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Posts Tagged ‘Sky City’

Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury, Keith Locke & Matthew Hooton

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- Citizen A -

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 - 16 May 2013 -

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- Keith Locke & Matthew Hooton -

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury, Keith Locke & Matthew Hooton discuss the following issues:

  • Budget 2013, what should the Government spend money on?
  • How good is John Key’s poker face when dealing the Sky City Convention Centre deal?
  • Was the Aaron Gilmore fiasco an engineered distraction?

For in-depth analysis of this broadcast, go to The Daily Blog and see  Was Aaron Gilmore an inside political hit job?

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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Binding future governments – a question.

A letter to the editor of the NZ Herald…

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:     Tue, May 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM
subject:     Letters to the editor
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The Editor

NZ HERALD.

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Kia ora,

The National government wants to bind future governments to the Sky City deal for the next 35 years.

Can a Labour-Green government bind future National governments to not selling our state owned enterprises?

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-Frank Macskasy

(address & phone number supplied)

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

25 April 2013 15 comments

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This Blogger has deduced the new, simplified,  John Key Style of Doing Business.

Phase 1

Meet socially and conduct an ‘informal chat’. This leaves only the barest record of any meeting; nothing said is documented or reported; and plausible deniability exists if things go pear-shaped.

From April, last year,

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Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

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” Published: 8:28PM Friday April 08, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister is defending his decision to loan $43 million of taxpayer money to private media companies.

John Key claims the loan scheme was designed to help the whole radio industry.

But a ONE News investigation has revealed MediaWorks was the big winner after some hard lobbying.

Key is known for being media friendly, but he’s facing criticism from Labour that he’s become too cosy with MediaWorks which owns TV3 and half of New Zealand’s radio stations.

It has been revealed the government deferred $43 million in radio licensing fees for MediaWorks after some serious lobbying.

Key and the former head of MediaWorks, Brent Impey, talked at a TV3 Telethon event.

“I just raised it as an issue but we’d been looking at it for sometime. My view was it made sense. It’s a commercial loan, it’s a secured contract,” Key said.

It’s believed the loan is being made at 11% interest.

But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister. ” – Source

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The up-shot of Key “running into Brent Impey at a ‘social event’ in Auckland” was that Mediaworks were offered a $43 million dollar loan, despite being earlier declined by Broadcasting Minister, Steven Joyce.

For full background on this story, see earlier blogpost:  Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

As John Drinnan, the NZ Herald’s business writer and media commentator wrote at the time,

So much for market forces. The future of the radio industry was decided behind closed doors in talks between industry incumbents and a former industry player, and signed off by Cabinet.  ” – Source

Hmmmm…  Now where have we heard this just recently?!

From April, this year,

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SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

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10:20 AM Wednesday Apr 18, 2012

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…

… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “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

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That’s how it’s done. Neat, no fuss, no questions from pesky media – sorted. (Even better if the business party pick up the tab for the evening!)

Phase 2

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?

Precisely.

That, my fellow New Zealanders is how John Key Takes Care of Business, in this country. (Dropping to one bent knee and kissing his Don Of Don’s ring, wins extra ‘brownie points’.)

Of course, this isn’t the transparency that John Key promised the country in two recent elections – but considering that National has no other job creation policies they can rely on, they are desperate to clutch at any offer of a business proposal that may create even a handful of jobs (no matter how short-sighted, shady, or ethically dubious).

National’s blind adherence to new right dogma that “governments do not create jobs; only the private sector creates jobs” is not only nonsensical, but traps them in an ideological mindset that does not permit them to consider historical  alternatives. John Key’s – and National’s – dilemma forces them to rely on business, whether it be shady casino deals or selling our productive, revenue-earning farms to overseas investors.

It is a trap of their own making, but we the taxpayer, will end up paying one way or another.

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

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Previous Blogposts

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

Additional

NZ Herald: Pokie deal is a devil’s bargain

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First blogged 23 April 2012

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlooks

9 January 2013 3 comments

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

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

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

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Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlook for 2013

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What are we manufacturing today

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We need businesses producing high-value products for overseas markets and businesses using R&D to develop those products which drives other benefits, like better production processes and marketing.  Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy.

We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Our world-leading dairy industry also owes much of its success to innovation.” – Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

See: EDANZ National Economic Development Forum – Speech Notes

It’s a funny old world we live in…

Sunrise Industries…

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Central Auckland super brothel approved

Full story

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tobacco-deal-creates-50-jobs-in-petone

Full story

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skycity-deal-puts-laws-up-for-sale

Full story

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Another liquor outlet set to open

Full story

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Sex, gambling, tobacco, alcohol – the new profitable industries of the 1st century? We seem to have left out other “growth” industries, the modern sex-slave trade in women and children, and arms manufacturing.

Oh. Wait. Maybe not,

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Govt funds still invested in cluster bomb makers

Full story

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Oh well, National and it’s  free-market fellow-travellers will be delirious with joy. If there’s a buck to be made from vices and weapons, they’ll be happy as a pig in mud.

Now if only they can find the price of a soul, and a market for it…

And the Sun sets on…

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Sounds silenced by $20m debt

Full story

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Borders, Whitcoulls under administration

Full story

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Real Groovy Wellington to close

Full story

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Closing chapter for fine arts bookshop

Full story

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Bookstore another victim of public sector cuts

Full story

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Marbecks music shop closes down

Full story

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Meanwhile…

Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy. We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. - Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

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Rakon cuts full-year profit guidance

Source

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F&P confirms job losses

Full story

Warning as Haier wins all

Full story

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Oh well, one (Tait) out of three still seems a ‘goer’. How long for, I wonder?

Meanwhile, how are our export and related sectors doing?

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Job losses blamed on high NZ dollar - more forecast

Full story

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And the stats back up the ODT story above,

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New Zealand in Profile_2012_economy

Source: New Zealand in Profile: 2012 – Economy

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Not too good it seems.  The red-highlighted sectors all declined from 2006 to 2011.

National’s “hands off” doctrine, in deference of the ‘Invisible Hand of the Market’, is certainly achieving one result; giving advantage to our exporting competitors from other nations. The Nats seem resigned (hellbent?) to more job losses; more exporters going under; more skilled tradespeople leaving for Australia; and a further decline ineconomic growth,

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Job losses inevitable in declining industries, say ministers

Full story

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What the hell!? The export sector is a “declining industry“?!?!

When even National’s allies – the Manufacturers and Exporters Association – are calling for government intervention about the high New Zealand dollar, it really drives home the seriousness of the crisis. An economic crisis that this time had it’s origins on Molesworth Street – not Wall Street.

For National to persist in it’s “hands off”  and obedience to Free Market dogma will have nasty consequences for our economy.

For 2013, expect,

  • unemployment to rise
  • the export sector to worsen
  • growth to remain low, under 1%
  • an early election this coming year, as Dunne and the Maori Party desert the National-led coalition.

It’s easy to predict – we’ve seen it all before.

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

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outlook for 2013

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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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*

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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 =

A bit of Bible-Bashing? Literally? (Part Rua)

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Frankly Speaking  Blog  Frank Macskasy

Full story

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Nice to see common sense prevailing.

Whilst employers have considerable authority to enact rules in the workplace, that power must be tempered with a measure of fairness and common sense.  Otherwise they run the risk of looking foolish in the public eye, and alienating their staff.

If history has shown us anything, it’s that rules and laws are not always a matter about what’s fair or just.

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Rosa Parks
(She broke a rule.)

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= fs =

Categories: Social Issues Tags: , ,

A bit of Bible-Bashing? Literally?

19 June 2012 3 comments

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Full Story

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You’ve got to be kidding us?!?!

Sky City management are taking discipinary action against a staff member because she had a small Bible in her uniform pocket??!!?  Have Sky City management taken leave of their senses?!

I have three things to say about this;

  1. Why have pockets in uniforms if they don’t want staff carrying things in them?
  2. As if we needed evidence, this proves that there is a place for Unions in our society.  Some employers need a reality check.
  3. Just because rules can be made doesn’t necessarily make them valid. Sometimes rules are unjust; discriminatory; or simply not well thought through.

SkyCity general manager group services, Grainne Troute, said,

Different roles have different uniform standards but as a general principle staff in customer service roles are in breach of SkyCity’s uniform standards if they carry items such as mobile phones, books and other items which might interfere with their full engagement with their customers.”

Ok, a mobile phone we can understand. They can be intrusive.

But a small book?! How is a small book in someone’s pocket going to “interfere with their full engagement with their customers“? Sky City management have yet to explain that somewhat peculiar claim.

This blogger is reminded of rules that used to be strictly enforced in the southern states of the USA – until people decided to deliberately ignore them,

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Disclaimer

This blogger has not one single religious belief or bone in his body. I do not believe in gods, spirits, ghosts, spooks, angels, demons, magic, Easter Bunny, Father Christmas, or the Tooth Fairy. (I am reasonably open-minded about time-travelling police boxes, though.)

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= fs =

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

18 June 2012 3 comments

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Isn’t it strange how Key and National have a funny habit of making promises about jobs and growth – promises that never, ever eventuate?

It’s fairly easy to keep track of our elected representatives and their utterances. Such a handy little gadget, the “In-ter-Net”. Just the handy tool needed to hold them to account for their promises.

Let’s check out Dear Leader’s track record, shall we?

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= 2008 – 2009 =

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Key’s Promise

More than 25,000 Kiwis aged 15-19 are not in any form of education, training or work – that’s despite Labour’s promise to get that number down to zero. Those young people are disengaged from education and are at a loose end…

… Today, I’m going to announce a new education entitlement – National’s Youth Guarantee.  It’s based on National’s expectation that all young people under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training.  “

See:  2008  A Fresh Start for New Zealand

The Reality

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said the unemployment rise was a concern…

… She said young people were being affected more than any other age group with unemployment among 15 to 19 year olds rising 7.5 per cent compared to a year ago and 20 – 24 year-olds rising by 4.7 per cent

… We know how tough that’ll be – that’s why we’ve created the Youth Opportunities Package, to give them some experience in the labour market.

See:  Unemployment surges to 9 year high

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= 2011 – 2012 =

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Key’s Promise

”  We’ve grown eight out of nine quarters, we have low interest rates, unemployment is falling, we are on track to create 170,000 jobs…

… I believe we can,” he said. “We created 45,000 this year and we’re on track to create the 170,000 in the budget. “

See:  Key optimistic despite global economic fears

4% economic growth forecast in 2012.

170,000 new jobs forecast by 2015, with wages growing faster than inflation. “

See:  Budget 2011 – Building Our Future

The Reality

The Budget deficit is running $1.2 billion worse than forecast as tax revenue continues to lag.  Treasury today released the Government’s financial statements for the eight months to the end of February showing an operating deficit of $8.8 billion.

See: Budget deficit keeps getting worse

The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 per cent in the three months ended March 31, from a revised 6.4 per cent in the prior quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That’s higher than the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. “

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Stronger food manufacturing is expected to lift economic growth to 0.6 per for the first three months of the year, economists say. “

See:  GDP growth likely to be slow, patchy

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= 2012 =

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Key’s Promise

The number of pokie machines in New Zealand will continue to fall despite a deal the government is negotiating which will give Sky City casino more of them, Prime Minister John Key says.

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.

Labour says Sky City wants an extra 500 and the government is offering 350.

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, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate,” he said on Monday on TV One.

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

The Reality

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. ” – Source

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

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The Stats

Labour Government

Total Unemployment March 2008: 3.6%

Youth (15-19) Unemployment March 2008:  24,200 (13.9%)

Wage Growth to March 2008:  3.4% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2008

National Government

Total Unemployment March 2012: 6.7%

Youth (15-19) Uemployment March 2012: 65,600 (17.1%)

Wage Growth to March 2012:  2% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2012

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Conclusion

The term “mickey mouse” springs to mind, in describing National’s handling of the economy. Their promises for job creation and economic growth are a fantasy, predicated on religious-like faith in a failed free market ideology. (The same ideology that resulted in the global financial crisis in 2008, and the resulting Great Recession.)

The problem with National is that their blind  belief in the “Market” to create jobs is a trap of their own making. The  “Market” will not create jobs until the economy improves. And the economy will not improve until we have more jobs, so people can buy more goods and services. This kind of economic “Catch 22″ is fairly obvious to most people – hence why the French and Icelanders  have elected centre-left governments, and the Conservatives in the UK are polling badly.

With National leaving economic growth and job creation  to the “Market”, any budgetary predictions on their part are meaningless. Thus far practically every prediction made by Key and his Party has failed abysmally.

John Key, especially,  has a tendency to make hopelessly optimistic predictions.  Yet, as with his Sky City/Convention Centre pronouncements, promising around 1,800 jobs – reality soon catches up and shows his promises as little more than wishing-thinking.

Quite simply, Key is not to be trusted on any numbers he  conjures up.  They are Lotto numbers.

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Additional

Business NZ sees no economic plan

Key defends casino pokie machine deal

Unemployment surges to 9 year high

Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

NZ rich-poor gap widens faster than rest of world

Government policy impacting child poverty levels

Low income households less likely to move up scale – study

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= fs =

A John, a Tony, and a Winston

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This morning’s  ‘Q+A’ (TV1), and ‘The Nation’  (TV3),  featured interviews with John Key, Tony Ryall, and Winston Peters. Peters  also appeared on John Tamihere’s panel on ‘Think Tank‘ – but more on that in a moment.

The three interviews and panel yielded some interesting points…

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Tony Ryall, Minister for State Own Enterprises

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One of National’s constant cop-outs on why the economy is stagnating and unemployment is so high, is a constant finger-pointing at the previous Labour government. According to Key, English, et al in National, the previous Labour government left the economy in a “parlous state”,

In 2008 the Government inherited an economy that had been in recession for nearly a year and that was up against a world economy in crisis….

… Under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance.

… We inherited from Labour a set of government books showing never-ending budget deficits and government debt spiralling out of control. This would have ruined the economy and created an onerous debt burden destructive to jobs and income growth.

See:  John Key, Statement to Parliament 2011,  8 February, 2011

I do agree with the view that for New Zealand to have a sustained recovery based on a stronger export sector will be a challenge with the dollar at the current levels. But I imagine that that member will not try to make a political point about that, because it is precisely record-high interest rates and a record-high dollar, driven by the previous Government’s reckless economic management, that have put the export sector into such a difficult position. “

See: Bill English, Parliamentary Questions And Answers – 30 July 2009

None of it is true, of course, and National’s attempt to re-write history is simply a dishonest strategy to excuse their own shocking performance at growing the economy.  In fact, this blogger pointed this out in a carefully researched analysis of Labour’s track record from 2000 to 2008.

See:  Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

Today (17 June), SOE Minister Tony Ryall let slip on ‘Q+A’  an admission that Labour’s record on fiscal management was not what National Party strategists had been alleging,

TONY RYALL  Uh, its certainly about debt. You know, New Zealands debt is currently $52 billion, $53 billion. Expected to go to $72 billion in the next three years. Thats getting to a level that were uncomfortable with. Thats the reason why we want to sell a minority stake in these assets, free up some cash that can then be invested in the other priority assets that New Zealanders want in the future

[abridged]

TONY  RYALL Thats right. Because at the moment, were going from $8 billion when we started in 2008. The debts now around $52 billion. Were expecting to be at $72 billion in another three years time…

See: TVNZ  Q+A  Transcript interview with Tony Ryall

So much for National; their party apparatchiks; and supporters who constantly warn us that Labour was, and is, a “borrow and spend” Party. National seems to be quite adept at racking up massive overseas debt – whilst cutting taxes locally.

Eventually though, that debt has to be re-paid. Hence why National is selling state assets and cutting back on state/social services.

Thank you, Tony Ryall, for the admission that the previous government, in fact, was not as fiscally inept as you and your colleagues have made out. Nor as inept as your handling of the country’s economy.

Feel free to call an early election any time soon?

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John Key, Prime Minister (Temporary)

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John Key’s appearance on today’s ‘The Nation‘ as the front man for an ideologically-driven National Party was on-par with past performances as the ever-smiling, smooth-talking politician, whose role it is to put a “human face” on the neo-liberal agenda.

There were several issues touched upon in the interview – though none as deeply as perhaps the viewer might have desired. On the issue of National’s deal-making with Sky City, Key was let off the hook lightly – with Fairfax interviewer, John Hartevelt looking slightly bemused when a particularly promising line of questioning was cut short.

Perhaps the interview tried cramming in too many issues, for the alloted time?

On the issue of the Auditor General’s investigation on National’s involvement in deal-making with Sky City on the possible awarding of a contract to build a new Convention centre, one comment from Key, in particular, should have raised a few eyebrows and generated further questioning.

At 6.37 into the interview;

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 of, 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.

In a very casual, matter-of-fact manner, Key has stated that whilst he had “talks 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” – that there is no record whatsoever of any such talks or interaction with any of the parties involved.

What we do know is this,

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…

… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “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″.  “

See: NZ Herald SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

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

The problem here, is that with Key’s “office having absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, no phone calls” we, the public have no way of knowing what has transpired. There is simply no telling what has gone on between Key and “critical players”.

I don’t know about you, the reader, but I am not in the slightest reassured by Key’s explanation.  It is an extremely worrying development in our system when important matters between government of commercial intrerests can be discussed in secret; off the record; and with no paper trail or other indication as to how arrangements were agreed upon.

The potential for corruption is plain for all to see.

If Key does not comprehend this, then his political advisors are not doing their jobs properly. This is not the transparent government that we have come to expect in a modern society – nor what John Key promised us.

See:  Open and Transparent Government – Declaration

John Key then went on to mount an extraordinary and peculiar attack on Winston Peters.

At 27.35 into the interview;

KEY: I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour, even if Labour’s policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the three-year period from 2014 to 2017.

“I dare him to say he will not, because he’s tricky and he’ll find a way all around all of that stuff. “

See: TV1 News -National in trouble – Peters

See:  TV1 VIDEO: Prime Minister John Key on ACC, super and the future

Curiously, when pushed by John Hartevelt, Key did not categorically rule out  a coalition deal with Peters as he did in 2008.

This blogger believes that  Key and National understand   Rule #1 in politics: learn to count.

If National’s support drops in 2014 (or earlier election) they will require a coalition partner with more numbers than the one-man parties of ACT and United Future. Only NZ First comes anywhere near offering the Nats a  potential coalition partner.

At the very least, National’s strategists want to drive Peters away from any potential coalition-partnership or Supply & Confidence support deal for a Labour-led government.

As for Peters – this blogger doubts that he will repeat his fatal mistake of entering into coalition with National, as he did in  on 11 December 1996. Peters understands that his constituency vote for him because it is a protest vote against the incumbent government – in this case, National.

Just as in 1996, people voted for him as part of a wide-spectrum political bloc of anti-National sentiment that was sweeping the country. By coalescing with the Nats in 1996, Peters ignored that sentiment and suffered the wrath of the electorate – first at the superannuation referendum in 1998, which was soundly defeated 92% to 8%. A year later, at the general election, Peters barely scrapped back into Parliament by winning his seat with a 63 vote majority. His Party polled under the 5% threshold.

No doubt National will continue to play their silly-bugger games to de-stabilise the  Labour-led governmen-in-waiting. They have no option, as their own internal polling must be reflecting what mainstream polling is showing; the public have had enough of National; it’s “Bright Future” never-never promises;  and want change. Come 2014 (if not earlier), the Nats will be dog-tucker and will be gone by dinner-time on election night.

Again, feel free to call an early election any time soon, Dear Leader?

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Winston Peters appeared on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘, and afterward on TV3’s ‘Think Tank‘, hosted by John Tamihere. Neither appearances could have been more starkly contrasting.

On ‘Q+A‘, interviewed by the personable Greg Boyd, Peters resorted ‘to form’, and displayed  his typical media-combativeness and mis-mash  of slogans and faux-outrage, that is his public persona.

It was painful to watch.

See: TVNZ Q+A Winston Peters on Coalition and Superannuation

‘Nuff said.

Contrast Peter’s cringeworthy performance on ‘Q+A‘, with his appearance on  ‘Think Tank‘, today, as one of three guests; Labour Leader David Shearer and Auckland University professor, Jane Kelsey.  This was a Winston Peters from a Parallel Universe where he appeared thoughful; measured; insightful; and practically led the panel. This is a Winston Peters who commands respect and attention – not the Jeykill & Hyde version on ‘Q+A’ who alienates the viewer with his  antics.

See: TV3 Think Tank 17 June

As a critic of Winston Peters, my suggestion to him is this; lose the attitude. Or at least tone it down. The media can be a pain in the arse, for sure, but why wind them up needlessly?

Save the aggro for the debating chamber in the House. That is where Peters can best utilise that righteous anger he is so famous for. And where he can best show the public that he is on our side as the champion of the Ordinary Kiwi Battler.

The Winston Peters that this blogger saw on ‘Think Tank‘ is the one that will help re-build NZ first.

Not the grumpy old bugger who got into a shouting-match with Greg Boyd.

If Peters reads this, take my criticisms as constructive. Or not. As a Labour-Green supporter, I’m not terribly fussed if he makes it back to Parliament at the next election, or fades away into the Twilight Zone.

But perhaps his supporters and Party activists deserve that opportunity?

Just my 5 cents + 15% gst worth.

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Acknowledgement

Cartoons by Murray Webb

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= fs =

From “Nanny” State to “Natzi” State?

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

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National has been working overtime (do they pay their media advisors, strategists, and spin doctors overtime?) to deflect public attention away from their mis-management of the economy, and one scandal after another.

See Blogpost:  The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Whether it’s Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar/Judith Collins/ACC; John Banks and Kim Dotcom; John Banks and Sky City; John Key and Sky City; Murray McCully and wasted millions of taxpayer’s money over the aborted MFAT re-structuring –  John Key has had one ministerial scandal after another. It has been  an eye-opening, horrendous (for the Nats)  litany of failure, stuff-ups,  and dodgy dealings.

With a majority of just one seat, Dear Leader cannot afford even one resignation and by-election. It could cost him his second term in government.

On top of scandals, there are the non-stop bad news stories, on the economy and social problems,

* Unemployment continuing to rise – now at 6.7%

* Paula Bennet admitting there were were not enough jobs

* Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year

* Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

* Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000

* Wages continue to lag behind Australia

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

* Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators – Numbers reveal National disgrace

* Child poverty growing, and children scavenging for food scraps

And adding insult to injury, Australian businesses are coming to New Zealand to set up shop, to exploit our lower wages,

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

It’s been one failure after another, and people are starting to take notice; National is falling in public opinion polls.

This blogger predicts that the bad news is not about to end any time soon. National’s reliance on the private sector to provide jobs and growth is based on blind adherence to neo-liberal dogma – not on any common sense ideas. Blind adherence to ideology, and wilfully dismissing indicators of continual failure, is a process that is ultimately futile and doomed.

Just ask the Russians. It only took them about seven decades to realise that their experiment in marxist-leninism was dragging the USSR backwards, not forwards. They abandoned it, and that was the end of that particular episode in human history.

Neo-liberalism – the reverse side of the coin of extremist socio-economic systems – is on the same path to doomed failure.  There are those who understand this perfectly.

Rightwing governments, such as National, are political dinosaurs – watching the asteroid of change  rushing towards us – but not understanding the implications of the revolutionary change that is impending and inevitable.

Instead, National’s party strategists, media advisors, and contracted publicity/campaign  strategists have embarked on a time-honoured, proven course, of deflection; beneficiary bashing.

The strategy involved;

  1. Assessing public attitudes towards welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  2. Identifying key issues regarding welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  3. Putting together a plan, complete with media releases and policy “drafts”
  4. Priming friendly media, NGOs, and political allies
  5. Release, and stand back.

See Blogpost:  The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

The result was a two-pronged “blitzkreig” on the public,

  • “voluntary” contraception for solo-mothers
  • making immunisation mandatory for welfare recipients, by linking it to recieving state benefits

This blogger should point out that National most likely does not, for one moment, believe it’s own propaganda. People like John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, understand the statistics and realise that prejudice surrounding welfare beneficiaries is based largely on misinformation; anecdotes; and a fair measure of misogyny (demonstrated by the fact that attacks on solo-parents are always focused on solo-mothers – never  solo-dads).

They know, for example that the number of young solo-mothers aged 18 to 19 is 2.7% of the total number of welfare recipientsdown from 3.1% in 2007,

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Source

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It is also worthwhile noting the following fact,

Five year trend

 The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 Between March 2007 and March 2012, clients receiving a main benefit became slightly more likely to be aged 18–24 years and to be male.

 Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Source

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Note the relevant points:

1. The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 2. Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Point 1: the increase in welfare recipients  directly correlates to  “changes in economic conditions” – the global banking  crisis in 2008, and the resulting recession.

Point 2: The number of people on the DPB can be affected by “an ageing population”, as this Benefit can be paid to individuals caring for an elderly person, as well as children.

The overall rise in welfare recipients also correlates to,

  • a steadily growing rise in youth unemployment, from 58,000 last year  to 83,000 this year,
  • National’s  policy which calls for job creation by the private sector, and not by central government,
  • failed relationships, leaving the mother (generally) to care for children*, adding to those already on the DPB.

This is not rocket science. This is fairly basic economic facts which everyone understands fairly well.

Which then begs the question; what does contraception and immunisation have to do with an increase in welfare recipients that was caused, mostly, by “changes in economic conditions” ?!

The answer, of course, is nothing.

But then again, National’s proposals to “offer” contraception and “link”  immunisation to welfare payments has been a red herring from Day One, as outlined above.

National cannot announce to the country that ” all beneficiaries are diseased, reckless breeders“. That would be… crass. Not very subtle at all.

The more subtle way to go about vilifying and demonising a group in our society is to do it by innuendo.

Do not call solo mothers (but never solo dads) “reckless breeders”.

Do “offer” them free contraception.

Result: No direct association has been made between solo-mums and “reckless breeding” – but the unspoken  innuendo is there, hanging in the air.

Do not call beneficies “dirty and diseased”.

Do make immunisation compulsory for their children.

Result: No direct association has been made between beneficiaries and calling them “dirty and diseased” – but the unspoken innuendo is there, unsaid.

That is Phase One of National’s deflection strategy.

Phase One, I hear you say? There’s more?!’

Oh yes, this strategy is a two-fer-one deal. The unspoken labelling of beneficiaries as “dirty”, “diseased”, and “reckless breeders” is only the first part.

The second part is the predictable (and justified)  outcry from opposition political parties; NGOs; prominent citizens; bloggers (hullo!); etc, etc. This draws further attention to National’s grand strategy, giving it media ‘oxygen’.  In drawing attention to this vile policy, the public and media attention are drawn away from bad news stories about the economy and social problems.

As Business NZ CEO, Phil O’Reilly, stated on TV3 news tonight (13 May),

“… we have an economy that’s struggling.”

When is the last time we heard a news report on unemployment? The John Banks/Sky City/Dotcom/John Key/Sky City/ACC/BronwynPullar/Judith Collins scandal(s)? A stagnant economy? More New Zealanders fleeing the country to Australia? The worsening poverty crisis? The growing gap between income earners? Asset sales? Poverty-related diseases? Etc, etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

The bad-news media reports are there – but now displaced from page 1 of newspapers or lead-stories on TV/radio – and relegated as secondary or tertiary priority stories. Instead, those issues are now replaced with stories about beneficiaries, contraception, and immunisation.

National got it’s money’s-worth I’d say, on this propaganda exercise.

In case anyone still harbours doubts that National is really, truly, whole-heartedly not remotely  interested in the health  of beneficiaries, let me remind the reader of Labour’s attempt to remove fatty food-products from school tuck-shops, from June 2008,

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Full Story

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National’s response to this and other health-related concerns?

This is how much they cared for the well-being our this nation’s children,

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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And true to it’s word, when National came to power in November 2008,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Which kind of proves how much concerns National has toward the health of the nation’s children.

Which is not very much.

In Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, the far right used gypsies and jews as scapegoats. We don’t have gypsies, and if the Nats tried demonising Jews, they’d find an Israeli crack-commando squad  knocking on John Key’s door  and asking, “can we have a quiet word with you, sunshine?”.

I guess beneficiaries are the next best thing.

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* Note

This blogger’s partner’s cousin, “Shannon”,  is now caring for her three young sons after her husband walked out on the family – youngest child was 18 months old at the time. He was having an affair and has  moved in with a female co-worker from his office. “Shannon”  is now a solo-mum, on the DPB.

She did not “breed” whilst on the DPB. “Shannon”  was married when she had her three children, and the family was on a reasonable income.  So what should she do now? According to some right wing nutjobs, should she euthanase her children so they do not become a “burden on the state”?

Whilst “Shannon” is now labelled a “DPB bludger” by National and it’s supporters, her husband is free to start another family with his new partner. If he walks out on her,  and any children they have together,  as he did with “Shannon”, he still avoids responsibility – and his new partner is labelled a “bene bludger”.

Are folks picking up a common theme here?”

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Media

NZ Herald:  Stuck for ideas, Govt preys on powerless

Previous Blogposts

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

You’ll have a free market – even if it KILLS you!

Christmas – would you like fries with that?

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

No poverty and food scavenging here

And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

Other Blogs

Tumeke:  And now, forced vaccination of beneficiaries & never ending detention – this week has been red neck heaven

The Standard:  Teenage dreams

Waitakere News:  Pike River will be Key’s undoing

The Dim Post:  Talkback bait

The Jackal:   Myth-busting rightwing prejudices

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= fs =

Money in the Banks (Part #Toru)

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ACT PRESIDENT CONFIRMS DOTCOM – BANKS

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SUGGESTED $50K DONATION SPLIT IN TWO!

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In an interview on Radio NZ’s ‘Checkpoint’, ACT President Chris Simmons confirmed that ACT MP John Banks did ask Kim Dotcom to split a $50,000 donation in two.

Chris Simmon, ACT Party President

Chris Simmon, ACT Party President

He told Radio NZ’s Mary Wilson,

He has given me an indication as to why he made that suggestion – and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers.”

See:  ACT president confirms Banks suggested donation be split

This astounding admission contradicts John Banks’ earlier assertions that he had no knowledge of any donation from Dotcom,

If someone says to me, ‘How can I put money into your campaign?’ what would be wrong with telling them that – if that was that case? “

See: Banks sought split donation: Dotcom

John Key must stand down Banks as a Minister, whilst the matter is investigated by Police. In fact, this blogger goes further; there is now sufficient evidence that John Banks has consistently lied on this issue; provided a false campaign donations return; and tried to cover up the donations from both Sky City and Kim Dotcom.

As John Key said to then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, over Winston Peters,

It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask. Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.”

Key is now Prime Minister. He should know what to do next.

See:  Banks denies calling Dotcom over donation

As this blogger wrote in a previous blogpiece ( Money in the Banks ,Part #Rua ); again, Dotcom’s claims are confirmed – whilst Banks’ story changes almost daily.

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Previous Blog Posts

Money in the Banks

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

John Banks – Demented or Slippery as an eel?!

Money in the Banks (Part #Rua)

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Money in the Banks…

28 April 2012 4 comments

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ACT Party Utter Nutters

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As if the “Tea Party” fiasco wasn’t sufficient, John Banks – leader of the “1 Percent Party” (aka ACT)  – is now embroiled in another scandal:  undeclared or wrongly-declared campaign donations,

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Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

Full Story

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Dotcom's secret donation to Banks

Full Story

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If these allegations are proven, Banks’ career as a politician has screeched to a grinding stop. He will be lucky if any subsequent police investigation does not result in a prosecution, as happened with ex-Labour MP, Phillip Taito Fields.

Should Banks be forced to vacate his seat, that would force an automatic by-election.  The chances are that the Right would probably win any such contest. Epsom is still a blue-ribbon electorate.

See: previous election results for Epsom.

In terms of Parliamentary numbers for the government, it doesn’t matter if a National or ACT candidate wins it. They maintain their one-seat majority.

What will matter is that if National wins and the ACT loses Epsom, then the Nats will no longer have an excuse to implement right wing policies such as Charter Schools. That was an ACT policy, not National.

National would be within it’s rights to dump it, should they regain Epsom.

If they don’t, it would be a fairly dramatic indication to the public that the Nats are moving to the Right, regardless of their coalition deal with ACT.

That should give pause for thought for many voters.

On a related thought, the Banks/donations scandal is yet more convincing proof (not that we really needed it) that this government is shonkey and has no hesitation in engaging in secret, back-room dealing. New Zealanders should be very cautious in continuing to support National.

Very rarely do we have an opportunity to glimpse the secret deals taking place behind closed doors. As this blogger wrote in the previous blogpieces, Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How  and Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua),

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

I’m no longer sure about the last bit.

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

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

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

As for who might be a suitable candidate to contest Epsom; considering it’s conservative, Tory nature, this could be a job for the former Member for Tauranga,

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Winston Peters

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The most suitable candidate would be the highest polling person from any given Opposition Party. In fact, this might be a suitable occassion to employ the US style of “Primaries“, where a candidate is selected from a group, to go up against the incumbent.

Should National or ACT lose Epsom (unlikely) this government will fall.

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Related

TV3 John Campbell: Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports

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Latest Horizon Poll on Casinos, Convention Centres, and Closed-door dealings

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Horizon’s current poll is focused on the Sky City/Convention Centre/National Party issue. The question were incredibly straight forward and pulled no punches on this controversial issue.

For readers’ edification, I present the Horizon Poll, and my responses,

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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(Note, there was no page 7)

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Horizon Poll Casinos Sky City Convention Centre National Government Dodgy John Key

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This blogger has requested the results of the Poll, which will be presented as an update on this Blogpost.  My guess is that Horizon’s results will mirror those presented in Stuff.co.nz and Herald on-line polling.

Stuff Poll

Herald Poll

Whilst those are unscientific polls, they nevertheless gave an indication of general public disquiet on National’s handling of this issue.

Anyone wishing to join the Horizon Polling mail-list can do so, by clicking on the link below.

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Reference

Horizon Poll

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Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al…

22 April 2012 2 comments

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National released this media statement on Scoop.co.nz yesterday, when they announced their intention to proceed with the sale of the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin,

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Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

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Friday, 20 April 2012, 11:22 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Land Information

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Associate Minister of Finance

20 April 2012
Media Statement

Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have approved the new recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited to acquire the 16 Crafar farms

“New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations around overseas investment,” Mr Williamson says.

“Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring, while providing a range of safeguards to protect New Zealanders’ interests. They are applied evenly to all applications, regardless of where they are from.

“We have sought to apply the law in accordance with the provisions of the Overseas Investment Act and the guidance of the High Court.

“We have carefully considered the OIO’s new recommendation. The OIO sought advice from Crown Law and independent legal advice from David Goddard QC. The Ministers also sought advice and clarification from Mr Goddard.

“We are satisfied that on even the most conservative approach this application meets the criteria set out in the Act and is consistent with the High Court’s judgment.”

Dr Coleman said the consent came with stringent conditions.

“These 27 conditions have been imposed to ensure Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Dr Coleman says.

The conditions require Milk New Zealand to invest $16 million into the farms and to protect and enhance heritage sites

“The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial.”

A copy of the OIO’s new recommendation is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/oio-recommendation-crafar-farms-20120420.pdf

A copy of the OIO’s decision summary is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/decision-summary-201110035.pdf

ENDS

Source

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Jonathan Coleman says that, ” The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. 

Maurice Williamson sez, ” Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring…

And Our Dear Leader, John Key, smiles, waves, and said,

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source

The questions I have for John Key, Maurice Williamson, Jonathan Coleman, et al in  National are;

  1. What possible benefit is there to  New Zealand when the Crafar farms owe a massive $216 million to predominantly Dutch and Australian  banks; the sale to Shanghai Pengxin is for $210 million; and the purchasers intend to invest only an addition $14 million in the 16 farms – $875,000 per farm? The proceeds for the sale of the Crafar farms will not stay in New Zealand – they will flow back to Australia.
  2. How can the sale of a revenue-earning asset (eg, farms) to overseas investors be ‘beneficial’ to New Zealand when the profits from those assets will flow overseas, to offshore bank accounts. Profits will  not be spent nor further re-invested in this country.
  3. Considering that New Zealand is a world leader in dairy production, what does Shanghai Pengxin – a company specialising in property development (the sixth largest in China; Appendix 5, para 42) and not dairying – have to offer us that the alternative New Zealand consortium, led by Michael Fay, and other local dairy farmers could not? Is this, effectively a vote of No Confidence in local farmers?

Several politicians have made several comments that the new Chinese owners will bring ‘new skills and innovation’ to our dairying industry.

This blogger finds that rather hard to believe. All of a sudden, New Zealanders are incapable of developing their own farms?

But perhaps the issues we should be most concerned out is a loss of revenue from those farms, as profits are repatriated overseas.

Michael Fay estimates we could lose $15 million per annum once the farms are producing milk for export,

Sir Michael says at the forecast payout of $6.35 a share, the new owners would earn $30 million a year, half of which will go to state-owned enterprise Landcorp for farming the land.

“This transaction with Shanghai Pengxin is a very, very bad investment for New Zealand. It doesn’t stack up on any economic basis,” said Sir Michael.

“It’s hard to see that half of it going overseas constitutes an economic benefit to this country. It’s a cost, it’s hard to define it as an investment”. ” – Source

And Bernard Hickey wrote about our loss of income as we sold more and more assets into overseas ownership, steadily worsening our current account deficit,

For decades we have spent more than we earned as a nation and funded the difference by borrowing foreign money through our banks, or directly in the form of companies borrowing offshore or the government borrowing from foreign funds and banks. If we couldn’t borrow the money, we would sell assets, be it companies, land or state assets.

We’ve been kidding ourselves for decades that, like the L’Oreal ad, we were worth it. We have run chronically high current account deficits for most of the last 30 years. We believed, and have been encouraged by our leaders, bankers, and asset buyers, that New Zealand could afford it and we deserved it.

But in our bones we knew we couldn’t, and it’s great to see Justice Miller at the High Court now tell us in this decision it has to stop, even if the government can’t or won’t do it. His ruling that any foreign buyer has to prove a bigger benefit to the nation than a local buyer sets a very high threshold.

It effectively says that any buyer has to invest an awful lot more, create a lot more jobs and pledge to reinvest dividends here, otherwise there is an inevitable drain on the nation.

In the last decade we have reached the limit of how much we could borrow and sell. For any chronic overspender, there is a point where they can’t borrow any more because they can’t afford the interest payments and they don’t have anything left to sell. Just before that moment comes, they accelerate their asset sales and borrowing to pay the interest on the previously borrowed money and to pay the dividends on the previously sold assets…

… The government itself has been the heaviest borrower through the bond markets. It doesn’t matter who we have borrowed it off, but again China is the biggest creditor through its sovereign wealth fund. Our state owned enterprises have also been borrowing heavily overseas and the government is about to start selling the jewels in the crown, at least some of which will go offshore.

The irony is that this frenzy of last minute borrowing and asset selling accelerates the process of making our economy unsustainable, because it pushes up our economy currency and hampers our ability to export our way out of this mess.

Just in case you question the logic, here’s the chart showing how New Zealand’s Gross National Income per capita, which is what we get to keep after we have paid the interest and the dividends, has been falling since 2003.”

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Source

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Quite simply, the more we borrow from overseas; the more income-generating assets we sell to overseas investors – the more money we end up losing on every deal. The profits that used to stay in NZ to be re-invested, are now flowing out to other countries; other peoples’ bank accounts. Leaving us poorer and poorer year after year.

Selling farms after selling most of our profitable State Owned Enterprises will make things worse.

It’s also hard to see how any potential New Zealand purchaser can compete with the incredible wealth and access to funds, that nations such as China possess. Indeed, the Overseas Investment commission made this very point in Appendix 5, para 19/a when it stated,

“… 19. The purchase price for the farms is NZD $[redacted] m, plus payment for the stock, estimated to be NZD $[redacted] m. The Applicant is willing to pay this price because:

a) it has access to relatively low cost capital;”

We are in dire straights when an offshore investor can outbid a New Zealander because they have access to cheap funds to which we do not.

This is not a level playing field. The deck is now stacked firmly against us.

The deal with Shanghai Pengxin calls for further investments,

  • The Applicant must invest the higher of NZD $14m or the value agreed between the Applicant and Landcorp in
    clause 4.4 of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”) on investment for development
    purposes on the Investment.” (ref Appendix 1, para 6)
  • The Applicant must establish an on-farm training facility for dairy farm workers in accordance with clause 5(c) of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”). The Applicant must contribute a minimum of NZD $[redacted] m towards the capital cost of establishing this facility. (ref Appendix 1, para 7) We don’t know the value of this “training facility – the OIO has blanked out that information.)
  • The Applicant must give two scholarships of not less than NZD $5,000 each year to students of the on-farm training facility. The first two scholarships are to be awarded by 31 December 2013.” (ref Appendix 1, para 8)

Aside from some walking tracks and other contractual obligations (which we recently discovered are not followed up by anyone from the Overseas Investment Commission – so we cannot be certain that the OIO’s Conditions of Consent are followed through by Shanghai Pengxin, nor any other foreign investor) – what does New Zealand gain, financially, from this deal?

Let’s re-cap:

  1. Sale price of $210 million – goes to foreign-owned banks in Australia and Netherlands. Benefit to NZ: nil
  2. Profits from export of milk from the 16 Crafar Farms – mostly remitted to China. Benefit to NZ: nil/negative ($15 million p.a. loss in overseas income)
  3. Additional investment required in farms – $14 million*. Benefit to NZ: nil. $14 million gain – wiped out after one year of profits ($15 million) remitted back to Shanghai Pengxin, in China
  4. Scholarships for two students, @ $5,000 per-person. Benefit to NZ: $10,000 p.a.

And that, folks, seems to be it: $10,000 per year.

In return, the new foreign owner gets,

  • $15 million p.a. in profits
  • 15 million Fonterra shares
  • dairy products exported to China (along with profits made)

Now, unless this blogger’s arithmetic is seriously out-of-kilter, it’s hard to see how Jonathan Coleman’s comment holds true that,

The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. 

What, precisely, are those ‘benefits’?!?  Because none are apparent to this blogger.

Some further matters that warrant comment:

Point 1.

Mr Key says that,

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source

Let’s deal with that straight away.

It’s bullshit.

In 2002, when American millionaire, John Griffin purchased historically-significant Young Nick’s Head on the East Coast,  there was considerable anger and opposition from many locals, and throughout New Zealand.  Such was opposition that a hikoi to Parliament ended up with 200 people protesting on the grounds,

Around noon on Monday 5 August a group of about 200 protestors arrived at parliament grounds, Wellington. Many of them had been on the hikoi (march) from Young Nick’s Head, Gisborne, which left 11 days earlier. Most of the hikoi participants were from the Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi, who were dispossessed of the land around Young Nick’s Head in the 19th century.

The protest group asked to see finance minister Michael Cullen, who is to decide on Friday 9 August whether to allow the sale of Young Nick’s Head to the US millionaire John Griffen. Mr Cullen was not available, nor the prime minister Helen Clark. The Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, told the protestors they could not stay on the grounds overnight, and were not to erect any tent or other structure. (The precedent was the tent embassy in parliament grounds after the Hikoi of Hope in 1999, which maintained a presence for four months before being broken up with arrests).   ” – Source

When Shania Twain purchased 25,000 hectares off South Island high-country near Wanaka, in 2004, there was considerable anger and resentment,

”  The contentious issue of foreign ownership of New Zealand land is flaring again following a government decision to allow Canadian singer Shania Twain to buy nearly 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of picturesque mountain farmland.

Foreign ownership of New Zealand land stirs high passions among the nation’s usually phlegmatic citizens.

Farmers in this primarily agricultural country argue wealthy offshore investors are pushing land prices far beyond their potential worth as productive property, while other New Zealanders argue their birthright is being sold to the highest bidder…

… Anti-foreign ownership groups estimate that between 6 and 7 percent of commercially viable New Zealand land is now owned by offshore interests.” – Source

New Zealanders have always opposed land sales. Ever since Pakeha colonisers came to this country and said to Maori, “Have we got a deal for you!!”, there has always been a scepticism toward the sale of land to foreigners. That feeling exists regardless of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, etc.

In fact, John Campbell took Key to task on this very issue when the Prime Minister tried to play the “racism card” on his show, on 20 April,

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John Campbell Prime Minister interview Crafar Farms Sky City Casino

Source

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KEY:  “… let’s say you just want to say ‘no’ because they’re Chinese-“

CAMPBELL:  ” I don’t think anyone- Wait a second. I think that’s underhanded and disingenuous. I don’t think anyone is saying ‘no’ [because they're Chinese]. I think people are talking about 8,000 hectares of prime dairy country and it’s foreign ownership not Chinese ownership.”

Despite Campbell making that point succinctly, Key carried on with the same theme – as no doubt he had been instructed by his media advisors, to stick to a couple of core-points.

It suits John Key – as it did with Maurice Williamson – to attempt to paint opposition to the Crafar Farm sales to Shanghai Pengxin as “racism” or “xenophobia”.

No one likes to be called racist (except for for right wing extremists – but they’re deranged anyway), and to have that accusation thrown at the public is National’s shameful attempt to portray opposition to the Crafar sale as ‘irrational’.

Somewhere up on the Ninth Floor of the Beehive; in the Prime Minister’s department; John Key’s media advisors are busily spinning this line to deflect criticism from their Boss.

These paid merchants of mendacity are clever buggers; university educated – and taxpayer funded. We pay to have them teach politicians how to spin bullshit to us.

Not a nice thought, is it?

Whether Key’s spin doctors and media advisors  will be successful re-defining the debate is another matter entirely. They have their work cut out for them, going by polling by Fairfax and NZ Herald,

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Good luck in trying to dismiss two-thirds or three quarters of the public on this issue, Mr Key. As they say in business; the customer is always right.

Point 2.

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – John Key, 27 January 2012

This is the second line that Key’s spin-doctors have advised him and other Ministers to push: that the law allows these sales to proceed and MPs hands are tied.

Except… when it suits John Key, he is more than willing to trade off the law for other considerations,

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Source

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In return for a new $350 million convention centre, John Key simply has to change the gambling laws.

Just as John Key changed employment laws in October 2010, to suit Warner Bros, in the making of “The Hobbit” movies,

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Source

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Funny ole world, in’it?

John Key sticks to the “letter of the law” like a fly to dog poo.  But when it suits him and his cronies, he can be… flexible.

What you are witnessing, my fellow New Zealanders, is what is colloquially known as “Crony Capitalism“.

Is this really how we want our country to be governed?

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* Note: the original OIO condition of a once-only $14 million investment has been increased with the latest OIO review, to $16 million. This blogger replies with a “whoopty-bloody-doo“; it makes little difference in the long term.

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*

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References

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

Additional

No checks on foreign buyers of Kiwi land

NZ to lose ‘millions a year’ from Crafar sale

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Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

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2010

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"If we ended up in a position where New Zealanders are tenants in their own country, I can't see how that would be in New Zealand's best interests." - John Key, 27 July 2010

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2012

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"No where is that better illustrated than in the Crafar farm deal where the tenant will be a Government state-owned enterprise, Landcorp." - John Key, 2 February 2012

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As this blogger predicted and wrote five days ago, National has caved to the  Wide Boys from Beijing who rode in to town on 15 April,

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China's no4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff
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The loss of the Crafar farms – and other farms sold to foreign investors – is not just about loss of direct ownership. It is about losing the profits that all those farms will generate, to overseas investors.

The flight of profits to offshore investors began in the late 1980s when Doulas, Prebble, Bassett, et al hocked of our former state owned enterprises. As with farms, we didn’t just lose ownership – we lost the income streams they generated. (Which worsened our balance of payments deficit and in turn made borrowing from overseas much more expensive.)

National did precisely the same thing on 27 October 2010, when Warner Bros sent their ‘boys’ in to ‘persuade’ John Key to ‘see things their way’.  Two months later,  it was revealed that Warner Brothers had threatened our government that  ‘The Hobbit’ movies  would be taken offshore if  changes to New Zealand’s employment laws were not made according to their demands.

This time, it was our Chinese cuzzies visiting  New Zealand – this time threatening our trade with their country, “if we don’t see things their way”.

National capitulated on both occassions, yielding to threats made first by a corporation, and then by a foreign power.

In the case of Sky City and the proposed Auckland Convention Centre, the tactics are more akin to bribery; building a convention centre in return for changing the gambling laws so the casino can install up to 500 more gaming machines (pokies). Problem gambling is expected to rise commensurately.

If the reader is starting to pick up a common theme here, you’re not alone.

New Zealand has a government willing to prostitute the country; our assets; our laws – in return for financial gain. This is perhaps the shabbiest, most degrading government we have ever elected. If New Zealanders are not angry and repulsed  by what we’ve all be witnessing – then we’ve all lost our collective senses.

The question I ask every New Zealander is; who will be next to come to Wellington; knock on John Key’s door; and announce, “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse!”

What will be sold next?

What laws will we have to change to satisfy some corporatation or foreign power?

Is this what it feels like to be a Latin American “banana republic”?

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2014

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An incoming centre-left government  must address these issues of sovereignty. We cannot allow every foreign Tom, Dick, and Harriet to take ownership of our most precious resources and to dictate what laws we must amend to satisfy their profit-line.

This must stop.

An incoming government must, immediatly,

  • ban the sale of all land to non-New Zealanders
  • non-farming land may be leased to overseas businesses,  but not sold
  • farmland must not be sold nor leased to non-New Zealanders
  • conduct a stocktake of land ownership at the next Census
  • land already in foreign ownership may not be on-sold to anyone except New Zealanders
  • introduce a capital gains tax
  • introduce a Financial Transactions tax  in conjunction with Australia and our APEC partners
  • introduce a sinking-lid policy on gaming machines with a view to banning them altogether by 2017
  • implement job-creation programmes (eg; free vocational training for able-bodied unemployed; building 10,000 new state-houses, etc)
  • introducing a land/wealth-tax to capture those 1% who pay little tax, because they can hide their wealth by structuring their affairs to escape paying their fair share
  • reinstate Kiwisaver’s previous provisions (scrapped by National) and make it compulsory

Part of the problem we face as a nation and economy is that New Zealanders have always been poor savers. Instead we prefer to borrow billions from offshore lenders and invest it in non-productive assets such as rental housing and investment farms. This speculative investment does not create wealth – we simply  shuffle money around like some mad reality-game of “Monopoly”,

” There has been a big reduction in household debt,  from 154 per cent of gross domestic product, and one of the highest levels in the world three years ago, to 144 per cent now. ” – Source

In the process of this reckless self-indulgence (promoted by certain irresponsible right wingers who delude themselves that is “wealth creation”), we are heavily in debt,

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- Treasury

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Further to that, it makes us reliant on overseas capital.

In fact, it makes us totally  vulnerable to those  who hold the capital. We are at the mercies of those who hold the money-bags.

And they know it.

What makes matters even worse (yes, it gets worse) is that a National, once elected, exacerbates the problem with it’s blind adherence to free-market policies. National believes that only the free market can create jobs – with a little ‘nudge’, occassionally, by amending laws; reducing taxes; and implementing de facto subsidies. And anything else business wants.

In expecting only business to create jobs, National ties its own hands and becomes reliant on the markets for employment solutions. Unfortunately, those solutions are not always forthcoming.

Which means that National has to look at other, dubious, unconventional means to promote job creation. Such as the Sky City-Convention centre deal which might deliver more jobs – but will almost certainly create more problem gambling.

Who pays for more problem gambling? Answer; look in the mirror, Mr/Ms Taxpayer.

The sale of the Crafar farms; the dirty deals with Sky City and Warner Bros; our vulnerability to pressure from overseas investors are all symptoms of an economic malaise which the likes of Bernard Hickey, Gareth Morgan, Rod Oram,  and others have constantly warned us about.

Like the person who ignores the several “Warning” letters from debt-collctors – that is only postponing the Day of Reckoning.  New Zealanders are ignoring our own Day of Reckoning – and yet the warning signs of our gradual loss of economic sovereignty is fairly plain to see.

Whether we do something about it; abandon the lunacy of neo-liberalism;  implement planned policies that encourage saving; promote job creation; etc – then everything we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks, months, and years will be only a prelude to more unpleasant things to come.

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2050

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A young student at Levin University is scrolling through the results of his on-line search for ‘farms-history-new zealand-colonisation’ and finds the information he is looking for. He turns to his study-mate, and says,

Hey, it’s true what my grand dad told me. Farms used to be owned by New Zealand families back in his day!”

His study mate looks up from his ‘ii-Pad’ and peers at his friend’s pad,

Yeah? I wonder how they could afford it? No one can afford to buy land  unless you’re really rich or a big Corpora-State.”

Dunno“, replies the first student, “It looks like land prices weren’t that expensive , and then they started to rise when Earth’s population reached 6 billion.”

Wow! They really owned farmland? They’re so lucky. I wish we could buy our own farm!”

Well, at least we get to work on them. Once I finish my Degree in McDonalds Beefculture, I’m applying for a job at the ’14th Manawatu Herd-Complex’. Are you still going for the Shanghai Agricorp in King Country?”

Nah. I’m thinking I might change and apply for the Nestle Agriplex in Otago or Southland. They don’t pay as well, but they teach you German as part of the contract. The Shanghai Agricorp want me to learn Cantonese at my own cost.”

His study mate dims the screen on his ii-Pad and asks his friend,

Are you studying this weekend or doing some workpractice at McD’s?”

Nah. I’m going to see my family. It’s my ninth birthday, and we’ve hired a blanketspace at my favourite park...”

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*

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That was a bit of fiction. So far.

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* * *

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References

Rich list shows rich getting richer

NZ dollar soars on speculation of Chinese investment

Numbers reveal National disgrace

Bryan Gould: Free-market ideology wrong

Debt being paid off, but savings not growing

Bernard Hickey:  the High Court ruling against the Crafar Farms sale may be just the intervention NZ Inc needs to confont its addiction to foreign debt and asset sales

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= fs =

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis…

15 April 2012 1 comment

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Fancy a good time, handsome? *winks*

First, it began with the Wide Boys flying in from Hollywood, to read Dear Leader the proverbial Riot Act,

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Source
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John Key was firm in stating; there’d be no extra deals made with Warner Bros; no extra incentives, tax breaks, sweet-heart deals; nothing.

$34 million later, Warner Bros left town.

It was a very generous deal,” Mr Key said.

So much for “no extra deals”.

(Funny thing though. I’m no expert, but isn’t it supposed to be the other way round, if we’re going to prostitute ourselves? Aren’t they suppose to pay us?!)

The trouble with prostituting ourselves to Big Boy corporations overseas is that, eventually, we get others knocking on our doors,

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China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff  - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

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Interestingly, this article cannot be found on the Fairfax website, Stuff.Co.NZ. Almost as it… someone didn’t want our Chinese cuzzies from seeing it online?!

But yet again, we’re seeing a bunch of Wide Boys ride into town. No doubt they have a “message” for Dear Leader (our Dear Leader – not the North Korean bloke) and no doubt he’ll pay careful attention to their “suggestions”; take notes; and smile benignly at them.

After which, this blogger expects the Crafar Farm sale to go though unimpeded to the  Shanghai Pengxin company.

And after that, expect our gambling legislation to be amended by National, to allow an extra 500 pokie machines at Sky City casino. In return for the “pay off”, a convention centre.

If anyone has ever wondered what it’s like to have your own government turn our own country into one, giant, corporate brothel, where we sell ourselves to Hollywood moguls, foreign governments, casino operators, et al – then wonder no more.

Funny thing, though…

When prostitution (or more technically, solicitation) was legalised in 2002, I never though our Prime Minister would become the Pimp Minister and sell us to the highest overseas (or local) bidder.

I think “business” is going to be brisk.

I need to buy more lube.

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Additional

NZ Herald:  China wants NZ to ease the way for investment

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ACC. Skycity. NZ Superannuation. What is the connection?

5 April 2012 2 comments

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ACC. NZ Super. Skycity.

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News tonight that Skycity donated $15,000 to Len Brown’s mayoral electoral fund in 2010, has rightly shocked many people.  John Banks, MP for Epsom, has reportedly received a similar amount  as a donation for his campaign.

See: Banks accused of undeclared donation

Whilst there is no suggestion, implication, or slightest hint at impropriety on either men’s part, it raises questions as to how far Sky City’s ‘tendrils’ reach.

A $15,000 donation to the Mayor of Auckland and to an Auckland MP raises eyebrows and is cause for concern.

This is important as Skycity is negotiating with National to build a new $350 million convention centre – in return for up to 350 to 500 addition gaming tables and pokie machines in Auckland’s casino. We’re talking serious coin here.

See: SkyCity would need at least 350 extra gambling machines for NZ$350 mln convention centre investment to be worth it, Goldman Sachs analyst says

This would require an amendment to existing legislation. It appears that National is seriously considering selling legislative change in return for a convention centre. Comments by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Prime Minister John “Dear Leader” Key confirm suspicions that a deal in in the making,

When we were out announcing that we were doing a deal with Len Brown in Auckland…Len Brown knew as well that it will create 1,000 jobs in its construction, 900 jobs ongoing.” – John Key, 4 April 2012

Of course, no one is really sure what the terms of any “deal”  will involve. The negotiations are all being done in secret. The public is excluded from any possible debate – because we don’t know what is being negotiated by Key & Co.

See: As clear as mud

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Sky City’s involvement in the 2010 mayoral race is not the sole extent of their involvement in New Zealand society and economy.

According to the Companies Office, two government bodies have extensive share-holdings in Sky City,

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Source

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Which raises questions regarding why ACC and NZ Super Fund are investing in a company that, essentially, makes it’s profits from vice and causes considerable social problems and human misery with gambling addiction,

  • ACC works with people who have suffered physical and mental injuries, sexual assaults, and other highly stressful events in their lives. ACC legislation contains an ethical investment clause; Section 272/2/i, that “the Corporation’s investment statement, being a statement of policies, standards, and procedures that must include a statement relating to ethical investment for avoiding prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community“.
  • NZ Super Fund is also bound by legislation (New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001, Section 61/D) to undertake “ethical investment, including policies, standards, or procedures for avoiding prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community“.

As well,  ACC is bound by legislation not to engage in activities that might cause injury to people in the community,

Part 7 Accident Compensation Corporation
263 Prevention of personal injury
  • (1) A primary function of the Corporation is to promote measures to reduce the incidence and severity of personal injury, including measures that—

    • (a) create supportive environments that reduce the incidence and severity of personal injury; and
    • (b) strengthen community action to prevent personal injury; and
    • (c) encourage the development of personal skills that prevent personal injury. “

Arguably, gambling addiction  is a considerable social problem in this country. For ACC to be investing in a casino would appear to conflict with both sections 272/2/i and 263/1 of the Act.

There is nothing remotely ethical about investment in gambling. Just as it would be unethical to invest in arms manufacturing, tobacco and alcohol production, or prostitution. Whilst nominally legal, such commercial activities regularly result in death, injury, sickness, abuse, violence, and exploitation.

It seems that New Zealand’s ethical and moral compass is severely skewed when the State – representing ordinary New Zealanders – invests in vice.

The law is being broken, and government is doing nothing about it.

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Acknowledgement for “tip off” on ACC and NZ Super Fund investments in Sky City

‘Spacemonkey’

Previous Blogposts

John Key has another un-named source???

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

References

Accident Compensation Act 2001

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001

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NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

4 April 2012 2 comments

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Further to my Blogpiece – Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries? – we can now add prostitution to tobacco and gambling as New Zealand’s new growth industry,

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According to the Herald story, the 15-story brothel will consist of the following,

  • The owners want to build 15-storey tower building on the site of the Palace Hotel.
  • It would be used for a mix of activities including a brothel, Penthouse Club, hotel and offices.
  • The first two levels of the black-toned glass building will be blank and layered by a LED screen mesh facing Victoria St.

Which should give “work” to a few dozen women as sex-workers? Let’s make an estimated guess;  fifty women working at this  ‘Mega Brothel’.

Plus 50 new jobs at the expanded cigarette plant in Petone.

Plus an estimated 1,000 jobs building Skycity’s convention centre.

Plus 900 estimated jobs staffing the new convention centre.

50

+ 50

+1,000

+900

_______

= 2,000

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Excellent! Two thousand new jobs. All we have to do is,

  • Train up 50 of our daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends to be prostitutes
  • Manufacture and  export a lethal product that kills people
  • Expand a casino so we can have more problem gamblers

Two thousand new jobs. That should go some way to creating the 170,000 new jobs that John Key promised us last year,

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I guess we can look forward  to  Dear Leader’s  promise  of  ‘ A Brighter Future “?

Though maybe not. The 2,000 jobs above are more than  cancelled out by the 2,500 state sector workers sacked through this government’s fanatical cost-cutting exercise. So no gain there.

National will have to oversee more casino expansions; more Mega Brothels built; and maybe a few dozen more cigarette manufacturers, breweries, and distilleries. We’ll have those 170,000 new jobs,quick-smart!

I wonder though –  will WINZ be sending unemployed women to apply for jobs at brothels, or risk losing their benefits?

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Postscript: This blogpiece is not meant as criticism of the Prostitution Law Reform Act 2002, nor of those men and women who work in the sex industry.  This blogger is critical of an economic policy that results in few job opportunities except in ‘vices’, and which seems to be this country’s only current growth industry.

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Other Blog’s  Posts

Does it sicken anyone else listening to our Prime Minister defend gambling?

Additional

Govt folds for SkyCity

Green Party: Gambling Policy Summary

Tumeke: Sky City to gain $25 million from 350 more pokies in dirty deal with Government

NZ Herald: Axe tobacco, ban cigarette exports – health professor

NZ Herald: ‘Big Tobacco’ on trial  – Canada’s biggest-ever lawsuit

NZ Herald: Government gets big bucks for bad habits

NZ Herald: Public urged to give input on Auckland high-rise brothel

Scoop.co.nz:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

Dominion Post: Will Key become Johnny-no-friends?

NZ Herald: Sky casino wants more cashless gambling

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John Key has another un-named source???

3 April 2012 8 comments

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John Key continues to bury his head in the sand regarding Skycity’s demand for 500 extra pokie-machines, in return for a $350 million convention centre.

Considerable community concern has been expressed that National’s close connections with Skycity may result in more pokie machines, with the inevitable consequence of increased problem gambling.  Even the neo-conservative organisation, “Family First” has condemned National and Skycity’s plans to expand it’s operations.

National Director of Family First, Bob McCoskrie, said,

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.”

“Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt. The government should be protecting families – not fleecing them. It is ironic that the government is targeting loan sharks at the same time as increasing the number of pokie machines.” – Source

McCoskrie said that “there are far too many pokie machines in our communities. Recent figures show one  machine for every 180 kiwis, yet one for every 4000 in US“.

Indeed. Here in New Zealand, we do ‘Dumb‘ exceedingly well.

The Green Party has been particularly scathing of National’s intention to amend legislation, to facilitate Skycity’s expansion plans.

Green Party spokesperson, Kevin Hague, condemned National’s irresponsibility in no uncertain terms,

The profits that Sky City believes it can extract from vulnerable gamblers are obviously immense to make it worthwhile for them to build the centre.

This ‘public policy for sale’ approach by the Government is strongly reminiscent of its rush to change industrial relations law to suit another multinational corporate, Warner Brothers.

I predict that the ‘behind closed doors’ negotiations between the Government and Sky City will find ways of allowing Sky City to extract more profit from the New Zealand public without needing to change the law, thereby entirely shutting the public out from having a say.

The extraordinary hardship and suffering caused by the gambling industry in New Zealand should see the Government trying to find ways of reducing the size and reach of the industry, not cosying up to it and making the regulatory framework looser.” – Source

Why is it that everything has a fair degree of common sense on this issue – except National?!

The Prime Minister, John “Dear Leader” Key, has been in utter denial about the destructive effects of gambling addiction.  It’s not just his head that is buried in the sand – he’s climbed in, and buried himself.

Amongst other statements of unbelievable naivety, Dear Leader has stated,

In a casino they are in a better environment say than attached to a pub deliberating targeting low income people in South Auckland.” – Source

Yeah, right.

Because low income people don’t go to casinos!?

Actually, they do. This blogger has visited Skycity Casino on a couple of occassions. (No, I didn’t place a bet. If I wanted to waste money, it’s easier to throw it out the window.) On both occassions, judging by dress style; worn clothing and shoes; and other tell-tale signs, many of those who seemed cybernetically linked to rows of pokie machines – were from low-income households.

I could not recall a single person in a suit, or upmarket dress, on the pokies.

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But perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of  Keys comments was when he  referred to  a “professor” from  University of Adelaide – whom he did not namewho had told of  a gambling studies conference in 2008, where it was claimed that Sky City’s host responsibility programme was “probably the most advanced in the world“.

An un-named source?

Another one?

Is this Un-named Source related to the other Un-named Source, who had supposedly emailed John Key about a supposed meeting – where Standard & Poors had supposedly claimed that New Zealand would have had a credit down-grade had there been a Labour Government in office??

(Which, later, Standard & Poors  rejected as being untrue.)

The same Un-named Source who supposedly sent Key this unsigned email,

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Cobblers!

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But it strikes me as symptomatic of the bizarre “JohnKey  In Wonderland” we have created in our country when  the Prime Minister bases government policy on mysterious, un-named sources, who we cannot discuss; nor debate; nor even understand; because we know nothing about his/her/it’s credentials.

Too many of these Un-named Sources floating around. Hard to keep track of them.  We need to start numbering them.

Or, here’s an idea, give them names?

And just maybe, New Zealanders need to be just a little less trusting of the man – whose name I  will keep confidential – who is our Prime Minister.

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Related blogposts

“I dunno. I wasn’t told. I wasn’t there.”

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

Additional

Govt folds for SkyCity

Green Party: Gambling Policy Summary

Green Party:  Public policy on gambling should not be for sale

Tumeke: Sky City to gain $25 million from 350 more pokies in dirty deal with Government

NZ Herald: Axe tobacco, ban cigarette exports – health professor

NZ Herald: ‘Big Tobacco’ on trial  – Canada’s biggest-ever lawsuit

NZ Herald: Government gets big bucks for bad habits

NZ Herald: Casinos safer than pubs, Key says

Scoop.co.nz:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

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Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

1 April 2012 4 comments

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National’s constant mantra has been that any economic recovery and job creation will be a matter best left to the market to achieve. As a neo-liberal, free-market focused Party, National  believes that the State’s role in economic growth is minimal.  National’s job boosting policies have been half-hearted at best.

Despite National’s best attempts to paint our poor economic performance in a positive light, there is a continuing pessimism regarding any possible recovery, growth, and job creation,

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Full Story

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An economic growth of 1.4% is not something that instills confidence in National’s governance,

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Source & Full Story

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Minister of Finance, Bill English tried to “talk up” the gloomy state of our economy,

The economy has now grown in 10 of the past 11 quarters, since emerging from the recession which started in New Zealand in early 2008,” said English said.

The December quarter was challenging, as the economy continued to rebalance, with households saving a bit more and being careful with their spending. In addition, conditions were tough around the world, particularly in Europe

The rebuilding of Christchurch will help drive domestic activity and our two largest trading partners, Australia and China, are forecast to maintain relatively high growth rates. In addition, our terms of trade will remain elevated on the back of demand for our major export commodities from emerging markets.”

- NZ Herald

Reliance on “the rebuilding of Christchurch [to] help drive domestic activity” sounds familiar. Where else have we heard such unbounded, vacant optimism,

“From a New Zealand government point of view, we are hugely supportive of the tournament because we know it will be hugely successful,” Key told dignitaries from local government, the International Rugby Board (IRB), and the business community. 

“A rough estimate has estimated the economic impact is worth about $1.25 billion to New Zealand. This is a big event for New Zealand and a big boost for our economy.”  “

- John Key, 30 March 2010

National’s “hands-off” ideology eventually has consequences.

What we got, in reality, was this,

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Which then raises the questions as to what else National is doing to grow the economy and create jobs. The answer is depressing.

It appears that National’s plans for boosting job growth involves he promotion of what many would describe as “vices”,

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Full Story

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Promoting gambling and a lethal drug – is this National’s Grand Plan for growing our economy?!

This isn’t just tragic, with the consequential social and health side-effects –  it’s downright vile and sickening. In effect, National is reliant on social vices that cause untold damage to families; impact on mental health;  and harming  peoples’ health.

National’s “negotiations” with Sky City, to boost gaming machines (“pokies”), like it’s dirty little deal with Warner Bros,  is selling Societal Good for short term economic gain. As Green MP Kevin Hague said bluntly,

John Key is setting up people with gambling addictions, and their families and communities, to foot the bill for the new Auckland Convention Centre, said the Green Party today.

I predict that the ‘behind closed doors’ negotiations between the Government and Sky City will find ways of allowing Sky City to extract more profit from the New Zealand public without needing to change the law, thereby entirely shutting the public out from having a say.

The extraordinary hardship and suffering caused by the gambling industry in New Zealand should see the Government trying to find ways of reducing the size and reach of the industry, not cosying up to it and making the regulatory framework looser.”

Personally, I would describe it even more bluntly; National is prostituting this country for economic activity that they have no other way of achieving. Their unflinching adherence to free market dogma blinds them to alternatives and to more productive options for economic growth and job creation.

What next – encouraging huge mega-complexes for brothels?

Tax breaks for liquor companies to build more breweries/distilleries?

Is this the “Bright Future” that John Key promised us, last year? Is this where the “More Real Jobs” that he pledged are coming from; gambling and cigarettes?

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God help us if our future and economic wellbeing is reliant on other peoples’ misery.

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Additional

Govt folds for SkyCity

Green Party: Gambling Policy Summary

Tumeke: Sky City to gain $25 million from 350 more pokies in dirty deal with Government

NZ Herald: Axe tobacco, ban cigarette exports – health professor

NZ Herald: ‘Big Tobacco’ on trial  – Canada’s biggest-ever lawsuit

NZ Herald: Government gets big bucks for bad habits

Scoop.co.nz:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

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Man or Muppet?

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The latest gaff to come out of John Key’s mouth,

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The Prime Minister says there will be less pokies in New Zealand, despite the Government’s deal with Sky City Casino to build a national convention centre in return for more gambling machines.

John Key this morning defended casinos as a safer gambling environment. His comments come after five children were found locked in a van outside Sky City Casino last month.

The children, aged from five-months to eight-years-old, were left unsupervised outside the Auckland casino for about 45 minutes while their parents gambled.

“We have casino licenses in New Zealand, unless we rip all those licenses up and abandon gambling in any form in New Zealand, that is always a risk,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

“In a casino they are in a better environment say than attached to a pub deliberating targeting low income people in South Auckland.”

Casinos had more stringent conditions and so were more able to reduce the harm caused by gambling, he said.

“But if someone wants to go to Sky City and leave their children locked in a car, then not only is that totally irresponsible and no doubt in breach of the law, that can happen in an environment from a supermarket to a casino.”

The issue has put back in the spotlight the Government’s deal with Sky City to build a $350 million national convention centre.

The Government was not selling policy, Key said.

“That’s absolutely incorrect and I refute that.”

The convention centre would bring 144,000 additional nights of Auckland stays for business tourists, who generally spent twice as much as other tourists, he said.

Building the centre would create 1000 new jobs and running it would create another 900.

“Not a bad deal for New Zealand.”

There have been reports Sky City would be granted licenses for up to 500 new pokie machines under the deal but Key said the number had not been finalised.

“They are putting on a proposal to show all the component parts they need to stack that investment up.

“They will get some more, I wouldn’t necessarily say the number proposed.”

There was “overall” a sinking lid policy on casinos, Key said.

“Even if this deal goes through, the number of pokie machines is falling.

“The question is how rapidly they reduce.”

Sinking lid policies have been put in place by various councils throughout New Zealand because of public concern about the damaged caused to communities by gambling and are not a government directive.

Labour’s internal affairs spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said Key was undermining local councils.

“I think it’s great so many councils have agreed to a sinking lid policy for pokies and have recognised the problem that pokies do in our communities and to our families.

“But what he is doing is overriding that ability by doing what I think is a really dodgy deal with Sky City.”

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Full Story

Contrast Key’s vacant optimism with problem gambling in this country,

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Source

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It is nothing less than scandalous that our Dear Leader has become a PR man for the gambling industry. His bland assertions that “the number of pokie machines is falling” or that  “in a casino they are in a better environment say than attached to a pub deliberating targeting low income people in South Auckland” is outrageous sophistry.

Especially when National is considering an application from  Sky City to build a $350 million national convention centre, in Auckland – in return for an extra 500 ‘pokie’ machines.

Despite claiming that “the Government was not selling policy” – Key appears to be infatuated with Sky City’s promise to create 1,000 new jobs to build the complex and hire 900 to work in it.

No mention of the social cost of gambling.

It cannot escape people that as National has sacked 2,500 state sector workers (many in front-line jobs); Key’s pet cycleway project failed to deliver the promised 4,000 new jobs; and private sector companies are shedding staff in mass-redundancies; this government is desperate for any hint or hope of new jobs.

One has to ask the obvious question; is the gambling industry to be New Zealand’s only growth in jobs?

What next – prompt solo-mums to take up prostitution? (No, Ms Bennett – that is not a serious option.) Maybe we should encourage young people to drink more booze, so the liquor industry can generate more profits – and hopefully more jobs?

John Key says that the extra jobs, in return for motre gambling machines, is “not a bad deal for New Zealand.

Increasing gambling is “not a bad deal for New Zealand”?!

Any government that can seriously suggest, without a hint of shame,  that increasing gambling is “not a bad deal for New Zealand” is a government that has lost it’s perspective. A government that has to rely on an industry that results in grave social problems to generate jobs is a government that is bereft of ideas, common sense, and priorities.

This is a government whose Use-By date expired last year.

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Information

For free, professional and confidential help with your own or someone else’s gambling problems: Ph 0800 664 262, Email help@pgfnz.org.nz or visit www.pgfnz.org.nz

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