Archive

Archive for 5 March 2012

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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Try doing this with…

…an 0800 call-number,

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Kiwi diplomat faces down armed men

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Last updated 05:00 05/03/2012

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A Kiwi diplomat is claimed to have sat on the floor surrounded by armed men as she tried to negotiate the release of a New Zealand mother and her three children in Algeria.

“I am not leaving this building without my citizens,” consul Barbara Welton is said to have told more than two dozen soldiers, police and a gang of about 50 locals surrounding the house where Mihi Puriri, 33, and her children were allegedly being held.

The Government has now ordered a review into how a child custody dispute involving the Northland mum and her boxer husband Mohamed Azzaoui turned into an international incident, with Mr Azzaoui accusing Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry staff of acting illegally.

Ms Puriri has since left the house, but has not seen daughters, Iman, 5, and Assiya, 2, and son Zakaria, 11 months, for more than a week…

[abridged]

… Last month, he said, a diplomatic party from New Zealand’s embassy in Cairo travelled to Mostaganem to carry out a welfare check on the family. The party included New Zealand’s ambassador to Egypt, David Strachan, and Ms Welton.

“Barbara went out with a full gendarme escort and police escort to conduct a welfare visit on Mihi,” the spokesman said. “When [Ms Welton] arrived she was confronted with over two dozen … gendarmes, 15 police who were all armed and in excess of 50 locals who were there to support the Azzaoui family.

“Barbara went up and knocked on the door and said I’d like to see my citizens. Mihi was prepared with the children … she attempted to escape the apartment into Barbara’s care and custody. She was physically prevented.”

Ms Welton then called a halt to proceedings. “They were placed in a room … Barbara Welton sat down on the floor – she is an amazing woman – and said, `I am not leaving this building without my citizens.”‘

After hours of intense debate, the consular officials managed to leave in another vehicle. Later, Ms Puriri was retrieved but the children could not be removed.

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Full Story

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I doubt that a Call Centre would be much help or come to your aid if/when things get sticky,

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MFAT confirms 305 job cuts

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Last updated 14:16 23/02/2012

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LATEST: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has confirmed 305 jobs will be cut as part of proposed restructuring.

MFAT chief executive John Allen said at a briefing today the proposals created more flexibility, deepened expertise, and ensured appropriate representation-including non resident ambassadors and smaller posts.

Mr Allen confirmed there would 305 job cuts and that 600 MFAT staff would have to reapply for their jobs in new specialist roles. The ministry has 1340 staff, half of which are offshore.

The restructuring was expected to save $20-25m annually.

Mr Allen confirmed the ministry was also considering outsourcing some functions. That included a 24/7 call centre based in Wellington. [My emphasis – FM]

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Of course,  it won’t be John Key or Murray McCully who will ever need  consular assistance in a far-off country – they have their own Diplomatic Protection Squad to hold their hand,

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We will end up regretting these cuts to overseas consular postings. It will end in tears.

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Key on ropes as Fairfax grope for a lifeline back to the people

Neil Watts,  Blogger, Fearfactsexposed

March 4, 2012

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National’s heartland backlash echoes Fairfax’s credibility collapse.

Since becoming leader of the National Party, and then elected as Prime Minister four years ago, Wall Street banker John Key has been able to rely on Fairfax Media to offer a handkerchief and say ‘bless you’ every time he sneezed.

But, today’s Sunday Star Times suggests that this anti-democratic relationship has – in the end – served only to damage both.  The frontpage headline ‘Key’s heartland backlash’ has Fairfax’s Sunday newspaper suddenly distancing itself from a dogmatic Rightwing Government in freefall, and desperately looking for a way back to centrist credibility.

Fairfax political editor and unofficial National Party press secretary, Tracy Watkins, has been sidelined, with the more moderate John Hartevelt handling a political front page lead that, for almost the first time in five years, doesn’t look like it was written by the National Party.  As this Government’s popularity suddenly collapses, have Fairfax finally decided to abandon their unhealthy partisanship, in a last ditch attempt to save themselves from commercial disaster and media irrelevancy?

Quite possibly.

Fairfax’s publications have been long regarded by many thinking New Zealanders as something of a sad joke.  Their commercial demise has been documented alongside their journalistic one on this blog, and few in the capital take The Dominion Post for anything other than National Party propaganda these days.  Their stuff.co,nz website increasingly attracts heavy journalistic criticism attached to the comments forum of stories, and the most damning of these are censored by Fairfax themselves.  A Facebook page and blog dedicated to holding this company to account has fueled the debate for three years, and while much of their demise is of their own making, we have clearly had a dramatic impact on how New Zealanders view their work.

Circulation is in freefall; they now quote ‘readership’ rather than ‘circulation’ to advertisers and subscribers, and recent financial figures published on this page show that, while their rivals are riding out tough economic times, Fairfax are struggling to attract advertisors as well as subscribers.  Fairfax are, it seems, in a desperation of their own editorial making.  In fact, just last week, I recieved a letter from Dominion Post editor, Bernadette Courtney, saying that: “Because we really want you back we have put together this exclusive offer, all for the low price of just $5.40 per week.”  This exclusive offer consists of six newspapers, delivered to the door, plus a subscription to a glossy monthly magazine.  At about half the price of a pint in most Wellington bars, this unsustainable initiative points to abject desperation at Fairfax Media, and genuinely makes me sad.

As I’ve always said, I love newspapers.  I’ve grown up with them.  I’ve studied, practiced and taught journalism, and literally had newspapers for breakfast for much of my life.   Like many who’ve lost faith in the industry, I don’t need some special offer that virtually gives the product away.  I want to see news media flourishing, making healthy profits, and employing fairly paid staff.  If the product is striving for fairness, accuracy and balance, and holding those in power to account, rather than misleading the people on their behalf, I will gladly renew my subscription and welcome the reporters’ analysis back into my home.  And, if Fairfax Media are genuinely signalling a return to real journalism and abandoning National Party spin, I’ll be the first to sing their praises from the capital’s rooftops.

As always, you can rely on Fearfactsexposed to keep you posted.  Thank you for helping to make a difference.

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Additional

Heartland backlash over Crafar farm fallout

Acknowledgement

Fearfactsexposed

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