’s costs. 

Since 1986 the sector has been corporatised and part-privatised, and it’s pricing has been driven by the quest for profit by giant companies that have the market power to gouge their consumers.

As the owner of three of those companies, the New Zealand government has therefore become a predator. And now the Treasury wants to cash in on that rort by selling out half the government’s stake.

What that means in terms of the options for the future for government to turn around and come back from the predator model and return to a social service approach  for energy supply, is being closed off.”

Geoff Bertram suggested that every household in New Zealand could be allocated 300kwh [kilowatt hours] of free power every month, and pay market rates for anything over and over used. He added,

But if you want to deal with energy poverty and get kids out of hospitals with asthma and other respiratory diseases and so on, one of the really good  things that you can do is get cheap energy into New Zealand households and that would be sustainable on the basis of the current government owned assets.

About 300 kwh free. [But if] you sell Mighty River and what’s feasible comes down to 200 [kwh]. You sell Genesis and what’s feasible comes down to 100 [kwh]. You sell Meridian and it’s gone…

What I’m saying is the contract  that supplies the Rio Tinto smelter down at Bluff, the old Comalco contract, is the contract New  Zealand households should have had from the start.

And it still could be done.”

Imagine, every household in the country, receiving a dividend of 300 kwh, each month. The positive benefits for low-income families, in damp, drafty houses, would be incalculable. Coupled with providing free meals in schools for children, it would be a major blow against child poverty in New Zealand.

But not if National get’s it’s way.

A new Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana coalition government must listen to people like Geoff Bertram, Ganesh Nana, et al, if we are to progress forward.

After Geoff Bertram, the crowd was entertained by Maarama Te Kira and Lucky Ngatuere,

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Following on from the entertainment, Jane Kelsey, Law Professor from Auckland University, addressed the Rally. Professor Kelsey is also one of the country’s acknowledged experts on globalisation, and a staunch critic of the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), which is being negotiated in secrecy and condemned worldwide.

Professor Kelsey has also been the target of some fairly vindictive statements from the NZ Herald (see: Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey).

Professor Kelsey started by welcoming old friends to the rally,

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“…It was great to see lots of familiar faces from battles of the past, but it was also great to see so many young people here, because these battles are your battles for the future…

… I congratulate not only the organisor here, but  those who have been running the campaign  in Wellington gainst the asset sales, because it’s been a real inspiration across the country, and I know it’s being watched by people outside the country as well.

Some of those who are here will remember those battles we had in the mid 1980s when we were told that state-owned enterprises were simply a way of creating more efficient ways of keeping assets in  our hands. And we said at the time that it was a lie. And we knew it was a lie and they knew it was a lie. And we proved it was a lie and then they sold them off and then we had to buy them back.

Because as we predicted would happen, when you have private owners, especially private foreign owners, who have no stakes in our future, they will strip the assets. And thats what Bell-Atlantic and Ameritech did with Telecom and that’s what Wisconson Railways  did with the railways, and that’s what the [foreign ]banks that still own our banks, did with the Post Office Savings Bank and the BNZ and the Rural Bank, and so on, and we’ve been there and done that and we know what it means.”

At this point, Professor Kelsey held up a metre-square white board with heavy black lettering on it; ‘SAY NO’. It was a take on Winston Peter’s ‘NO’ sign from the Owen Glenn Donations affair in 2008. (see: Peters denies latest Owen Glenn allegations)  The placard provoked laughter from the crowd who obviously recalled the significance of it.

” They also know that the problem [for the neo-liberals] was that we were able to reverse some of those failed privatisations, and other things that failed. Like when they tried to privatise ACC. Like when they tried to de-regulate the electricity market. … So what they have is a new strategy designed to lock-in and make potentially irreversible the kinds of policies that they want to see rule in the interests of their cronies for the indefinite future.
These particularly  toxic legal products are known as Free Trade and Investment Agreements but they have nothing to do with trade, they’re actually investment protection agreements that make it almost almost impossible for us to be able to do the kinds of reversals of failed privatisations we’ve done in the past. We have a number of those agreements already.

And they are potentially causing some problems.
Some of you will have followed what’s happening with the tobacco companies, and their threats to sue over the introduction of plain-packaging tobacco. What we have now now is a particularly virulent strand of this this toxic disease. It’s known as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or the TPPA. We have other ways of describing the TPPA – Taking People’s Power Away. Toxic Profiteers Plundering Aotearoa.
What it’s designed to do, in particular in relation to investment, is to say ‘You have to open your doors without restrictions to the rights of foreign investors to be able to buy any of the assets within Aotearoa’.
Now, we already have an open door,  and they’ve already signed away the ability to reverse some of that.

But now they want to raise the thresholds even further, so that our ability to vet foreign owners is effectively taken out of our hands. But worse than that, once the foreign investors own the assets, these agreements give special guarantees to those foreign companies. They give guarantees that we will  not alter our future laws and policies in ways that significantly affect the value or the profitability of their investments.
So once we have – or they have – given away our assets, our ability to do anything to recover them is not only constrained by the kinds of threats that we’ve seen in the past and concerns about ‘crisis’ and ‘investor confidence’ and all of that other bullshit – we have threats from foreign investors under an agreement like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, that they will sue our government not only for the loss of the value of their assets but the for the loss of future profits from those assets.
…It will not be a case that will be brought in our domestic Court. It is a case that will be brought in a secret, off-shore tribunal, where there will be three Arbitrators who would sit on the Hearing who last week were acting for an investor, and this week are acting as a judge in the cases brought before them by an investor. There is no system of  precedent, there is no openess so we can see the documents, or even sit in on the Hearings. There may not even be a publication of their judgement at the end of it!
These kinds of secret offshore tribunals are  so discredited now that many  governments are saying  they won’t agree to deals that allow foreign investors to have those powers.  And the Australians have said in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that they won’t agree to foreign investors having those powers.

Our government – when John Key was first asked about this – said, “Oh, well if the Australians don’t think it’s a good thing, it sounds a little bit off-beam to me, so I suppose we’d go where Australia goes”.

Then his officials officials briefed him and said, “Well, actually Prime Miniter, no, we’re going to agree  to foreign investors having these powers”.
So this Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is currently being negotiated. They want to try to close off the negotiations in October this year. The negotiations are all taking place in secret. We don’t get to see the final agreement until it’s signed off by the eleven countries negotiating it, which includes the US where the big foreign investors are based.
So, effectively the government is negotiating a Bill of Rights for foreign investors not only to enter and buy up this country, but to be able to threaten us in the future if we try to take back control of what is ours.”

Professor Kelsey invited the crowd to join in the campaign to oppose the TPPA, and pointed out information that was freely available on nearby tables. She warned the crowd,

“Join us in the campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, because so many of the things that we care about – We will not be able to effectively regulate in the future; we will not be be able to take back control of our future; if this agreement is passed. Parliament doesn’t get  an effective say on it. This is an agreement negotiated by the  Cabinet, it can be ratified by the Cabinet; and we have no say until it is a done deal.
We know that the Prime Minister is very good at secret done deals. We know that the Prime Minister is happy to do deals on behalf of his cronies. We know that the Prime Minister is prepared to sell out democracy, sovereignty, and tino rangatiratanga. And if we’re going to take back control of our futures then this agreement is a priority to stop this year, along with the asset sales.”

Professor Keley thanked the audience, who in turn cheered and clapped for her.

Meanwhile, Shane and Ariana (?) held aloft the anti-TPPA banner,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Next up, Bishop Justin Duckworth – the Anglican Bishop of Wellington. He had some very personal but salient anecdotes to share with us,

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aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Bishop Duckworth greeted the crowd and started with this story from his own family,

” I was sitting out before and listening to the speakers, who were awesome, and I was suddenly talking to a new friend, I met a new friend, and he was telling me he was a father like I was a father, and we were discussing our children, and I suddenly remember a story that happened between my wife and my teenage boy. Classic conversation went down about domestic chores. And my beautiful wife, Jenny was saying to my boy, “it’s your turn to do the dishes”.

And he sort of said, “No, I did the dishes last night”.

And then she said, “I vacuumed the floor.”

And then he said, “Well, I watered the garden.”

And then she said, “Well, I dropped you to school.”

And it was escalating. Until my wife finally busted what I thought was the argument to end all arguments. And she said this; “I gave birth to you.”

I thought;  that’s it. Argument stopped. How could you argue with that?

My teenage boy had this comeback, “And your generation destroyed the environment for us.”

Good line, eh?

And it’s true isn’t? It’s true that our generation not only did we destroy the global environment, but  we have also instigated the global recession as well. And I think that the issues that we are talking about today about asset sales; the reason why that this issue in particular hits our public so strongly, and we have such a good turnout to this rally, is that because I think it’s at the core of a whole lot of other issues.

And so, as a man of faith, as a follower of Jesus, I just want to tell you what concerns me. And these are questions I have, I haven’t got the answers, but these are just questions.

Around asset sales I have questions  around the lack of regulation already  in place in the assets that we own…

… I heard Geoff speak, and I also read his articles, the reports about his papers a couple of weeks ago.  I am concerned that that it is simply not fair, and not just …”

“If we were to sell our assets how less a control do we have? If we already have such limited control at the moment on the regulation of them, how much more limited will it be in the future?”

My second question I would have is this. Recognising… that the Kai Tiaki of New Zealand is Tangata Whenua’s Maori people, and the wairua of this country, the spirit of this country is held by that Kai Tiaki, by the Maori people. I would have questions around what happens if we start selling our assets overseas, what does that mean for the Kai Tiaki here?

“… Third question would follow on from the Greenpeace speaker [Bunny McDiarmid - no recording of her speech made; blogger's stuff-up], and that woud be this; What happens to the environment longer term if we lose responsibility and control of our power companies? What guarantees do we have whether actually our environment and our global climate change issues will actually be positively addressed by our country? I think there are huge issues there if we choose to sell our assets.”

Bishop Duckworth then concluded with this sobering anecdote – something personal, yet with global implications in how we treat each other,

“…Those of you who don’t know, my father was born in Burma – in Myanmar. A few years ago I went back with him; never visited before, me and my brother went back to Burma. Took my dad, visited a whole lot of wider family.

Once we were on a temple tour, as you do on these sort of trips. We were touring around these temples, and me and my brother, having a lot of sibling rivalry, we’d constantly compete to see who could get the best bargain for the little knick-knacks. You know that I mean? Those little things you buy constantly. So me and my brother were constantly competing for who could get the best deal  on knick-knacks.

One night we were just finishing another temple tour and this guy sidled up to me and was selling me hand-painted pictures of Burmese countryside. Now I’ve been around long enought to know what you can normally get these pictures for.

Normally you pick these pictures up for about three US dollars.
But I was militant that night. And I thought I’m going to prove once and for all that I can run the biggest, best bargain in the world. So I drilled that fellow down to get the best  bargain I could. And in the end I managed to get four pictures for five US dollars!

…We were getting a lift home, and I was showing the pictures to my brother and saying, “Look, I’ve got the best bargain ever!”

And the driver of our horse and cart leant over and asked, “Hey, um, what’d you pay for those?”

I said, “I paid five US dollars for the four of them”.

He sez, “Ohhh, it must’ve been a bad day.”

I go, “What do you mean?”

“The man musn’t have been able to sell anything that day, so he had to sell his goods at cost price, at least at cost-price,  just to buy rice for his family.”

And suddenly I realised what was just some crazy game, ideological game, for me, was actually  life and death for other people.

And my big questions I have around this issue is this; is this some crazy ideological issue that we’ve been driven  here, or is it actually about everyday people who are struggling, who need jobs, who need security, who need a future, and who need decent power.

And that’s my question.”

Ariana then troduced Maanu Paul, Chairman of the Maori Council, and  who was currently taking the Government to the Supreme Court over water rights. Maanu Paul had some interesting observations, and made a call to action,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Maanu Paul offered a greeting to the people at the rally, and then began with,

“When I was asked to come and speak, at this,  I asked, “who makes money out of this lot [asset sales] ‘?

And the answer was, we need to raise the consciousness of our nation in respect of our opposition to the sale of assets. The New Zealand Maori Council has had a long history of opposing the sale of our assets, beginning in 1986, when we established Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act, which we said, “nothing in this Act shall be contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi”.

And then we had the lands case in 1987 when we stopped the sale of state owned land. And then we had a negotiation with the Crown over the sale of the biggest man-made forest in the southern hemisphere – the Kaingaroa Forest. And then they sold the spectra. And  we had an argument with the Crown over who owned the spectra. It’s about the same argumwent as who owns the water.

And the government of the day said, ‘Maori did not know anything about the spectra’. And I shot back to them, ‘Neither did they. An Italian  fellow named Marconi knew about it, and the Poms didn’t know anything about it at all’.

The upshot is that they allocated us a portion of the spectra and now we’re a part of Two Degrees.

Finally we come to the sale of the dams and the capacity to generate power. The whakapapa so far tells us that the constant that is present in all this is that the Maori Council has ensured that state owned assets stay in this country.”

There was strong applause at this point, and with a smile, Maanu Paul continued,

“Thank you. Because I’m going to ask you to put your hands in your pockets, because you owe us.”

More good natured laughter, and Maanu Paul’s smile widened, as the audience understood the nature of his remarks. He explained,

“You owe us because if we didn’t take this government to the Tribunal, to the High Court, and the Supreme Court, our assets would’ve been gone, would’ve been sold by now.

That is the reality of what we’re facing. And so the Council is dedicated to ensuring that we leave the world a better place for our mokopunas. We leave the world a better place that wehen we were born to it. And the world we were born to was, as far as I was concerned, I had the right to go and fish in my foreshore in my foreshore and seabed… heh heh heh…

I had the right to swim in my rivers and my lakes and call them my own. I had the right to do what I wanted with my land without having it confiscated.

And all of these tell me right now, that those rights have been eroded. Those rights have been eroded because this government, and previous governments, have failed to properly honour the Treaty of Waitangi.”

At this point, Maanu Paul called for direct action of a sort that up until now had not been considered. His comments have been reported in the media, and this is what he said, verbatim,

“And so my  message today, to us, is quite simply, is that we need to do more than sign a petition. We need to do more than gather in Frank Kitts Park, and what we need to do is to sit outside of Parliament and demand that we maintain the control of our assets.

What I’m suggesting – and I don’t know whether my Council’s going to agree with me about  this – but what I’m suggesting  is that we have a Noho Kainga [sitting] on Parliament grounds!

And we sit there until a fellow called Winston Peters might have put a Bill in Parliament that says ‘we are wishing to maintain ownership of the assets that we paid for in the taxes that’ve been levied upon us in the name of the public good’.

The audience resoponded enthusiastically to this suggestion, and the feeling was strong that many would’ve upped and left for Parliament’s ground at that very moment.

Maanu Paul continued,

“And the reason I’m saying this to you is that simply because there is no protection of your assets paid for by your taxes, which were levied upon you in the first place, in the name of the public good.

And we are the public and we should have a Nono Kainga to protect to protect our public good.”

Maanu Paul then sang a new “public anthem” to the crowd. This blogger can report that  his singing is something to behold – Maanu Paul has an awesome singing voice. Firstly his song was rendered in Maori, and then for the benefit of those who don’t yet know the language (including this blogger), in English,

‘I am the water, the water is me,

Cascading down,

from Ranginui,

Enveloping all,

The environment,

I am the water,

the water is me.’

Ariana asked the crowd,  “Yes, yes, yes! A sit down at Parliament – who’s up for it?

The response was shouted from the crowd loud and in affirmation.

A new people’s action may be in the offing… Stay tuned, folks. This ain’t over – not by a long shot. Or by John Key’s lamentable imagination.

A new chapter is unfolding.

Continued and concluded at:

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part toru)

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Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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= fs =

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part tahi)

17 February 2013 6 comments

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SOEs

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NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – Set against an overcast early evening sky, and a chilly southerly, several hundred Wellingtonians of all ages, races, political affiliations, and backgrounds came together at Frank Kitts Park, on Wellington’s waterfront,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Their common unity of purpose was to oppose the partial sale of state-owned assets,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Electricity-dustry expert, Molly Melhuish, with others from DEUN (Domestic Electricity Users Network). Ms Melhuish (center, holding white clipboard)  is  intimately familiar with the working of the electricity industry in this country and was a key member in   campaigns to oppose electricity privatisation in the 1990s – including Wellington’s Capital Power.

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The messages were simple, and to the point. From Labour,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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… to the Mana Party,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The message for National  was clear – what’s ours is ours,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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This Wellingtonian understood the folly and false-economy of selling state assets which are money-making cash-cows. Right wing politicians know this – but their zealous obedience to neo-liberal dogma seems to over-ride any semblance of common-sense,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Many in the crowd were of an age to recall the sale of Telecom – something that was resisted by 93% of New Zealanders,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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Interestingly, at least one right-wing politician has belatedly realised that selling state assets was a mistake – see: Bolger: Telecom sale a mistake

Dedicated ANFS activist, Frances, had a very simple question for Dear Leader,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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ANFS activist, Athena, handing out leaflets to people in the crowd and discussing issues with them,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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With media filming the event, ANFS co-convenor, Ariana, opened the Rally with a welcome to the crowd and  an introduction of the speakers who had been invited to address the rally, with their thoughts on the sale of state assets,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com aotearoa not for sale - 13 february 2013 - frank kitts park - wellington - anti asset sales

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The speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, and each gave their perspective on the issue of selling the people’s assets.

To be continued:

Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part rua)

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*

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Additional

TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)

TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)

NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)

Youtube: Say No to Asset sales in Aotearoa NZ.mov

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

Relevant orgs

It’s Our Future

Keep our Assets

Aotearoa is not for Sale

Aotearoa is Not for Sale | Facebook

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= fs =

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: employment/unemployment

9 January 2013 4 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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 Employment/Unemployment

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The rhetoric:

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 November 2011

Source

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

Source

It’s true, ultimately if every one was to get off welfare we’d need to create even more jobs, but that’s the Government’s whole agenda is to have a vibrant economy that does produce jobs. I  certainly accept there’s not a job for every single person, but I don’t accept there aren’t some jobs out there.” -  John Key, 28 February 2012

Source

The reality:

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New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Source:  Tradingeconomics – Unemployment rate

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New Zealand Unemployed Persons

Source:  Tradingeconomics – Unemployed persons

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The response:

Unemployment has increased by 70,000 people since National took office in 2008.

The Global Financial Crisis, as a rationale, has worn thin and should be dismissed for what it is;  a shoddy excuse that should no longer be accepted.

The lowest unemployment, as any National politician will happily confirm is in Christchurch,

In Canterbury, in the year to September 2012, the unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 5.2 percent. For women the decrease was 0.8 percentage points, down to 5.9 percent. There was a slight increase in the unemployment rate for men (0.1 percentage points), up to 4.6 percent.

The number of people employed rose 8,800 over the year in Canterbury, with 11,600 more people employed in part-time work (up 17.9 percent). There was a 2,800 decrease in the number of people working full time (down 1.2 percent).

The total increase in employment reflected a statistically significant 9,000 rise in the professional scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. Most of this rise was from the professional, scientific, and technical services industries.

The number of men and women employed in Canterbury both increased. For women the rise in employment was mostly in the professional, scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. For men the rise in employment was in that industry group, but also in the construction industry.

Source

Which poses the question: if the reconstruction of Christchurch is creating jobs – why has National not engaged in a similar house-building programme throughout the country?

If the reconstruction programme has resulted in increased employment in Christchurch – why not implement the very same solution nationwide, to generate jobs?

The answer, unfortunately, lies in ideological pig-headedness; National does not accept that the State has a role in job creation,

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

Source

Unfortunately (for us, as a nation and society), this laissez faire, market-based  approach, has  failed to deliver the jobs we desperately need. In fact, the “free market” has simply opted for the cheaper, easy-option,

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Foreigners flood in for Chch rebuild

Full story

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Not exactly a stunning result for National’s promise last year to create 170,000 new jobs.

Addendum:

Will Statistics NZ  include the 719 foreign workers as part of any job growth stats for the next Quarter?

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Report_Card_employment

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

9 January 2013 6 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Crime

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National hoarding staying strong on crime

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The rhetoric

We also need to ensure there is effective policing in all parts of our cities and in all areas of the country. We will not tolerate violence and antisocial behaviour. Under a National government, gangs will not be controlling neighbourhoods so posties can’t even deliver the daily mail.

The tragic events surrounding the parole of Graeme Burton show that Labour’s law and order policies seem to be based on the rights of criminals.

Let me say that under National, the parole system will be focused on protecting innocent Kiwis from hardened, unrepentant and dangerous criminals. Under any government I lead there will be no parole for repeat violent offenders.

We will do more than that to improve our criminal justice system, but for today let me send the clearest of messages. Those who break the laws of our society destroy the fabric of The Kiwi Way. No government I lead will put up with that. ” – John Key, 30 January 2007

See: The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

Law and order is to National what environmentalism is to the Greens; it’s ‘raw meat’ for their conservative constituents – many of whom have little understanding nor interest in the root causes of crime. Poverty, unemployment; a growing wealth gap; hopelessness; alienation – these are   inconceivable to many National supporters.

So Key and his National  cronies, spin doctors, and Party strategists are on solid ground when it comes to this issue. Throw in a bit of beneficiary bashing…

We also have a serious and growing problem with long-term welfare dependency.”

See: IBID

And a bit of brown bashing…

I don’t think that’s necessary and I think my view is widely held by a lot of New Zealanders. If it was holding New Zealand back, sure we could arguably go and do that but that’s not where I see these things going. He can make any claims he likes. The Maori King entitled to a different view to mine, it doesn’t mean I’m culturally ignorant.

I don’t think it’s right. If someone wants to take that land grab, they can give it a go.

See: Government could nationalise water – Key

… and the Nats are practically guaranteed the government. Never underestimate the casual racism of a significant sector of our society.

This racism plays into the hands of National who regularly tap such latent conservative streaks in our society for their own political agenda.

More rhetoric

The Government is committed to keeping New Zealanders safe – on our streets and in our communities. We’ve delivered the lowest crime rate in 30 years, but we want to continue to keep driving the crime rate down.” – John Key, 3 July 2012

See: Prime Minister welcomes first action plan

Key has taken credit for a “drop” in crime on several occassions this year. But is he telling the truth? Telling lies? Or bending the truth and misrepresenting the facts to suit his Party’s agenda?

Let’s check the stats from NZ Police, shall we?

Crime trends for the year ending June 2008,

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Crime Statistics year ending 30 June 2008 - New Zealand Police

Source

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And crime trends up to 2012,

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NZ Crime Statistics 2011-2012

Source

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And guess what…?

The trends clearly show a gradual reduction of reported crime since 1996/97.

For Key to claim this as a “success” for his administration reminds us, yet again, that the man will bend the truth to suit his demands. Quite simply, the drop in crime has been ongoing for the last sixteen years and has little to do with Dear Leader and his Party’s policies.

Reported crime was also dropping druring the 2000-08 Labour-led government.

Will John Key take credit for that “success” as well?

Addendum

If, as data shows, and as Key has been crowing, crime has been steadily reducing since 1996, why is National committing to spending $300 million for a new prison at Wiri, South Auckland, and a further $540 million to operate and maintain? That is $840 million of our taxes that could be better invested in upgrading delapidated state houses and raising this country’s children out of poverty.

See: Fletcher signs $300m Wiri prison contract

Could it be that the motivation lies with providing a profitable Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) with Fletcher Building,  Serco, Spotless Facility Services,  John Laing, InfraRed, Accident Compensation Corporation, and  Macquarie Capital? That’s nearly $1 billion going to private corporations for a prison we seem not to need.

Who sez crime doesn’t pay?

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Report_Card_Crime

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National bleeding poll support…

11 October 2012 3 comments

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The latest Roy Morgan poll has National continuing to fall in the polls.

The “dead cat bounce” previous rise – due mostly to redneck kneejerk reaction to Maori water claims – appears to have been only a temporary respite for this lame-duck administration.

The poll results,

National Party to 41.5% (down 2%) – 50 seats

Maori Party 1.5% (down 1%) – 3 seats?

ACT NZ 0.5% (unchanged)  – 1 seat?

United Future 0.5% (up 0.5%) – 1 seat?

Total National-led coalition-bloc:  55 seats (?)

Support for Labour is 33.5% (up 0.5%) – 41 seats

Greens are 13.5% (up 2%) – 17 seats

New Zealand First 6.5% (up 1.5%) – 8 seats

Mana Party 0%  – 1 seat

Total Labour-led coalition-bloc:  67 seats (?)

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Without much doubt, National is on it’s way out – a two-term “government”.

The question is – how much damage will this inept, unfocused, “government” cause before they are thrown out at the next election?

At this point, the only thing we can look forward to is a by-election or a defection from the National-led coalition.

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Sources

National Lead Labour, But Support Falls Lowest Since 2008

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

“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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Polls, Rogue Polls, and Damned Rogue Polls!

24 September 2012 3 comments

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Two previous polls this month showed a slight increase for National, and a small corresponding drop for Labour,

National – 47.9% (+0.45)

Labour – 32%  (-2%)

Greens – 10.7% (+1.6%)

NZ First – 5.5% (+1.1%)

ACT – Dog tucker

Source: Herad Digipoll 11 September 2012

National – 46.5%  (+2%)

Labour – 31%  (-1%)

Greens – 12.5%  (-2%)

NZ First – 4.5%  (-0.5%)

ACT  – still dog tucker – with biscuits thrown in

Source: Roy Morgan 13 September 2012

Which makes a recent TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll somewhat odd, as it appears to break the trends shown in the above two polls,

National – 45%  (-3%)

Labour – 34%  (+2%)

Greens – 12.0%  (n/c)

NZ First – 2.0%  (-1%)

ACT  – dessert, leftover humble pie

Source: Labour makes gains on National – poll 23 September 2012

So two polls show National tracking up – and one shows the same Party dropping. Which is correct? Which is the ‘rogue poll’?

This blogger opts for the latter, the TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll.

With National’s recent strategy to paint Maori water claims as “greedy” and maintaining that “no one owns the water” (as opposed to coal, oil, and gas being sold to power thermal electricity generation) ; and Bennett’s relentless beneficiary-bashing proceeding at Warp Factor 9 – it is hardly surprising that the Nats are rising in the polls.

This is the same dog-whistle politics which Don Brash used during his stint as leader of Labour Greens ACT Mickey Mouse Party  the National Party (finally got the right one – hard to keep track of  The Don, these days)  in January 2004 during his infamous “Orewa Speech”.

The racists and low information voters loved it. Whether bashing the “lazy druggie benes” or bashing the “lazy greedy Mow-ries” – National and ACT know they can always rely on exploiting this country’s latent prejudices to secure some increased electoral support.

The Nats enjoyed a stunning 17% meteoric rise in the polls in 2004, thanks to Brash’s odious speech, that would’ve made a certain German Corporal proud.

The  TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll is definitely rogue.

It is too early for the punters to cotton on to the fact that National Party strategists, beavering away in their little dens on the Beehive’s Ninth Floor (or basement dungeon, or where ever Key keeps his Orc-ish minions) are conning them Big Time.  Diversion and distraction – the oldest game in the political book to keep the Middle Classes from realising that National is failing to rev up the economy and unemployment is on the rise.

I am reminded of playing with kitty cat with a bit of string…

It works similar with the Middle Classes. But instead of string, use bene-baiting or “standing up to dem  Mow-ries“. Guaranteed to work.

This blogger still believes that we are in line for a change in government come 2014 (or earlier). Eventually, the Middle Classes tire of hearing the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), Maori, etc, demonised and begin to realise that National has nothing positive to offer.

That is when people realise that the Emporer has no clothes. *ick*

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Addendum

As a side issue…

Colmar Brunton brags on its website that it ” is delighted that the One News Colmar Brunton Poll is noted as the poll that most closely predicted the 2011 election “.

According to their own data, they are nothing of the sort. In fact, Roy Morgan achieved closer Party polling than Colmar did. The closest polling figures to actual Election Night voting results are marked in red,

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Source

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Colmar Brunton got four results closer to Election Night with scores for the Conservative Party, Labour, Greens, and Mana.

Roy Morgan got five scores closer to Election Night; National, ACT, United Future, Maori, and NZ First.

If you’re going to brag that you do a better job than your competitors, it might be a good idea to back it up with real evidence. (At least 50% of respondents agree with that assertion… )

Interestingly, Colmar Brunton generally got it right with the opposition parties (except for Conservatives) whilst Roy Morgan generally got it right with the government coalition parties (except for NZ First).

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Previous related blogposts

As predictable as the rising sun (11 Sept)

Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics (18 Sept)

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National – the Party of free speech?! Yeah, right.

13 September 2012 9 comments

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Around 8pm on 13 September, this blogger posted on National’s Facebook page – see: NZNATS. I left a message leaving links to two of my recent blogposts,

They must not’ve like the message nor my questions. The post I made vanished within minutes. No explanation offered by the operators of that FB page.

I left a comment querying the disappearance of my posting,

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That was gone under sixty seconds,

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One more try.

This post referred to National party policies regarding unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries. A pertinent topic worthy of debate, I thought?

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The result? Another disappearance,

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It seems  that National is not a Party that brooks dissent or welcomes questioning of it’s policies. This is symptomatic of a Party that has lost trust in the public and fears people.

The term for this state of affairs, I believe, is a seige mentality.

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John Key’s “Bright New Future”…

5 September 2012 21 comments

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Full story

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Full story

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Full story

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Not going too well is it, Dear Leader?

Feel free to abandon your neo-liberal policies on Market-driven job creation.

Now’s good.

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Addendum

This blogger wonders how National’s welfare “reforms” are going to create new jobs for redundant workers?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on job creation – rather than tinkering with a welfare system that is not the root cause of the problem?

Will Bennett insist that redundant workers from Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter, Spring Creek mine, and elsewhere, be drug-tested?

And is this the best that National can offer us?!

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The more things change…

27 August 2012 4 comments

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From 1999, the final year of  the Shipley-led National government…

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Source: Otago Daily Times

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To 2012 – some thirteen years later – and now led by a smiling, waving shark from  the commercial sector that kindly gave us the Global Financial Crisis and fifteen million unemployed, worldwide,

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Full story

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Some things that we can always rely on, when National is elected into power; poverty will worsen; unemployment remains high;  taxes will be cut for the rich, and welfare beneficiaries – the victims of National’s policies – will cop the blame.

Eventually,  the realities of National’s mis-management filters through to the television-distracted middle classes and a mixture of guilt and fear prompts them to switch their votes from the Tories to Labour/Greens/NZ First.

Thus it was in the 1990s – and thus it will be in 2014 (if not earlier).

In the meantime, while it takes umpteen bad news-stories to awaken the TV-addled brains of  baby-boomers, we continue to waste lives and the locked-in potential of people trapped in poverty, unemployment, and a stagnant economy. Child poverty remains New Zealand’s dirty little secret, to the rest of the world.

For National and their rabid ACT supporters, the fault lies elsewhere,

See: Poor better off than before: Kerr

See: Where is welfare policy heading : Muriel Newman

The Right is very ‘big’ on personal responsibility. Except when it comes to failed Right Wing policies. Then it’s someone elses’ fault.

Meanwhile, the real bludgers in our society continue to live their lives, enjoying the fruits of a developed nation, but not paying their fair share of taxes,

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Full story

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One of the constant refrains of the neo-liberal establishment and sycophants for the rich & powerful is that New Zealand society cannot afford things like decent housing and school meals for our children.

Of course not.

When the rich are not paying their fair share, they are denying society of the means to address poverty-related issues.  At the same time, they enjoy living in a society built up with the taxes paid by others.

That’s bludging.

See previous blogpost:  Greed is good?

In the meantime, our society income/wealth gap widens and we move further and further away from any notion of egalitariansism we once had.

If  that’s the sort of society New Zealanders want, then let’s be 100% up-front and honest about it. Let’s prepare ourselves for outbreaks of disease; increased crime; drugs; beggars in the streets; and eventual outbreaks of mass violence.

See: England riots: was poverty a factor?

I doubt, though, that Middle New Zealand could stomach an overtly class/wealth-stratified society – especially if poverty becomes so entrenched that it becomes more visible and inescapable. We prefer our poor to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind, so we can focus on who is going to win “The Block” or “The Voice” or “The Whateverthefucktelevisionisdishinguptoustotakeourmindsofreality“.

As long as Middle New Zealand is prepared to accept such a bleak future, then the rest of us can plan and prepare accordingly.

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Or, we can turn our backs on that vision, and instead look elsewhere for inspiration.

The Scandinavians and French may be a good start.

Or are we, as a nation, so gullible and thick that we keep going around in circles, decade after decade?

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Additional

Baby boomers clogging the job market

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John Key – Practicing Deflection 101

24 August 2012 1 comment

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Full story

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As much as this blogger wholeheartedly  supports  the concept of legalised euthanasia – with safeguards similar to that in The Netherlands – I view Dear Leader’s comments on Newstalk ZB earlier this week with contempt and disdain.

This is a shameful attempt at using a highly emotive issue for political ends to deflect from National’s on-going political ineptness and mis-management of the economy.

Let’s not forget;

  • unpopular asset sales
  • growing inequality in incomes
  • rising unemployment
  • on-going victimisation of unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), and other welfare beneficiaries
  • rising number of fatalities in Afghanisatan
  • cutting the state sector and social services
  • privatisation-by-stealth of our prisons, schools, and other state services
  • inability to address alcohol abuse by not implementing all 150 recommendations from the Law Commission
  • more people leaving New Zealand
  • a stall reconstruction of Christchurch
  • falling wages
  • and increasing child poverty

These are the matters that National is trying desperately to deflect our attention from.

These are the issues that National is failing badly to address.

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What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua)

20 August 2012 12 comments

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Continued from: What’s up with the Nats? (Part tahi)

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If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

If it’s somethin’ weird an it won’t look good

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

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Intro

Ever since the National Party conference at the end of July, the National Party has been strutting the political stage like a bunch of patched gang-members, strutting about the main street of some small town in the back-blocks.

Key, Bennett, Joyce, Collins, Parata, Banks – even lowly backbenchers like Maggie Barry – have been obnoxiously aggressive in policy announcements and dealing with the media and critics.

The Nats have been unrelentingly in our faces ever since John Key uttered the threat,

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Full story

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This is not just about confidence.

This is something new. This is about a new, hyped-up, aggressive style of taking criticisms and failings, and turning it back on the critic.

Steven Joyce was on-style on TV3′s “The Nation” (19 August), when he belittled and badgered two journalists (John Hartevelt and Alex Tarrant)  who asked him pointedly about National’s short-comings. Joyce’s response was typical Muldoon-style pugnacity.

This interview with Joyce is charachteristic of how National Ministers have been belligerent in their responses.  It is singularly  instructive,

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Full story

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Interestingly, Joyce has a “go” at Labour; then the Greens; and even Hone Harawira throughout the course of the interview.  He even blames the global financial crisis and throws that in the face of Alex Tarrant, as he responds to a point.

Everyone gets a dose of blame – except the one party that is currently in power. So much for National’s creed that we should all take personal responsibility for our actions.

It appears that  National’s back-room Party strategists have been analysing the first few months of this year and have realised that when things go horribly wrong, or the latest string of economic indicators reveal more bad news, the relevant Minister(s) responds  with  aggression and with defiance.

If the old say “explaining-is-losing” is a truism, then any explanation offered automatically puts a Minister on the back-foot.

The best way out of such a sticky moment; take a page out of Rob Muldoon’s book, ‘How To Win Friends/Enemies and Influence the Media‘.

And National’s Ministers have been playing this ‘new’ game perfectly…

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Paula Bennett

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Of all National ministers, Bennett’s  behaviour has become  most  irrational,  offensive,  and just downright bizarre.

Not content with “offering” sterilisation to  solo-mums (but never solo-dads)  and their daughters, her views on poverty are so breathtakingly, woefully ignorant that this blogger has come to the conclusion that her tax-payer funded tertiary education was a complete waste of time and money.

See:  Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Bennett’s latest weird comments raised eyebrows and and a few hackles,

Get in the real world.

One week they can be in poverty, then their parent can get a job or increase their income and they are no longer in poverty … This is the real world, and actually children move in and out of poverty at times on a weekly basis.”

See:  Bennett slammed over child poverty claim

Bennet then lashed out, saying she “wasn’t interested in measuring child poverty“, and instead her government was more focused on addressing the problems,

Of course there is poverty in New Zealand. This has been acknowledged by the Government but it’s not a priority to have another measure on it.”

See: scoop.co.nz – Combating poverty more important than measuring it

How can National “combat poverty” if they are not aware of the scale of it? How can a government budget appropriately, without knowing the numbers involved?

Are they just going to guess?

Which then brings us to the issue of Bennett’s instance that the unemployed be drug-tested,

There is certainly a line between recreational use and addiction and that is challenging in itself and it’s something we’ll have to work through.

“At the end of the day you’ve potentially got thousands of New Zealanders who are unable to work because of recreational use and this paper also identifies that as a real problem, so we need to keep working our way through a solution“.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Again, the question needs to be asked – how many unemployed are on drugs?

Is it 99%?

Is it 50%?

Is it 10%?

Is it 2%?

Is it 0.00001%?

We need to know this, because National may be about to throw $14 million of our tax dollars at this “problem”,

The plan to cut benefits for job seekers who fail drug tests has been met with criticism by the Ministry of Health, saying it could cost up to $14 million a year.

[abridged]

Ms Bennett told Radio New Zealand she would not reconsider sanctioning only drug users based on the Ministry of Health’s concerns and said she was going ahead with the policy.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Bennett’s response?

I just don’t feel that we need to trawl through evidence and give that much kind of evidence to something that is just so obvious.

And added, that she was acting on information from,

“…the visits, from face to face meetings, I don’t know, from some of the international research I’ve seen.”

See: Paula Bennett so sure she’s right

Never let facts get in the way of some damned good prejudice, eh, Ms Bennett?

National’s intention to throw millions of our tax dollars at a problem that may or may not exist, and has not been quantified, beggars belief. It also makes a hollow mockery of John Key’s 2008 pledge to spend our money wisely,

We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.”

See:  John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

National was in opposition when Dear Leader made that pledge. Things change, I guess, when a Party becomes government and has access to our taxes.

The ‘bullishness’ of a cornered National Minister is clearly coming through on this issue.

So if Paula Bennett is ignoring Health Ministry advice,

  1. Where is she getting her advice and data from?
  2. Does she know the number of unemployed who are using recreational drugs?
  3. How much has National budgetted for this programme?
  4. If National has budgetted for drug testing – they must have an idea how many unemployed will be affected?
  5. In which case, we’re back to #1; Where is she getting her advice and data from?

Would Bennett know, for example, how  many of these recently-made redundant workers are on drugs;

See previous blogpost: Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

The answer, my friends, is not blown in the wind – it’s blown out her —- !

Let’s dispense with  the bovine excrement and stop the tip-toeing on this issue.

National was elected in 2008 on a pledge to raise our wages to parity with Australia.

See: John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Not only have they failed, but our wage-gap with our Aussie cuzzies is actually widening.

See: Wage gap grows $1 a month – Labour

National was elected in 2011 on a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Instead, our unemployment has risen to 6.8%.

See:  Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

In almost every respect, National’s policies – which are heavily reliant on the free market to deliver desired outcomes like growth and jobs – have failed.

John Key is presiding over,

  • a stagnant economy
  • rising unemployment
  • a low wage economy
  • wide gap with Australia
  • rising government debt
  • more New Zealanders escaping to Australia
  • and no plans to fix this mess except cuts to the state sector, asset sales, charter schools, crushing cars, and “reforming” the welfare system

That’s it. The “Grand Plan”. That’s as good as it get’s folks.

With more and more redundancies (see above) and  unemployment continuing to creep upward, Bennett’s plans to drug test the jobless is a deflection – an attempt to blame the victims of National’s (lack of) policies.

Drug testing the unemployed  is a ploy.

The unemployed are victims of the global financial crisis. Just  as National likes to make out that that it’s economic policies are also impacted by the recent GFC and resultant recession. It’s obscene that National uses the GFC as an excuse for their failings – and yet deny the unemployed the very same rationale for having lost their jobs.

By demanding drug testing, Bennett is sending a clear message to National’s redneck constituency, and to low information voters, that all unemployed are drug-addled, lazy,  ne’er-do-wells.

Because as we all know, being on the dole on $204.96 (nett, weekly) is a “lifestyle choice”, rather than working and earning the average wage; $800.

National has no idea how many unemployed are on drugs.

But they are still prepared to waste millions of dollars on pursuing a policy of drug testing.

All because they have failed to create the jobs they promised.

All because they need a scapegoat to show their dim-witted constituents that it’s the welfare beneficiaries at fault.

The Nazis used the scapegoating technique well well in the 1930s, when they blamed Jews, communists, gypsies, trade unionists, etc, for Germany’s economic problems.

National’s strategy here should be crystal-clear to us all; they are dangling the unemployed as scapegoats to the ill-informed; the prejudiced; and  low-information voters, for whom unemployment is a vague concept; the Global Financial Crisis happened “somewhere else“; and the dole is some unimaginably generous payment.

Very few low-information voters understand that the dole for a single person is only $204.96 (nett, weekly).

Very few National supporters understand that unemployment was 3.7% in 2007 and is now 6.8% because of an event that was sparked thousands of kilometres away in Wall St, USA.

And very few low-information and National voters want to understand this. Because to understand the realities of unemployment means that the next step is; what are they going to do about it?!

Like, this gentleman, posting on Facebook, who had no interest in anything except spouting his own narrow, ill-informed,  prejudice. I thought I’d share his “considered opinion” with the reader,

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These are the people that Paula Bennett, and National, are pandering to.

Prejudice is easier.

It means they can blame someone else.

It means not having to think about the issues involved.

Because it’s always someone elses’ fault.

Like Steven Joyce, who blamed Labour, the Greens, and Hone Harawira on TV3′s ‘The Nation‘, on 19 August. It’s always “someone elses’ fault”.

Unfortunately for Bennett, though, her  repugnant behaviour has become so entrenched that she is unable to behave appropriately even to her own colleagues,

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Source

Listen: Listen to more on Checkpoint

The more that National fails to deliver results, the more they will blame others.

Why should National take responsibility for a lack of jobs and rising unemployment? After all…

… they’re only the government.

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Continued at: What’s up with the Nats? (Part toru: John Banks)

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Guest Author: I came home from a protest today…

- Linda Miller

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Source: NZ students protest outside PM’s conference

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I came home from a protest today. It was a small one, at SkyCity, about 200 students. The police poured it on, as if they were all-out to impress the elites who will soon be privatising them with how on-the-job they really are. The street was blocked off far enough away that the delegates were at no risk of being exposed to any political reality. However I could see some of them watching surreptitiously from the skywalk above. I’m beginning to believe that vicarious police violence is the only form of gratification available to some Angry White Men after a certain age. They were disappointed today. The students were peaceful as always – they had their say and left.

When I got home though, I was a little bit sad. Having the flu always makes me sad. But I was also sad that we even had to argue about the value of universal education at all.

I checked my messages, then I saw this video link and realised today was the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

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It seems like a dream now, but yes, it really happened, and these days, amazingly, you can actually see their leftover gear on the Moon.

I watched the video. It reminded me of the days and nights I spent watching it all live in 1969. When Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the surface, I sat in our tiny house in California with my mother and my brothers glued to the TV. I can still see their faces, lit by the flickering grey images as if it only happened last night. It was a glorious time.

But when I watched the video, I was suddenly overcome with grief. Seeing those bright, shiny Kodachrome faces, I recalled how no one had any idea that July 20, 1969 would be the high-water mark of American Civilisation. We took everything for granted. We should have fought to keep what we had. We should have kept the Promise of the American Century – the promise to extend the American Dream of freedom, peace, prosperity and civil rights to everyone.

Naive? Less so than you might imagine. We had just landed a man on the Moon after all. We could do anything. And what we wanted to do was help the world. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. We lost our way. Or rather, our way was subverted.

As I recall the faces of the students I saw today, they can’t know how keenly I feel that my generation has betrayed them. Today, we fight just to hold onto what we have. The promise of the American Century, real as it was, and close as we were to achieving it, is as dead as the tragic Kennedy brothers who first conceived it.

Today, I am an expat, and an activist, living in New Zealand. I campaign for New Zealanders because I love them, and because this fight is winnable, far more so than the struggle going on now in the United States. New Zealand is small enough, and her people are still brave enough that it can be won. We can have our democracy and our sense of community back. The government has not yet managed to frighten and terrorise New Zealand into submission. Victory is still possible.

Of course, nobody is going to just hand it to us. If we are to stop our slide into the Global Slum the Neo-Liberals are preparing for us all, we have to dig in hard. We have to lose our fear. Non-violent struggle is not pacifism. It is not for cowards. It takes courage to stand up for your rights, to keep coming out, in the rain, even when you are sick, and you don’t exactly feel like it. You have to take risks. You have to harden up. You have to resist.

Had we done that when Reagan and Thatcher first began undermining the Great Society, after I left university, I admit, we would not be in this mess today. Had the first generation of students hit with fees fought as hard as they fight in Quebec now, education would still be free. Had Kiwis resisted to the bitter end the first time a public utility was put on the block, we would not be fighting Asset Sales today.

I hope that a future generation will not say of us, “Had our parents really fought all out when they wanted to sell the last of our assets, we would still be able to afford electricity now.” That would break my heart.

We fight, because we must. Because what you are not prepared to fight for can and will be taken away from you by those who are prepared to steal. Nothing ever turns out fine by itself.

We should remember that when we commit irrevocably to seeing something through, in spite of the risks and uncertainties, as we did on Apollo, miracles are indeed possible. Nothing is ever really beyond us.

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Related Link

Facebook Page: Kiwi Expats Against Asset Sales

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Public Broadcasting – down, but not out.

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If there is one thing that the demise of TVNZ7 has highlighted, it is National’s inability to read the public mood. It has also demonstrated, with stark, glaring reality, that National has little interest in maintaining social services. If it can close them down, with minimum fall-out,  it will.

National could easily have funded TVNZ7. At roughly $16 million per annum, itwas probably the cheapest public broadcaster of any nation on this planet.

It simply chose not to. Because it didn’t want to.

TVNZ7  was a non-commercial station, and therefore made no money for National.

It probably also took viewers away from the state-owned, money-making, TV1 and TV2, thereby lessening the dividend paid to State coffers.

Yet, TVNZ7′s viewership was growing – past one million viewers per month. It was offering intelligent programming that was light-years ahead of most of what any other Broadcaster was providing the public.  People can only take so much “reality” shows; infomercials; grim, misogynistic US crime/cop shows; US “comedies” (anyone for a re-run of “Friends“?); and soft-core porn like “The GC“.

None of which mattered one jot to John Key and his materialistic-minded fellow MPs, nor their right-wing philistine-supporters  who deride  non-commercial broadcasting because it doesn’t fit  their moronic world-view of Market Rules.

Above everything that National has mis-managed; stuffed-up; or run-down – their wilful failure to preserve TVNZ7 speaks volumes about their culture of crass materialism and lack of understanding about the needs of society.

They simply could not understand why people wanted TVNZ7 saved. They did not want to understand.

Which is a dangerous thing to have, when a country’s governing Party doesn’t understand the needs of it’s own people. Such a Party is out of touch, and it’s little wonder that the Nats have made so many cuts that even our Navy is in dire danger of collapsing; the Police are considering marching on Parliament; and the education sector is in open revolt against their own Minister.

This is a re-run of the late 1990s.

Labour and the Greens have promised to resurrect public broadcasting in this country.

This blogger  commends them for that.

But we need more than a public broadcaster. We need strong mechanisms put in place to entrench a non-commercial television station, to protect it from future interference by a right wing government of simple-minded fools. Such a mechanism will require legislation and the power of contracts to guarantee the viability of a public broadcaster

Those contracts have to be cast-iron, with penals for breaches  so great, that no future National leadership will even countenance interference.

In the meantime, National has won this round against it’s own citizens. In Syria, their government kills their own people. Here in New Zealand, if a government wants to exercise vindictive power, it simply takes away part or all of  a social service.

That’s how National operates.

Only the naive expect otherwise.

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PS:

And wouldn’t it be fun if, on Monday morning, everyone who supports TVNZ7 phoned John Key’s office…

Phone: (04)817 6800
Fax:     (04)472 2075

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From July 1 onwards…

27 June 2012 6 comments

… TVNZ7 will be gone,

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New Zealand’s only public service, non-commercial TV broadcaster will be closed down – another casualty of National’s ideological mania for cost-cutting and gutting of our public services.

The National Party does not build social services – it cuts them. And where they can get away with it, National will close down or privatise  a social service.

This is what the public of New Zealand gets when they vote for a National government.

It is up to a Labour-led government to eventually re-build what National has wrecked.

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Additional

Save school jobs, mother asks Key

2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

Biosecurity cut backs leaves industry vulnerable

MFat cost-cutting plan in a shambles

Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

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Categories: Media, The Body Politic Tags: ,

Guest Author: Judith Collins Says From Bright Red Vintage Convertible, “They want to portray me as a rich little white woman”

- Occupy New Zealand media team

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Full story

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The recent NZ Listener article about ACC Minister Judith Collins is off the charts. Their profile of her (May 5-11 2012 edition) features a one and a half page colour photo of her driving a bright red vintage convertible. Shocking quotes in the article include;

I am not there to make their lives easy.” (of her opponents)

“They want to portray me as a rich little white woman from middle-class New Zealand” – this from a Minister posing in a sports car like some kind of deranged model for the quintessential mid-life crisis. Guyon Espiner describes her residence as an “immaculate Maraetai home she has scrubbed spotless”. Later in the article Guyon observes “…beyond the ranch slider and the spacious deck, the sea sparkles invitingly like the diamonds on her fingers.”

WTF.

The Listener says she denies there is ‘internecine warfare within the National Party… then quotes her as saying “It’s sort of like friendly fire”, making it clear that behind the scenes things aren’t quite so peachy as they’d have us believe.

The most shocking quote in this article though, is when it refers to a previous Listener interview with Collins in 2006, in which she claimed her tactic of leaking stories to the media required no apology. They quote her as saying;, “I do ring people up and give them stories, because, gee, I guess I think that’s my job…”. She bragged of her “friendly and open” relationships with the media.

WHAT. THE. F$%&.

Since when is it a Ministers JOB to leak stories to the media? Can someone please explain this insanity? Doesn’t that defy everything we expect of a Minister? If we’re wrong and it’s totally cool, don’t they at least have some PR lackeys that can sit around ringing morally corrupt journos, feeding them pre-set agendas masked as ‘stories’??

The deeper we get into the article, the more we despair. Especially when Collins broaches the subject of poverty. “We do have poverty but attitude is really important..” she says. “The poverty of which I speak is a poverty of responsibility. A poverty of courage, a poverty of truth, a poverty of love, a poverty of faith.”

Which makes us want to stand her in front of a hungry child & see how many of the aforementioned words fill its mouth with food.

We suspect none.

The article repeatedly brings up her willingness to have a QC sue anyone who crosses her. To the extent that Guyon writes; “You can’t call politicians liars, especially ones who might hire a QC in response.”

Well guess what Ms Collins. We are calling you on your bullshit. You want to grin $10,000 worth of teeth into a camera from a bright red sports car then wax lyrical about being misunderstood as middle-class – well perhaps you are right.

We think, Ms Collins, that you are not middle class. How do we know that? Because the real middle class is currently fighting to stay in existence.

You are in fact: the 1%. Wholly complicit in the fleecing of our country, currently underway by National.

We, the tangata, will not forget.

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Acknowledgement

Occupy Saavy

Additional

Fairfax: ACC saga: Opposition divided over Collins’ future

TV3:  Collins’ taxpayer-funded petrol bills top $11,000

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National – The End is Nigh (Part #Toru)

11 June 2012 3 comments

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The latest polls are out – and as this blogger has been predicting, National is in free-fall,

National – 45.8%  (down 4)

Labour – 33.2%  (up 3.8)

Greens – 14.4% (up 0.3

NZ First – 2.8% (up 0.5)

ACT -0.5% (up 0.3)

Maori Party – 1.4% (down 0.2)

Mana – 1% (N/C)

United Future – 0% (N/C)

Conservative party – 1.1% (N/C)

See:  Poll  – Labour could form Government

This rotten government will be out of office shortly.  Banks will lose Epsom and Peter Dunne’s hair will suffer a structural collapse. If the Maori Party manages to keep their three electorates, it will be a miracle.

We are looking at a Labour/Green-led government to replace an ineffectual right wing government that has done very little except,

  • Cut taxes for the rich
  • Borrow to make up the shortfall in taxation revenue
  • Hope that the ‘Market’ will deliver jobs and growth
  • And day after day see more of our kids off to Australia

Aside from their most blind supporters, the middle class are abandoning National. People are finally beginning to see that  this government has no plans for job growth and no vision for our society except to sell state assets to Mum and Dad investors…

… though Mum and Dad investors are currently too pre-occupied with  losing their homes to worry much about whether to choose shares in Meridian or Might River Power,

See: More people losing the family home

Meanwhile, unemployment continues to rise, and even National’s figures for potential new jobs created by a new Convention Centre, built by Sky City in return for 500 more pokies, turn out to be dodgy,

See: Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

A new government will have it’s work cut out for it. National has neglected the economy and social problems for three and a half years, and has cut state services to the point where their ongoing effectiveness is in question.

Let’s hope it’ll be another decade before voters flirt with another Tory government.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,
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