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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Dunne’

Peter Dunne – willing seller & buyer

22 August 2013 2 comments

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NZ spy agencies need urgent review

Source: Marlborough Express – NZ spy agencies need urgent review

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Peter Dunne and John Key are knocking back a couple of 100 year old scotches from Dear Leader’s private stock. They’re both pissed, and Key looks at Dunne and asks,

“Peter, would you bend over my Prime Ministerial desk and let met shag you from behind, if I paid you a million bucks?”

Peter Dunne – knowing that Key can afford a million dollars from his “Uncle Scrooge” petty cash tin, and considering how useful that money would be for next year’s election campaign replies,

“Why, yes, I would, John.”

Key grins slyly and carries on,

“Peter, what if I paid you half a million? Would that still be ok with you for a bit of rear-rogering?”

Dunne is a bit deflated. Half a million is not as much as a full million… but still, it’s better than nothing to fund his campaign.

He replies,

“Sure, John. Half a million would be ok, I guess,” and stands up to undo his belt.

“What about fifty bucks?” asks Key, downing the last of his glass of $50K-per-bottle scotch.

Dunne, fuming, screams at him,

“What?! Fifty bucks?!?! What do you take me for?!!!”

Key cooly replies,

“Oh, I think we both know what you are. We’re just haggling for the price, now…”

(With apologies – I know it’s an old joke…)

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USA, Vietnam, Peter Dunne – Pot, Kettle.

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US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

Source: NZ Herald – US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

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The US Embassy in Vietnam goes on to state,

“Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline,” the embassy said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the decree’s provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites.”

Source: IBID

Yes, of course our American cuzzies want the Vietnamese people to allow ”  information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites”.

Then their National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ can mine that data via their PRISM,  XKeyscore, and god-only-knows what other systems are used to store data on citizens.

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XKeyscore - NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

Source: The Guardian – XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

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The government of Vietnam is right to be concerned with what it’s citizens may put online. With British and American spy agencies trawling the planet for information, it is now a matter of national security that nations protect themselves from this illegal spying.  The internet poses a real danger to victims of this rampant,  out-of-control spying.

The sheer hypocrisy of the US Embassy when it piously states that    “Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline” is breath-taking in arrogance.

It’s like Big Brother throwing a tanty when someone refuses to share their personal information, thus thwarting the spooks who are patiently waiting to hoover up the data.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties, led by the Greens, have succeeded in stalling the passing of the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill for two weeks.

Their ‘filibustering’ has successfully stalled the passing of the Bill, as this Radio NZ report explains,

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Legislation covering the Government Communications Security Bureau won’t pass all the way through Parliament this week as had been hoped by the Government.

The bill is now in its committee stages, where MPs debate it clause by clause.  The opposition has employed delaying tactics since Question Time on Tuesday afternoon.  An urgent debate on the Fonterra contamination scare delayed the debate further.

The Government will have to wait at least two weeks to pass the controversial legislation.

Source: Radio NZ – GCSB bill won’t pass this week

This gives opponants to the GCSB and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bills an opportunity to grow opposition and to educate the public what is at stake.

As for Peter Dunne, who is complaining about protesters targetting his home – my sympathy for him is zero.

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Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

Source: Dominion Post – Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

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Protester, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati is 100% quite right when she says that their presence is to  “to give him a taste of what it feels like to have your privacy intruded on“.

Mr Dunn doesn’t like being surveilled?

Neither do we.

Do the right thing, Mr Dunne – vote the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill down.

It’s the decent thing to do.

You still have time.

Don’t be John Key’s errand boy.

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What would George Orwell – author of ’1984′ – have made of all this, I wonder?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2013.

 

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The GCSB Act – some history…

4 August 2013 6 comments

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spying

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New Zealand, 2003

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From an excerpt from Hansards in Parliament, on 27 March 2003, when the original GCSB Bill was being debated;

“This is a good bill. I do not accept the criticism of those who speak against it, that somehow it means that information about people will be gathered improperly…”

Source: Hansards – Government Communications Security Bureau Bill — Third Reading

Who said that?

Why, no other than this gentleman;

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Peter Dunne

Peter Dunne

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Ten years later after Dunne made that statement, it was revealed  that his faith in the GCSB was badly misplaced,

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Illegal spying - 85 Kiwis watched - Fairfax Media - Andrea Vance - Kitteridge Report - 85 people spied on

Source: Fairfax Media – Illegal Spying: 85 Kiwis Watched

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So in March 2003, Mr Dunne was adamant:  he did not accept criticism “that information about people will be gathered improperly”.

I think those 85 (actually 88) people – including Kim Dotcom – might have differing views on that point.

I wonder if Mr Dunne is also adamant about the current Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s “sister-legislation, the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill?

Will “information about people will be gathered improperly”?

What say you, Mr Dunne?

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

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

3 August 2013 4 comments

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

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

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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

TV3′s news crew filming the protesters;

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

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Ok, this is right off the Cuteness Scale factor;

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

The legalise-cannabis lobby were represented by this gentleman;

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legalise cannabis

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

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

About half an hour later, the procession moved off,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In a somewhat fervant speech, Banks said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mojo said,

And we have to keep up the pressure!”

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

She added,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bugger all, I suspect.

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

Not very well, I think.

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"Emo", the bunny

“Emo”, the bunny

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

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

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

3 August 2013 1 comment

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

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This placard asks a very good question;

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TV3′s film crew interviewing some of the protesters;

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

More of our furry companions at the rally;

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

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

National should remember – these people vote;

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Can any National Minister answer this question;

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

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

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

When asked to comment, Mark’s responded;

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

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

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

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

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

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SAFE Executive Director, Hans Kriek,has said,

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Kapiti Independent – Hans Kriek Writes

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

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

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

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

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

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Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

3 August 2013 9 comments

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The latest revelations add more murkiness to this scandal. It seems that my question here – How deep is Key in this mess? – is slowly being answered. (Expect a snap election when the full extent of Key’s involvement is finally revealed.)

The revelations of shady dealings and privacy violations just keep getting worse;

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Emails given to inquiry

Source:  Fairfax Media – Emails given to inquiry

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Interestingly, a Fairfax poll associated with the above story (note: not scientific) contradicts a recent Roy Morgan poll, showing Dear Leader in a somewhat bad light,

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How is the prime minister handling the Parliamentary phone records scandal

Source: IBID

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But what really boggles the mind and makes you want to scream to the heavens is that Peter Dunne – whose email and telephone records were illegally passed on to the Henry Inquiry, by Parliamentary Services, and has had his privacy violated – is still intending to vote for the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – which will allow the GCSB, SIS, et al to spy on all New Zealanders.

Peter Dunne is not learning a single damn thing from his current situation.

Which makes Dunne’s outrage on this derisable,

“While I understand this was an inadvertent action, and that the file was returned within a very short period of time to Parliamentary Services, this is a serious breach of privacy.

No approval had been given or even sought for access to this material .

The material was released to the inquiry on 21 May – the day before Mr Henry asked for access to my emails, which I refused.

While I am further given to understand that the file was unable to be opened by the inquiry and have been assured therefore that none of the emails were actually read by the inquiry, I am nonetheless extremely concerned and angry about this gross, unauthorised breach of personal privacy, especially since it was my refusal to authorise access to the content of those emails that brought about my resignation as a minister,”

Source: IBID

Cry to someone who cares, Mr Dunne.

To be blunt; why the hell should I be concerned about the invasion of Peter Dunne’s privacy, when he is obviously not in the least concerned about ours?!

As far as I’m concerned, Karma has visited upon Peter Dunne’s head.

The sooner Ohariu voters throw this clown out of Parliament, the better for the whole country.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 2 August 2013 -

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- Brent Edwards -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

The Prime Minister remained defiant this week despite evidence emerging his office had pressured the Parliamentary Service to release phone records to the inquiry into the leak of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013 ( 17′ 38″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – The peaceful protest march had arrived at Parliament without incident, and people were in good spirits.

The way that democracy is under threat in New Zealand (see: Defence rates investigative journalists as threat), this protester had a point;

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The numbers swelled on Parliament’s grassy grounds;

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Protest organiser, Ariana, welcomed people and explained why the GCSB Bill (and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill) were a threat to our free, open, and democratic way of life in this country;

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A simple appeal from a New Zealander to the government; please don’t spy on me;

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Question – when did we arrive at a state in our affairs when we have to plead for privacy from our own government?

When you think about it, the image below is spot-on. It is more than a little pervy for the State to be spying on it’s citizens and reading all manner of intimate emails, and other electronic communications;

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Young people who wanted their message seen;

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The flags of Mana and The Greens, fluttering in the unseasonably warm July breeze;

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Mick’s telescope, set up to peer up at the Ninth Floor of the Beehive;

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Were there really on “500″ people attending, as the media (except TVNZ) claimed? Look for yourself;

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Is that a  statue of Lenin holding the red flag?!

And another shot of the rally numbers ;

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That looks a tad more than “500″ to me. My guesstimate – between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Green Party co-Leader addressed the rally. He said that when National MPs sneer at you, remember that they are frightened of you.

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With a wry grin, and semi-seriously, Russell  also suggested that everyone submit OIA requests to the GCSB asking how many had attended the rallies around the country. He said it might be fun to tie them up so they could not spy on us.

He finished of by repeating that “we should reject mass surveillance and reject this Bill“.

Billy McKee, from the Green Cross, then addressed the rally, vowing that he would lead an occupation to oppose this Bill;

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Organiser, Ariana, interviewed by a TV1 News team;

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Ploughshares Aotearoa Peace campaigner, Adrian Leason, who along with two other activists,  entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated one of the domes, addressed the rally;

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He encouraged concerned citizens everywhere to “disarm the plastic covers on the spybase” and put the facility out of operation. He said the Waihopai base spied on the United Nations, including diplomats and staff.

Adrian told the rally that Warner Bros had requested the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom. He said that worrying about the loss of our privacy was only “one piece of the bigger puzzle”.

His address was warmly received by the rally.

Civil liberties campaigner/Tech Liberty co-founder, Thomas Beagle,  followed;

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Thomas said that the GCSB bill was about “mass surveillance”  and expanding the power of the State,

“It’s about spying on everyone, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’re going to do. This sort of mass surveillance changes the balance of power in our society away from the people and towards the state.

I believe in the right to privacy, I believe in the right to sit in my house and call my friends on the phone without the Government listening.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of association, for people not being scared into silence because they are being watched by Government spies.”

[Blogger's note: actual quote taken from msm.]

The next speaker was veteran peace and social justice campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie read out a long list of legislation that successive governments had passed over the last decade that had, in some way, taken away some aspect of our civil liberties;  increased the power of the State; or elevated the primacy of corporate power over our own rights.

She condemned the GCSB’s close links to American spy agencies, saying that we “do not need our every movement logged by the NSA“.

Valerie said that the greatest struggle was to protect our freedoms. She said,

“Enough, we will not take any more. The struggle goes on for a free society.”

It was an amazing turnout for Wellington, Valerie said; “we are winning!”

Following Valerie, CTU President, Helen Kelly addressed the rally;

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Helen said that this government was becoming a bully. She said, “Don’t buy into ‘nothing to fear so have nothing to hide. We all have things we want to hide and keep to ourselves“. That was called privacy, she said.

Helen reminded the rally that this government has been abusing its power by persecuting beneficiaries and has only recently tried to access a journalist’s records in the Peter Dunne case,

“Peter Dunne – who did not want his emails read!”

Following Helen was Rimutaka Labour MP, Chris Hipkins;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (51)

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Chris said that there was a fundamental principle that we all have a right to privacy. He criticised Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne as “wrong to sell his vote“.

Chris then announced the following policy statement,

“We will work to have it repealed!”

Chris’s policy pledge echoes that of Labour MP, David Cunliffe, who announced at an anti GCSB Bill  public meeting in Auckland on Friday 26 July,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See previous blogpost: David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

This is another clear indication that Labour is committed to repealing this damnable piece of legislation, should it lead the next government.

We will hold them to that promise.

In which case, what does it profit National, and it’s smile and wave leader, to pass unpopular legislation, knowing that it will not survive a change of government?

In Kiwi parlance, the Nats are  on a hiding to nowhere.

Time to give it up, Mr Key.

Brief vid of Wellington street march

Source: Youtube – Chris Russell

Blogger’s Postscript

Ironically, it is Peter Dunne who will not release his email correspondence between himself and Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, insisting on his privacy – or “Parliamentary privilege”, as he calls it.

Dunne insists on maintaining his privacy (whilst voting away ours). When Inquiry head, David Henry, requested Parliamentary Service access to Andrea Vance’s internal office telephone records, he was indignant,

“They went far too far. It’s now clear he didn’t have the authority to do what he claimed to do. The fact that a journalist’s records were sought without her approval is a significant impingement on her rights and freedoms.”

I hope Parliament’s air-conditioning is working properly. The stench of hypocrisy must be over-powering.

Meanwhile, from South Korea, Dear Leader Key responded to Saturday’s nationwide street marches,

“I accept there are some that will always feel a bit nervous about privacy and their own rights, but I can give you the best assurance I can that we’re very careful and cautious about what we do as a state. But in the end we do have to protect the interests in New Zealanders.”

Source: NZ Herald – Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

The public though – or at least a considerable majority – do not trust Key as much as he would believe,

A 3News Reid Research poll released on Thursday night asked 1000 voters who they believed – 52 per cent said Dotcom, 34 per cent said John Key, and the rest didn’t know or didn’t care.

Source: MSN News – Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

If I were Key, I would not be so smug and arrogant as to think that we trust him to “protect the interests in New Zealanders”.

Spying on New Zealanders is not “protecting our interests”. More likely, it suggests how much he fears us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2013.

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More images

Facebook: Alastair Foster

Media References

MSN News: Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

Dominion Post: Thousands join rally against GSCB

NZ herald: Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

TV3: Protesters turn out to oppose GCSB bill

TVNZ: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets

Radio NZ: Protests in Auckland, Wellington against security bill

Newstalk ZB: Anti-GCSB feelings growing – Norman

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Wellingtonians (and from further afield) met  downtown in Cuba Mall, to protest National’s planned GCSB Bill.

Placards ranged from professionally printed;

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- to the artistic and decorative;

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To a simple, single, word;

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, walking in the midst of other marchers,

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This shy young lad, eleven years old, made his own protest placard from scratch, downloading and pasting images from the internet. This was his first protest march;

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A message that should strike anxiety the the fear of god into the hearts of politicians; losing votes when they piss people off;

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealandKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Who says that young people aren’t interested in politics or political issues any more?

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More young folk, with a very wise message to our elected representatives, Alex with his home-made placard;

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Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

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At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Bowen St, and Whitmore St, one of the protest march organisers, Ariana (with loud-hailer), led an impromptu sit-down;

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Valerie, taking pics of the event;

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After about five or ten minutes, as the march was moving again to the gates of Parliament, this lone chap decided to yell out “retards” and other expletives at the protesters. His name is Eddie;

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Eddie

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I went up to Eddie and asked his why he called the protesters “retards”.

Eddie was upset that buses had stopped moving up Lambton Quay and he was worried that the chicken he had bought at the supermarket would develop salmonella. He said the protesters should be marching along the footpath and not the road. I asked Eddie how 3,000 to 5,000 people could fit onto a footpath.

He had no response.  He said the protest should have taken place when people weren’t at work. I suggested to him that a protest march of this size would be less of a nuisance to traffic on a Saturday afternoon than had been held during the week. I then asked him if he knew what the issues surrounding the GCSB Bill were, and that maybe it was important enough to warrant a temporary, minor inconvenience.

At first Eddie denied knowing anything about the issue. When asked again, he admitted knowing that the GCSB’s powers were to be expanded “to spy on us all”.

When I asked him if that was an important issue of public concern he muttered something and walked off.

I hope he enjoys his chicken.

Meanwhile, those with more pressing issues on their minds had reached the entrance to  Parliament – only to find that the main gate had been locked. Only two side-gates, which were barely wide enough to allow passage for one or two people at a time, were open.

Undeterred, those who were fit, young, and with enthusiastic energy went over the gates as well as around;

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Not quite the storming of the Bastille – but their hearts were in the right place;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (36)

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A note to the smart-arse news-editors on TV3 who quipped that protesters climbed over the main gate “even though there was another gate open right next to them” – mis-representing an event does not inspire confidence in your ability to be accurate and fair in your reporting.

Try getting 3,000-plus people through a small gap in any meaningful period of time. The entrance-way in question is to the right of the main gate in the image below;

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Very disappointing that TV3 chose to make such a cheap shot.

As people squeezed through the side entrances, others continued to climb the barrier. The symbolism was obvious;

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This young woman – with the sign “We are NZ!!! Not USA!” – climbed the gate and grinned with satisfaction;

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Once through (or over) the gates, New Zealand citizens made their way up the road through Parliament grounds;

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More people arrived. In this shot, you can clearly see the bottleneck at the front gates;

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Parliament’s grounds were once again in the possession of the People.

To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Between 3,000 to 5,000 people (not the “500″ estimated by the Dominion Post, NZ Herald, and TV3) took part in a march in Wellington on a bright, warm Saturday afternoon.

People assembled in Cuba Mall near the Bucket fountain, and when we arrived there were already at least a thousand people in attendence.

This shot looks south; the crowd extends all the way to the Cuba Mall/Ghuznee Street intersection;

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com   - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

Cuba Mall – looking south

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The rest of the crowd, looking northward, from my same vantage point (on the Bucket Fountain’s wall);

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealand

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Cuba Mall was effectively packed with people who had joined the protest march. Only TV1 got the numbers right (see: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets)

There were people from all walks of life; all ages; all races; all demographics. Families like this one;

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L-R: Rebecca, Karl, Charley, and Alida

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I was reliably informed that Rebecca’s tongue-poking was directed at Dear Leader, and not at myself. But one cannot be 100% certain…

Many of the signs carried messages on both sides, like Mick’s;

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People’s messages were often witty and well thought out;

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Dillon and Tanya

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Other’s got straight to the point – stop stealing our human right to privacy;

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Paul and Bev from the  Ohariu electorate  both expressed their disgust at Peter Dunne’s behaviour. Neither would be voting for him again, they both said;

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Their signs had messages on both sides as well – typical ingenuity from New Zealander’s famed “no 8 fencing wire” can-do attitude;

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Dunne must be either brave or foolish to be alienating his voters in this fashion.

Shortly after we arrived, the march took off, headed to Parliament. By this time, numbers had swelled and more people would join as the march moved along Wellington’s streets;

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Politicians should take note – the protesters weren’t just radicals, activists, and suchlike – these were ordinary New Zealanders who rarely take to the streets.

What some placards lacked in political rhetoric and ideology, they more than made up in straight Kiwi talk;

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And some folk  have just had a gutsful of this increasingly autocratic government and want a chance to change things at the ballot box;

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Many of the placards were obviously home-made, by ordinary citizens. Not exactly the “rent a mob” that Key and other Tories have claimed in the past, whenever they dismiss protest movements;

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And some were downright creative in their style and message;

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Home-made or pre-printed, the messages were crystal clear; people do not want the GCSB spying on us;

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And some were pretty ‘earthy’ in their wording – but I think most fair minded folk can empathise with the passion behind the message;

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More creativity;

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Even  businesspeople  like  Helen and Chelfyn were out on the street to protest. They found a simple, but novel way to  spoof the threat of many eyes watching us,

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To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

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

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= fs =

2013 – The Year We Became a Policed Surveillance State

30 July 2013 1 comment

Mark 2013AD  in our history books. It is the year that we became a Policed Surveillance State…

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Dear Leader is Watching

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Peter Dunne has capitulated to John Key’s “compromises”, and will give National his support to pass the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill.

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Dunne backs expanded spy powers

Source: Fairfax Media – Dunne backs expanded spy powers

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Peter Dunne’s sell-out should bring no joy to civil libertarians and to those New Zealanders who understand the full implications of these two proposed laws.

Every New Zealander will now potentially be under surveillance. Everyone.

The passing of these two Bills is not the end of the story, however. National also has another plan in store for us,

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Kindy kids to have ID numbers

Source: NZ Herald – Kindy kids to have ID numbers

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The numbering of children will begin with beneficiary families. That’s how it usually begins; with those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and who have been so completely dehumanised by constant vilification and finger-pointing that the Middle Classes no longer consider them as human. Certainly not people they feel empathy with.

Such is the purpose of  well-designed, repetitive, propaganda. The Big Lie.

Of course, once New Zealanders are accustomed to the numbering and surveillance of beneficiary children – National will eventually expand the programme to include all children from all families. Everyone will become a number.

The numbering of  our children – coming to all Kiwi families Real Soon.

Quasi-fascists and naive right-wing bloggers such as that witless, lying fool, Cameron Slater, are positively wetting themselves with delirious joy that New Zealand is a step further to being a Policed Surveillance State.

This could only have come about because of Key’s popularity with the Right Wing and the lumpen-proletariat/middle classes. (XYZ Factor anyone?! Out-House Improvement?? Survivor Eketahuna?!!?)

Had Labour tried to pass these two Bills, the Right would be fainting  from apoplexy-inspired coronary attacks and the media headlines would be written in gory, blood-red headlines damning the rise of the ‘Big Brother’ State.

God knows the fuss over shower-heads raised the level of hysteria to heights not seen since the 1950s “red scare”.

But because our high-polling, smile & wave, Prime Minister is fronting this massive expansion of  State power, only the Left and a few other isolated voices are vocal in their objection.

Interestingly – but unsurprisingly -  several of Slater’s own commentators expressed unease at National’s expansion of the GCSB’s powers. One poster made this unerringly accurate observation,

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comment on GCSB Bill - whaleoil blog

Source: Whaleoil – Peter Dunne has found his stones, will support GCSB bill

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Slater’s readers seem brighter than the sleaze-meister himself.

So much for Rightwing rhetoric about getting the State out of our lives and reducing the role of government…

But Cows4me has made a valid point (one which Slater doesn’t – or can’t – answer).

The GCSB and telco Bills are being passed by a government “friendly” to rightwingers. So nothing to fear, as Slater and some of his brain-numb sycophants keep telling themselves.

Except…

Every three years, we have these little events called “elections”.

And every so often, the public – bless their cotton socks – tire of rightwing economic orthodoxy and vote for a left-wing government to clean up the social mess created by National policies. As happened in November 1999.

Allowing the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens, and employing the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, gives an awful lot of power to Prime Ministers – including left-wing Prime Ministers.

Rightwing bloggers like Slater and David Farrar often receive leaks from various Parliamentary sources.

The same applies to left-wing bloggers.

Now imagine that a left-wing government is elected in 2014 (still a strong possibility despite some shonkey polls)…

Imagine that rightwing bloggers go into hyper-drive with their sledging of the new government…

And imagine that a Minister in the new government becomes pissed off with something that Slater or Farrar or some other RWNJ blogger writes…

The Minister has a chat with the PM… the PM has a quiet word with the new head of the GCSB… the GCSB checks the internet activities of Right Wing blogger Mr X… and discovers that Mr X has been secretly chatting up young ladies on Facebook. Which is something that Mr X’s wife might take a dim view of.

And lo! A left-wing blogger is leaked this information and posts some very strong hints about Mr X’s proclivities and activities on his/her own blog… (In fact, there might even be a new blogsite created, by an anonymous left-wing blogger, for just this very purpose.)

If I were Slater or Farrar or any of their rightwing fellow-bloggers, I would not be so chirpy at the GCSB being given such vast new powers. In fact, I’d be hoping that my past and current life  is squeaky-clean.

Same goes for commentators on right-wing blogs who hide behide the anonymity of pseudonyms. A GCSB operative checking IP numbers and relying on their new powers granted under the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment would soon reveal their true identities.

Imagine then, if you will, that it was discovered that a commentator was posting from a work station. How would his/her employer feel if they were informed that their employee was indulging in blogging activity during work hours?

Unlikely, you might think?

Not really. Government ministers already leak information to bloggers.

And Paula Bennett certainly didn’t think twice before releasing private details of two solo-mothers in 2009,

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No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

Source: NZ Herald – No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

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Politics just got a whole lot more “interesting”.

Welcome to New Zealand, the Policed Surveillance State of the 21st century.

Next step,

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ID Card

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Followed by,

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barcoded humans

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Unlikely?

That’s what was promised about the GCSB when it was first set up in 1977 by Rob Muldoon: it would never be allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens.

People trusted Muldoon then.

As people trust Key now.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.

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To Ohariu Voters who I have wronged…

24 July 2013 6 comments

… my apologies.

Not all of you voted for the man who sold his soul for whatever benefits he gained from his Master…

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peter dunne john key

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Truly, Mr Dunne, you have lost your way.

You resisted with all your might, to prevent the release of your emails with journalist Andrea Vance. You cried “Parliamentary Privilege” from here to Mt Olympus.

Now, with your able assistance, and paid a handsome reward for your turning, the State will be able to read our emails.

Tell me, sir. What did it benefit you, to have gained the Prime Minister’s favours, and lose your integrity?

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Congratulations Ohariu voters…

23 July 2013 5 comments

… your MP has declared his support for legislation that will turn New Zealand into a Policed Surveillance State,

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Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

Source: NBR – Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

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Is this what you expected of your MP?!

If not, drop him a line and tell him that Big Brother is not on your Christmas “wish list”.

peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz

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Beware of unstable government!

27 June 2013 3 comments

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John Key - Peter Dunne - John Banks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Three co-leaders of the Maori Party

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

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

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

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

About bloody time.

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The Nationalmobile

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References

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

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

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

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

ODT: And so it begins (28 May 2013)

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= fs =

Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…

23 June 2013 5 comments

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Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

Acknowledgement: Huffington Post -  Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

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Are we  witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring?  All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.

The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising  turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.

In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.

In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their  governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.

In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.

Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).

Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.

When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.

Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.

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Dunne hasn't made up mind about GCSB bill

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ -  Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill

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Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy  was safe.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.

We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.

There is barely a murmur in response.

Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is  (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of  the growth of  State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…

Peter Dunne, fresh from  resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday  announced that he might not support National’s  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.

Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been  the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.

Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.

We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.

Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.

Isn’t that… Big Brother?

I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.

Dunne may well be the man to do it.

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Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

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I’ve always wondered…

Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National)  used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’?   The Master Banking Contract has been held by  Westpac for 23 years despite never  being tendered out.  It covers all government departments (except  Crown entities and  SOEs).

According to Alex Tarrant,

  • In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
  • A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
  • The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
  • An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
  • The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
  • The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
  • The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract.  Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
  • The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Government considers future of Westpac’s key 21 year-old banking deal

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Here are two further points to consider,

  1. Last year Westpac NZ  reported   $707 million in after-tax profit  -  a 22 %  increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
  2. In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been  taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)

So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!

How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?

Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.

So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.

Have I left anything out?

Screw the tender process.

Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic  right winger;

  1. No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board  (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
  2. Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
  3. All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
  4. Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments

Win/win/win/win.

I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.

And strangely enough, it’s left-wing parties – Mana and the Greens – thay have to point this out to the more capitalist-minded Nats?!

Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…

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Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

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Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.

I can’t say otherwise.

Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.

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Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/21/surveillance-laws-strikebreaking-subversive-groups/#sthash.ky4ZiKiZ.dpuf

Dunne on worker’s rights

21 June 2013 3 comments

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Peter Dunne

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Despite his political problems, and despite being on the wrong side of the asset sales debate, Ohari MP, Peter Dunne has come out firmly opposed to Jami-Lee Ross’s strike-breaking Bill (Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill).

Ross’s Bill would effectively allow employers to break strikes by employing scab labour to take over the worker’s jobs.  Effectively, it would be constructive dismissal if workers dared to strike for any reason.

The Bill also allows employers to change worker’s conditions at will.

This is a nasty, repressive, anti-worker’s Bill that is much worse than the Employment Contracts Act of the 1990s. It is the ‘wet dream‘ of every far-right, anti-unionist fanatic who wants workers to be little more than de facto slave-labour.

For some, it appears that Ross’s vile Bill is a step too far.

On 18 June, the NZ Herald reported,

[Peter Dunne] said he would not be backing National MP Jami-Lee Ross’s bill allowing employers to hire contract workers when their employees go on strike.

Mr Dunne said it was a step too far and he thought the right to strike was an important part of industrial law.

“I think this is really the Ports of Auckland Bill, frankly. And while I understand the motivation behind it, I think it’s too big of a sledgehammer to deal with this specific issue.

“I think that there will be people who will misuse it, and I think that’s detrimental.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Dunne breaks silence by taking to Twitter

Dunne is 100% spot on – “this is really the Ports of Auckland”. It is an attempt by neo-liberals to destroy any remaining vestige of workers representation through their unions. It is anti-democratic. It is repressive. It is  what drove the workers in Poland to rise up and form their free, independent trade union, Solidarnosc.

Is that the road that Ross and his shadowy backers are wanting to choose? The road to  State suppression of workers?

If so, Mr Ross, be warned. People will only take so much before they fight back. Hard.

This blogger congratulates Mr Dunne on his sense of fairness, and hopes he will not cave to pressure from National ministers or employers.

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Thumbs up

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Previous related blogpost

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

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Citizen A: Martyn Bradbury, Chris Trotter & David Slack

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- Citizen A -

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 - 13 June 2013 -

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- Chris Trotter & David Slack -

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Chris Trotter, and David Slack discuss the following issues:

  • Why are Labour and the Greens clobbering Peter Dunne as hard as they can – shouldn’t Dunne be given some slack for assisting a journalist to report on a matter of huge public interest?

 

  • Also discussed, has the GCSB been interacting with the United States spy system PRISM?

 

  • And what’s the state of Auckland’s Unitary Plan and are evictions being planned for state house tenants in Glenn Innes?

 

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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Why Peter Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids”

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feed the kids

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The Mana Party currently has a bill before Parliament, which, if passed, will fund school meals for children in Decile One and Two schools. These are schools in the poorest parts of our country.

Because as many of you readers know (or SHOULD know), child poverty has been steadily increasing over the last decades. Whether caused by low wages; inadequate welfare payments for unemployed; high house rentals and electricity tariffs; dysfunctional parents; or whatever – about 270,000 children now live in abject poverty.

Many are going to school without breakfast or lunch.

We can blame the parents or the system or whatever. But we can’t blame the kids – they don’t vote. Nor can they speak up or act for themselves (unless, through hunger, they steal food from somewhere). Nor do children choose which family to be born into.

The Mana Party’s “Feed the Kids” Bill is designed to alleviate this growing cancer in our society and to give children a chance for a decent start in life. Food in their bellies will help improve their attention in school and help them focus and learn. Because as we all know (or SHOULD know) – without an education, these children will remain trapped in poverty.

From the Website, Feedthekids.org.nz,

  • Feeding the kids should be our first priority as a nation.
  • The Bill aims to set up government funded breakfast and lunch programmes in all decile 1-2 schools.
  • It’s a simple, easy and immediate way to address growing levels of child poverty in Aotearoa and has been a key recommendation of leading organisations such as the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.
  • The Bill is expected to come before Parliament for its first reading on Wednesday 5 June. So far Labour, Greens, Maori Party, NZ First, and Independent MP Brendan Horan have agreed to support it. We need one more vote to get it passed and to a select committee for further consideration.

“We need one more vote to get it passed and to a select committee for further consideration“,  trumpets the appeal.

Unfortunately, that one vote will not be coming from Peter Dunne.

From the blogsite, YourNZ, run by Peter Dunne supporter, Pete George,

Peter Dunne’s vote would be the one that makes the difference to get this bill passed on the first vote. I asked him if he would support it. Dunne responded:

I fully understand what is intended by this essentially laudable proposals, but I think it is fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons.

Of course, there is a significant number of children who go to school to hungry, because they have not been properly fed at home, and of course poor nutrition has an adverse effect on learning and the subsequent development of the child. That is not the issue – rather, the question is what is the best way of addressing this problem.

At one level, the idea of meals in schools is superficially attractive, but it is essentially palliative, and does little to deal with the circumstances of these children on a long term basis.

Then there is the question of which group of children should we be focusing on. After all, not all children in schools will come from the same socio-economic backgrounds. So, should such a programme be applied universally, which would be as expensive as it would be impractical, or should it be more tightly targeted?

And if so, how? Should, for example, it just apply in low decile schools, even though there will children in those schools from a higher socio-economic status who would not need such a programme?

In that event, what about low-income household children in higher decile schools? Or, to get around income definition problems, should the children of beneficiaries be the only ones eligible?

Whatever way one looks at the issue, the definitional problems are massive, and strongly suggest that such a programme would not only be unsustainable, but also impractical, and in a number of cases potentially inequitable.

That is why I take the view that a much more realistic and workable approach is to target directly, through early identification by community agencies, at risk families and to work with them to help them  get the support they need to properly feed their children.

That support could take any number of forms, depending on individual circumstances, including direct assistance with the provision of food, at one end of the scale, through to such things as life skills advice on cooking, for example, and proper budget advice at the other end of the scale.

Such a targeted approach is far more likely to succeed in the long term, and benefit directly at-risk children, and would have my full support.

Acknowledgment: YourNZ – Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids”

Blah, blah, blah – it is vile sophistry to justify doing precisely nothing.

Dunne sez,

That is why I take the view that a much more realistic and workable approach is to target directly, through early identification by community agencies, at risk families and to work with them to help them  get the support they need to properly feed their children.

That support could take any number of forms, depending on individual circumstances, including direct assistance with the provision of food, at one end of the scale, through to such things as life skills advice on cooking, for example, and proper budget advice at the other end of the scale.

Not only is that not happening – but social welfare services are being wound back by National, and assistance is getting harder and harder to access;

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National to push 46,000 off welfare

Acknowledgment:  Fairfax Media – National to push 46,000 off welfare

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The consequences for increasing poverty, and the effects on children,  are inevitable;

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Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

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So why is a reasonably intelligent, well-educated man who is socially progressive, so thoroughly opposed to feeding  our hungry children?

After all, Dunne’s track record on social issues seems to be encouragingly positive;

So what’s up with Peter Dunne and his awful, cold-hearted response to the crisis of child poverty afflicting this country? One could imagine ACT and National MPs voting against the “Feed The Kids” Bill – those people either have freezer coolant in their veins, or are ideologically wedded to rugged Individualism and Personal Responsibility (except when National is held to account for it’s stuff-ups and policy failures) that includes perpetuating poverty on a nationwide scale.

Why has Dunne fobbed off meals in schools when he knows full well that it is a successful programme that is cost-effective; helps families in need; and alleviates hunger in our children? Dunne knows full well that food in schools has been a normal feature of Scandinavia and British schools for decades.

The pay-off is kids who can focus on classes and succeed in education. As Bryan Bruce said recently,

let’s get on and feed our kids properly so the teachers are freed to do their job and our kids can learn the 21 st Century skills they will need to earn money, pay their taxes and grow our economy.

See: The Daily Blog – Can we afford to have “a chat on food in schools”?

So why has Dunne adopted a miserly attitude that would gladden the dead heart of Scrooge? Why, when he admits that hungry, under-fed children is a very real problem,

Of course, there is a significant number of children who go to school to hungry, because they have not been properly fed at home, and of course poor nutrition has an adverse effect on learning and the subsequent development of the child.

I submit to the reader that Dunne’s mealy-mouthed words about why we can’t feed hungry children is indicated in his following words,

So, should such a programme be applied universally, which would be as expensive ...

So this isn’t about whether or not child poverty and hunger exists – Dunne concedes that it does.

This is about money.

And Peter Dunne, as we know, is Minister of Revenue.

Just recently, Dunne attempted to tax carparks as part of an extended Fringe Benefit tax. Last year, Finance Minister Bill English announced that a rebate for children earning pocket money (paper delivery boys and girls, etc), would be eliminated. And Gerry Brownlee announced 9 cents per litre increase in petrol taxes over a three year period.

Quite simply, after two unaffordable tax cuts – funded by offshore borrowings – National has found itself in a fiscal hole, of a shortfall of at  least two billion dollars per year.

After Dunne’s fiasco over his failed car-park proposal – which was so unpopular with trade unions and businesses alike – his National colleagues distanced themselves  from the policy, and it was finally dropped by Dear Leader on 18 March.

A day later, Key dumped another proposal by Peter Dunne to  extend tax on cellphones and computer laptops.

As Minister of Revenue, Dunne is in a bind. He is cash-strapped to fund National’s budgetted policies.

It also means he is loathe to support new initiatives which will incur additional spending.

Especially if it puts more pressure on him to find the money to pay for said initiatives.

As Dunne pointed out,  about feeding decile 1 and 2 school-children;

“…should such a programme be applied universally, [it] would be …  expensive

How else to explain his bizarre statement,

“...the question is what is the best way of addressing this problem.  At one level, the idea of meals in schools is superficially attractive, but it is essentially palliative…”

Feeding hungry children is… ‘superficially attractive’?

Feeding hungry children is ‘palliative’??

If Dunne is opposed to feeding hungry children from this nation’s poorest families,  because he would find it difficult to reconcile extra expenditure with revenue, he should at least have the intestinal fortitude to publicly admit it. Tell us, straight up.

Hiding behind faux excuses is obscene. Especially when, with every word he writes, there are children with empty bellies turning up at our schools.

Peter Dunne writes,

That is why I take the view that a much more realistic and workable approach is to target directly, through early identification by community agencies, at risk families and to work with them to help them  get the support they need to properly feed their children.”

So. What has he done to achieve this?

Because all I can see is a cleverly-worded fob-off.

To the people of Ohariu – this is your MP. Is this what you voted for?

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child poverty

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 May 2013, before Peter Dunne resigned as Minister of Revenue.
For a full follow-up debate that followed this blogpost on The Daily Blog, click here.

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References

Feed The Kids

The Daily Blog:  Hungry Kids Annoy Frazzled Lobby Group Director

The Daily Blog:  Can we afford to have “a chat on food in schools”?

The Pundit: Children’s Commissioner fronts for Nats on food in schools: Corporate agenda rules

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Citizen A with Martyn Bradbury, Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope

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 - 6 June 2013 -

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Colin Craig, and  Dr Wayne Hope discuss the following issues:

  • Is Key the new Muldoon?
  • What’s worse for education – Novopay or Charter Schools
  • Why is Winston attacking Dunne?

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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What was the point of this?

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treading water

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Two years ago, National awarded $7 million in grants to local businesses. As then-Science and Innovation Minister Wayne Mapp said,

… research science and technology was the way to create jobs, economic growth and a higher living standard for the country.

“To that end, it is vital that high-tech, exporting companies maintain their competitive edge in global markets.”

Of  a total figure of about $50 million, $7 million was awarded to high-tech companies;

Core Technology: $629,400

Open Cloud: $2,394,920

Xero: $4,040,000

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$7m grants for Wellington tech businesses

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – $7m grants for Wellington tech businesses

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So far, so good; National assisting small-medium businesses to build and hopefully hire more staff.  What could possibly go wrong, you ask?

Well, this is the National-led government we’re talking about here…

Fast forward to 2013, and on 1 May, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced

… the Government’s biggest ever overhaul of a Government IT system – a $1.5b upgrade of the department’s “First mainframe” computer system.

Mr Dunne admitted the system was “fully stretched” and a 10-year project to upgrade the system was required.

He said he wanted to make sure a Novopay-like situation could be prevented in the roll out.

“It’s fair to say the revenue system is at capacity, and the Government recognises the need for a substantive transformation programme to shape Inland Revenue to best serve New Zealand in the future”.

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – $1.5b upgrade for IRD’s ‘fully stretched’ computer system

Aside from the extraordinary cost of such a project – $1.5 billion!?!? – which even rightwing blogger, David Farrar has questioned (see:  Drury on IRD computer system) – this would be a prime opportunity for local IT businesses to get stuck in and tender for the project.

Companies like,

Core Technology

Open Cloud

Xero

These companies, remember, have been given $7 million of our taxes to grow their businesses.  The IRD project would be ideal to fulfill those expectations of growth.

Except – and remember, this is National we’re talking about – the criteria for tendering excludes most (if not all) local IT companies,

The information technology industry is crying foul over the criteria set by Government departments to work on multi-million dollar contracts.

A lobby group, backed by the Green Party, says the Inland Revenue Department is making requirements too hard for local companies to meet so contracts are going offshore.

[...]

Local firms say the criteria meant they couldn’t bid for the job.

You have to have $400 million worth of assets for example, it makes it very very difficult for New Zealand ICT companies to get over those bars,” Green Party co-leader Russel Norman claims.

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – IRD under fire for hiring international firm

What New Zealand company holds $400 million worth of assets?

Not many, if any, to quote The Scribe.

Unsurprisingly, the criteria was written by  French multinational Capgemini – one of the world’s largest IT consultancy companies.  The same company,  Capgemini, has also been hired to  “advise” on the tender process which is worrying the  IT industry that it  will be cut out.

This, to put it mildly was met with disgust and derision by local New Zealand IT companies such as Xero CEO, Rod Dury, who wrote a scathing op-ed for the NBR on 2 May,

The New Zealand Government has recently agreed to spend $1.5 billion to redo the New Zealand tax system.

To anyone in IT this is an obscene amount of money to spend on any software project.

From the outside it seems like a slow moving train crash reminiscent of earlier Big Bang projects that always blow out if they are ever delivered.

It reeks of global consulting firms winning the business and then rapidly hiring a bunch of grads and putting them up in hotels for years.

It’s just not smart.”

Acknowledgment: NBR – Dear IRD: how to shave $1b from your $1.5b software spendup

Rod Dury points out,

“A $1.5 billion  injection into local service companies, that are world class, would grow an industry. Government spending of this magnitude should see numerous other benefits.

It’s easy to say nothing but the fact is government officials have no idea what’s reasonable. The companies with the budgets to win these projects are the people officials meet.

To a well meaning amateur $1.5 billion seems a massive amount of money for a relatively moderate volume transaction system.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Far from being a nay-sayer, he then offers four positive, practical, constructive suggestions how the IRD (and National) should proceed on this issue.

This blogger concurs with Mr Dury.

We’ve  had previous disasters with INCIS (American IBM); Novopay (Australian); and problems with imported locomatives (Chinese) – projects  which could, and should,  have been built here in New Zealand, with money going to local workers and firms.

This is not left-wing fantasy, this is fairly obvious common sense. We can do it; we have the skills; the nous; and the determination.

Aside from generating local  jobs and business growth here in New Zealand,  Xero’s Rod Dury sez we can build a new system for IRD for far cheaper than the $1.5 billion mooted by Peter Dunne and others,

But rather than just criticise here’s some practical suggestions I’d offer to to see if we can save $500 million to $1 billion in spend.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Rod Dury did not mince his words,

This just flies in the face of best practice in the way New Zealand companies have been building world-class software really for the last five or 10 years.”

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – IRD upgrade another potential train wreck – expert

So why isn’t National giving local companies the opportunity to bid fairly for the contract?

Why give grants worth millions of tax-dollars to  local companies if this government is not prepared to subsequently support them with contracts?

What was the point of this?

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Addendum

When I contacted Rod Drury on this issue he responded via Twitter, he replied on 4 May;

Rod Drury ‏@roddrury 4 May

@fmacskasy @clarecurranmp the companies that should be doing it are Intergen, Datacom, Simpl, Optimation. Works class local services biz’s

He actually suggests other companies that could be involved – not his own.

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

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Two Tax Strikes against Dunne?

20 March 2013 4 comments

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cut taxes for the workers

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First, there was the Carpark Tax.

That didn’t go down well…

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Government ditches controversial car park tax plan

Acknowledgement: Government ditches controversial car park tax plan

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Strike one.

Then there was the “Talk Tax” on cellphone, ipads, smartphones, laptops, and  all manner of other gadgets. The business sector didn’t like that idea, either…

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Cellphone, laptop tax plan scrapped

Acknowledgement: TVNZ – Cellphone, laptop tax plan scrapped

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Strike two.

Next up, perhaps one of the meanest taxes ever…

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'Paper boy tax' on small earnings stuns Labour - stamped questionmark

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Budget 2012 ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

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Made all the meaner because children cannot vote and therefore this is taxation without representation.

By contrast, the tax cuts of 2009 and 2010 gave the biggest cuts to the wealthiest in this country,

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tax-cuts-april-2009

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Tax rates October 2010

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The 2010 tax cuts alone gave Dear Leader an extra $291 extra per  week, on his old salary of $390,000 p.a. (see: $4b in tax cuts coming) – on the backs of school children doing paper-rounds and other part-time work, for pocket money, it could be said.

Key’s  salary has since increased to 411,510 – plus perks, allowances, superannuation, etc (see: Salaries payable under section 16 of Civil List Act 1979).

For Key, it’s apparently a “non-issue,

“A lot of people didn’t know they were entitled to them so they didn’t bother claiming. The amounts were fairly small and overall we have been trying to clean up the tax code.”

See:  Key rejects criticism of ‘paperboy tax’

I guess when you have $50 million stashed in bank accounts all over the place it’s fairly hard to identify with a kid earning $40 a week?

By what definition of fairness can we justify someone earning $390,000 a year getting an extra $291 a week – whilst paper boys and girls – who are paid a pittance anyway – are taxed for the few dollars they work for? Are we really that desperate as a nation? And then we wonder why our young people are buggering off to Australia and elsewhere?

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The Final Goodbye

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If there’s one single example of where our society has gone terribly wrong since 1984 – this, to me, is it.

It’s fairly apparent to everyone except the most sycophantic National supporter that the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts left a gaping hole in the government’s revenue. (see: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b) Dunne’s pathetic attempts at raising additional taxes is simply a consequence of tax-cuts that were unaffordable three years ago – and remain unaffordable to this day.

On the issue of the “Paperboy/girl Tax”, I look forward to the business sector campaigning hard to scrap that, as they did with the “Carpark” and “Talk” taxes.

After all, the members of the Employers and Manufacturers Association have kids of their own.

Isn’t campaigning on behalf of your own children as important as a carpark?

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Additional

Key defends tax cuts in light of zero Budget (2 April 2012)

Key rejects criticism of ‘paperboy tax’ (25 May 2012)

Car park tax opposition cuts across cultural, class divide (19 March 2013)

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“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne

16 January 2013 11 comments

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student debt

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In a recent blogpost (see: Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall) the nadir of National’s cost-cutting to funding of our public services was revealed in a succession of NZ Herald stories,

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Govt eyes cuts to elective surgery

Full story

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In a repeat of  (then-Health Minister) Bill English’s cost cutting of the public health sector  in the late 1990s, National is once again targetting social services that will impact most harshly on our youngest and most vulnerable – our children. It defies understanding  and flies in the face of our supposed reputation for being “a great place to bring up children”.

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Govt's proposed health cuts could affect children - Labour

Full story

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As one respondent stated on a previous blogpost,

“One of the major reasons in combatting glue ear is improving a child’s academic performance.

Ensuring academic success with today’s children offers the best prospect of growing tomorrow’s economy, reducing unemployment, increasing the living standard, generally reducing the country’s/ world’s problems, etc.

Is this not a smart investment? How National fails to understand this is bewildering.” -  ‘Procrastinator’, 12 January 2012

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Doubt over savings from restricting ear treatment

Full story

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“Bewildering”, indeed.

Until one starts to “connect-the-dots” and a slightly new – though all-to-familiar – picture emerges.

To complete the picture, some more “dots”,

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Parents face burden of preschool squeeze

Full story

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Budget 2012 - 'Paper boy tax' on small earnings stuns Labour

Full story

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Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

Full story

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Meds price hike - 'Children will die'

Full story

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Petrol price rises to balance books

Full story

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And the latest,

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Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

Full story

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Revenue Minister Peter Dunne sez,

It’s fundamentally a fairness issue.”

I call “bollocks” on that.

This has as much to do with “fairness” as the US invasion of Iraq had to do with locating Saddam Hussein’s mythical  “weapons of mass destruction”.

Let’s be upfront and honest here, Mr Dunne. This has squat to do with “fairness”.  After all,  if  National ministers and their coalition “partners” truly wanted to make this an issue of  ” fundamental fairness “, then perhaps Mr Dunne and his colleagues should look in the mirror first.

Starting with Peter Dunne himself…

Peter Dunne ” graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1977 with a Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, and has also studied business administration at Massey University ” (see: Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne ).

With student loans for tertiary education fees  not kicking in until 1992 (see: Timeline of New Zealand history), Peter Dunne’s own University education was  free.

He paid nothing for his Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, nor for his  business administration studies at Massey University which were most likely carried out prior to 1988, when he was an Associate Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management (see: Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne ). I can find no record indicating whether or not Dunne graduated from his business course at Massey.

On top of his free education, Dunne probably also qualified for a student allowance – again courtesy of the New Zealand taxpayer and non-repayable.

The Prime Minister, John Key, and Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, also gained their respective University education free of charge – courtesy of the taxpayer. In Bennett’s case, she used the WINZ Training Incentive Allowance to pay for her tertiary education – which she later cut back so it is now no longer available for other solo-parents (see: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her).

Peter Dunne was partially correct in one respect, though,

There’s a certain sense of annoyance amongst people who stayed in New Zealand and diligently worked to pay off their loans that these freeloaders overseas are, in some cases, getting away with it.”

See: Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

The free-loaders though, are not the students who’ve escaped the double-standards; hypocrisy; and sheer plain selfishness of our country. The real free-loaders are every single Tory politician and bludging right-winger who gained a free taxpayer funded tertiary education – and then proceeded to force subsequent generations of young New Zealanders to pay for their University education.

The real free loaders are hypocrites such as Peter Dunne who paid nothing for his years at  University – whilst now expecting others for pay. And on top of that, using the full force of the State to enforce payment.

No wonder that so many New Zealanders, like Matthew Fraher, who  left for Australia in 2000, are justifiably angry. As he pointed out about politicians, they,

“… didn’t pay a dime and they’re having a go at us.”

See: Student loan debtor: I’m better off in Australia

And the system is actually encouraging graduates to leave the country. As Mr Fraher correctly stated,

I was paying about $10,000 a year just doing the minimum amount for the last three and a half years.

When I go to Australia I’ll be paying back $3000 a year.

They’re actually making an incentive to leave the country. “If anyone thinks that’s sensible or good policy, their head’s not right.”

See: IBID

None of the student fees/loans/debt makes any sense. Not socially, not economically, and certainly not for our country’s future as we continue to bleed people to Australia and further afield.

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evansknowlegewave

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Only  certain politicians and the low-information voters who voted for this mess could possibly think any of this was a good idea.

The sad thing is that New Zealand was warned of this eventuality in the 1990s by social commentators, left-wing activists,  and political parties such as The Alliance.

The real motive for National’s under-funding and cutting social services; taxing newspaper-delivery boys and girls;  and their latest witch-hunt to grab back every cent they can manage to ring from ex-students, is quite simple: National is desperate for cash.

After two unaffordable tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010, which cost this country in billions of dollars in lost revenue (see; Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting, Deficit halved, but still higher than forecast), National is scrambling to cut services to save money and to raise revenue from every possible source.

All for promises of two tax cuts we couldn’t afford in 2008 – and still can’t afford now, five years later.

Alex Tarrant, from Interest.co.nz,  summed matters up succinctly when he wrote last year,

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Treasury lowers govt's forecast for 2014 2015 surplus to NZ$66 mln

Full story

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Mr Tarrant left out one vital factor: the tax cuts. He refers to “government receiving almost NZ$8 billion less in tax revenue over the next four years” – which is precisely the figure that The Green Party uncovered after some judicious political detective work,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ — paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

“Borrowing $2 billion in 18 months to fund upper-income tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible.

“National’s poor economic decisions have led to record levels of government debt and borrowing.

“They have also broken a promise to the electorate when they said their tax cut package was going to be fiscally neutral.”

See: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dr Norman is correct – National did indeed promise that tax cuts would be “fiscally neutral”.  But more than that, in 2008, National also pledged,

National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.

See: National/Economy/Tax Policy

That has to be the biggest,  bare-faced lie from National since John Key took over leadership of that Party in November 2006.

It is also worth noting that  National’s expected surplus for 2014/15 is a mere $66 million. That is a fraction of the $72.9 to $74.9 billion in Core Crown expenses for the 2014/15 period (see:  Fiscal Outlook). It’s the cost of a damaged bridge-repair  or other unforeseen circumstance requiring government expenditure.

Little wonder that Ministers are directing their departments to scrimp and scrape to save every dollar they can get away with.

The reason this is so vital to National?

Because every other economic and social indicator is either stagnating, or getting worse. With their free market “hands off” policy, National is unable to intervene directly in the economy  in any meaningful way (except provide subsidies to certain industries like multi-billion dollar movie conglomerates).

National finds itself unable to engage in job creation programmes – that is the role of business, said Dear Leader,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. ” – John Key,  24 August 2012

See: Key Notes: Honouring our fallen soldiers

National can’t even bring itself to help Cantabrians with housing – that is the role of private enterprise, said Roly Poly Leader, Gerry Brownlee. (see:  Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’)

With much of the economy “off limits” on ideological grounds and National unwilling to address critical social problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) – there is only one area where Key and his Party can show the voting public that they are an effective Party in power and “on top of things”: government spending.

In a bizarre form of political roulette, Key and English are gambling their political reputations on one throw of the dice; returning to Budget surplus in 2014/15.

That’s all they have. Most other economic and social indicators are worsening on an almost weekly or monthly basis and National’s Party strategists know that come the  2014 general election, they are in for a real nasty hiding if they cannot demonstrate to the public that they can return to surplus. After all, if the Nats can’t achieve even that, then voters would be scratching their heads and wondering what on Earth Key has been doing for six years.

That’s when Labour, NZ First, et al, will be showing clips of John Key dancing at radio stations, Gangnam-style. Or gormless-style.

Peter Dunne was being dishonest when he said, “It’s fundamentally a fairness issue“.

Rubbish. It has nothing to do with “fairness”.

What Dunne was really saying was, “It’s fundamentally a fiscal  issue”.

If Dunne was really interested in fairness, then I suggest that he, John Key, Paula Bennet, Stephen Joyce, et al, all pay back the full amount of student fees and living allowances that were paid to them when they were at University. Plus interest.

It might not dent the debt that National has accumulated since 2009 – but at least they’d be setting an example to the country, and not engaging in rank hypocrisy.

What about it, Mr Dunne – will you be paying for your University degree?

Addendum 1

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2013 at 0:06
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Student debt
To: “peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz” <peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz>

Kia ora Mr Dunne,

You have been recently reported in the media as pursuing student loan holders who have left the country and who are not re-paying their student loan debt.

In the NZ Herald you are quoted as saying,

“There’s a certain sense of annoyance amongst people who stayed in New Zealand and diligently worked to pay off their loans that these freeloaders overseas are, in some cases, getting away with it.”

It is common knowledge that you yourself (along with John Key, Paula Bennett, Stephen Joyce, et al) are all beneficiaries of a free, tax-payer funded tertiary education.

The record states that you graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1977 with a Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, and has also studied business administration at Massey University.

You may even have been in receipt of a taxpayer funded and non-repayable student allowance.

To show true leadership on this issue and to set an example to student loan holders, can we assume that you will be paying the cost of your tertiary education, along with repayment of any allowances received; plus interest?

To many people it seems curiously hypocritical that you are demanding payment for education from other people whilst not paying your own fair share.

As you said in the NZ Herald on 10 January,

“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue.”

Let’s put it to the test, shall we? It’s fundamentally a fairness issue that you pay for something that others have to pay for as well.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

Addendum 2

National’s (tax payer funded) media spin doctors have been using a particular ‘line’ when it comes to cost-cutting our social services; instead of reducing government debt, they say that “savings will be reinvested” in other areas of state services.

Here are a few examples from above,

The money would be used for smarter investment in other parts of the health system.”

See: Govt eyes cuts to elective surgery

Joyce says the changes will slice $250m off the loan book and create $60m to $70m per annum savings for the Government, which would be re-invested in the tertiary sector.”

See: Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

The Government has announced it will make the first increase in prescription cost in 20 years at next week’s budget to fund reinvestment in the health sector in lean economic times.”

See: Meds price hike: ‘Children will die

It’s such a subtle piece of BS spin that it’s hardly noticeable. But it all a lie, of course. The cost-cutting – which they refer to as “savings” – will be used to reduce borrowing. And the borrowing is necessary because of the unwise, progligate taxcuts of 2009 and 2010.

Eventually, of course, most New Zealanders become weary of constant cuts to essential services and vote for a return to a Labour-led government. The re-building of our social services then begins in earnest,

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$1.5b injection for health - 9 December 2001

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Been there. Done that. Lost the t-shirt off my back.

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Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall

The Great New Zealand Scam

An Expensive Lesson?

It’s official: Political Dissent Discouraged in NZ!

Greed is good?

References

The Atlantic: Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

NZ Herald: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b

Fairfax media: Budget 2012: The main points

Scoop.co.nz: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Fairfax media: Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

Dominion Post: Ten students owe $2.9 million in loans

NZ Herald: Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

NZ Herald: Student loan debtor: I’m better off in Australia

Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne

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Just say “NO!” to political prostitutionism

25 October 2012 18 comments

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From the Sunday Star Times (scanned hard-copy  – on-line version locked behind a Fairfax paywall) on 14 October,

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Andrea Vance is correct;  most polls have shown a steady decline for National (with the exception of those at specific moments when issues surrounding Maori claims over water rights are in the headlines) since the general election last year.

John Key’s teflon coating is patchy at best, as scandals; incompetance; and a stagnating economy is showing up National as singularly inept at any measure of governance.

A TV3 poll tonight (24 Oct) was even more bad news for these ministerial muppets,

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Full story

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The four relevant questions asked of respondents were,

1. Do you agree National has done a good job in terms of building a brighter future?

  • 49% said no;
  • 46% said yes;
  • 5% did not know.
2. Has National helped with full employment?

  • 57% said no;
  • 36% said yes;
  • 7% did not know.
3. Is the Government providing the best school system for our children?

  • 58% said no;
  • 32% said yes;
  • 9% did not know.
4. Are our Government departments run efficiently?
  • 49 percent said yes;
  • 42 percent said no.

Key’s responses to each of these four questions is reported here: National’s bright future not here yet – poll

Some of his comments are laughable. Actually, no. All his comments are a joke.  If anything, his responses to these poll results are a scathing indictment of National’s arrogance and disconnect from the public.

Which brings us to Peter Dunne.

National is in power only because of complicity by John Banks and Dunne.

Dunne’s history began in 1984, as a Labour MP. From there, he  jumped from one Party to another; Labour; United New Zealand; United Future New Zealand; and join coalitions led by both National, then Labour, and back to National again in 2008.

See: Peter Dunne – Member of Parliament

Dunne is a political chameleon – able to re-shape and re-form to suit his political environment, as governments come and go. Unlike that other Great Survivor, Winston Peters, Dunne has the unmatched record of rarely having been out of government. Any government.

He has outlasted  Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, and Clarke – and is now onto his seventh Prime Minister, John Key.

Whatever “political viagra” the man is on, he could make a vast fortune selling it globally, to other politicians.

Political journalist, Andrea Vance,  has suggested in her 14 October article that,

As Labour begin to pick up in the polls… Dunne is the kid on the sidelines, eyes screwed shut, willing David Shearer to pick me, pick me”.”

Like hell.

For many people in this country, and this blogger included, Peter Dunne has burnt his bridges with the social democratic left.

His vote in Parliament, to enable the passing of legislation to facilitate the 49% sell-down of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, is a step too far. (See: The asset partial sell-off can begin)

With the passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill into law on 27 June, Peter Dunne well and truly nailed his colours to the mast – despite even a poll on his own website receiving an over-whelming ‘no’ vote, and many comments critical of asset sales.

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The poll was taken down soon after it began to attract public attention. (Evidently the outcome was not to Mr Dunne’s satisfaction?)

So much for asking the public to “let us know your views“.

Unless we see a threat of a possible third term for National (and one hopes the voting public is not that capricious), Shearer, the Greens, Peters, and Harawira should have nothing to do with Dunne.

His politics is best described as prostitutionism – with about as much ethics shown as a Wall Street banker or back street crack-dealer.

Dunne has utterly betrayed his own country by supporting the sale – theft -  of state assets. Considering he has been part of three terms of a Labour-led government – to then support neo-liberal policies  shows a lack of principled behaviour.

What was he doing in a Labour-led government in the first place?

What else is he willing to do to keep ministerial “baubles of power”?

A new Labour-led government, starting  afresh and addressing many of the social inequities and economic imbalances afflicting our country,  should leave behind the dross of previous administrations.

The next government should be a principled one. And Peter Dunne has none of the necessary qualities that would make him a credible fit with such a new administration.

Take note, Mr Shearer; you need to start your new Administration on the very best footing. Peter Dunne will provide the opposite.

Mr Shearer; do you really want the left-overs of a failed National “government” at your Cabinet table?

As the Member for Ohariu once said,

We understand clearly that the only reason for our existence is to represent the voice of the people in our parliament. We believe  that any  party that is not constantly in touch with the views of the people is simply not doing its job. In this space you can read what others think on key issues, and you can let us know your views.” – Peter Dunne, “Have your Say Polls”, United Future website (since deleted)

Clean sweep, Mr Shearer, clean sweep.

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Postscript:

Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.

These are the views that Peter Dunne does not want us to read: Robert Guyton.

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= fs =

Another case of “We told you so!”?

17 July 2012 6 comments

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When National campaigned in 2008, John Key made several promises – most of which he has either broken or failed to address.

One of those promises was to “cap the state sector”,

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The above election pledge, signed by Dear Leader John Key, states quite clearly and concisely,

Ensure government spending is focused on frontline services such as health and education by capping the number of bureacrats…

Checking an on-line dictionary, the definition of capping (in this case) is,

26. to put a maximum limit on (prices, wages, spending, etc.). “

See:  Dictionary.Com

“To put a maximum limit on… “

Sez nothing about reducing, cutting, chopping, decreasing, or any other  word gleaned from my friendly Thesaurus.

But as with nearly every  other promise from Key, National was quick to break this one as well. Instead of capping, National began cutting,

Job losses to hit military next week

NZ can’t afford AgResearch redundancies

Second TEC restructuring to cut 70 jobs

Public service watchdog faces job cuts

Thirty-five jobs may go at Niwa

NZ Post shutting stores, axing jobs

More than 140 MAF staff to lose jobs

DOC Confirms 96 Jobs To Go

State-Sector Job Cuts ‘Will Make Life Tough

Housing New Zealand staff face further cuts

Ministry plan puts 50 jobs on the line

Air NZ may cut scores of jobs

Public sector will face bucketloads of job cuts

Public Sector Sackings May Lead To Australia Migration

Jobs to go at Justice Ministry

Defence Staff Eye Leaving As Morale Falls

Corrections Department to dump 130 staff

25 redundancies from government’s Plant and Food company

KiwiRail to cut up to 220 jobs

Much like National’s  long list of broken, or unaddressed promises, the ‘Roll Call of Redundancies‘ goes on. And on. And on…

By March of  this year, the Dominion Post reported that over 2,500 state sector workers had been sacked..

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2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

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Andrea Vance, Last updated 09:18 03/03/2012

A squeeze on state service backroom functions has saved just $20 million in two years, Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf has revealed.

The Government has shed more than 2500 jobs in the past three years and ordered chief executives to shave their IT and human resources bills as part of a drastic overhaul of the public service.

But despite ambitious plans to save $1billion over three years, a `benchmarking’ report to be published next week will show 31 agencies and departments have managed to reduce spending by just $20m.

Full Story

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All for a measely $20 million?!

John Key sells his integrity cheaply. (I’m sure he could get more for it on the open market. Just what are politicians selling themselves for, these days? Ours is barely used.)

John Key promised capping the “bureacracy”. Instead, National sacked 2,500.

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

This year,  National is planning even more redundancies, in its obsession with it’s failed neo-liberal ideology of  “small government” and privatisation of services.

See:  2400 more public sector jobs could go

In the meantime,  cuts to the state sector are rapidly becoming a cautionary tale – one that is a repeat of National’s cuts in the late 1990s.

See: Related blogpost – Learning from History

Two years into his new cosy relationship with National, and with all the perks and high salary  in his ministerial role, Peter Dunne begins the process of capping cutting the state sector,

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Dunne defends Greymouth IRD job cuts

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announcement

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NZ Herald, 9:08 AM Friday Dec 17, 2010

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has defended the timing of yesterday’s announcement that eight jobs are to be cut at the Inland Revenue Department in Greymouth.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the timing could not be worse, coming before Christmas and quick on the heels of the redundancies of 114 Pike River Mine employees following the explosions which killed 29 men…

…  Mr Dunne said the proposals had been discussed with staff in Greymouth in the wake of the Pike River tragedy, however staff told him they wanted to be given certainty on their jobs “as soon as possible”.

“We didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Full story

How very generous, kind-hearted, and humane of Mr Dunne, that “we didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads.”

Certainly not. Instead he “puts the steel-capped boot” into the West Coast community eight days before Christmas.

Charming.

Only the National Party and it’s sycophantic fellow-travellers and grubby little  ‘groupies’ could be so cold-hearted.

Then it follows with mass sackings like this,

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IRD confirms job cuts

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Newstalk ZB/NZ Herald, 12:38 PM Wednesday Sep 7, 2011

Inland Revenue has confirmed it’s cutting 156 jobs from its regional offices.  The affected branches are Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Nelson and Invercargill.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Tremain said the original proposal was for 191 job losses, but after consultation with staff the number has been reduced to 156.

She said IRD will keep its offices, but where and how it does some work would change.

The process is expected to take 18 months, and will start early next year.

Source

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In the above story, PSA National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff warns us,

Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”

Then a few more, like this,

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IRD cuts 51 provincial jobs

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TV3, Thu, 31 May 2012 7:39p.m.

The IRD has cut jobs (file)

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has made 51 staff in regional offices redundant.

The 16 job losses at Invercargill, seven at Nelson, 12 at Rotorua, nine from Napier and seven at New Plymouth are part of the government’s public sector budget cuts, the Public Service Association says…

… An IRD spokesman said on Thursday the cuts would help it deliver a more flexible and sustainable approach with work that could be done over the phone taken up by offices in the main centres.

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Then, MP for Ohariu; Revenue Minister;  and careerist-politician, Peter Dunne makes a public statement to reassure the public,

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IRD job cuts won’t impact taxpayers – Dunne

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TV3, Fri, 01 Jun 2012 7:48a.m.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

The Government says the Inland Revenue Department will maintain frontline services… despite shedding 60 jobs at regional offices.

The Public Service Association (PSA) says staff are already struggling to meet demand and the redundancies will make that task even tougher.

“Job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

But Revenue Minister Peter Dunne maintains the public shouldn’t notice any change.

“Most of the services that are being refocused are services that were better performed in larger areas. We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact.”

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Note Mr Dunne’s comment, ” We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact ” .

Oh, really?

Really?!?!

Remember Mr Wagstaff’s dire warnings above, made in September last year,

Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”

The inevitable consequence to state sector cuts are now coming home to roost,

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More than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered –

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union

Fairfax Media,  Stacey Kirk, Last updated 05:00 13/07/2012

Government cuts and poor planning have left more than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered over its busiest tax return time, the Public Service Association (PSA) says.

IRD figures showed about 70,000 calls weren’t answered between June 25 and July 5 – the two weeks leading up to the deadline for filing tax returns.

During that period 164,000 calls were planned for, but more than 202,000 were received. Of those only about 131,000 were actually answered as the department struggled to cope with increased demand.

The PSA said there had also been a significant increase in the number complaints about the phone service.

National secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was frustrating for both the public and staff but was a “clear consequence” of budget cuts and bad decision-making.

“IRD has been undergoing a large restructuring programme which has already seen its workforce slashed by nearly half in several regional sites.  It has been creating what it calls ‘virtual jobs’ in metropolitan centres while reducing jobs and services in the provinces.

Full story

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I wonder how many of those 70,000 unanswered calls were National Party voters and supporters of cuts to the State Sector? I live in hope that every single one of those 70,000 were foolish, naive,  people who thought that National was “cutting the fat” from the state sector.

I hope they  reflect on how wrong they were, as they wait for hours and hours waiting to talk to someone in a government department.

Failing that, I guess they can always call Peter Dunne?

An incoming Labour-led government will be charged with having to re-build the State sector – much as Helen Clark did in the early 2000s.

But more than that, jobs have to be protected. We simply cannot allow an ideologically-driven bunch of right wing lunatics to gut the state sector every time New Zealanders get a rush of blood to their heads and elect National into power. Not one  New Zealander would want to live under a system where his/his job was reliant on the whim of a politician – not one.

So why should state sector workers have to endure their lives turned upside down, simply because National is elected to power every six or nine years?

Such a situation is grossly unfair and untenable. We end up losing talented people and the best and brightest will not want to work under such a cloud of uncertainty and insecurity.

A Labour-led government must fix this and do so as a matter of priority.

This blogger suggests putting all state sector workers on a Union-Employer negotiated, sector-wide, contract-style system, with the PSA as an interested Third Party, and with legally-protected  job security for at least five years,  dated from each general election.

Breaking the contract would entail hefty penalty fees by any government contemplating mass-redundancies.

No doubt every right winger in this country would be frothing at the mouth at such a suggestion of an entrenched system of job-protection. Personally, I don’t care. Right wing fanatics don’t care about others losing their jobs – so why should we care about them?

What I do care about is a fair and just system that protects people’s jobs; their livelihoods; families; and their dignity.

That’s what really matters.

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Related blogposts

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

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National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

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A contributor to The Standard blog, ‘Jenny’, made a very simple – but insightful post, detailing National’s track record in the last three and a half years,

This is a government determined to gift everything they could possibly wish to the rich and powerful, and on behalf of this greedy sector force onto the rest of New Zealanders.

More Pokies

More drilling

More fracking

More booze

More junk food

A fire sale of public assets

More pollution

More corruption

More scandal

Less sovereignity

Less civil liberty

More toadying to foreign powers

More toadying to foreign corporates

More spying snooping and videoing of New Zealand citizens

More bail-outs

More tax cuts

More job cuts

More benefit cuts

Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

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

Jenny posits the question, “Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

Try as one might, despite inane rhetoric and vague promises, no National Party MP, functionary, or groupie could possibly point to any success achieved by John Key and his colleagues.

Not . One.

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1.Economic Growth

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National’s “Master Plan” for economic growth and job creation seems to revolve around four events – none of which have been particularly successful,

  1. The rebuild of Christchurch. Despite being an opportunity to upskill 160,000 unemployed and a major boost to the economy – nothing much is happening. Instead, National is content to allow tradespeople from overseas to come into the country and carry out  the work. With few apprenticeships, we are woefully unprepared for the looming demand for tradespeople – a damning lack of planning by National and it’s naive reliance on the “free market” to provide skilled workers.
  2. The Rugby World Cup – far from being a major boost, seems to have contributed very little to our economy. In the last three months of 2011, GDP grew  just 0.3% – half  that  predicted by economists. It seems that Dr Sam Richardson’s prediction, that $700  million was a hopelessly unrealistic expectation proved to be unerringly correct.  Who is ultimately responsible for National throwing $200-plus million of our tax dollars at this exercise in outrageous extravagance? Murray McCully? Steven Joyce? John Key?
  3. The Sky City/Convention Centre deal. Our illustrious Dear Leader promised 1,800 jobs from this planned project, in return for re-writing gambling legislation and permitting Sky City to increase pokie machine and gaming tables by up to 500. Potential social fall-out surrounding increased problem gambling was casually dismissed by both John Key and Sky City’s CEO Nigel Morrison.    Unfortunately, as with most of John Key’s figures and promises, the expectation of 1,800 jobs was as fictitious as much of what he says.
  4. Asset sales. With weak growth; a stagnant economyhigh unemployment; and New Zealanders continuing to escape to Australia, National’s one (and only) trump card appears to be the partial-privatisation of five state owned corporations. As has been pointed out, ad infinitum, floating shares in these SOEs will not contribute to economic growth; nor create new jobs (in fact,  it is likely to result in redunancies, if past privatisations are any guide); nor create real wealth. It simply shuffles bits of paper (shares) around from investor-to-investor-to-investor. And if investors need to borrow to buy these shares, we are using overseas funds for speculative purposes. Which sounds suspiciously like our love-affair with speculative housing-”investments”.

As Business NZ has stated, our economic growth has been ‘unspectacular’. And that’s coming from one of National’s own business allies. (Just as Business NZ seemed somewhat unimpressed as National’s lack of planning and direction last year, just prior to the election.)

Otherwise, National’s Grand Plan can be summed up as a reliance on a “two pronged” approach to growing the economy; a hands-off “free market” approach, and tax cuts. Not only have neither worked terribly well, but these measures have been counter-productive.

Tax-cuts  gave massive increases in income to the richest 10% of New Zealanders – whilst the GST increase has made life harder for the poorest and lowest-paid in this country.

Right wing cheer-leaders who bleat on about their rich masters “working hard and deserving  increased wealth” may be aspirationists who one day hope to become one of the Master Class – but I hope they’re not holding their breath. That day will be a long time coming.

Tax cuts have also resulted in a government budget blow-out. Borrowing $380 million a week, whilst claiming that National is “not borrowing for tax cuts is credible only to National; their salivating sycophants; and low-information voters (for whom “The GC” is the height of documentary-making).

Tax cuts have also not delivered the promised boost to the economy by increasing spending and consumption. This is not surprising, as the tax cuts were given to the wrong sector of society.

High income, wealthy, asset-rich families tend to use their tax-cuts to reduce debt or spend on investments (shares, kiwisaver,  etc) that do not directly help small businesses.

Low income, poor, families spend everything. These are the the people who will buy more food to put on their tables; clothes; shoes; medication; and other consumables. These are the people that small businesses rely on on for their custom. And the retail supermarket sector is suffering a massive drop accordingly.

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Middle income families continue to stuggle not to fall behind. Any tax increase they may have gained has been swallowed up by increased gst, government charges, increased user-pays, etc.

I think most people have since ‘twigged’ that National has indeed borrowed for tax cuts. And we’re having to pay back those massive borrowings by  cutting services; slashing the state sector; and selling our state assets.

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2. Asset Sales

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National’s asset sales programme has been an unmitigated disaster from Day One.

Since National first announced their decision to partially privatise Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, this issue has been opposed by the public.

National has used it’s so-called “mandate” from last year’s election to proceed with their policy, and passed enabling legislation only last Tuesday (26 June).

Any notion of a “mandate” is shaky and open to interpretation.

Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.

National , ACT, United Future Party Votes Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes

National – 1,058,636

Labour – 614,937

ACT – 23,889

Greens – 247,372

United Future – 13,443

NZ First – 147,544

Maori Party – 31,982

Mana – 24,168

Conservative Party* – 59,237

TOTAL – 1,095,968

Total – 1,125,240

The irony of the Conservative Party gaining more Party Votes than ACT and United Future combined – yet winning no  seats in Parliament  – will not escape most fair-minded people. Adding the Conservative’s 59,237 party votes to the anti-asset sale bloc, yields a majority of voters opposed to National’s programme.

It is only the current rules of MMP (now under review) that allows this quirk to take place.

Add to that, opinion poll after opinion poll showing  60% to 80% of respondents  opposed to asset sales, and National’s mantra that “We have a Mandate” becomes patently untenable.

A recent  NZ Herald poll, where respondents were asked to leave a comment, as well as a “Yay” or “Nay” vote yielded results that were thoroughly predictable,

For: 151

Against: 552

The National Party understands this only too well. Hence their desperate, ad hoc  schemes to bribe the public with all manner of ‘sweeteners’,

  • giving first option to buy shares  to “mum and dad” investors
  • a bribe of “loyalty” shares
  • promise of “affordable” shares  for investors

There is a considerable degree of arrogance in National’s pursuing of their asset sales, despite considerable public anger.

On 26 October last year,  Dear Leader  said,

They don’t fully understand what we’re doing. My experience is when I take audiences through it, like I did just before, no-one actually put up their hand and asked a question. “

On 3 May, as a 5,000 person march wound it’s way through Wellington, John Key grinned to reporters and cheekily said,

How many people did they have?  Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it. So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind. “

And on 26 June, Key tried to dismiss TV3 journalist John Campbell with this demeaning insult,

No, um, and with the greatest respect to your financial literacy, you’ve proven that you don’t actually have any. “

Key said pretty much the same about Greens co-leader, Russel Norman,

With the greatest respect to [Green Party co-leader Russel Norman], I’m sure he’s a great bloke, he doesn’t know much about economics. “

It is fairly obvious that Key has very little time for anyone who opposes his views. In fact, he gets downright belligerent and  derisive.

Who does he remind me of? Someone else who used to belittle and deride anyone who dared disagree with him – especially in economic matters. Who else was famous for his arrogance? Another Prime Minister,

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Despite public opposition and several valid commercial reasons made clear that these sales will be financially disadvantageous to our economy, National carries on, oblivious to all but it’s own ideological fanaticism.

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This is a Party totally out of touch with the rest of the country.

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3. Welfare

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In 2008, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit the world with a social and economic recession not seen since the 1920s/30s. Coporations like Lehmann Bros collapsed. General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Others had to be bailed out with billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Millions lost their jobs and homes, and unemployment skyrocketed. Europe is tottering on the brink of a domino-like collapse of their currency.

Here in New Zealand, unemployment doubled from 3.4% by the end of 2007, to 7.3% by the end of 2009.

When criticism is levelled at National’s inability to address our stagnating economy, John Key and Bill English point to the GFC, stating it’s not their fault,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis.” – Source

This is a global debt crisis and you certainly wouldn’t want to add more debt at that time unnecessarily.” – Source

The economic downturn that may occur on a pronounced basis in Europe is factored into our books.” – Source

But when it comes to those who are the casualties of the economic downturn; the unemployed, National suddenly sings a different tune when it comes to Cause-and-Effect,

The Government is considering requiring beneficiaries to immunise their children.” – Source

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday said contraception would eventually be fully funded for female beneficiaries and their 16 to 19-year-old daughters. ” – Source

Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.” – Source

Under the Government’s new youth welfare policy, announced by Prime Minister John Key at the weekend, 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries would receive a payment card for food and clothes from approved stores.” – Source

And perhaps – worst of all – was  this piece of vileness from Finance Minister, Bill English,

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[click on image to go to TV3 website]

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English’s smirking disdain, for all those New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis, was plain to see.  Shame on him; his revolting attitude; and shame on every person in his electorate who voted for this arrogant little man.

The National Creed

1. The  Global Financial Crisis – a handy excuse for poor economic policies and mismanagement.

2. The Unemployed – a handy scapegoat for National’s inability to grow the economy and create new jobs.

3. If in doubt, never take responsibilty; refer to #1 and #2.

Latest redundancies;

Will drug testing be used to  “sort this lot out smartly”, Mr English?

And more bizarre is Paula Bennet’s admission that National “has ruled out universal drug testing of all beneficiaries, with drug and alcohol addicts being exempted from sanctions for refusing or failing a drug test when applying for a job“.

See:  Addicts escape beneficiary drug testing

Which means that if addicts and alcoholics are not tested – that leaves only those  workers who’ve been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through New Zealand’s ongoing stagnating economy.

Adding insult to injury doesn’t begin to cover the humiliation which National intends to thrust upon workers who’ve lost their jobs.

And all because National has no job creation policies.

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4. Sky City/Convention Centre

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This is perhaps one of John Key’s shonkiest deals. It is no wonder that the Auditor General is investigating the Sky City “arrangement” – so I have little faith that the investigation will yield much that is incriminating of Dear Leader.

As Key stated with utter confidence, on TV3′s ‘The Nation‘ on 17 June,

KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual.  I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions  with people in Auckland about building  a cycleway.

So now what we’re  talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general  will say.

So let me tell you this, for a start off, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero. “ - Source (@ 6.37)

That statement does not instill confidence in me. Dear Leader has just stated, on record, that no evidence exists of his meeting(s) with Sky City management. Key admitted meeting with Sky City’s Board in late 2009,

I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“. – Source

But what was said or agreed on, we don’t know. As Key has stated, “when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero”.

This is not a very good  example of transparency. It is certainly not the “transparency in government”  that Key has promised this country on several occassions.

In fact, it’s dodgy as hell.

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

In the same  blogpost ( Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How )  dated 23 April, this blogger outlined John Key’s somewhat dubious tactics for pushing through dubious policies,

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Promise Big Numbers.  It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees  collective amnesia for 99% of the public.

From December, 2010,

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Cycleway jobs fall short

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6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.”Source

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Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?

Precisely.

From March, this year,

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Key defends casino pokie machine deal

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08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…

…  But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

“It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it… ” Source

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In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?

Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?

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Well, it didn’t take one year. It took only a matter of  months. On 5 March, John Key asserted,

 “It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate.”

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

But then, on 5 June,  the NZ Herald reported,

Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.

Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.

But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. “

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

Sprung! Another of Dear Leader’s “little white lies” uncovered.

Next ‘cast iron guarantee’ from Dear Leader, who said on his website,

SkyCity has agreed to pay the full construction costs of the centre – estimated at $350 million. The company has asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation.”

See:  John Key -Convention centre development moves ahead

Yeah, I’ll bet that Sky City has “asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation“…

In business, it’s called a ‘contra-deal‘.

But it’s seems that even this deal is not as “free” for tax-payers as Key has made out. In fact, it has been uncovered that  taxpayers are definitely ‘stumping up’ some of their hard-earned cash,

Budget documents reveal that if the plan goes ahead, taxpayers will contribute up to $2.1 million to ensure its design and facilities meet Government expectations...  The Prime Minister, however, is defending the budget allocation of millions of dollars towards a potential Sky City convention centre.

John Key says he has always said his preferred position is that no taxpayer money would be spent – and that if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs. “

See:  Govt misleading public over Sky City: Labour

So… Key has (once again) mis-led the public, and his stock-standard explanation is that “if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs .”

John Key  claims that “a new convention centre would bring 144,000 additional nights of Auckland stays for business tourists, who generally spent twice as much as other tourists“.

See:  Casinos safer than pubs, Key says

But as Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, said somewhat more convincingly,

Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.

See:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

What’s the bet that the forecast for “economic spinoffs” will be as accurate as National’s predictions for spin-offs from the Rugby World Cup or national cycleway?!

See:  Weather and World Cup fail to lift GDP

See:  Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

See:  Growth slows – GDP up just 0.3pc

How many times have we heard Prime Minister John Key make all sorts of promises that this or that will deliver jobs and economic growth – only to see the promise fail. Which is then  usually followed by an excuse relating to the global economic slowdown?

It’s getting rather predictable and tedious.

What Dear Leader has tried to gloss over and  dismiss is the inevitable consequence of increasing pokie machines: more problem gambling. Both John Key and Sky City CEO, Nigel Morrison,  have tried to trivialise this growing social problem,

The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult.  We’re not just on about growing our gaming machines.  We would like to grow our table games product and expand our operations to meet the growth of Auckland. “

See:  Casino boss: Lotto does more harm

Gambling addiction in many way is as pernicious – if not worse – than alcohol and drug additions. A compulsive gambler can damage not only his/her own life – but those around them. Houses have been lost; businesses crippled or closed down; families torn apart,  as problem gamblers suck others down into a whirlpool of uncontrollable gambling.

See:  Barred gambler coaxed back to casino

See:  Mum steals $330k from marae to feed pokies

From a Ministry of Health  report,

Overall, the prevalence of problem gambling in New Zealand adults was 0.4% (about 13,100 adults). Additionally, the prevalence of moderate-risk gambling was 1.3% (representing a further 40,900 people). In total, 1 in 58 adults (1.7%, or 54,000 adults) were experiencing either problem or moderate-risk gambling.

Other key findings of this study include:

  1. Maori and Pacific people experience more gambling-related harm than other people
  2. people living in more socioeconomically deprived areas are more affected by gambling-related harm.
  3. this study may help to inform the provision of problem gambling intervention services and public health activity, as the study showed that:
    • problem gamblers can be found in both urban and rural areas
    • Maori and Pacific people appear to be under-represented in intervention services
    • people experiencing gambling problems are more likely than other people to be current smokers, have hazardous drinking patterns, have worse self-rated health, and have a high or very high probability of a mood or anxiety disorder. “

See:  A Focus on Problem Gambling: Results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey

Interestingly, the above report, using 2006/07 data, and posted online in 2009, is the most recent Ministry of Health report available. Nothing more recent – and perhaps more damning of current gambling policies – is apparent on the Ministry of Health website.

Why is that?

On a more personal level, this blogger is aware of an elderly couple who were both addicted to pokie machines. Badly in debt, they were forced to down-size their family home and buy a smaller, more modest,  property. One of the couple died soon after, leaving the other who continued her gambling habit.

Not only has this elderly woman lost her surplus cash from the house-sale, but has gambled using equity in her current home.  She often ‘borrows’ money from her grown up children.

Her  modest house is deteriorating through lack of maintenance.

Not only has this woman lost all equity in her home, she is now more reliant on  both the State and her family.

Meanwhile, this article on Sky City’s most recent posted profits should be cause for concern,

”  Sky City Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling operators in the country, has seen a significant rise in profits over the course of the last year. The company attributes this growth to the earnings generated by the Sky City Casino in Auckland.

Over the course of 2011, profits for Sky City rose by over $10 million to $78 for the year. The company believes that the changes made to Sky City Auckland are to thank for this impressive profit increase over the course of the past year.

$50 million was spent on renovating the gambling facilities available the casino, but the company still managed to offset the costs with improved profits. In addition to building a new VIP lounge, Sky City also renovated other areas of the casino to make them more attractive to players.

Slots [pokies]  brought in the amount of increased revenue, seeing a rise by 17%. Non-gaming elements also helped to boost profits. Auckland’s recently-revamped hotels and restaurants garnered a great deal of attention from patrons.

It seems that the adage “you have to spend money to make money” is true for Sky City.  “

See:  Sky City Sees Huge Revenue Jump

If the convention centre is National’s only scheme to grow the economy and to create 170,000 new jobs – we are in deep trouble.

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5. TVNZ7

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Nothing best illustrates  National’s narrow vision of the role of government than the demise of TVNZ7. Nothing.

Whether the previous Broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman, or the current Minister, Craig Foss – their attitude has been the same; market forces shall prevail – and public-interest programming shall be the responsibity of NZ On Air, who shall contract such programmes to current commercial broadcasters.

Except that this is a cop-out.

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The beauty of TVNZ7 is that public broadcasting was, in the main, focused on a single broadcasting platform. The public knew where to go to watch certain types of programming.

Just as the public now go to supermarkets to buy their meat, fish, veg & fruit, and bread – instead of going to a butchers; a fish shop; a  fruit & veg produce store; and a bakery. Imagine the uproar if John Key told us we must go to five different food retailers to buy five different sorts of foodstuffs?! Dear Leader would have a size 9 boot imprinted on his backside.

TVNZ7 fulfilled the same public demand; niche programming on a niche broadcaster.

Just as, currently we have racing on the TAB channel; Chinese programming on CTV; parliament on Parliament TV, etc.

Ironic that politicians have no problem broadcasting their “debates” (inverted commas used deliberately), deeming their squabbles and shrill screams a must have - but not public, non-commercial TV.

Or, that we can have non-stop horse racing on a free-to-air TV channel.

But we are not entitled to have access to non-commercial public TV.

Whatever concept National has of public television, it is clear that Broadcasting Minister, Craig Foss’s vision is different to the rest of New Zealand,

“…  the government was ‘committed’ to supporting local content through NZ on Air, instead of directly funding single broadcasters. “

See:  No help for titanically pointless bill

Having public TV through NZ On Air is akin to selling vegetarian/vegan food products in butcher shops. You have to go looking for it. It’s not easy to find. And it’s buried amongst ‘crap’ you’d rather not have to put up with.

And what makes NZ On Air funding of  ‘Media7/Media3‘  “public television” – when it will have advertisements peppered throughout?

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Take out the advertising of underarm deodorants; cat/dog food; toilet ducks; panty shields;  the latest 4WD monstrosity from Korea; promos for the latest US crime/cop shows; reality TV shows; home improvement shows; US sitcoms; and voyeuristic, soft-core porn like “The GC”,  and a 30 minute current affairs programme from TVNZ7 becomes a 20 minute show on TV3.

There goes our chance to focus on critical social issues, as commercial advertisers compete for our attention.

What next? Advertising in Tolstoy’s  “War and Peace”? Shakepeare’s “Macbeth”? Anne Frank’s Diary?

We are being ripped off in more ways than one. We deserve better than this.

But not, it seems, according to National; there is more than an element of vindictiveness in their decision to can TVNZ7. As if it was their opportunity to “stick it to us” after their embarrassing backdowns on mining in conservation schedule four estates; their attempt to cut teacher numbers and increase classroom sizes; and ongoing resistance to state asset sales.

The closure of TVNZ7 is a clue what National thinks of us. And it ain’t very pleasant.

See: Pundit – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

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6. Education

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Current cutbacks to state and social services is a re-run of the 1990s. National’s cuts now, mirror those of last century.

Bolger, Richardson, Shipley, and Bill English  ran amok – slashing health, education, police, military, and anything else they could lay their cold, clammy, neo-liberal hands on.

At one stage, in the late 1990s, the health system was so badly run down that   patients requiring critical surgery were not receiving it – and were dying on waiting lists.

See: Died waiting for by pass

See:  Funding cut puts centre in jeopardy

See:  Myers warns few jobs, more poor, ahead for NZ

This year, as part of National’s on-going agenda to cut government services; reduce the size of the State; and to pass on savings  as tax cuts to the rich, National has cut staffing levels; departmental budgets; and services.

The New Zealand middle class tolerates this – until it affects them, personally.

Enter: 24 June – Minister Parata and her plans to slash teacher numbers and increase class sizes.  That was a step too far, and a teacher-parent-principal-Boards alliance fought back. Hard.

Bill English – a bloodied veteran of the Bolger-cum-Shipley administration of the late 1990s -  recognised the signs that a revolt of the middle classes was in the offing.   National’s merciless cuts to social and government services in the ’90s had resulted in an electoral thrashing in the November 1999 elections.

Upshot: 7 July – Government u-turn on cost-cutting policy.

This is now the second major policy u-turn by National. Their previous bloodied-nose, in July 2010, when Gerry Brownlee was forced to announce a back-down on National’s proposals to mine schedule 4 conservation land, was a stunning exercise in people-power.

In my previous blogpost (Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked), I argued that Educational Minister, Hekia Parata should not be forced to step down from her ministerial role. As I pointed out, “sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged”.

However, recent revelations from OIA-released  document have revealed,

The papers for the education budget reveal class size funding ratio changes went even further than what was announced.

Education Minister Hekia Parata originally urged changes that would seen 1300 fewer teachers hired over the next four years than would have happened under the existing funding formula.

That plan to curb growth in teacher numbers would have seen a “a minimal net reduction” in staffing of about 260 after four years.

The Government eventually decided on a less aggressive plan to cap teacher numbers, with almost the same number proposed to be employed in 2016 as now.

That plan to save $174m over four years was agreed and written in to the Budget but Parata was forced in to an embarrassing backdown earlier this month, which cancelled the plan and returned to the status quo.

However Parata’s original plan was to cut $217m. “

See:  Deeper teacher funding cuts ditched

It appears that Ms Parata’s inclination was for even deeper cuts to Education services  than, (a) the public was initially aware of and (b) that her National ministerial colleagues could stomach.

This explains, in part, why Key torpedoed  Parata’s plans to cut education services; he was thoroughly exasperated with an an incompetant  Minister who badly overestimated her abilities and could not “sell” even a watered down version of her plans. He must have been spitting tacks that, had Parata’s initial plans to cut $217 million (instead of $174 million) gone ahead,  she would have found herself in a much deeper hole, and the fallout to National would have been much worse.

This blogger has come to the conclusion that Hekia Parata is way over her head, and should step down as Education Minister forthwith.

At any rate, she will be gone at the next cabinet re-shuffle.

Tea-lady might be a good, safe role for her?

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7. ETS – Another of Key’s broken promises

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John Key is adamant that National will not consider slowly raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, because it is a committment he has promised to keep,

I’ve made it quite clear it would be my intention to resign from parliament if I broke that promise to New Zealanders.”

See:  Govt against raising retirement age

This blogger finds it hard to understand Key’s reticence to “breaking” an election promise. After all, he’s broken promises not to raise GST; to retrieve the bodies of the Pike River miners;  to address growing youth unemployment; stem the flow of migration to Australia; grow the economy; and now, to implement an ETS.

In May 2008, Key stated,

Key outlined a series of principles an ETS should have, including…

… It should be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS.

It should not discriminate against small and medium businesses in allocating emissions credits and purposes. “

See: Nats call for a delay to emission trading scheme law

At the time, Key also stated,

This not about National walking away from an ETS, we support that. . . we just simply want to get it right and we now have the time to get it right.  “

That was four years ago.

Since then Australia has implemented it’s own carbon tax that will lead in to a full ETS by 2015,

The A$23-a-tonne price on carbon emissions started yesterday [1 July 2012] , directly affecting 294 electricity generators and other companies.

The federal Government is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015. “

See: Protests greet day one of Aussie carbon tax

By contrast, National has been delaying implementing New Zealand’s own version of an ETS, and has now “postponed” it until 2015.

And yet, four years ago, Key stated that New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme should ” be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS  “.

Our Aussie cuzzies have already started their carbon tax/ETS.

With National postponing the ETS for farmers, industrial and commercial polluters, until 2015 – that means that Dear Leader’s “postponement” will have lasted seven years – over two Parliamentary terms.  How long does Key need to ‘get it right’ ?

Ten years?

Two decades?

Perhaps the turn of the 22nd century?

Let’s cut through the BS here. John Key is not “postponing” the ETS – he is postponing it indefinitely. National has no intention of ever implementing it. So much for Key’s statement,

Ours is not a political agenda here, we want a good ETS that works.”

That deserves to be immortalised,

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See also: Tumeke – Blue ignores Red to pretend to be Green while turning to Brown to subsidize big polluters

See also: Tumeke – The Emissions Trading Scam and the audacity of Farmers

The sooner the Nats admit this deception, the better for the entire country. Until then, the only sector paying the ETS is… us, the public.

Which leads on to…

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8. Tax Cuts & Government charges

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In 2009 and 2010, National cut taxes.  The rationale, as National explained in their 2008 document,

In the short term, National’s tax package will give households confidence and some cash in their back pockets to keep the economy going and to pay down debt.

In the longer term, our tax package encourages people to invest in their own skills and make best use of their abilities, because they get to keep more of any higher wages they earn. It encourages them to look for and to take up better and higher-paying jobs that make more use of their skills.

See: National Party  Tax policy

However, what National giveth with one hand; National taketh with the other.

Any benefits from the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts have been more than swallowed up (for low and middle income earners) by increases in a myriad of government and SOE charges.

The most recent have been Family Courts fees, which have risen astronomically.

From July 1 2012, services which used to be free to couples in dispute, now incur considerable court fees,

  • Child custody disputes: $220
  • Property disputes: $700
  • Hearing of any application for each half-day, or part half-day: $906

Of all National’s user-pays regimes, charging couples who are separating; highly stressed; and where violence may be involved, is mind-boggling. We thought it was miserly when National decided to tax children in the last budget – but these user-pays Family Court fees hit people who are vulnerable in the extreme,

But Family Law Specialists director Catriona Doyle says most families try to avoid handing custody and property decisions to a judge and only use the Family Court as a last resort in irresolvable conflicts.

The few people who waste the court’s time by filing repeatedly or unnecessarily won’t be put off by the fees because they’ll either be wealthy enough to afford it or earning little enough to have the fees waived, she says.

“It’s going to hit the middle class and lower income families where $220 is a lot of money.”

Women especially will be hit hard, as they are often financially disadvantaged when a relationship breaks up, Ms Doyle says.

Rather than trying to keep children out of court, the ministry should be aiming to resolve conflicts before children are affected by them, she says.

“Leaving children in a conflict situation where the parents are at war is neglect and abuse. The kids who live in that situation are damaged.”

A judge should be the person to decide if a case is genuine or flippant, especially when children are involved, she says.

“It’s not something that should be addressed by Parliament or a court registrar”.

See:  Family court fees will hurt women – lawyer

Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, stated plainly,

What we are trying to do here is have a disincentive for people to be able to bring these matters before the court. “

See:   Family Court fees tipped to hit low earners, children

(Note: As a matter of interest, Chester Borrows is the very same Minister who stated he would be buying shares in SOEs, when they were partially-privatised. See:  Conflicts of Interest? )

National complains that  court costs have risen  from $84 million in 2004/2005 to $142m in 2010/2011 – hence Family Court fees must be imposed.

This is faulty logic, and is penalising people who are attempting to sort out damaging relationship breakdowns.  Using Family Courts is preferable to taking the law into one’s own hands. Disincentiving people from using the law – which Parliament put in place to protect us all – is like disincentivising people from calling the Police if you’ve been burgled.

Instead, if we are being “encouraged to resolve issues ourselves”, find the burglar; beat the crap out of him; and retrieve our stolen property ourselves.  That is what Borrows is advocating.

Further using Borrows’ “logic”, National should implement high user-pays charges in public hospitals, as  ” a disincentive for people ” to use hospitals.

It sounds ridiculous? It is ridiculous.

It is also dangerous. Borrows and his idiotic fellow ministers are playing with peoples’ lives. Putting expensive, punitive barriers up at a time when families most need society’s help defies logic, common sense, and most of all, compassion.

But then – when did anyone ever accuse the National Party of being compassionate?

And will the Dear Leader, John Key,  take responsibility if something goes horribly wrong, and an emotionally-stressed family explodes into violence because they had no way out through the Family Court? Like hell he will.

This is a death waiting to happen.

On your miserable head be it, Mr Borrows.

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9. More on those tax cuts

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As an aside, National’s 2008 Tax document makes this derisable claim,

” This makes it absolutely clear that to fund National’s tax package there is no requirement for additional borrowing and there is no requirement to cut public services.

Jeez. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.

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10. Alcohol law reforms

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The latest offerings of irrationality from John Key’s Universe; evidently Dear Leader does not believe that minimum pricing for alcohol would work. He suggests (with a straight face, no doubt) that minimum pricing for booze would not work because it could drive people to drink lower quality liquor instead of reducing consumption,

What typically happens is people move down the quality curve and still get access to alcohol.”

See:   PM sceptical dearer booze will cut consumption

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Mr Key, how do I mock thee? Let me count the ways… (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)

 How do I mock thee? Let me count the ways.
I ridicule thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when laughing at you hard
For the ends of Banality and Idiotic Government.
I mock thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and ecobulb-light.
I deride thee freely, as men strive for human rights.
I caricature thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I jeer at thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my voter’s faith.
I scorn thee with a scorn I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I sneer at thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if  The People choose,
I shall but take the piss better after you are voted out.

Why so contemptuous, you ask?

Because raising the price of  tobacco has been the number one tool of both Labour and National governments.

As recently as 12 June, John Key stated on a Fairfax online interview,

The Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking through price, particularly young people who are very sensitive to rising tobacco prices. I know this is difficult for those that have smoked for quite some time, but for your long term health I can only encourage you to try and give up. “

See: Blogpost -  Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader (@ 12.57)

So high-pricing for tobacco is useful for ” the Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking ” – but not for alcohol?

Raising prices to deter smoking works. But raising prices to deter binge-drinking doesn’t?

It boggles the mind how Dear Leader can hold two conflicting viewpoints, simultaneously, without suffering a brain explosion.

Or is it simply that the liquor industry is a generous donor of funds for National’s election campaigns?

In the meantime, life goes on,

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See:   Ambulance base for Wellington party central

See:   ‘Pressure valve’ medics patch up night’s drunks

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

See:   Drunk kids flooding our hospitals

See previous blogpost: A kronically inept government

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11. Government Cost cutting = Economic suicide

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On 12 May, this blogger posted a piece on National’s slashing of our MAF biosecurity.

In part, I posted this dire warning,

Now, we have the prospect of  having entire suburbs in Auckland being contained in some kind of loose “quarantine”, after a Queensland fruit fly was caught in a pest surveillance trap,

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Considering that the Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian economy approximately  $160 million a year, this is a very real threat  to New Zealand’s own $5 billion annual horticultural industry.

Five billion dollars, per year, every year. All under threat because this government wanted to save a few million bucks by employing fewer biosecurity staff.

As if the discovery of a  painted apple moth in 1999; the varroa mite infestation of our honey hives in 2000; and other isolated instances of pests found in this country did not serve as a warning to us – National  proceeded to cut back on biosecurity staffing.

This blogger wonders sometimes (actually, all the time) what goes through the minds of our esteemed Honourable Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government. These are supposedly well-educated men and women, with support from thousands of University-educated advisors – and yet they still manage to accomplish the most incredibly moronic decisions conceivable.

National has put at risk this country’s  $5 billion industry – simply to save a few million dollars.

They have risked horticulturalist’s businesses; workers their jobs; and all the down-stream economic activity – to save a small percentage of billions.

This blogger has three pieces of advice for all concerned,

  1. John Key must  accept the resignation of  David Carter, Minister for Bio-security immediatly.
  2. National must reinstate biosecurity services to pre-2009 levels.
  3. Horticulturalists (and others who own farms and other agricultural businesses) should carefully consider whether National is working on their behalf – or for the sake of implementing false economies. What is the point of an orchardist voting for National – if National is going to screw his/her business by cutting back on essential government services such as biosecurity?!?!

Hopefully, this  fruit fly is a lone bug; perhaps a stowaway in someone’s bag or in a container offloaded at Ports of Auckland.

If so, once again we’ve been lucky.

But how long will our  luck hold out?

See previous blogpost: Bugs and balls-ups!

It seems our luck ran out some years ago,

The kiwifruit growers’ association is considering legal action over the outbreak of the vine disease PSA and says it can’t rule out seeking compensation.

An independent review released on Wednesday into how the bacterium came into New Zealand has found there were shortcomings with biosecurity systems, but it does not say that caused the entry.

The disease was first confirmed near Te Puke in 2010 and has infected 40% of the country’s kiwifruit orchards. It is expected to cost the industry $410 million dollars in the next five years.

Ministry for Primary Industries director general Wayne McNee asid the review did not determine how PSA came into the country but does show where improvements can be made.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco says he can’t rule out that compensation will be sought by growers.

See:   Kiwifruit growers take legal advice over PSA

A damning report into the outbreak of kiwifruit virus PSA is another in a series of warnings over the biosecurity system that the Government has failed to act on, Labour’s biosecurity spokesman Damien O’Connor says.

The independent report was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) following the devastation caused by the virus in the Bay of Plenty orchards with an estimated cost of $400 million.

The report, released yesterday, found “shortcomings” in New Zealand’s biosecurity system although it could not say how the incursion had occurred.

It said MPI could improve protections and must work more closely with industry groups.

The report also suggested resources be moved from low-risk industries to high-risk ones such as the kiwifruit sector.

O’Connor said there needed to be a complete overhaul of the biosecurity system.

The National Government cut biosecurity funding in 2009 and had accepted the growing risk caused by faults in the system, he said.   “

See:  Labour: Govt ignored biosecurity warning

Anyone with two inter-connecting neurons would’ve figured out very quickly that if a government cuts biosecurity then we put ourselves at dire risk of pests entering our country. Like the varroa mite. Or PSA bacterium.

With approximately  550,000 shipping containers and 4.5 million people entering New Zealand each year, it stands to reason that we are at extreme risk of unwanted organisms being brought into the country.

National was warned as far back as 2009, when 60 Biosecurity jobs were “dis-established”.  It therefore defies understanding as to why National believed that cuts could be made to frontline MAF Biosecurity without serious consequences.

Spelling out those consequences,

  1. Millions – even hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export dollars lost,
  2. Jobs lost,
  3. Businesses ruined,
  4. And not one single government minister taking responsibility.

The only question now remaining to be asked: how many farmers and horticulturalists will vote for National at the next election?

Remember:  you get the government you deserve.

This time, it is farmers and horticulturalists who have been warned.

See:   Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

See:   Farming at risk if biosecurity jobs cut, PSA warns

See:  Minister warned about biosecurity concerns

See:  Fruit restrictions in place

See:  Biosecurity savings ‘false economy’

See:  Biosecurity NZ webpage

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12. The Terminally Ill

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During the 2008 general election, Prime Minister  John Key adopted the Herceptin campaign.

Pharmac was funding herceptin treatment for women suffering from breast cancer only up to a nine week period.  Breast cancer patients wanted treatment extended to twelve months. Pharmac refused, stating there was no evidence that an extended treatment period would prove beneficial,

Pharmac CEO,  Matthew Brougham, said,

A fresh review of the science and other information has failed to convince us that 12-month treatments offer any additional benefits over the concurrent nine week treatment.”

See:  Nats pledge funding for 12-month Herceptin course

Enter,  John Key. As the 2008 election campaign swung into full force, Key leapt upon the issue,

National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access.

“We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand.

“These initiatives will be funded within the indicative health spending allocations in the Prefu [Pre-election Fiscal and economic Update].

“They are also further examples of our determination to shift spending into frontline services for patients, rather than backroom costs.”

See:  Key says Nats would fund 12-month Herceptin treatment

The election promise was one of many that Key made (along with tax cuts and the perennial “getting tough on crime), and on 10 December 2008, the Prime Minister-elect announced,

I am proud to lead a government that has honoured such a commitment to the women of New Zealand.

“The commitment was part of National’s first 100-days action plan.  I am pleased that the Herceptin funding policy effectively applies from the swearing in of the Government on 19 November.”

See:  Government honours Herceptin promise

Unfortunately, John Key’s belief that ” National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access. We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand -  seems only to apply during election campaigns.

At other times, Key  does not seem to want to know.

Allyson Lock is one of five New Zealanders who suffers from Pompe Disease. It is a terminal condition.

There is medication available (called Myozyme ), but it currently receives no funding from Pharmac agency Pharmac.  It is an expensive drug, but without that medication, Allyson and her fellow sufferers will not survive.

See: Mum not prepared to wait and die

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking Blog Pompe

IN SEARCH OF CURE: Allyson Lock will travel to Brisbane every fortnight for five years to receive treatment for the rare incurable disease Pompe.

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Allyson and her group have appealed to John Key for funding for their medication – without success. In fact, Key wants nothing to do with Allyson and other Pompe sufferers.

At a recent “on-line  chat” with John Key, hosted by Fairfax Media, several people including this blogger attempted to put a question to the Prime Minister; why was National not prepared to fund medicine for Pompe as they had for breast cancer sufferers?

See previous blogpost:   Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader

After all, Pharmac had expressed the same reservations regarding the efficacy of  Myozyme as they did with long-term  herceptin treatment. Yet, that did not stop Key from ensuring breast cancer sufferers had full access to a year-long course of herceptin.

John Key and Health Minister Tony Ryall have wiped their hands of Allyson.

It is not election year.

So there are no political points to be scored in saving the lives of five fellow New Zealanders.

I look forward to John Key proving me wrong; a link to this blogpost will be sent to media as will as the Prime Minister’s office. The rest is in his hands.

To Prime Minister, John Key;

Fund treatment for Allyson and others, Mr Key. They deserve no less than breast cancer sufferers. You can either oversee funding for their treatment – or attend their funerals.

Your call, Mr Prime Minister.

See previous blogpost:   Priorities?

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Related blogpost

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

A John, a Tony, and a Winston

Additional

David Cunliffe:  Speech – The Dolphin and the Dole Queue

Gordon Campbell:  Efficiency Is Not Your Friend

Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘S’  for proof-reading.

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= fs =

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