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Archive for 27 March 2012

User Pays: the eventual conclusion

27 March 2012 1 comment

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Superman, for hire? Not quite right, is it…

Of course, we rightly view such a scene with aversion.  Some things, we just don’t expect to see with a  price levied.

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Our British cuzzies recently discovered this on Monday, when it was discovered that the governing UK Conservative Party’s top fundraiser Peter Cruddas, had been selling access to senior British government MPs and Ministers. The full story is worth reprinting,

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In a sting operation, ‘The Sunday Times’  secretly videotaped fundraiser Peter Cruddas  discussing donations. The film showed him telling undercover reporters: “200 grand ($317,000), 250 is premier league … it’ll be awesome for your business.”

If donors met Cameron, Cruddas claimed in the recording, “within that room, everything is confidential and you will be able to ask him practically any question that you want.”

‘We will listen to you’
He suggested they could even influence party policy, saying: “If you are unhappy about something, we will listen to you and we will put it into the policy committee at (the prime minister’s official residence).”

Cameron responded by saying Cruddas’ actions had been “completely unacceptable.” Cruddas, a millionaire, resigned within hours of the report.

Cruddas made the remarks to two journalists he thought were international financiers and who were accompanied by a lobbyist.

“Because we depend on donors so much we have to be careful” to show “you cannot buy access,” he said according to The Sunday Times. But, he told the undercover reporters, if you donate “you could well be at a private house having a private dinner with George Osborne, David Cameron, William Hague, the chairman around the table.”

Osborne, the cabinet minister in charge of economic and financial matters, and Foreign Minister William Hague are both members of Cameron’s center-right Conservative Party, which leads the governing coalition alongside the Liberal Democrats.

Embarrassing
The funding issue is embarrassing for Cameron, who promised before coming to power in May 2010 to curb corporate lobbying, saying it was the “next big scandal waiting to happen.”

Following the report, Cameron admitted he had used his official home at 10 Downing Street to host dinners for Conservative donors.

The scandal threatened to undo Cameron’s efforts to shake off his party’s image of being too close to the interests of business and the rich as Britain undergoes an austerity program to cut its budget deficit.

“This is not the way that we raise money in the Conservative party, it should not have happened,” said Cameron. “I will make sure that there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can’t happen again.”

While there were also tax cuts for lower earners, the government’s recent budget went down badly with many Britons, giving the impression the government was looking after the wealthy and cared little for those suffering rising unemployment and falling incomes as the economy struggles to recover from recession.

Previous attempts to reform the political funding system have foundered on the Conservatives’ reluctance to cap donations from wealthy individuals and the opposition Labour Party’s desire to avoid limits on contributions from unions.

Msnbc.com’s F. Brinley Bruton and Reuters contributed to this report.

Acknowledgement for source: MSNBC World News

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By the next day, Britain’s Prime Minister and Leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, admitted what ‘The Sunday Times’  had uncovered,

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Full Story

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The article further states,

Of a dozen couples or individuals who dined with Cameron, including eight who were at a post-election celebration in July 2010, six were financiers, including three hedge fund managers, and two were property magnates. Two run manufacturing firms.

The Chequers list included the names of party treasurers as well as the millionaire property developer David Rowland and Lebanese businessman Fares Fares...

As other parties offer supporters and donors access to meetings and debates with leaders and senior officials, the Conservatives have a system for encouraging political and financial support. Their Web site offers a hierarchy of “Donors Clubs” where minimum levels of donation give increasing degrees of contact with party officials and representatives.

For the 50,000-pound ($80,000) annual membership of the “premier supporter group” – The Leader’s Group – “members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, … lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches”. “

Cameron was at pains to reassure British voters that,

“We are more transparent than any government and any prime minister have ever been. We behaved properly.

“What Cruddas was doing was totally unacceptable.”

We have a saying here in New Zealand for that kind of statement,

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Of  course, such things don’t happen here in New Zealand. Our own National Government does not do “favours” for cash donations to the Party…

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From the Electoral Commission webpage,  “Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000“,

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Source

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From the Electoral Commission webpage,  “Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000“,
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Source

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Those are the facts, as presented from various sources.

I invite you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions, regarding the individuals; companies; their donations  and their links  to National.

(Note: The Electoral Commission webpage on returns of party donations includes donations to Labour, ACT, The Greens, and NZ First.)

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How to make a Right Winger spit the dummy…

27 March 2012 1 comment

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… in one easy step,

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Full Story

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The response was vitriolic, on the Comment Board at the conclusion of the story. There appeared to be a definite right-wing flavour to the virulent comments critical of Ms Wade-Brown’s trip. I re-post a few here,

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Phil   #1   08:40 am Mar 27 2012

Why does she not just pick up the phone and call them? Save ratepayers some money maybe? Chinese businesses like to have face to face meetings but I reckon if they want to do business internationally they have to get over it, people cant afford to fly across the world just for them, money is tight right now. In effect, business interests are being subsidized by the ratepayer.

wajoh   #5   09:09 am Mar 27 2012

I wonder if someone could give us the facts & figures of the success or otherwise of this junkets?

anne   #7   09:37 am Mar 27 2012

In times of austerity these sort of trips are a ‘personal want’ than a need,costing the rate payers dearly,there is no need when modern technology exsists. The govt and local govt continue to slap voters with the bills for their wasteful spending on needless endless trips away and social get-togethers.STOP IT NOW.

Shirley   #10   10:34 am Mar 27 2012

What a waste of money perhaps she can spend that money on more nessessary things for NZ – don’t tell me she is going to waste money on flying maybe she could cycle there instead !!!!

Paul   #15   12:58 pm Mar 27 2012

$645 of my money going towards potential business ties? Never. She should stay here and educate people on the new road rules.

missy   #16   01:37 pm Mar 27 2012

What a complete waste of money and time. This is what is wrong with local politics – a trip to China is not one of the CORE RESPONSIBILITIES of Council. And, what about climate change, surely the air miles are also worth noting (seeing as she is a Greenie).

Other comments were simply derogatory ad hominem insults.

But a few, who actually bothered to take the time to read the article in it’s entirety, noticed this aspect of  the impending mayoral trip,

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It is unfortunate that some are so blinded by their politics of enmity, that they can utterly mis-read a media report.

None of Ms Wade-Brown’s trenchant critics referred to the fact that the former mayor, Kerry Prendergast, had led a visit to China only thirteen months prior to the current mayor’s election. But then, Ms Prendergast was closely aligned to the National Party.

Unfortunately, even  the National-leaning (?)  Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce president, Richard Stone,  was half-hearted in his support of mayoral-led delegation, with the caveat that he’d support Ms Wade-Brown’s trip    “if there was demand from businesses“,

Business delegations to China need high ranking political figures to lead them to be succesful.”

So far twenty  businesses have  expressed interest in the trip. So Mr Stone can sleep easy at night.  So can right wing critics.

The city’s $645 will be well spent.

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Gerry Brownlee – Diplomat (Part #Rua)

27 March 2012 3 comments

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Brownlee’s “apology”,

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I’m sure that New Zealanders have been the butt of all sorts of jokes at various times and not taken offence at such a thing,” he said.

“If I’ve offended people, I’m sorry about that, all I can say it was meant to be humorous and I apologise for people not seeing the humour in it.

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Gerry Brownlee is sorry because “people [did not see]  the humour”   in his obnoxious comments?! How does that constitute an “apology”??

Gerry – shut the hell  up! You’re digging a bigger hole for yourself and continuing to insult a nation and people that have done nothing to earn your mis-guided  derisory “humour”.

You are an embarressment, Gerry.  I suggest you take a holiday. A longgggg holiday. In fact, don’t bother coming back.

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Additional

Facebook Page: Send Brownlee to Finland

Scoop: Lyndon Hood: Brownlee Fighting To The Finnish

Finnish Embassy in Canberra Email address:   “Juha Parikka” <sanomat.can@formin.fi>

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