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Archive for April, 2012

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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Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

27 April 2012 8 comments

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Talleys AFFCO workers thoughout the ccountry are being locked out, as their employer – amulti-million dollar company – tries to break their Union; destroy their conditions; and end up with a compliant and easily exploitable workforce.

Like the Ports of Auckland dispute, this is not just about fair pay – this is about smashing a union and removing the rights of free men and women to join an association (ie,  trade union) of their own free will.

This is about an abuse of corporate power.

This is about forcing vulnerable low-paid workers to abandion their Union and collective contracts.

This is happening right here, in our own country.

All fair-minded New Zealanders should ask themselves;

“Is this fair?”

“Are our jobs at risk from other  companies?”

“Is my job next???”

Help support the Talleys AFFCO workers. You can do your bit to help our fellow Kiwis! You can,

  1. You can give a quick $5 by calling: 0900 562 5688.
  2. Donations can be made directly to their Kiwi Bank dispute fund.  The account name is ‘NZCTU Disputes Fund’ and the number is 38 9007 0894028 08 (Kiwi Bank).
  1. Talley’s Boycott- Support Locked out AFFCO Workers
  2. Help Talley’s Affco Workers
  • Spread the word through your friends, family, and social media (Facebook, etc)
  • Donate food – drop-off points here
  • Tell your supermarket you won’t be buying any Talleys products until the lockouts are ended!
  • Email a link to this page to your friends & family, and share on your Facebook page. Spread the word!

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——————————– print & cut out & add to your grocery list ——————————–

BOYCOTT THESE FOOD PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED BY TALLEYS

“Talley’s Frozen Veges”

“Talley’s seafoods”

“Talley’s Crème de la Crème”

“Talley’s Guilt Free Ice Cream”

& anything else with a Talley’s Brand

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These are things we can all do, to help. We’re not so powerless when we all do our little bit!

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Talley’s AFFCO  is locking out their employees –  men and women who work to put food on the tables of their families, and to raise their children.

We cannot let a well-resourced, highly profitable corporation (with the passive acceptable of our useless governmant and Smile & Wave Prime Minister) do this to our own people!

We can fight back! We will fight back!

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Note: A link to this Blogpost has been emailed to Talleys’ H.O. The spreading campaign to boycott their food products might give Talleys cause for thought;

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Subject: Lockout of workers & response from New Zealanders
Date:    Friday, 6 April, 2012 11:50 PM
From:    “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:      “Rober Darragh” <robert.darragh@talleys.co.nz>, “Mark Longhurst” <mark.longhurst@talleys.co.nz>
Cc:      “Morning Report” <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>, “Nine To Noon RNZ” <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>, “Kim Hill” <saturday@radionz.co.nz>, “Dominion Post” <editor@dompost.co.nz>, “NZ Herald” <editor@herald.co.nz>

Kiaora!

The people of New Zealand are viewing with considerable concern your actions against your own workers. The lockouts affecting over 1,000 men and women, and their families, is unnacceptable to all fair-minded New Zealanders.

Accordingly, please take note: a campaign to boycott your products is being mounted via social media (Facebook, etc) ; blogs; and other media and internet sites.

https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/help-talleys-affco-workers/

As with  public support for locked-out port workers in Auckland, this campaign will grow in strength and intensity.

But unlike the ports of Auckland dispute, where ordinary people were not direct stakeholders in the Port company, and had little direct influence – the campaign to boycott Talley’s products is a public issue. Consumers will be able to participate directly in this boycott campaign.

I hope you understand the power of a consumer boycott?

Aside from the primary affect of losing customer support, your brand will also suffer accordingly, as Talley’s becomes synonymous with corporate bullying of workers.

I encourage you to reconsider your lockout and to return to the bargaining table, to negotiate in good faith.

Regards,
– Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Continued at: Help Talley’s Affco Workers! (Part #Rua)

Media reports

Horotiu meat workers protest against lockout (video)

Easter lock-out as talks stall on meat-works row

Affco lockout move ducks Easter pay, says union

Meat workers to strike through Easter

Meatworkers in lockout battle

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Isn’t it a crying shame…? (Part #Rua)

26 April 2012 1 comment

… that politicians continue to lie and misrepresent issues, just to push their own perverse agendas,

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Source

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Banks is telling outright lies when he says,

Too often politicians spend up large in the good times, leaving nothing in reserve for when things get tough. We saw this type of spend up occur under the previous Labour Government.” – Ibid

Every time this blogger reads comments like that, reinforces the view that the Right Wing are desperate to re-write history, to paint Labour as as fiscally incompetant.

The truth, though, is completely the opposite: Labour posted surpluses year after year, during it’s administration from 2000 to 2008. This IMF graph is fairly clear how debt dropped from 2000 to 2008 – and rose once National took power in November, 2008,

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The Government Debt in New Zealand was last reported at 31.6 percent of the country´s GDP. From 1985 until 2010, New Zealand's average Government Debt to GDP was 41.50 percent reaching an historical high of 71.60 percent in December of 1986 and a record low of 17.40 percent in December of 2007

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See more here: Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

Under Labour (red), debt dropped.

Under National (blue), debt went up (not helped by two tax cuts in April 2009 and October 2010 we could ill afford).

This is reinforced by another chart, with data sourced from NZ  Treasury, that shows government budgets  under National (in blue) and Labour (in red),

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New Zealand reported a government budget deficit equivalent to 3.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010. Government Budget is an itemized accounting of the payments received by government (taxes and other fees) and the payments made by government (purchases and transfer payments). A budget deficit occurs when an government spends more money than it takes in. The opposite of a budget deficit is a budget surplus.

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In fact, if any government is guilty of massive deficits and borrowing, look no further than this one,

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Full Story

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Full Story

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And just to prove how incompetant National truly is,

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Source

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So much for the ’09 and ’10 tax-cuts being “fiscally neutral”. Rubbish. Those tax cuts were made at a time we could not afford them; were funded by massive borrowings from overseas; and are a dead weight on this country’s finances.

What makes all this even worse is that our Dear Leader, John Key, was warned about the unsustainability of National’s tax cuts programme,

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Full Story

When right wingers try to re-write history, it gives the rest of us the opportunity to set the record straight.  It serves as a valuable opportunity to remind New Zealanders that centre-left governments tend to be fiscally prudent, whilst right wing governments give away money (through tax cuts) that we do not have.

Eventually, the message percolates through to the Great Unwashed. And people like John Banks are caught standing in a rather cold wind, with their trousers down around their ankles.

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Isn’t it a crying shame…?

… that National and ACT have such a poor sense of priorities,

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spend limit a victory for ACT

Source

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To show the reader what I mean, let me re-write the above story,

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Poverty limit a victory for ACT

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ACT New Zealand, Fuseworks April 26, 2012, 2:32 pm

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Today’s announcement that the Government will introduce a poverty limit into the Public Finance Act is another welcome victory for the ACT Party, ACT Leader John Banks today.

“ACT has long believed in the need for a legislated poverty  limit to keep politicians’ attention focused. It is for this reason that we pushed so hard to have it included in our Confidence and Supply Agreement with National,” Mr Banks said.

The provision in the Public Finance Act will reduce poverty to population growth and inflation, but will include decent, affordable housing, free medical care for all children,  and unemployment benefits linked to inflation and living-costs.

“If the poverty limit is exceeded, the Minister of Finance will be required to explain to Parliament the reasons for doing so.  The introduction of a poverty limit will create greater accountability and transparency in government job-creation policies and could prevent future poverty blow-outs.

“Too often politicians waste resources in pointless tax cuts, leaving nothing in reserve for when things get tough. We saw this type of spend up occur under the previous National Government.

“The poverty limit will force politicians to be more accountable and upfront about their taxation and job creation policy promises, and therefore more likely to stick to good social outcomes.

“The Minister of Finance thus far does not deserve praise for the improvements he is making to poverty levels, to strengthen State responsibility as part of New Zealand’s evolving fairness in social frameworks,” Mr Banks said.

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Now that would be a media story worth reading!

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A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

Matty T, Blogger, Extra-Channels.com

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Digital switchovers (and analogue turnoffs) are presently progressing in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand most people tuning into free to air television are either going for Freeview Satellite, being broadcast on the Optus D1 satellite, or Freeview HD on UHF (or since they have slightly different channel line ups, setting themselves up to receive both). In Australia they have Freeview Australia serving the capital cities and major towns on UHF. For regional areas beyond the reach of UHF towers they are going with a new system called V.A.S.T, which is being broadcast on the Optus C1 satellite. V.A.S.T. is replacing an earlier system called Aurora. Both V.A.S.T and Aurora broadcast mostly encrypted channels enforced by smartcards mostly to limit the geographical areas of broadcast for the licensees.  New Zealand’s satellite system in contrast is free to air (but limited by the footprint of the satellite beams to just over New Zealand).

Those in the know in New Zealand have been tuning into 2 channels from SBS, an Australian public broadcaster which has been filling a hole in the Aurora coverage for viewers in remote parts of Tasmania with transmissions on the Australia New Zealand beam of the Optus D1 satellite. (You can get it with a 90cm or larger dish and a LNB picking up the vertical polarity, or with a dual polarity LNB since Sky and Freeview Satellite use horizontal polarity on the same dish.) SBS is a unique station in that it is a public broadcaster of an ilk that New Zealand just doesn’t have. Originally setup to broadcast to ethnic viewers initially in Sydney it went nationwide and has evolved into a station that still serves its ethnic viewers, but with all foreign language programmes subtitled in English, and many programmes in English (e.g. documentaries, cooking shows, soccer, cycling) it is a channel that has wide appeal.

TVNZ7 is the only channel in NZ that comes close to being a public broadcaster like SBS and it is being defunded by the NZ government in July 2012. This will be a great shame.

With the commissioning of V.A.S.T. for Tasmania in the first half of 2013 New Zealand viewers are probably going to lose the ability to pick up SBS. This will also be a great shame.

SBS was originally ad-free, but then as Australia’s second public broadcaster it was being squeezed for funds by the Australian Government and it introduced some ads between programmes. The purists were horrified. Since then ads have been snuck in during programmes, and a lot of people in Australia have decried the intrusion. Ads are on SBS for about 5 minutes every hour. This is apparently to raise revenue of a bit over $20 million dollars a year. The commercial channels in Australia and NZ by contrast have 15 or 16 minutes of ads per hour.

It is said New Zealand is too small to have a proper public broadcaster. TVNZ has virtually been fully commercialised. It may be a State-owned enterprise, but it doesn’t have a remnant of public charter to fulfill. The charter was officially dumped by the National Government on July 12th 2011. Government money is spent by NZ on Air to get New Zealand productions and NZ shows onto the existing commercial channels. The last Labour government’s attempt to introduce a modicum of ad-free public broadcasting, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have come and gone, and as previously said, or are about to go. TVNZ6 has turned into the god-awful channel U and TVNZ7 will be defunded, meaning that it will disappear altogether. Only public outcry has saved TVNZ7 from being turned into a shopping channel. (A blank screen, and a hope for something better is better than a shopping channel). New Zealand free to air TV will thus be aligned to the National government’s ideological position that quality public television should not exist. One of their problems with it (apart from wanting to keep the population stupid so they are more likely to vote National) is the cost of running a quality public broadcaster. New Zealand is a small market and to run a BBC or ABC like service it would cost the country a lot, or so the argument goes.

So the end result is no quality ad-free public broadcasting for New Zealanders. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

Suggestion one: flog off TVNZ to the highest bidder. We will lose nothing more than we have already lost by allowing it to be privatised.

Suggestion two: Make an offer to the Australian Government. Tell Australia that New Zealand will pay just over $20 million dollars a year to share the costs of running SBS. SBS takes that $20 million dollars and completely removes advertising from its two TV channels. Most of the programming doesn’t change. SBS News Australia, becomes SBS News Australasia. Mandarin News Australia becomes Mandarin News Australasia.  Dateline is now seen on SBS instead of TVNZ 7. SBS will now look to Australia and New Zealand production houses when it commissions work. SBS 1 (HD and SD) and SBS 2 (SD) gets added to either Freeview Satellite or Freeview HD. The beauty of this suggestion is that for $20 million a year you get channels that would cost many more millions of dollars to produce than that.

NZ On Air still can fund New Zealand specific content on the commercial broadcasters much in the same manner as it does now. Not accounting for the fact that funding crap reality TV with public funds is sometimes pissing money up the wall. FFS who thought funding reality TV was a good idea?

Indigenous Television

Maori TV which is primarily for Maori audiences either in English on Maori TV, or in Maori on Te Reo can continue to be funded by the NZ Government at about $28 million a year.

In Australia there is an Aboriginal channel on the Optus-C1 satellite, called National Indigenous TV. It is run as a non-profit enterprise.

There is a reasonably large Maori population in Australia ( >100,000 people), and many of the programmes on Maori TV are interesting to a non-Maori audience.. There are not that many Australian Aboriginals in New Zealand, but likewise some of the programming has a wider appeal than just to one indigenous group. So a straight out swap and putting Maori TV on VAST and Freeview Australia and NITV onto one or both of the Freeview services in New Zealand will give people all over Australia and New Zealand access to all the indigenous cultures of both countries.

There would be a minimal cost to governments in NZ and Australia,

What Australia gets: 1 new FTA channel. The two SBS channels go back to being ad-free.  Price competition for commissioned works. Australians get to see Maori programming. Cost – the broadcast fees for another channel on Freeview Australia and VAST.

What New Zealand gets: 3 new FTA channels, including quality public ad-free TV. Programming for some ethnic groups present in NZ. Another market for content makers. New Zealanders get to see Aboriginal programming. Cost – $20million a year to help fund SBS. The broadcast fees for another 3 channels on Freeview-HD and/or Sat.

It’s win/win/win/win/win for the Australian public/ the New Zealand public/SBS/Maori TV/NITV. The only objectors would be commercial interests who run commercial TV faced with more quality competition, and small-minded ideologues opposed to public broadcasting.

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Author’s Note

This is version 2 of this post. I’ve made a couple edits since I had a couple of factual errors, and a suggestion was made to me that because of the two hour time difference when SBS is showing foreign news in the late afternoon (4-6pm) East Coast Australia time it’s early evening (6-8pm) in New Zealand, and those hours could be used for New Zealand specific programmes such as we are losing from TVNZ7. Australian audiences might prefer Hearts and Crafts over the PBS News Hour.

It’s also been pointed out to me that $20 million dollars a year is more than the cost of keeping TVNZ7 open with its current budget of $16.25 million dollars. Whatever solution to our public broadcasting deficit though it’s better to fund public TV than to subsidise commercial TV in NZ. If commercial TV needs handouts from the government to survive then perhaps there are too many commercial channels.

Acknowledgement

Extra-Channels.com

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ACT on polling – naughty, naughty, chaps!

26 April 2012 4 comments

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Naughty Mat for ACT!

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Searching for details on a previous blogpost, this blogger came across this interesting poll result on stuff.co.nz,

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Making my vote, the Poll showed me the following results,

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Interestingly, the poll results for Labour, Greens, National, Mana, Maori Party, and United Future more or less mirror  the 2011 election results.

2011 Election Results

National: 47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

Mana: 1.08%

Maori Party: 1.43%

United Future: 0.60%

No surprises with those figures.

NZ First polled higher than their Election Result of 6.59%.

The figures for NZ First may  be easily understand as a nationalistic response to the current government’s policies on partial asset sales and the sale of farmland to offshore investors. (Though whether the Stuff poll translates into success at the Ballot box is another matter entirely.)

The real surprise is ACT’s result on the Stuff poll; 6.4%.

Really? 6.4%?!

No, I don’t think, so, my fellow Kiwis.

ACT’s election result was a meagre 1.07%. Recent polls by Roy Morgan and News Reid has ACT barely registering,

Roy Morgan: 0.3%

News Reid: 0.2%

Which indicates to this blogger that some naughty ACT apparatchiks have been “stuffing Stuff’s electronic ballot box”, by voting multiple times. Naughty boys. Off to the naughty mat with you – and don’t come out until Election Day!

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Devonport: their cheeky contradiction of Private Ownership vs Public

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Immigration & Customs for new arrivals

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Residents angry at Devonport Treaty settlement

Updated at 4:52 pm on 31 March 2012

Residents of the Auckland suburb of Devonport challenged a Treaty of Waitangi settlement at a public meeting on Saturday.

An agreement reached by the Government in November allows Ngati Whatua o Orakei to buy a 3.2 hectare block at Narrow Neck which is currently used by the Defence Force.

The terms of the sale would allow the hapu to develop the land after the navy finishes using it.

But many residents are against private ownership of the land and say they want the entire headland protected from commercial development.

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About 300 residents attended the meeting held on the Defence Force land, to hear an explanation of the sale from the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finalyson.

Mr Finlayson clarified that the neighbouring Fort Takapuna reserve and parts of the headland closest to the sea would not be sold and would be kept open to the public.

He said residents could make submissions to the Maori Affairs Select Committee which is handling the settlement.

Almost all of the people who spoke at the meeting opposed the sale and many left the meeting saying they remain angry at the situation. ” – Source

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It seems that the good people of Devonport are somewhat ‘miffed’ that 3.2 hectares of land at Devonport will be part of a Treaty settlement with Ngati Whatua o Orakei. The land is currently legally protected under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act – but this protection will cease once it becomes private land  as part of the  the settlement.

It is worth noting that the 3.2 hectares in question is only a small fraction of the 31,565 hectares taken by the colonial government since colonisation. 3.2 our of 31,565 hectares – about .o1% of what that tribe possessed before the “rule of Britain” took hold of the countrry. (The  same “rule of Britain” that supposedly recognised and protected property rights, but never mind about that.)

Locals are upset at the prospect of the Treaty settlement. As many of stated, they want the land to be protected and do not want it passed over to private ownership. Once in private ownership, they say, the land might be developed.

(Just as land taken from Ngati Whatua o Orakei was on-sold to colonists, who then developed it. Ie; they built houses.)

So I guess the lesson I’m learning here is; land development is ok if it’s by pakeha.

But not ok, if it’s by Maori?

Ok, got it.

But what really amuses me is that the people of Devonport seem to have a somewhat ambiguous approach to the notion of an asset  held by the community for community purposes – and a community asset that can be sold into private ownership…

Folks, welcome to Devonport…

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Devonport is the southern part of the North Shore electorate,

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North Shore Electorate

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At last year’s election, the voters of North Shore voted over-whelmingly for the National Party candidate, former radio and TV presenter, Maggie Barry,

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Party Candidate Votes % ±% Party Votes % ±%
National Green tick Maggie Barry 22,709 62.44 +0.59 23,113 62.16 +4.10
Labour Ben Clark 7,481 20.57 -3.44 6,036 16.23 -5.17
Green Pieter Watson 2,802 7.70 +1.50 4,035 10.85 +4.24
ACT Don Brash 1,293 3.56 -0.41 714 1.92 -5.55
Conservative Craig Jensen 904 2.49 +2.49 829 2.23 +2.23

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Source

As the above chart clearly reveals, over 62% of voters gave their Party and Electorate votes to National.

That’s the same National Party that campaigned on a policy of partial privatisation of Genesis Energy, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

By contrast, those parties (Labour, Greens, NZ First) that campaigned against state asset sales received only 30.74% of the Party vote.

So I think we get a fairly clear idea where there hearts and minds of North Shore (including Devonporters) voters lies; firmly in the Tory bosom. North Shore/Devonport is about as ‘blue‘ as you can get. And they certainly didn’t seem to mind too much about National’s stated policy of partial-asset sales, did they?

The sale of community owned assets didn’t seem to occupy the minds of North Shore voters last year? So it seems a bit rich that that Devonport folk are now up-in-arms about Crown land being returned to their original owners – when several SOEs will soon end up in partial foreign-ownership.

So they have a bit of a cheek to protest now, when they couldn’t care less about privatisation last year. In fact, I would say they pretty much got what they voted for.

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NGATI WHATUA O ORAKEI NAVY DEAL

Hapu to buy:

* Five New Zealand Defence Force housing blocks for $95.63 million. These will be leased back to the Crown for five years.

* Defence land at Wakakura Cres for $10 million.

* Defence land at Narrow Neck for $13.8 million.

* Deal vests a 33.64ha conservation area in tribe’s name. To be used as a recreation reserve administered jointly by tribe and Auckland Council.

* Purewa Creek’s name to be changed to Pourewa Creek.

* $18 million – $2 million already received through hapu’s 1993 Railways settlement.

* Rights of first refusal for 170 years over surplus Crown-owned properties. ” – Source

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